In Search of Donkeys

I’m beginning to detect a pattern. Once again we had some rain overnight at Warragul which persisted in drifting across Wallaby Wood into the the mid-morning. The rain was supposed to stop but the temperature was not expected to rise above about 14-15°C. Whilst we might expect some sunny spells developing, this was not dragonfly weather. So, noticing that my dragonfly contact was also an orchid enthusiast, I posed a question: where might we go in the vicinity to stand a chance of finding some orchids? He responded with several suggestions, one of which looked reachable and held the promise of the fascinatingly named Purple Donkey Orchid () which, he said, was “not common”. Red rag to a bull.

Our target was the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve. David, who enjoys watching people with a passion and getting in on the act, was keen to drive us. Knowing the roads and the general direction, this arrangement made perfect sense and we happily agreed.

Arriving at Langwarrin, we chose the wrong direction at one roundabout. David found another local to help steer us in the correct direction which was the opposite direction at said roundabout. Our instructions included the statement that the main car park was “where Centre Break meats the main road”. Nobody, including David, understood what Centre Break meant. We did, however, find what appeared to be the main car park, complete with a sort of “you are here” map of the reserve. The largely wooded old military establishment (WW I) was criss-crossed and surrounded by various wider pathways called breaks. Other narrower pathways were tracks. All became clear. Well, most of it anyway – we couldn’t find anything called a slashed break, which we’d been directed to.

_17C7954Fortune was with us. David, who, you will be beginning to surmise, likes talking to complete strangers, had found and quizzed another family who knew where to find our primary target, the Purple Donkey Orchid. We got specific directions – a few were located a mere 300m away down the perimeter track – and were soon delightedly snapping away at a new orchid for our collection. It really is a charmer and most appropriately named.

David’s newly found acquaintances mentioned another suspect, the intriguingly named Flying Duck Orchid. This was supposedly found along the Dune Track.

“What’s it look like?”, questioned Francine.

“A flying duck”, replied our new friend, rather obviously.

Much as we couldn’t imagine a flower looking like a flying duck, we consulted the you-are-here map to find Dune Track and set off, passing a reservoir en route. No odos, unfortunately, even though we managed to coordinate our passage with a sunny spell.

The three of us combed the whole of Dune Track but found nothing resembling an orchid of any shape, far less anything that might resemble a duck of any description. At the end of the track, though, we did see a few odos flying back and forth hunting over some scrub. I suspect they were one of the Emeralds (Tau or Australian) but they weren’t posing for passport photographs so don’t bank on it.

_17C7979Returning to the car park down what we suspected was a “slashed break”, Francine bumped into a few examples of something resembling the Small White Orchid of the UK. Later study led her to suspect that it was, in fact, a Common Onion Orchid.

For a late lunch, we visited a fair dinkum Aussie fish ‘n’ chip shop … run by an Egyptian. Well, most of ours are run by Chinese so what the hell.We chose the barramundi which was OK but not great, as real fresh barramundi should have been – probably frozen. Maybe we should’ve gone for Mr. Egyptian’s home made falafels as a more reliable selection. They would’ve sustained us through David’s typically GPS-free, circuitous, heavily trafficked route home.

A drink or three were in order to celebrate two new orchids to add to the collection. A reasonable day given the conditions.

Posted in 2017 Australia, 2017 The Antipodes

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