The Mid West is renowned for its wonderful wildflowers but even many Geraldton locals haven’t seen the beauty on display right on their doorstep.
STANDING on a rocky outcrop with a sea of wildflowers before you, it’s hard to imagine you’re just minutes from the Geraldton city centre. But here at the Chapman Regional Wildlife Corridor, with water birds wading through the river below and the gentle sound of water flowing by, you are enjoying one of the Mid West’s best-kept secrets.
Few Geraldton residents even know about the natural wonderland that rests on their doorstep. They don’t realise there’s no need to travel long distances to see the region’s glorious wildflowers, because the Chapman Regional Wildlife Corridor boasts 250 forms of flowering plant species, several endemic to the area.
And while many of the flowers lie dormant for much of the year, the onset of spring heralds an explosion of colour that rivals the best in the region. Even out of peak season, you can see different flower types at their dazzling best anywhere between June and December.
The corridor area is also home to 130 recorded bird species and 39 species of reptile. This is indeed a nature lover’s paradise.
Walkers and mountain bike riders have a choice of three trails to follow along the 17km corridor, stretching between the Chapman River mouth at Sunset Beach to Cutubury Reserve, upstream from Moonyoonooka Bridge.
The trails traverse a wide range of soil types and differing flora habitats.
And while the area does not boast the carpets of everlastings for which the Mid West is renowned, it offers an incredibly diverse range of flora.
It’s also home to the exquisitely beautiful orchid species that send so many flower lovers into rapturous excitement. These orchids are not difficult to find either. It is not unusual to see a spider orchid just metres from the carpark.
Tiny rabbit orchids also line the pathways, as do feather flowers and an incredible species called a trigger flower that captures insects in its grasp.
Then there’s the silky grey of smokebush covering the shrublands, brilliant yellow wattles and a host of grevilleas.
Almost every wildflower season, the heathland areas of the corridor are rich in scholtzias and verticoridas, while the river’s edge boasts river gum, swamp sheoak and paperbark forests.
Geraldton wildflower enthusiast Andrew Gooley is one of the area’s biggest fans. He visits the corrridor weekly during the wildflower season, flora guidebook tucked under his arm, as he strives to extend his knowledge of the diverse flora range.
“I just love how it all fits together,” he says.
“Things like flowers that are shaped to look like a female wasp so they’re pollinated, or plants that need smoke to germinate – it’s fascinating stuff.”
Andrew and a small team of volunteers have banded together in an attempt to protect and promote the wildlife corridor.
They’ve weeded, documented different species, restricted access to vehicles, revegetated areas and have plans to signpost the walking paths.
Although a fire destroyed some of the corridor last year, the rest remains intact and the fire will actually stimulate growth from some species that rely on smoke germination to thrive.
Anyone wishing to experience the corridor’s wonders should contact the Geraldton Visitor Information Centre for advice and a brochure, as well as tips on the best places to go so you too can discover the beauty of this wildlife wonderland. Call (08) 9921 3999.
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