Woohlpooer Excursion (20/10/2019)

Last October we had a fascinating day wandering in the Woohlpooer State Forest with Roger Edwards. Roger ran the Cavendish office for State Forests, and developed a deep affinity with, and knowledge of, Woohlpooer over many years. As well, he is a noted wildlife artist. We joined with Hamilton Field Nats for this, and it was lovely to see old friends/colleagues as well as meet others.

Woohlpooer is a Plains Grassy Woodland; only 3% are left throughout Victoria on public land.

Orchids were the stars of the day, and Roger knew where to find dense patches of these.

We drove to a few different sites within the forest, and had time to explore at leisure. Distance wandered may not have been great at each stop, especially when Dave Munro came in contact with fungi (!) but the excitement of discovery and learning ran high, aided amply by expertise among our group, and good references. Roger also showed us the keys to differentiating sub-species of orchids.

  • 2019-10 Woohlpooer(55)
  • 2019-10 Woohlpooer(54)
  • 2019-10 Woohlpooer(52)
  • 2019-10 Woohlpooer(51)
  • 2019-10 Woohlpooer(49)

On our first stop we saw an uncommon orchid Pterostylis aciculiformis (Slender Ruddyhood), and a couple of common Caladenia ornata (Ornate fingers) and C. parva (Brown Clubbed Spider-Orchid).

At our second spot, which had been an old saw loggers camp, we found Ajuga australis (Austral Bugle), Cynoglosum suaveolens (Sweet Hounds tongue) as well as more orchids, large patches of Caladenia parva, more C. ornata and Pterostylis cycnocephala. We had lunch at the site of an old forester’s cottage, and then crossed the road where we found some of the orchids already seen, as well as Glycine latrobeana (Clover Glycine) and a few fungi in fruit.

Our fourth and final spot had quite different vegetation; we saw two rarer orchids Caladenia formosa (Scarlet Spider Orchid) and C. venusta (Eastern White Spider Orchid). We also found the more common Caladenia clavigera (Plainlip Spider Orchid) and Leptoceras menziesii (Hare Orchid). Judith had a special thrill when she found her favourite orchid, seen previously at her place, the tiny Caladenia pusilla, (Tiny Fingers or Pygmy Caladenia): this was considered a variety of C. carnea (Pink Fingers), but given species status in 1980.

Historical Snapshot

From grazing in a Red Gum monoculture in the 70’s, then on through a regeneration program, Woohlpooer remains a managed forest for timber production, with original plant composition largely restored. Roger has been active through a lot of this, and had some interesting stories to tell, plus knowledge of the old foresters’ cottage when it was still in use, and the old saw loggers’ camp.

References: (3 of several)

  • The Grampians In Flower, by Ian McCann
  • Gariwerd Colours, by Steffen Schultz
  • Bush Beauties, The Wild Orchids of Victoria, Australia, by Gary Backhouse.

Leigh Douglas and Wendy Bedggood.