Thursday, April 28, 2011

Exploring King's Tableland

On a nice clear Easter afternoon, we headed out to Wentworth Falls for a short bushwalk with the boys. Unfortunately, so did everyone else -- so we went to a less well-known spot not far from there.

King's Tableland was named by Governor Macquarie for its sublime views.

It's fascinating for some other reasons. The top of the tableland is a tesselated sandstone pavement. Smooth pavements are far more common.

Where some areas have worn away, little pools form (with tadpoles!). These pools were used by Aboriginal people long ago for sharpening axe heads: they would dip them into the water, then sharpen them on the stone by the pool. Here are the results:

These are supposed to be 150 grooves or other signs of Indigenous use of the area, but we didn't see that many. We spotted this wounded Praying Mantis instead, out in the open, perhaps dropped by a bird.

Below the tableland is an overhang with rock carvings. Carbon dating has established Aboriginal use of the area to 22,000 years ago. The carvings that we found were small and very faint indeed, just a few pairs of kangaroo footprints. There are many more, but the area was in deep shade. A morning trip might have allowed us to see more.

Down the slope was this lovely young Sydney Red Gum, which had just shed its bark, as they do in Autumn. Rain has turned the shed bark a glorious deep orange. The Twig was fascinated by the little pool inside the trunk.

Nearby, these spectacular mushrooms:

And yet more orange tones in this Banksia spinulosa var. collina. I sound very knowledgeable, don't I? Banksia spinulosa holds its flowers above the foliage, making it quite a distinctive species. It is a probable parent of the 'Giant Candles' cultivar, which does the same thing. There are two variants: B. spinulosa var.spinulosa has black styles, for which reason it is sometimes called Hairpin Banksia. B. spinulosa var. collina has orange styles.

I am sure a botanist will turn up and tell me I have this all wrong now. In the meantime, let us look again at the view:

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