September 2008 Western Woodlands
Circle in the Woodlands
Our last walk in the Great Western Woodlands was a real highlight visiting such a pristine and untouched area of our earth. It was such a remote area with wide open skies and large salt lakes and forests of salmon gum, gimlet and ribbon trees with long strands of bark hanging from the branches and trunks. Our camp sites were amazing – the first one at the breakaways with the colours and shapes of the small cliffs quite breathtaking. Even though it was a long journey to get there it certainly was worth it when we woke up in the morning to see the sun on the cliffs. There was an incredible circle of rocks that I didn’t want to leave as I felt part of the earth standing there on my own.
We called this ” just another puncture” walk as we had 5 punctures and some quite major. Being in such a remote area it was quite a drive to the nearest town of Norseman so we got to know the tyre mechanics there quite well. Adele & I clocked up quite a few kms as well as taking Dorek to hospital with kidney stones. He had to stay in overnight and was given the all clear the next day however, we had already moved camp so was a 200 km round trip.
I loved camping beside the huge granite rock at our last camp site especially watching the sun rise & set & doing our morning Yoga session up there. I loved walking through the open woodlands as you could leave the track & still feel safe as you were close to the
road. When you walked away from the road it felt like you were the first person to walk in that space as the earth had a crust on it that was soft and spongy.
The Wilderness Society spoke to us at our camp and also at our slide night. Thank you to Alexander and Jess for taking the time to inform us about this most special part of the world. Please join & become a member of the Wilderness Society as they are also putting in a lot of effort to protect the Kimberley’s. I was in Broome last week & camped at Prices Point one of the areas targeted to become a Gas Plant. We have to stop this happening. Please email this website to protest about the destruction this Government has planned for this amazing and beautiful place.
Thanks to all the organisers of the last walk – Basil, Adele, Jozina, Mary and me as Mary had to leave early so I took over the catering (again).
Lots of love & big hugs,
Have a joyful & peaceful Christmas,
The Bush Beyond the Wheatbelt: the Extraordinary Nature of the Great Western Woodlands
By Dr Alexander Watson and Jessica Chapman
Located in the southwest of Western Australia, beyond the ‘Wheatbelt’, is one of earth’s most significant places. At 16 million hectares, an area larger than England, there is no landscape as large, diverse or intact as the Great Western Woodlands in all of Australia. In fact, if you travelled to the Mediterranean, or Temperate areas in North and South America, Asia, Africa or Europe, you could not find a bigger area of intact woodland or shrubland remaining. The Great Western Woodlands is the biggest mosaic of these ecosystems left on the planet. Internationally speaking it is, therefore, an extraordinary place.
The Great Western Woodlands comprise a rich tapestry of woodlands, mallees and shrublands, intertwining and connecting the humid southwest corner to inland deserts. The woodlands are particularly remarkable: nowhere else on Earth do large trees of such variety grow where water is so scarce, the soil so depleted of nutrients, and the sun and wind so unrelenting. Contrast these seemingly ageless trees with sweeping plains covered densely by innumerable types of shrubs: some of the most botanically diverse ecosystems on the planet.
The past few decades have seen the discovery, collection and description of new taxa in the southwest of Western Australia at a rate without parallel among the world’s temperate floras. Botanists are still regularly discovering species new to science. The Western Australian Herbarium has records of more than 3,500 flowering plant species in the Great Western Woodlands. This is approximately one-fifth of Australia’s estimated 15,000 flowering plant species, and more species than occur in the whole of Tasmania (2,200 species) or the United Kingdom (1,500 species). Each stand of vegetation in the Great Western Woodlands can be subtly or profoundly different to the next, providing different foraging, nesting or roosting habitat for the vast array of animals that occur there.
The Great western Woodlands and its amazing attributes are under threat. A lack of management has left it vulnerable to feral animals such as wild dogs and rabbits, weeds, ad hoc infrastructure development and intense and frequent wild fires. Not only is this regions astounding biodiversity at risk, so too is the carbon which is stored in massive amounts in the wood, debris and soil. The Woodlands store an estimated 1-2 billion tones of carbon - that’s the equivalent to at least twice Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions! In a world of uncertainty where Climate change threatens life itself, we cannot afford to loose important carbon sinks like the Great Western Woodlands.
If you want to find out more or how you can help go to www.gww.net.au . Contact Jessica Chapman at the Wilderness Society WA on