Corrigin Peregrination

A few days ago I made the 260Km round trip out to Corrigin to try and find the Pygmy Orchid, Corunastylis tepperi. I’d never seen it before and it is an early start to the orchid season. I also wanted to try out some new ideas for photographing orchids before the season proper starts. I knew roughly where to look, but once there it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The plant lives up to its name – it is very small. The flowers are about 3mm and they can be found on a stalk 2-3 cm tall. As the the orchid prefers leaf litter found in mallee woodlands this makes them even harder to find.


Pygmy Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Pygmy Orchid, Corunastylis tepperi. Corrigin, Western Australia.


When I drove up to the spot my heart sank a little as I had hoped that having just come up a fresh green plant would be fairly easy to spot, but as luck would have thanks to some rains we had a few weeks ago some grasses had begun to sprout as well. The area was covered in litter – not recent, it was old, very old. There were rusty steel ring pull cans all over the place. Now I’ve been in Australia thirty three years and drinks cans were aluminium back then, so I would say they were forty years old at least. The beer bottles looked even older. Take your litter home folks and then you can collect the 10c deposit on each item. As luck had it I found a whole patch of the pygmy orchids about 700m from where I’d parked the car.  Having finished so quickly I decided to head off to experience the delights of downtown Corrigin.


Pygmy Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Pygmy Orchid, Corunastylis tepperi.


Now besides orchids Corrigin’s other claim to fame is its association with dogs. The town holds the world record for the most dogs in a ute. Non Australians probably will be a bit perplexed by this but for a few years it seemed like very country town wanted to cram as many dogs as physically possible into a ute. The town also has a dog cemetery which has become quite a big tourist attraction so I made a quick stop there. It’s not the first time I’ve visited but I wanted to see if there was anything new as the owners of the dogs erect memorials and I’m fascinated with how their love for their dogs expresses itself.


Corrigin Dog Cemetery by Paul Amyes on
The entrance to Corrigin Dog Cemetery, Western Australia.


One of the good things with photographing orchids as opposed to photographing wildlife and in particular birds is that you don’t have to get up at stupid o’clock. In fact some species of orchids will only be at their best in the middle of a bright sunny day. So by the time I hit down town Corrigin it was well past lunch time so I went into one of the two cafes and ordered a BLT sandwich. Two minutes later the waitress informs me that there is no sliced bread would I mind it being in a roll. Another two minutes and I’m informed there’s no lettuce. A further two minutes passes and I’m told there’s no tomato. At this point I’m starting to think that I’ll be told there’s no bacon when the waitress brings this enormous baguette with half a pig in it. It is literally the biggest bacon roll I’ve ever seen.


Hooch by Paul Amyes on
Hooch’s grave in Corrigin Dog Cemetery.


The night before we’d watched the movie “The Dry” staring Eric Bana. Although we’ve not had a drought the drive out to Corrigin reminded me very much of the movie. I love driving through the Wheatbelt – you get the feeling that the roads could go on forever and  the movie very much captured that feeling. If you’ve never seen the movie give it a watch as I thought it was very good.