The things desert trees do to survive
Consider this amazing tree and look at where it has taken root! It is growing well and looks healthy despite there having been no rain here for many months. But when it does rain, it will trap all the water coming down those rocks behind, replenish itself, then hide what it can, deep in the crack between the rocks for another dry day!
The sun beats down relentlessly on its leaves all through summer. The latter have evolved to hang downwards to avoid the heat as much as possible. Then in winter, the temperature drops below freezing as the nights get longer. So this tree (and indeed all the plants in this place) must cope with this as well. These are the stresses of living in this environment.
This place is called Mutawintji and it is part of a dedicated National Park. It is located in Western NSW – a long, long way from large busy cities with trains, busses and thousands of commuters. No cars, no freeways and no pollution.
Indeed, very few people at all.
Dry riverbed with many animal tracks – “Mutawintji commuters”.
It rarely rains out here, and when it does, it often does so with a vengeance. River beds stay dry for many months and years – ready to spring to life as soon as the clouds start to drop their precious load.
Pebbles in the banks of the dry streams show where the stream bed used to be.
Ancient stencils made by spraying by mouth over an outstretched hand.
But there is also water hidden in the nearby rocky gorges which made this place a haven for the indigenous people who once roamed this land. They have left their mark – handprints sprayed on the rocks tell tales of thirsty visitors now long gone.
Wizened and twisted old trees of uncertain age show the scars of the harsh climate. These trees are not deciduous but will drop whole branches when water becomes a major problem. This too, is a clever way to try to survive and thrive in this environment. The old trees also have lots of hollows which are used by animals and birds as nesting places.
Roots extend deep into the subsoil, even in creek beds. Rarely any water around at the surface!
Wizened old tree shows many signs of climatic tolerance.
Late shadows on another hot, but incredibly peaceful day.
This place has an attraction for me which I do not quite understand (particularly since I love places that have water and there is not much of that in Mutawintji!) Perhaps it is the sheer size of the landscape and the stunning colours that entice me back.
Or could it be that when I look up on a clear night and wonder and marvel at the millions and millions of stars that fill the night sky, it makes me feel so small, and so insignificant?
Perhaps the attraction is that it is just so amazingly peaceful.
This was posted in reply to Ailsa’s travel theme – peaceful. If you would care to visit her blog “Where’s my backpack” you may find more remote desert locations to soak in some absolute peace.