This month I visited another precinct of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park: Berry Jerry.
Berry Jerry is located along the Sturt Highway between Wagga Wagga and Narrandera, and like many of the reserves in the area is predominantly River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) woodland, with a creek passing through it that feeds into the Murrumbidgee River. There’s a highway rest stop with toilet facilities located just outside the entrance, so it’s a good spot for a day trip. You can park in the rest area or drive into the reserve itself.
The road in did have a few potholes though.
I suspect this had a lot to do with last year’s floods, although I have no idea why anyone was driving anything in there when the road was wet enough to cause that degree of sinking. It’s perfectly dry now, but I did have some adventures getting my definitely-not-a-4WD car in and out along the damaged road; in retrospect I probably should have parked nearer the gate and walked in.
There were Yellow Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) and White-winged Choughs (Corcorax melanorhamphos) everywhere. Yet, I somehow failed to get any decent photos of them. They were fun to watch though, I need to start taking a chair with me on field trips so I can just sit and watch things playing around me.
I really liked the growth pattern of the sub-branches on this branch.
And then I found something similar on a different tree further in. (Edit: A friend of mine has told me this is called ‘harping’ and is the result of past epicormic growth, as discussed below)
I also saw a lot of fabulous tree hollows.
And some holes in the ground that might be homes for invertebrates – ground-nesting bees perhaps?
I suspect this one may have been the result of a fishing pole though.
This month in Kimberley photographs decorative bark:
Evidence of old claw marks on this one:
As you may have already guessed from some of the pictures above, I headed down to the creek to have a look. It was very pretty, with a much lower water level at the end of a dry summer than I expect was in evidence last winter and spring.
One of the inlets draining into the creek.
On the creek bank I found a fallen tree exhibiting one of the really cool things about eucalypts:
This is epicormic growth, which is a trait shared by many eucalypts and several other species world-wide, including oak trees. Simply put: most new growth happens in the canopy, at the actively growing tips of the branches, but the trees retain bud-producing tissue under the bark at points along the trunk and branches, which become active in response to damage or in other situations in which it seems prudent for the tree to put out as many new leaves as possible. This mechanism contributes greatly to the recovery of eucalypt trees after bushfires – if the tree has lost some or all of its leaves, and maybe even its branches, but is still alive, it will send out epicormic shoots in order to leaf up and resume photosynthesising food as quickly as possible. The new stems will eventually develop into new branches and replace any that have been lost, although a degree of natural thinning does occur along the way. So this tree in the pictures, which is no longer able to thrive by growing ‘up’ from the top of the original canopy, is compensating by sending out new leaf-bearing stems along the length of its trunk, which in theory will eventually thicken up to resemble a brace of young saplings growing from a fallen trunk – the precarious position of the tree, however, makes me suspect that it’s more likely to fall into the creek before that can happen.
It may manage to hang on for a while though, like this one of its neighbours:
And that brings me to the end of my visit to Berry Jerry – see you again next month!