I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have pegged Western Australia as being the go-to place for wildflowers. However, it shows how little I know and how much I have to learn because it turns out that WA is the place to come to see a huge variety of wildflowers.
I’m in Jurien Bay on the Turquoise Coast, just over two hours north of Perth. I could forgive myself for thinking that all the activity centres around the ocean in a place like this: fishing, swimming, snorkelling, sea lion spotting. And I’m not totally wrong.
It’s just that there is so much more on offer around here and this is something I am only just appreciating.
Wildflowers In Western Australia
I had heard that people from all over the world flock to WA in the Spring to witness the variety of wildflowers in bloom. As we are just approaching the start of the season, I was keen to see what all the hype was about and learn a little about another jewel in WA’s crown.
For instance, would you have guessed that there are more than 12,000 species of wildflowers in WA, making it the world’s largest collection? Add this to the fact that 60% of Western Australian wildflowers are found nowhere else on Earth** and you know you are onto something special.
Numbers like that are sometimes too large to comprehend, and I was having a hard time picturing what that meant. However, with my friends at Jurien Bay Adventure Tours and the Shire Of Dandaragan, I was lucky enough to spend the morning at a local farm to learn a little more about Western Australia’s wildflowers.
A Billy Tea Treat
Hi Vallee Farm is a 2000 hectare sheep and wheat farm run by Don and Joy Williams in Warradarge, 250 kilometres north of Perth.
On a rather cool and blustery morning, Don and Joy first welcomed us to their farm with a traditional billy tea. The billy is an Australian term for a metal container used for boiling water, making tea or cooking over a fire.
This was accompanied by damper bread, the likes of which I had also never heard.
“In colonial Australia, stockmen developed the technique of making damper out of necessity. Often away from home for weeks, with just a camp fire to cook on and only sacks of flour as provisions, a basic staple bread evolved. It was originally made with flour and water and a good pinch of salt, kneaded, shaped into a round, and baked in the ashes of the campfire or open fireplace”. Source.
Joy cut slices of the damper bread, still steaming from the billy can, and we added lashings of golden syrup on top.
As we munched on the damper bread and warmed our hands on cups of hot tea Don explained that the couple had been running tours of their property since the early 1990s. One fifth of it has been left untouched and contains some of the greatest botanical diversity in the world.*** Groups from all over the world come to visit Hi Vallee Farm, including university academics, botanists, horticulturalists and wildflower enthusiasts.
One Of A Kind
We jumped into the 4wd truck to head out along the narrow path that snakes through the acres of wildflowers on the property. With Don as our guide we hopped on and off the truck to take a look at the many different species of flowers; some a tiny speck on the ground and others on large shrubs or trees.
As I was studying the many tiny, intricate flowers it was finally sinking in. Don explained that around 520 different plant species in 56 families have been identified on the property. Several species of flowers on this land are endangered and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
It is truly amazing to consider that I was able to look at something that was completely endemic to not just Western Australia, but to the actual spot I was standing on.
It was beautiful out there on the farm, despite the threatening rain clouds and the rather brisk wind. I spotted kangaroos hopping through the bush. Sheep and cattle grazed in the paddocks surrounding us, oblivious to their proximity to such significant vegetation.
Wildflowers spread across Western Australia in the Spring time and you can spot many flashes of colour as you drive along the highways in this area, but to truly appreciate this beautiful sight you need to get up close as so many of the flowers are minuscule.
However, Joy explained how there were wild flowers in bloom all year round on the property as the tiny honey possum could be found feeding on the nectar. So, there is always something to discover here, no matter what time of year you visit.
Where To Stay And What To Do
There is camping available on the farm if you are driving this way on a road trip, or overnight accommodation is available in nearby Jurien Bay, Badingarra or Dandaragan.
If you don’t have your own transport then Jurien Bay Adventure Tours run guided trips to from Jurien Bay to Mount Lesueur National Park, which is an another highly significant wildflower area with more than 900 species of flora identified within the park.
Once you are all flowered out, check out the wonderful day I spent exploring Stockyard Gully Caves for more inspiration on things to do in this area.
My morning out on the farm will be something I remember for a long time. Trying damper bread for the first time in a traditional setting was incredibly special and I loved tasting a part of Australia’s history.
With huge thanks to Don and Joy Williams for showing us their home and sharing their knowledge, the Shire of Dandaragan for organising the trip and to Jurien Bay Adventure Tours for making this trip out possible.
** For this source, and more information, visit: www.westernaustralia.com
Have you seen the wildflowers in Western Australia or is it something you would like to visit? Does local flora and fauna float your boat when you travel or is it not something you make a priority? Share your thoughts with me!
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