Les and Mary Bell
Following in the faded footsteps of the famous explorer Major Lockyer and botanist F. M. Bailey we headed for the Helidon Hills in the Lockyer Valley, (106km west of Brisbane) in search of native flora, particularly native orchids. Our trip started in the town of Helidon and headed north along Seventeen Mile Road, up past the sandstone quarries, from which some of Brisbanes finest buildings are built, i.e. the Treasury Building. At approximately 8km we turned left into Goldmine Road.
Here we made our journey into the bush. Dominant native flora species included Acacia buxifolia ssp. pubiflora (Box-Leaf Wattle), with its profusion of yellow ball-shaped flowers, A. leiocalyx ssp. leiocalyx, (Early Flowering Black Wattle) with lemon flowers in long flowering spikes, Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea),with its long racemes of purple pea flowers, Pultenaea petiolaris, with yellow flowers with a red keel, borne in terminal heads at the end of hairy branches, P. retusa (Blunt Bush Pea) with yellow flowers borne in terminal heads (this plant has indented leaf tips), Leucopogon biflorus (Twin-flowered Beard-heath), with white tubular flowers which curl back at the ends giving it a distinctive urn-shape and Aotus ericoides (Eggs and Bacon), with yellow and red pea shaped flowers.
We continued our journey and discovered another section of bushland. This area was more montane heathland containing such species as Banksia spinulosa var. collina (Hill Banksia). This plant is already in cultivation in many gardens. Tetratheca thymifolia (Black-eyed Susan), with its deep pink flowers, at first glance looks like a Boronia. Pimelea linifolia (Slender Riceflower) had white flowers with orange anthers in terminal heads approx. 2.5cm diameter, also a pink form growing close by. Goodenia bellidifolia (Fan Flower) is a small herbaceous plant with yellow flowers on an erect stem approx. 25cm tall. Chloanthes parviflora, had beautiful bluey-green tubular flowers that hug close to the axil of the stem. And Phebalium obtusiflora was a brilliant plant with white star flowers and dark green foliage. All these plants would make lovely garden plants.
This bushland is at the head of Sheep Station Creek, in a sensitive location, being a narrow, coarse sandstone layer, bordered by sightly more fertile soils along Seventeen Mile Road. The need for preservation of this bush wonderland has been recognised for over 100 years, but could be lost to future generations by development.
Our final stop was at the private property of an old SGAP Member for many years. Here we checked out the rocky escarpment above Alice Creek. At last some orchids - Dendrobium kingianum (Rock Orchid) with its pink/mauve flowers had gained a precarious foothold in the rocky overhangs, which reminded us of the dangers some SGAPers put themselves into to see these plants in their natural habitat, with a steep drop of 100metres to the valley below.
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