Friday, 16 July 2010

Buccaneers, Baguettes and Brits

For the rest of my trip (holiday) in Broome there was not much more botanising. I did get the chance to see some marine algae up close, and hear pandanas and palms rustling in the distance.

Of course I can’t escape ‘seasons’ and during a quick stop over at Cape Leveque I learnt more about the six seasons of the Bardi (see the picture below, a close up of a notice board on the way down to the marine algae from the camping ground). On the sign, the current season is called Bargana, with one ‘r’.

The images at the top of the post are from a scenic flight from Broome to the Buccaneer Archipelago and back via the Cape. Given all the (unseasonal) rain (as mentioned in previous postings) we couldn’t get to many of the famous gorges east of Broome and in any case it would take many weeks to travel by land to many of the more scenic parts of the Kimberley.

So instead we invested in a half day flight, which was spectacular. Although it meant only a quick dip in the ocean at Cape Leveque, on the northern tip of the Dampier Peninsula (on which Broome sits at the south-west corner), the islands and bays of the Archipelago give a taste of what the rest of the Kimberley – all two Victoria’s or three UKs or whatever area units are used, of it.

The picture at the top is of the so-called Horizontal Falls, not falling. In the second picture you can see, if your eyes and screen are good, a layer of wattles in flower in the foreground.The red cliffs in the third image are said to be the reddest in the country due to the abundance of iron oxide.

The geography and the plants reflect the multicultural (although very European) history of discovery. Our pilot summarised it by saying the French did all their surveying from out at sea, with a telescope, and so the bit obvious bits have French names – e.g. Gantheaume Point and Cape Leveque. The pirates (from various European countries) preferred the islands and small bays, so we get Mermaid Island, Skull somethingarather and I guess Buccaneer Archipelago. The English came in closer, and eventually stayed, but also named most of the land bits. The Aboriginal locals, of course, had already named pretty much everything so the whole exercise was largely unnecessary.

This is Gantheaume Point in the stormy first few days of our visit. Below these rocks dinosaurs roamed a few years back and left their footprints in the mud (now rock).

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post about the English/Australian botanist Alan Cunningham visiting the area and having plants named after him, and we probably flew across land he visited. In fact our flight was on his birthday – Jim Croft advises us he was born on 13 July 1791.

The English Buccaneer/Privateer/Pirate (you take your pick) William Dampier is also an important historical figure in these parts, having landed on the coast . The next picture is of the stark mention of him in Bedford Park, someone in the heart of Olde Broome. There is also, as mentioned in the sign, a replica of the treasure chest his is said to have left in Australia but that just looks like a treasure chest...

Plant-wise there were more species of wattle – perhaps another two or three in Acacia sensu 2005 (see previous post…), the local ‘morning glory’ creeper (Ipomoea) on the dunes, a couple of Ptilotus (purple and white), spinifex in ‘bloom’ and of course more boabs in the streets and gardens. Which reminds me, Jim Croft said he lost his boab due to the cold Canberra winter. Surely we can grow it at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Surely. I know we’ve tried, and we do Bottle Trees (see earlier posting for the distinction) well, but we must be able to find a spot where a boab or two will thrive.

So for this posting, rather than close-up plant photos I’ve included a few shots from the air (and other things). You can see plants of course, but from a different perspective. And that’s always a good thing. Finally, some camels rather than Camel Cabbage, Camel Weed or Camel Bush, and of course a justifiably famous sunset on Cable Beach. Now back to Sydney.


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