|On safari-- wildlife and nature photos|
Brushtail possum Click to enlarge
❮❮ Common rural and urban resident of this neck of the woods;
Black swans Click to enlarge
Summit to coast
Settlement relics, Port Willunga...
...and Port Gawler
My home town, the city of Adelaide, occupies a narrow plain between the low but pretty Mount Lofty Ranges and the Gulf St. Vincent. The central area of the ranges overlooking the metropolitan area is called the Adelaide Hills. The view on the left was taken from the fire-watch tower at Mount Lofty summit; the beautiful Piccadilly Valley is on the other side of Mount Lofty. Images with an asterisk are medium format
Sampson Flat bushfire
The pictures above show the contrast between the drier eastern side of the hills and the wetter, steeper and more rugged western flanks which overlook the city and the gulf. 'Wetter' is a relative term-- the whole range bakes in the hot, dry summer, which poses a serious bushfire threat. Sometimes the heat forces the closure for safety reasons of such places as Para Wirra Recreation Park, in the northern Adelaide Hills. The picture at left shows a little of the damage and destruction caused by the Sampson Flat bushfire in January, 2015. It burned 12,500 hectares (31,000 acres) of scrub, forest reserve, farmland and vineyards, and destroyed much wildlife, farm animals and many buildings
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Very little of the range's natural vegetation remains, as the country has been taken over for farming and other rural production-- ranging through livestock, dairy, fruit and cereal growing and wine production, to pine plantations
A jewel of the eastern side of the range is Saunders Gorge, a wildlife and nature sanctuary carved out of a sheep grazing property, to allow the native vegetation to recover and preserve the habitat of such birds and animals as Peregrine falcons, tawny crevice-dragons and other reptiles, kangaroos and echidnas
Many of my photographs of birds, such as the Laughing kookaburra, have been taken in the Adelaide Hills. Most of them are featured in my Birds chapters. There's also a flourishing population of koalas. They're not native to the hills, however. They were introduced, but the environment suits them so much their population is spilling into the city's eastern suburbs. A diminishing species in the hills is the southern brown bandicoot. Predation by foxes and feral cats, and peoples' destruction of their habitat, are threatening this little marsupial with extinction. Other residents are the echidna, a spiny insect-eating mammal, and brushtail and other possums, and of course there are many reptiles. A few dingoes also make the hills their home-- but not naturally. They live at the Cleland Wildlife Park and are sleek and well-fed, unlike the wild dingoes of the outback.
I was a little surprised to see a Little pied cormorant deep in the gorge at the foot of Morialta Falls. The bird appeared to be keeping a mourning vigil over a wreath which somebody had dropped there. Actually, though, it had ventured into the gorge to catch freshwater crayfish called 'yabbies'.
A frequently seen 'fisher' in the gorge is the White-faced heron
Adelaide has extended its suburbs and its lifestyle into the hills. The farms, orchards and vineyards are complemented by such manicured and exotic locations as the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, which features plants from many parts of the world surrounded by tall gum trees. A series of conservation and recreation parks preserves some original and near-natural bushland. The cliffs of Morialta Conservation Park are popular with climbers and bushwalkers, while Para Wirra also provides walking trails and other recreational facilities.
Adelaide's long seafront is growing steadily as the city spreads north and south. The shallow Gulf St Vincent gives the city a large variety of beaches frequented by thousands. Deserted Port Prime, just beyond the city's northern fringes, is not suited to much recreation and is hardly visited at all...it's flat, almost featureless, and quite beautiful in its own way. I saw an eastern bearded dragon there. The metropolitan area proper has an almost unbroken line of busy beaches. To the south, the hills stretch to the gulf shores, which are punctuated by signs of early settlement such as the jetty ruins at Port Willunga and delightful coves like Second Valley. Then, rugged heights overlook Backstairs Passage, a narrow strait separating Kangaroo Island from the mainland. The hills there host a wind-farm for power generation. Nearby, kangaroos have a view of Kangaroo Island from the preserved natural vegetation of Deep Creek Conservation Park
A new page dealing with another spectacular part of South Australia's coastline and its wildlife: Innes National Park
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