Eugen von Guérard and Victoria’s volcanic plains cypress-pines

I previously blogged about the cypress-pine stands around Bacchus Marsh area. Whilst perusing a book on the colonial artist Eugen von Guérard I came across a painting of what is almost unmistakeably a stand of cypress-pine growing on the stony rises near Colac.

The 1857 painting has variously been called “Stony Rises, Corangamite” and “Stony Rises near Colac” and “Lake Korangamite”(1). It depicts an Indigenous camp under some basalt boulders at sunset, a memorable enough painting, but what really captured me was the trees. Continue reading

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When sheoaks take over

I recently had an opportunity to go for a few hours’ wander on the Queen’s Domain in Hobart, a huge park covering a hill near the city, which still contains some great native vegetation. Having often walked and played there as a kid in the 1980s I have a little historical perspective on the place, and the recent domination of former grassy woodlands by thick stands of drooping sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata, previously known as Casuarina stricta) saplings really stood out.

I recall a family outing on the Queens Birthday firecracker night, for which we walked up onto the western side (above the Brooker Highway) and let off our fireworks while enjoying the view across the suburbs where everyone else was doing likewise. We spent the evening sitting in the grass in an open woodland environment with some trees and shrubs around. It was easy to walk through. Some areas on the north side still look a bit like the west side did in the mid 1980s. Continue reading

Living on the edge

Moonah at Parwan Gorge

Where the volcanic plains were cut through by the river, just east of Bacchus Marsh at Parwan Gorge, giant blocks of weathered basalt tumble over the edge of a precipitous, wind-blasted escarpment.

A harsh environment, on the edge of the fertile plains, above the fertile river valley, but vastly different from either. In this peculiar niche a special community lives: the escarpment shrubland. Crowning it all is a row of ancient Moonah trees (Melaleuca lanceolata). Continue reading

Disjunct Distribution: the Bacchus Marsh White Cypress-pines 30 years on

What’s an inland, arid region tree doing hundreds of kilometres south of its native range? How did it end up here?

Callitris glaucophylla
White Cypress-pine stand near Bacchus Marsh

Along the Rowsley escarpment and nearby at Melton*, there are a couple of isolated populations of ancient White Cypress-pine, Callitris glaucophylla. The next nearest (isolated) report of this arid-zone, inland species is from over 100km north, at the Whipstick state park just north of Bendigo (according to the Atlas of Living Australia). Continue reading