Grey Gypsies of Australia
Western Australia - 2010
Local information from the Information Centre at Three Springs suggested that the Leschanaltia Macrantha could be found flowering round Perenjori and Morowa and that the Perenjori  caravan park was the best place to stay in the area, although we later saw the Morowa caravan park and thought it quite good also. On the trip over to Perenjori we failed to find any examples of the plant from the vague directions we had been given but got much better information from the Perenjeri Information centre. A large colony of the plants had been sighted along Cunningham Rd that could be reached by detouring off the Perenjeri/ Morowa Rd. Our trusty GPS took us off on a few dusty tracks and eventually we found the colony of around 100 plants of all sizes, many in full flower. I photographed every plant in the colony which was spread out along the road verge over a distance of about 100 meters. A further smaller group was about 300 meters further down the road. Over the next week we found two more large colonies of the plant, one of 200 plants down the main Perenjori/Morowa road and the third of 300 plants along Bateman Rd. In all cases the plants had sprung up along road verges recently disturbed by either road grading or fence making. It appears their seeds live in the soil for long periods and emerge after rain in Spring when the ground is disturbed. This explains their elusive appearances and disappearances two to three years after they are first sighted in a spot. Other wild flowers were growing amongst the wreath flowers in the two latter colonies. These included plants that were related to the leschenaultias: blue Scaevola albida; blue dampieria; and yellow goodenia. " The mystery was what fertilized the flowers to start seed production. We assumed it was bees after seeing several types of native bee visiting the flowers, but a further trip back to consult Alan Tinker convinced us that it was likely to be a small honeyeater that picked up the pollen on its forehead from the unusual stick like anther that emerged from each flower head. Although we spent quite a lot of time visiting, photographing and observing these plants we had time for other activities as well. The local pub was worth a visit for a meal and the ladies at the Perenjori Information Centre did a great Devonshire tea. We drove the wide open wheat-lands landscape on a number of days and stopped to picnic or to give me time to sketch the rolling hills and crop patterns. Morowa had some interesting buildings including a catholic church designed by Monsignor Hawes with its typical Spanish Mission influence but we were not able to see inside it. Perenjori also had a Monsignor Hawes church, but with fewer Spanish Mission features. This area is right in the middle of the Monsignor Hawes cultural trail as he designed many of the church buildings in the wider district in the early twentieth century. None that I have seen so far have compared with his own small church and priest's house in Mullewa that he built with his own hands and are lovingly cared for by local parishioners, including the beautiful garden of palms, oleanders and bougainvillea. We also got copies of several four wheel drives in the district, again from the ever helpful Information Centre. Our favorite was the drive out to the old copper mining town of Rothsay, now abandoned. The drive took us through private property on the old Rothsay coach road. It was a golden afternoon as we drove through hilly wild flower country with long shadows cast by the trees. There are lots of good camp sites along the way, as long as you get permission. Rothsay still has a lot of mining infrastructure left including a large open cut pit that is fenced off. We also drove out to the old Boida campgrounds where sheep mustering still takes place. A camp kitchen and a shower block are quite functional but not very pleasant to use. Several groups were camped there: not a place to camp alone and ponder the beauties of nature. We left the other tracks for a later visit to this area, but need better local maps with all the tracks marked [1:50,000]. Most of the tracks take you up off the lowlands and into the rolling hills to the east. Most striking in this area is the increase in recent mining activity. Many small mines are operating and the local small towns are becoming accommodation centers for the mine workers. Demountable cabins provided by particular mines are being erected in large clusters to house workers. One such cluster was neatly arranged beside the Perenjori caravan park and cared for by the managers of the park. Another was being negotiated with the local council on a different site, also to be serviced by the park managers. Lots of casual work seems available and often taken up by travelling retirees with their own caravans: managing caravan parks, working at the wheat receiving silos in season, working in shops and pubs and other more specialized work for older skilled workers.
Perenjori Wreath Flower (Leschanaltia Macrantha) Morowa Church designed by Msg Hawes Perenjori Church designed by Msg Hawes Perenjori 4wd track Boida Camp Ring Neck Perenjori (Approx 150Km SE Geraldton)
Copyright Grey Gypsies Australia 2009
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