This is a Eucalypt species very close to my heart, you can see it in my banner at the top of the website.
Yes, I took photos of it almost 10 years ago and have recently revisited the vegetation community where it can be found. Eucalyptus risdonii grows only on the eastern shore of Hobart on gravelly, dry, clay-stone soils, it is a small population which is in danger of being lost.
During lock down over the past couple of years when I couldn’t travel interstate to Tasmanian, where I grew up, I day dreamed about walking the hills behind Geilston Bay into Shag Bay. This short bay walk is ironically where I used to do cross country training when I was in high school (I hated it then), when it felt like a long torturous trek from one bay to the next. Strange how now I take solace wandering around these hills…
Now I look back on this landscape with fondness or more than that I feel in some ways it has formed my appreciation and love for Eucalypts and native grasslands. I can think of no landscape which speaks to me more than open forests dominated by sparse canopies of Mallee Eucalyptus!
This time as I wandered up from Geilston Bay in search of Eucalyptus risdonii, I became a little alarmed as for a couple of hundred metres I could only find the odd stand alone specimen. This part of Hobart is undergoing some rapid sub division and also the extension of walking tracks and mountain biking, so the pockets of forest which are endangered are under threats which are literally closing in on them. This type of forest requires bush fire to regenerate and is therefore difficult to manage and keep healthy.
As I continued up Fisher’s Hill I finally found stands of risdonii, mainly regrowth, which is the suckering new growth from the lignotuber. The new growth is stunning, it is almost purple at the tips and the peppermint smell on the leaves is pungent.
Eucalyptus risdonii on Fisher’s Hill looking out to East Risdon State Reserve
In the image above you can see how there is a tract of E. risdonii growing in a line on the opposite hill in the East Risdon State Reserve, it appears to be following the power lines or has been cut back along the fire trails. Either way it was not in its natural state, where each tree can reach unto 8 metres and has an understory of wattles, Bursaria, grasses and ground covers.
I still find this landscape beautiful regardless of the shrubby nature of one of my favourite Mallees, the contrasting foliage combined with the pale earth and distant view of Kunanyi, it is enough to make me weep with homesickness. But what is that about? it is not my ‘home’ that I am sick for, I am missing the plants and light, basically I am missing this particular Tasmanian Landscape.
So as I wander back into Geilston Bay, down memory lane, I would like to introduce you to my weather-beaton friends Eucalyptus viminalis. There are some amazing tortured specimens lower down the slope, closer to the river, which I like to check in with whenever I am in the neighbourhood.
Isn’t their bark incredible? unfortunately I wasn’t there with my camera during ‘magic hour’ when their bark turns a deep rose colour. As long as I know they are there and will be waiting for me next visit, along with the purple new growth of the risdonii, everything will be alright. Happy Eucalypt Day!