Monday 11th June 2012Goldsmith Island
20’40.218 S – 149’08.950 E
Warm days, cool nights, moderate breezes 10/15 gusting 20knts
|Goldsmith Island Anchorage|
MrJ and I dropped the pick in the first southern bay on Goldsmith as Neriki rounded the headland. We had anchored too close to a bommie and the swell was coming around the headland; not happy with that at all so we pulled the anchor up and move further north to the second bay hoping to get a better spot. Neriki did the same and was not long followed by Forever Dreaming.
The sea must have been still stirred up by the terrible low pressure system off southern Queensland as the swell was running strongly around the island and into all the bays. The wind was more to the S and a little SW which brought the chop into the bay at times making the anchorage rather rolly especially if the boat was copping it on the side.
Never to be deterred, before lunch, MrJ and I went ashore to stretch our leg and explore the beach. There was a lovely long white sandy beach with gentle wave on the shoreline, rocky headlands at both ends with tall Hoop Pines, small She-oak trees to give shade and a camping site with a drop-dunny hut and heaps of wild flowers. But now walking track!
An architect could not have done a better job of designing these plants for the extreme environmental conditions in which they thrive. The long drooping branches consist of myriads of finer branchlets. The leaves are reduced to ribs on the branchlet, which end in leaf teeth. These reduced leaves occur in whorls located at the evenly spaced joints along the branchlets. These green branchlets perform the same food-making role (photosynthesis) as the leaves, but save on water losses, by reducing transpiration. The trees are endowed with a tough corky, corrugated bark, ideal as a protective shield from the abrasive, sand laden coastal winds. The trees have two distinct forms, either male or female (dioecious). The male tree has long reddish flowers at the ends of its branchlets, which pollinate the rusty red, globular flowers on the female tree. The female's flowers are designed to hang well out to catch the wind born pollen grains that wafts pass from the nearby male. The production of pollen can be so prolific that they often produce a reddish carpet of pollen under the trees.
The fruit resembles brown cones with valves (look like little beaks) opening to produce shiny black seeds. The cones can be assisted to release the seed, by selecting ones that have closed valves, and storing them in a paper bag for a few weeks, until the beaks open to release the seed.
|Wildflowers and butterfies|
- For a low intensity fires or cool burns, the older trees are unaffected, whilst the younger plants are killed. However, they will re-sprout from their bases. Cool burns do not release the seed stored in the cones within the canopy.
- For a moderate intensity fires, the younger plants are killed and they mostly do not re-sprout. The mature tree survives, but some of their canopy dies releasing a small amount of seed from the cones.
- For high intensity fire or very hot burns, all She-oaks are killed outright with their survival relying on the release of the seed stored in the cones within its canopy (where it maybe stored for up to 10 years).
She-oak trees, which are killed by hot fires, shed their seed. These will only stay viable for less than 3 months in the soil. With suitable conditions, prolific germination occurs after a hot fire on the sterile nutrient rich ash bed. (Provided that the harvester ants do not grab them first). Once successfully germinated, the dense mass of seedlings crowd out other native plants, which may germinate. It needs to be remembered that, young She-oaks need to have at least 5 to 7 years of growth before they start to produce seed bearing cones and at least 10 years before they have a reasonable number of cones in their canopy. If no further hot fires occur the She-oak community dominates the area once again. If two hot fires occur within 7 years then the She-oak woodland will be replaced by grassy woodland.
The craft wood potential of the hard, beautifully grained, reddish timber was recognised by early settlers. Its attributes ensured an export market to the mother country. Here it was treated as a prized wood, only to be used sparingly on highly prized projects. Small artefacts such as document boxes or inlaid features in fine quality furniture were crafted from this imported She-oak. The strength of the wood proved useful to colonists for crafting axe handles and other tool handles. Today the wood has once again been recognised for its qualities to the point where a few plantations of She-oaks have recently been planted. These plantations also benefit the apiary industry as the flowers' pollen attracts honeybees, which produce a distinctive tasting honey. She-oak was also noted for its firewood property of burning very hot, leaving a pure white ash bed. This white ash proved ideal as a sheet whitener, prior to commercial whiteners. This ash also comprised the major component in soap, forming the "Li" or alkali which, when mixed with animal fat (Sheep or Roo origins) and scented with rose water, chemically combined to form real true blue soap. She-oak was popularly used for making spears. The inner bark and sapwood shavings were soaked in water and the liquid gargled for toothaches.
Aboriginal tribes used the She-oak trunks for attracting grubs. The trunk was dumped into creeks and rivers to attract grubs. These were harvested and eaten raw or cooked. The young She-oak cones were chewed to promote salvia in dry mouths, as they travelled long distances through the hot, dry landscape. Exudates collected from the trunk were chewed or melted with warm water to form a jelly prior to eating.