You may be wondering what this is, it’s a flying duck orchid of the Paracaleana genus of orchids which rely on mimicking wasp species for fertilization. The big warty “head” of this duck orchid looks like the female of a wasp species, an unsuspecting male wasp flies down and tries to literally pick up what he believes to be a female, the warty head flicks around swinging him under to the business part of the flower, to pollinate it or collect pollen to spread to the next flower he tries to “pick up”.
A similar system here, this is a hammer orchid and works on a similar theory to the flying duck orchids, the wasp tries to pick up what it assumes to be a female of it’s species and gets flung backwards this time into the flower parts. Note the aphids having a go at this flower.
Similar trick with this species, all of these orchids only grow in a small area of the south west of Western Australia, and luckily for me, they grow on the family owned property where I’m staying at the moment.
I say luckily for me because I recently these flowers are helping to keep me occupied. Recently I found a caravan after months of searching only it was over in South Australia. No problem, the border for Western Australia was opening up so I decided to make the drive over to Adelaide to pick up the van, things were falling nicely into place. Freight prices had gone through the roof recently and it was going to cost around $5000 to have the van shipped here, far cheaper to drive and more of an adventure.
I had permission to enter South Australia so headed off knowing the border for W.A. would be open in a few days. All good, I picked up the caravan in Adelaide and prepared to head back, then a covid outbreak hits Adelaide and the W.A. border closes less than 24 hours after opening. I managed to get myself an electronic pass back into W.A. but would need to self isolate for 14 days on my return, so I was still ok.
So I left Adelaide after stocking up on food, I wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could before things got any worse. I parked up about 300kms from the border for the night after a long day driving, my pass was still good on the phone app no problems, but by the morning I had an email from the W.A. police saying my pass had been rejected. Ahhhh!!! I was in a different state with a new (second hand) caravan, a few clothes and my laptop and I’m not allowed back in. I couldn’t go backwards so in a semi panic with lots of swearing I continued on to the border and arrived to find dozens of other travelers in cars and vans all stopped at border town. At least I wasn’t alone.
It seems that overnight all people who had applied for a pass while in S.A. had their passes cancelled. The police had set up a makeshift office in the roadhouse and people were queuing to have their cases heard individually so on with my face mask and join the queue. There were 6 or 8 lots of people in front of me and I was paying close attention to what was being said as each went forward to present their case to the police. Three workers with a stack of files and paperwork were told it didn’t matter that they were specialists, they probably should have flown to W.A., they may be allowed in, but they would have to quarantine and their urgent job would be no excuse for them.
Another young couple sat at the table with the officer making decisions, he listened to their case, checked their documentation, had a brief discussion with them and then the woman broke down in tears. They were not going to be allowed in and a policeman led the woman away trying to comfort her while her partner kept pleading their case. Hmmm, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident as I edged closer to the front of the queue. Another couple were approved and someone else was refused entry.
My turn. I explained my situation briefly to the officer, he entered my details into his laptop. Yep, ok, that’s not a problem. Bing, my phone beeped with a notification and I checked to see I that had a G2G pass approval to enter W.A. under compassionate grounds, I visited the next officer giving details about my isolation location and he explained the conditions of my isolation. I walked out of the roadhouse trying not to smile too broadly or start skipping, checking the ever growing queue of people waiting for their turn to put forward their case for entry.
Another two day drive from the border back to home with the most difficult part of this journey being not to stop by the fossicking area at Norseman on my way through. I’d been there with friends a few months back and collected some lovely rocks that I’d been cutting and polishing and I wanted more. I’d driven passed on my way to S.A. but only stopped here for 10 minutes picking up a couple of rocks, after all I was going to be coming back past with the new caravan and I could stop and collect more then at my leisure. But now I was under strict instructions not to stop for anything other than fuel with no detours on the way to my place of isolation.
As I drive towards Norseman I figured why not stop, who would know, it’s only about 5kms out of the way and I won’t see any other people. But as I drove through town I couldn’t bring myself to turn off and visit the fossicking area and continued straight on as instructed.
Next stop was Albany hospital to have my nose violated for my first of two covid test, I had no idea that my nasal cavity was anywhere near that deep, it felt like she was drilling into my brain, then onto the property where I’d sit out my 14 days. I felt incredibly lucky to be isolating here, stuck in 50 acres of forest my veggie garden to tend to, tracks to walk in the bush and the new van to acquaint myself with and begin packing.
Not many people can remain in isolation and still drive their vehicle around or walk for half an hour through forest without covering the same track more than once. One couple I met on the way over had bought a house, sight unseen in Mandurah and where on their way there for isolation. Rattling around in an empty house for 14 days would be very frustrating.
Ahhh well, 7 days in now and another 7 to go I have the birds to keep me amused here as well. Come on guys face the camera!
Thank you. 🙂
The last day of my isolation I was stepping off the veranda for my daily walk around the tracks of the property when I heard a loud “THUD”. You get used to hearing limbs and sometimes trees dropping when you live in the bush, a tree had come down across the main track here only 3 months back during a storm. But the weather was still and calm today, less than a minute later and I was confronted by this.
If I had left about 30 seconds earlier for my walk this tree would have landed on top of me. I decided that I’d never walk this track again. I’d often pondered while walking the track in the past, the large number of leaning trees, you can see in the background there are a few more trees with quite a lean to them. There are other tracks without leaning trees that I can walk along.
However this left me with another problem, this was the track out to the main road. The day before my isolation was finished, I could finally leave the property, except that I couldn’t leave the property. Luckily I’m able to use a track through a relations adjoining property.