Over 30 people gathered at Little Hard Hills Hotel, Enfield on Sunday 4 November 2018. Our numbers were swelled by members of the Geelong Field Naturalists Club and visitors who had attended the Stella Bedggood Memorial Lecture on Friday night.
We entered Enfield State Park at Misery Creek Road and traveled to Surface Point picnic area. The walking track passed through an area where the topsoil had been removed during the gold mining period leaving the clay subsoil.
Broad-leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus dives, Brown Stringybark E. baxteri and Candlebark E. rubida provided the overstorey. Small plants growing here included Slender Speedwell Veronica gracilis, Trailing Goodenia Goodenia lanata, St John’s Wort Hypericum gramineum, Common Rice-flower Pimelea humilis, Grey Parrot-pea Dillwynia cinerascens and Small Rustyhood Pterostylis pusilla. Three short, thick, asparagus-like stems of a Hyacinth Orchid had forced their way through the hard soil making an early start to their summer growing period. Wattles found in the area were Snake Wattle Acacia aculeatissima with developing seed pods, Prickly Moses A. verticillata subsp. ovoidea, Hedge Wattle A. paradoxa and Blackwood A. melanoxylon.
Beside the dry creek, taller trees of Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis, Messmate E. obliqua and Scentbark E. aromaphloia grew, many with hollows. A pair of Striated Pardalotes Pardalotus striatus was observed flying in and out of one small hollow in a Manna Gum, and an Eastern Yellow Robin closely observed the group. Interesting plants in flower were Yam Daisy Microseris walteri, Rough Bedstraw, Galium gaudichaudii, Common Bird-orchid Chiloglottis valida and Austral Indigo Indigofera australis. A new species for the already extensive plant list for Enfield State Park was found budding along the track north of the creek: Austral Bugle Ajuga australis.
By lunch-time, the cloud cover had broken up and we sought shade to enjoy our lunch. Blue Bottle-daisy Lagenophora stipitata was flowering amongst the grass.
After lunch we travelled up Misery Creek Road to Mt Misery Garden. This was declared a reserve area in 1964 in the then state forest following FNCB lobbying led by Stella Bedggood. Many different species were growing along the ridge, including Stella’s namesake, the flowering Enfield Grevillea Grevillea bedggoodiana. Also flowering were Twining Fringe-lily Thysanotus patersonii, Ivy-leaf Violet Viola hederacea, Wattle Mat-rush Lomandra filiformis, Common Trigger-plant Stylidium armeria, Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpioides, Common Apple-berry Billardiera mutabilis, Purple Beard-orchid Calochilus robertsonii and Musky Caladenia Caladenia moschata flowering close to the road. Sully’s keen eyes picked-out Tiger Orchids Diuris sulphurea amongst the peas and Poa tussocks. Two species of Leek Orchid Prasophyllum sp were found but identifying the genus was difficult. Both seem likely to be part of the P. odoratum group given their strong scents. Colourful patches of yellow and orange/ red–flowered Matted Bush-pea Pultenaea pedunculata spread in clumps.
The final stop for the day was at Beacon (Bald) Hill. We drove to the top of the hill, accessible since the navigation beacon was removed. The area is still slashed regularly, maintaining the hill as an open patch suitable for many small species. Many species of lily, pea, heath, orchid and daisy colourfully covered the hillsides and 100’s of iridescent copper-coloured, blue or green beetles covered the Eucalypt saplings. Field Nats were quickly spread down the slope and were soon on hands and knees examining the finer details of flowers. Species drawing the most attention were the prolific sun-orchids and beard orchids. Rush-leaf Sun-orchid Thelymitra juncifolia and Great Sun-orchid Thelymitra aristata were readily identified but others were more difficult and suspected to be hybrids. The most striking one was a crimson-pink, spotted sun-orchid with thick yellow column tufts spotted by Claire. The same sharp pair of eyes spotted Pale Grass-lily Caesia parvifolia. A low-growing plant that was spread across the site was Dwarf Boronia Boronia nana var. nana with compound leaves of three to five leaflets. Earlier in the day Boronia nana var. hyssopifolia with simple narrow leaves had been seen. Quite a few purple-flowered Heath Milkworts Comesperma ericinum were found, and growing amongst them was the rare find (for Enfield State Park) of a Red Beard-orchid Calochilus paludosus, a first for many of the field-trippers. The last treat was the discovery of a bright pink Tiny Fingers orchid, Caladenia pusilla growing amidst a Common Raspwort Gonocarpus tetragynus as we walked back to the top of the hill.
At the end of the excursion Rod Lowther, Geelong FNC president thanked Emily for leading an interesting excursion and showing the group a diverse range of spring flowering plants. This was the third inter-club visit between Geelong and Ballarat, with the Geelong club already considering options for one next year, a great initiative that increases the range of habitats we can visit and provides the added benefit of local knowledge.
Report by John Gregurke and Emily Noble