High country survival

Gibraltar National Park is an easy drive inland from Glen Innes, on the Gwydir Highway. It is a high country of rocks of all shapes and sizes, so these tall granite columns, called The Needles, were the aim of the first walk I chose to do from where I was to camp for three nights at Mulligans Campground.

The view from the lookout was spectacular, but as always, my eye was drawn to detail, and there were several of these striking plants in flower. Commonly called Native fuschia, Epacris longiflora, I am informed.

The walk out to there goes through mostly rainforest, where the damp fosters fungi and I kept checking for hitchhiking leeches.

Back up on the heights, the regrowth of shrubs and trees was heartening amongst all the blackened trunks.

Not all the Xanthorrhoeas had survived, and many looked like amputees.

The walk was meant to be a two-and-a-half-hour one of medium difficulty; there were quite enough inclines for me, and some rocky scrambles where I feared to turn an ankle.

But up top, for long stretches, Dampiera purpurea formed an avenue beside the path, showing their pretty mauve flowers, the plants often as tall as myself.

I had missed the main flowering of the Gibraltar Range Waratah (Telopea aspera), but enough bright remnants remained on the tall stems to signal their past glory.

But this Park for me was less about flowers than lichened rocks and survivor trees, about blacks and greys and browns.

The lower storey of next generation greens was hopeful, but the tough oldies showed they were not to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately this oldie tripped and fell flat out when almost back at the campground, landing on my camera, which had been slung around my neck and shoulder.  Neither soft flesh nor fragile ribs are a match for such a hard object. So part of me was purple and black as an aubergine (only not as firm) and I could do no more long walks for the week. But I know I was lucky not to break a wrist or wrench a knee… so let’s say The Needles were worth it.

I did survive to wince and do tiny walks, and will return another time to do all those other walks.

4 thoughts on “High country survival”

  1. Hi Russell, Glad you liked my nature visits’ blogs. Those trips keep me sane!
    I do like your concepts of connectivity. But ‘horizontal Xanthorrhoea’?

  2. Hi Sharyn, HNY. For me your blog was a highlight of last yr and I hope it inspires others to do the same. Recently we must have been on about the same latitude, I at The Granites no less, which felt comfortingly familiar even before looking up; re-inforcing a double-take about location in Australia. If trying to reconstruct ‘songlines’ etc from scratch, it prompted the thought that caves are connected to caves and the wind threads pillars or needles. That was the day after I watched some close-range stoops at Wanko Well. Further east to high country one can walk to from Dubbo by following stars, I passed through horizontal Xanthhorrhoea country – to a few extant, where in a possible pastiche of cardinal principles someone had deigned to ignite some skirts one by one. Might amputated spikes mean someone’s armed? Thence to a western aspect of the GDR, where multi-lingual visitors also get to observe the humble detail of dead epicormic resprout leaves on what were a lot of large stringybarks in the early 21st C. O well. Lag-time to death is real.

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