Wildflowers, Photos and Coolabahs

Submitted: Sunday, Nov 14, 2010 at 18:10
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For some time I have been thinking about how to make better use of the many photos of flowers, trees and plants in general that we have taken in the course of our travels.

As we travel we all see and are frequently amazed, impressed or mystified by various plants. Sharing our collective flower and plant photos and observations might help us all to enjoy and understand just a little bit more of our wonderful landscape.

This forum could allow us to collect photos and comments about one particular plant (eg Sturts Desert Pea as Stephen L has already done) or group of plants (eg gum trees, or wattles). The next step would be to create a blog containing links to all these threads (unless Michelle or David can suggest a better way of doing this). Over time such a collation could help with plant or flower identification, or knowing whereabouts to look to find a particular kind of plant.

The key to this idea is to have EO members and visitors contribute their photos and experiences as replies or follow-ups, or as new posts for a different plant (there is no shortage of subject material!).

I know that others have attempted to put together a collection of flower photos, and I’m aware that I mightn’t be able to follow through with this idea. However, inspired by Stephen L’s recent writings about Sturt’s Desert Peas I’ve decided that its time to give it a go. Here is my first effort:




“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolabah tree…”

We’ve all heard or sung these lines and some of us have even camped under a coolabah, or warmed ourselves by a campfire of coolabah wood. Would you know one if you camped under it?Image Could Not Be Found

This tree made famous in Banjo Patterson's 'Waltzing Matilda' inhabits the arid and semi-arid open woodland zones of mainly inland Australia. It is found in all mainland states except Victoria and north of roughly the 33rd parallel.

The common name, coolibah or coolabah, is of Aboriginal origin - gulabaa. Its scientific name is Eucalyptus coolabah (or sometimes Eucalyptus microtheca). The Eucalyptus part of the name means that it is a gum tree.

Coolabahs are wide-spreading trees (often more wide than tall) growing up to 15m in height. The bark is fibrous, dark brown/grey, thick and furrowed on the trunk and lower branches, but smooth pale grey/white on the smaller branches. Older trees take on a distinctly gnarled appearance.Image Could Not Be Found

The buds and gumnuts are small (less than 5mm long) and the flowers, which come out in December to February are creamy white and found at the ends of the small branches.

Coolabahs grow in seasonally inundated country around swamps, billabongs and lagoons and in open belts along watercourses. The wide spread of branches provides much needed shade in these areas.

Like many trees in the Australian landscape, Coolabahs depend on underground water to keep them alive through the dry season. If the water is taken away, is polluted or turns salty, the trees will die. Nonetheless the tree can be found over extensive areas of floodplain far from permanent water as well as near seasonally flooded springs or close to permanent bodies of water.

Aborigines used part of the Coolabah tree to treat snakebite. Its reddish brown wood is one of the hardest of the Eucalypts. Although potentially useful for building it seems that was not used very much, but “piles made from young trees have been used for the construction of the Great Northern Railway in Queensland.”

The famous Burke and Wills Dig Tree near Innaminka is probably our best-known individual Coolabah.Image Could Not Be Found

The Lone Gum Tree in the Simpson Desert is another well-known Coolabah. How far down do its roots have to go for water?Image Could Not Be Found

Kidman's Tree of Knowledge, situated on Glengyle Station on the western bank of Eyre Creek, about 60 km south of Bedourie is another heritage Coolabah. The mature tree is reputedly the one under which Sidney Kidman camped when contemplating the development of his pastoral empire in western Queensland.
J and V
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Reply By: the_fitzroys - Sunday, Nov 14, 2010 at 18:42

Sunday, Nov 14, 2010 at 18:42
A great idea, Val. Thanks for sharing that. We camped near a big old coolabah at Innamincka this year and the shade was wonderful. I'll not put my hand up for the project but I love the idea if anyone' up for it.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Nov 14, 2010 at 23:07

Sunday, Nov 14, 2010 at 23:07
Hi Val

Great stuff and lets hope you inspire more to respond.


Simpson Desert Colours

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 at 08:55

Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 at 08:55
Thank you Lou and Stephen for your responses and encouragement. I'm thinking that a wildflower/plant series might have a limited appeal but is nonetheless worth persevering with to see how it goes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say. It might take a few posts to build a bit of momentum.

Next post I will try for a topic that's a bit more interactive in the hope that I can encourage others to post some pics.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Reply By: Dasher Des - Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 at 10:52

Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 at 10:52
The Coolibah tree in the Simpson is rather an oddity in the natural world. Coolibah's like to have damp roots generally near a creek or river and look as hard as you can, there's not many signs of creeks nearby.
I have also on two seperate occasions, seen Koala's in the higher branches of the lone Gum as its called. (I might add that I rarely drink so don't blame the grog LOL) Have witnesses who inhabit this site who can verify the sighting after the Innaminca gathering.
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