New Victoria Dam

The ubiquitous New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

Over the last few days my FaceBook feed has been seeing some seriously tasty bird photos from one of the groups that I belong to. The photos all come from one area  – New Victoria Dam which is 30Km east of Perth on the Darling Range in Korung National Park. So when the Beloved Significant Other (BSO) announced she was competing in a croquet competition at a location just 20 minutes drive away I immediately volunteered myself as driver.

 

 

 

 

There are two starting points to the walk and which you choose will largely depend upon when you visit. If you visit outside of office hours Monday to Friday or anytime at the weekend then y ou have to use the upper carpark as your start point as the access road is shut. During office hours you can drive down to the lower carpark keeping in mind that if stay till after 5pm then you won’t be able to drive out. I started at the upper carpark which only adds 800m each way to the walk. The walk consists of a 7Km round trip down past the New Victoria Dam to the Old Victoria dam wall and the garden and picnic area. There used to be a path through the trees at the edge of the road but it has become quite overgrown and indistinct so you are best walking along the access road. As you walk down the road on your left is the  gravesite of Francis Weston who died in 1876 aged two days, his parents lived in the timber workers settlement at Bickley. When you get to the lower carpark walk through it and then follow the trail markers. After walking through the forest you come to New Victoria Dam. Walk down the steps and at the bottom turn right onto the road and walk down to the remains of the Old Victoria Dam.

 

The gravesite of Francis Westson who died in 1876 aged two days. His parents lived in the timber workers settlement at Bickley.

 

The steps down to the New Victoria Dam.

 

The original dam was built in 1891 and pumped water via pipelines to Kings Park and a reservoir there on Mount Eliza. The dam became the first permanent water source for Perth and was operated by the private City of Perth Waterworks Company. As the water catchment area took in agricultural land and timber settlements there were fears that it would be polluted by raw sewage and excrement from livestock. Between 1895 and 1900 typhoid broke out in Perth and 425 people died. The water was tested and found to be contaminated so the government took control and made changes to prevent re-occurrence. By 1988 the concrete structure was beginning to degrade to such an extent it could no longer be repaired so in 1990 work on the new dam commenced and because of the use of roller compacted concrete it was completed by the following year. It can hold 9.5 million kilo-litres and is used to supply drinking water to Kalamunda and Lesmurdie. 

 

The wall of the old Victoria dam and the garden beside it.

 

In the lee of the old dam there is a grassed picnic area and toilets. Thickets of ti-tree and one-sided bottlebrush or claw flower have been planted and the thick vegetation along the creek line provides dense cover for a number of bird species. On this trip I used the picnic gazebo as an impromptu bird hide and spent a couple of hours watching the various birds feed and drink. I saw  red-eared firetails, mistletoe birds, splendid fairy wrens, western spinebills, new holland honeyeaters, white faced herons and rosellas. The dam spillway feeds water to the pond and creek that provides a year round water supply which means that the birds are always active all here. If you are there at dawn or dusk then kangaroos can be seen feeding on the grass. It is a great little spot and doesn’t require too much effort to get there.

 

Red-eared Firetail (Stagonopleura oculata), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

 

White Faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

Small, but…

… beautifully formed.

 

Hare Orchid
Hare Orchid, also known as the Fringed Hare Orchid, (leporella fimbriata), Bickley, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus Zuiko m4/3 60mm f2.8 macro lens. 1/20th sec, f4.5 at ISO 200.

 

The hare orchid was about 7mm  or 028 of an inch wide. Now I’ve looked for this species before but it is quite difficult to find amongst the debris of the forest floor and its colour makes it blend in with the background. I had decided to visit a friend and near where he lives is a patch of scrub between two roads that is home to this species. I thought I would n’t find anything as the I hadn’t had any luck in finding one in the previous two years and I only had an hour to search the area. After 20 minutes of bush bashing, no paths, I found something quite unexpected. A colony of crinkle leafed bunny orchids.

 

Crinkle-leafed Bunny Orchid
Crinkle-leafed Bunny Orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus), Bickley, Western Australia. Olympus EM-10, OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Metz 44-AF1flash. Exposure 1/180 s at f/4.0 ISO 200 in manual mode.

 

So quite delighted with the find I get down at plant level with my camera and snap off a dozen or so shots trying different apertures and flash combinations. Mindful of the time I rolled over to put my stuff back in my bag where there in front of me was the hare orchid literally under my nose.

 

It certainly does.