This is the first video in a new series called Paul’s Pootles. Now for my non English readers my dictionary defines “Pootle” as “move or travel in a leisurely manner” and that is the name of the game. Anyone who knows me well will probably say that I’ve pootling throughout my life.
This walk is along the coast at Cottesloe in Western Australia and has been taken from my book Perth’s Best Bush, Coast, and City Walks, published by Woodslane (ISBN 9781921606793 ) in 2010.
Normally summer is pretty full on here in the vast Wheatbelt Metropolis that is York – temperatures hovering around the 40 ℃ (104 ℉) mark. Consequently most people here plan on getting away to the coast during summer for some respite from temperatures more akin to a low oven setting rather than the weather. I say “normally” as this years weather is really topsy-turvy, but as we had to make the accommodation booking some 6 months in advance we went any way. Our preferred escape York/the heat destination is Denmark – no not the country, the town on the south coast of Western Australia.
We rent the same house on Wilson Inlet as it enables us to walk the Bibbulmun Track that follows the edge of the Inlet for some distance. The track has been an abiding interest for us for many years, Helen has end to ended on it, me I’ve just done one over night and lots of day walks. It is always a great pleasure to get out into the bush.
For a more strenuous walk we climbed Mount Hallowell, Helen reckons it is one of the harder sections on the whole track. We managed it relatively easily – which probably has more to do with the fact that we weren’t encumbered by 10Kg back packs.
We walked up Mount Hallowell – which is more of a big hill than a mountain, and then on to Monkey Rock, which is a granite outcrop on the southern side of the hill that gives 270 degree views over the surrounding karri forest, southern coastline and Wilson Inlet. Despite the stunning views I took no photos as the air was very hazy. Still there’s always next time!
Mount Field National Park is one of Tasmania’s oldest and most popular parks. The reason why is that within the park there are rain forest, alpine moorland, glacial lakes and snow gums. In summer the park is a blaze with flowers and in autumn it is a glorious golden hue as the vagus trees (Tasmanian deciduous beech) prepares to shed its leaves. There are a variety of walks within the park that go from being just a 30 minute stroll to 8 hours Alpine walks which require cross country skies in winter. The Russell Falls walk is one one of the most popular walks in Tassie, it takes you through a forest of ferns, eucalypts and myrtles on the way out to the water fall. It is only takes 25 minutes return and is suitable for for wheelchairs and prams. Another popular walk is the Russell Falls / Horseshoe Falls / Tall Trees Circuit / Lady Baron Falls walk. An unwieldy name for for a very pleasant 2 1/2 hour walk that connects three waterfalls and the Tall Trees Walk. It requires a bit more effort but is worth it as it gives you a very good look at the ecosystem of the lower park. My favourite walks the Pandani Grove Nature Walk which is located on the Mawson Plateau in the alpine areas of the park. This is the best way to experience the alpine ecosystem of the park and as you walk around the glacially formed Lake Dobson you pass through a forest of pencil pine and and pandani. This walk takes about 40 minutes. Last time we went to the park we did the Pandani but also tacked on a side trip to Platypus Tarn in the hope of seeing a platypus. This adds another 20 minutes on the walk but takes you on a quite steep and rough path and I’d recommend it only if you have proper walking boots and are prepared for cold and wet weather. We didn’t see any platypuses, but nothing in life is guaranteed.
What can you see in the park? Well Bennetts Wallaby and pademelon can often be seen grazing in the late afternoon and early evening at the picnic areas. Barred bandicoots are seldom seen in daylight hours but can be seen around the campsite and picnic areas at night looking for insects and worms. Also active at night are brush, ringtail, and pigmy possums. In the more remote areas of the park it may be possible to see Tasmanian Devils, eastern quolls and spotted tailed quolls. Again these animals are only active at night. All of Tasmania’s snake species are active within the park and caution should be exercised if you should see one as they are all venomous. A lot of bird species inhabit Mount Field, with the majority being found in the eucalyptus forest. Here you can see green rosellas, yellow tailed black cockatoos, yellow wattle birds, crescent honeyeaters, grey shrikes and currawongs. Harder to see, but still present in the undergrowth are scarlet and dusky robins and blue wrens. If you are lucky and in the alpine areas you may see wedge tailed eagles soaring on the thermals looking for prey. In terms of flora – basically you have three distinct ecosystems, dry eucalyptus forest, wet euclaypt forest (or rain forest) and the alpine heath. Below 670m you see dry eucalyptus forest which is your typical Australian bushland and is identified by the tall growing trees such as the swamp gum (the tallest hardwood tree in the world growing up to 100m tall) the white gum and the stringy bark. The understory comprises of native musk, and hazel or dogwood. Up to 940m is either closed rainforest or in the transition areas mixed forest. This is dominated myrtle-beech and sassafras with an understory of native laurel. In the gullies formed by the numerous creeks are several species of tree ferns and it is these most people think of when they hear the term temperate rainforest. At 880m and above the Tasmanian snow gum starts to dominate the sub-alpine forest. Past this and you see alpine heath of the pandani which with its palm tree looks can grow to heights of 9m. As you explore the areas around the lakes or tarns ( a tarn is a lake that was formed during the ice age when a glacier created a cirque, corrie or cwm which later fills with water) many shrubs grow mountain berries which introduce a splash of colour to the undergrowth.
If you want to spend more than a day in the park there is a campground for vehicle based campers near the visitor centre. It has a camp kitchen, shower block with laundry and barbecues. There are some basic huts for walkers in the alpine area, and these have basic facilities such as running water, a wood heater, and bunks with mattresses. All accommodation can be booked through the visitors centre on (03) 6288 11149. There is also some private accommodation outside the park.
…is the one you have got with you. It’s an old saying but it is a truism. I’ve always been a proponent of having a high quality pocket camera for those times when you don’t want to carry a camera. In the days of film it was my Olympus XA or XA4 (see the picture in the heading of the blog), but now it is Panasonic LX-5. The make or model is immaterial, really the main criteria is that it has to fit in my pocket and be able to produce a good quality A4 sized print. The irony is that most of my best-selling pictures have been taken with such cameras.
Yesterday was one of those beautiful winter days that makes living in the south-west of Western Australia so worthwhile. It had been a cold clear night and we woke to a crisp morning with temperature expected to rise to 23℃ – better than some country’s summer. So my partner and I decided to walking in the Darling Range just above Perth and we walked along Piesse Brook to a place called Rocky Pool which is a picturesque little spot. Once we got there my partner decided to sit and cool off her feet in the water and I decided to take a couple of shots for the relatives such as this one:
It’s fine as a family snap shot and it records a nice moment in our lives that we can share with family members living in the UK, but pocket cameras are so good these days they are capable of so much more. I turned 180º and looked at the pool at the bottom of the small water fall. It was a pretty vista and I wanted to record it but knew that the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor was not up to recording the huge subject brightness range of the scene. Hmm! What to do? I had no graduated filters, no tripod, no cable release, just my pocket camera. So I set exposure bracketing dialling in +/- 2 stops and handholding the camera just above the water took a series of shots while crossing my fingers. When I got home I fired up the computer and imported the pictures into Lightroom and then chose to merge them into a HDR using PhotoShop. After a bit of jiggery pokery playing around with curves and a couple of plugins I got this:
Not a great work of art but it is a pleasing shot that sums what a great time we had.
It really is a great time to be a photographer.
Just as a gentle plug a while ago I wrote and illustrated a book on walking in Perth, this walk was included. The book can be bought from tourist offices and good bookshops in Western Australia or it cane be ordered online here: