Hi Vallee Farm: Kwongan Country

We stayed at an amazing property 3 and a half-hours north of Perth in mid-August, where the local flora did not disappoint.  I must admit I found it quite difficult to plan my Western Australia wild flower trip and after many hours of internet research discovered  Hi Vallee Farm. And no, I have not pushed any of the colours in these photos 😉 above and below you can see the famous Lechenaultia biloba.

P1270287

Hi Vallee Farm is the home of Don and Joy Williams, initially purchased and run as a sheep farm Don and Joy quickly realised their property was extremely precious. In the image below you can see a storm coming in over the native reserve with the farm fields int he background.

P1270377

 

Hi Vallee is located in Warradarge, Western Australia which is not far from Lesueur National Park. This area of Western Australia is known by the Noongar Aboriginal name Kwongan. Kwongan describes a natural bushland that is  sandy, open and without timber-sized trees but with a scrubby vegetation.  P1270555

The Kwongan area is where the greatest biodiversity is found in WA, it is Australia’s only Bio-dioversity Hotspot, and it is very, very beautiful. There are at least 520 different plant species on the property and Don claims that it has the most diverse collection of species per m2 in the world.

 

P1270648

Don and Joy run guided tours of their 400 hectare  chunk of Kwongan bushland, I took many, many photos as everywhere you look there is another amazing plant species you have never seen before. Don took us out for 5 hours and I went out on my own for two other visits. We camped in the bottom paddock for 3 nights, well 2 actually as out tent was destroyed by a storm on the third day and we had to take shelter in the farm house.

P1270420

In the image above you can see what I think is Petrophile pilostyla subsp. austrina, now I bought the field guide with high hopes of being able to identify all the plants in my photos. However some of these plants are very rare and if the photo in the field guide is taken at a different stage of flowering or age then well….I’m kind of stuffed…

P1270514

 

As soon as you open the farm gate into the reserve you have an overwhelming feeling of ‘discovery’, everywhere you step there is some tiny revelation underfoot. I loved the tiny Anigozanthos humilis popping their heads up to catch the dew.

P1270222

 

We spent most of the time crouched down low observing the miniature wildlife at our feet.

P1270254

My son was fascinated by the Droseras and one of my favourite plants in this landscape was Drosera pallida.

P1270246

 

Drosera pallida was in flower when we visited, what an amazing plant with its scrambling stems catching the insects and the sun. In the image below you can see Drosera pallidas prolific white flower heads and glowing carnivorous stems.

P1270265

 

Hi Vallee is so named because there it a small hill with a valley set inside it almost crater like. The plants change rapidly on the property almost metre by metre as the soil changes. The soil is as diverse as the plants and is the cause of the high numbers of species present.

P1270374

 

In the image above you can see Petrophile scabriuscula (I think), this is about .5 metres high as it is on the more sheltered side of the hill. The whole property is very exposed to wind and that is one of the reasons most of the plants are so low growing.

P1270545

 

In the image above you can see how sandy the soil is, perfect for the local Balga or Xanthorrhoea sp.

P1270694

 

Many of the Hakeas were out and all incredibly diverse in their own rite, I spent 2 days thinking this Hakea anadenia was a wattle!

P1270688

 

Above you can see Hakea anadenia from a distance, and below Hakea eneabba, which looks like something a florist made up in their dreams 😉P1270258

Then the lovely pink and grey of Hakea neurophylla.

P1270413

 

 

 

Another gorgeous showy thing that Don wasn’t very excited about was Verticordia grandis, but I think its just because he’s spoilt for choice, its hard to believe that what I saw in mid-August was just a sliver of what grows on this property.

P1270337

 

Visitors come to Hi Vallee year round as there is always plenty in flower, the property also attracts many over seas visitors especially botany students and reserachers.

P1270352

 

I had missed most of the Banksias in flower that was more of an Autumn show, but there were some interesting seed heads and the Dryandras were out! P1270331

I think the image below is of Dryandra nobilis subs. fragrans….

P1270685

 

And the image below is of the same species at a different stage of flowering.

P1270427

 

Up inside the valley I witnessed my first stand of Kingia australis, which was very exciting as I had only been introduced to them a few days before.

P1270473

 

There is something of the Artichoke flower in these plants….

P1270435

 

Kingia australis are not at all related to Xanthorrhoea sps. they have a soft trunk that bends and sways easily.

P1270486

 

They are very slow growing like grass trees but do not even belong to the same family.

P1270447

 

And yes, I am fascinated by them and couldn’t stop taking their photograph!

P1270511

 

This is Calyrix leschenaultii and 2nd in fluorescent flowers only to the Lechenaultia biloba 😉

P1270526

 

Isn’t it pretty with the Acacia applanata, but now the Acacia applanata should have a portrait of its own.P1270686

 

I think I really must wind this blog post up now, of course I have more images and of courser there was more to see there always will be but I will save it all for another time. I just wanted to share with you what a special place Hi Vallee farm is and if you are in the area you should make time to visit.

P1270678

 

Last but not least Diplolaena eneabbensis 🙂

P1270463

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Hi Vallee Farm: Kwongan Country

  1. Lovely article with great pictures. We have spent two brief stays there, and this article makes me want to go there again. I read an article in a well known motoring magazine describing a trip North to see wildflowers. It seemed to me that it was written sat in an office with stock images and familiar cliches. In this Mallee article, “You were there”. And I’m only a pommy wildflower enthusiast on holiday.

    Yes, that’s right, I love this article, Hi Valley and Joy and Don.

    Clive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *