F or most of the year, the south-west Western Australian bush presents as a landscape of hardy resilience. Spiny-leaved shrubs. Implacably tall gums. Muted colours of silver, matt green and dusky blue-greys that create the impression of longevity and permanence.
The onset of the spring wildflower season broadcasts the reality: an environmental balance as delicate as the donkey orchid.
Over the next few weeks the bush will be painted in broad brushstrokes of Shark’s Tooth wattle-yellow colouring up clifftops from cape to cape. Native Wisteria climbs royal purple in Jarrah and Karri forest. Southern Diplolaena flowers are pin lights of orange blazing in contrast to the brackish shrub’s silvered arms. Hidden amongst it all are the shier species. Leaping Spider Orchid. The Margaret River Spider Orchid.
But the proliferation of colour is no indicator of environmental security.
Invasive weeds and human activity are the modern threats to an ecosystem labelled by Conservation International as one of 34 International Biodiversity Hotspots. The only identified Hotspot on the Australian continent. Plants blooming here found nowhere else on Earth.
So tread carefully. Stick to the paths. Find a guide. Admire the beauty. And leave the landscape as it was found. Spring wildflower season is a view of the vulnerable underbelly of the bush in all its diverse beauty.
Take a look through the lens of photographer Rachel Claire to get a sense of the beginnings of wildflower season along the Margaret River region’s coastal trails and tree-lined walks.
Where The Wildflowers Are
- The creek line up behind Gracetown has displays of small flowering species. Be observant for hidden gems that might be right in front of you.
- Kangaroo paw display along Caves Road near Kilcarnup and Yallingup.
- The local Dunsborough and Margaret River shires have planted wildflower displays, including everlastings. In Margaret River, look to Wallcliffe Road just past the Recreation Centre. In Dunsborough, view the displays upon the exit of town heading west on Caves Road toward Yallingup.
- The Cape to Cape track along the Wilyabrup cliffs for carpeted displays of Shark’s Tooth wattle and pink and white Pimelea ferruginea.
- Look for orchids on the Cape to Cape track between Moses Rock campsite and Ellensbrook, and around Ellensbrook house.
- Sunset in the background and swathes of yellow Shark Tooth’s wattle on the hills behind Surfer’s Point.
- Walk Rails to Trails from Mann Street to Carters Road for pea flowers, kangaroo paw, banskia and native wisteria among various accacia forms.