Getting Nearer To Nature !

Trip Start Sep 04, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Friday, June 6, 2008

G'Day Nature Lovers!

Only 50 km's north of Scarborough, near the suburb of Yanchep is Yanchep National Park!  Soon, this will become an urban national park as metro Perth expands along it's northern and southern coastline.  It seems, everyone wants to be near the beach!  Given it was another beautiful day with a mild 21C temperature, we decided to take the afternoon and explore Yanchep NP.  Perhaps, we thought, we'll even see a koala!

Upon arriving at the Park gate, we were greeted by a pleasant park staff who kindly took our $10 park entry fee.  She offered some helpful information and suggestions for our visit to the park.  A few minutes later, we were at the visitors center where we paid for a tour of Crystal Cave!

Nestled in tuart and banksia woodlands, the park is home to many different water and bush birds including ducks, grebes, swans, pelicans, cormorants, egrets, kingfishers, parrots, wrens and honeyeaters, to name a few.
Carnaby's black cockatoos are a spectacular daily sight.  Later in the afternoon, Western Grey kangaroos are commonly seen on the walk trails or grazing on the picnic lawns and golf course.   Upon exiting the visitor center, we could hear many of these bird species before actually seeing them!  As we walked through the park area toward Wagardu Lake, the sheer number of birds made it difficult to overlook them.  We were very impressed by the uniqueness of bird species present and their ray of colours.

A new 240-metre-long boardwalk has been constructed through the koala compound to provide visitors with unencumbered views of the koalas living in the trees.  Although the boardwalk was designed to eliminate any further handling of the koalas, which has proven to be too stressful for these delicate animals, we didn't mind!  We've already done the touristy photo!  Back in Brisbane in 1999, we had a "hold the koala" photo taken!  Believe me, koala's are smelly, have course hair and sharp claws!  Once you handle a live Koala, you'll be quite content only handling the plush ones later!  Anyway, the boardwalk now allows them the freedom to eat, play and sleep whenever they like throughout the day. The koala colony at Yanchep remains a major attraction to local, interstate and overseas visitors.   We were able to see a few koala's in their habitat, sleeping and eating!

The caves in Yanchep National Park comprise one of the six major cave regions of the State and there have been more than 600 caves documented in the park.  The caves at Yanchep were formed by underground streams, which flow westwards from the Gnangara Mound. The caves in the park are quite small in dimension and close to the surface, because the ground water is only about 10 metres below the surface.  In comparison, the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Range has a water table of more than 200 metres in depth, and therefore has large caves. 

Several of the caves in Yanchep National Park have been open for tourists during the past 70 years. These include Cabaret, Mambibby, Yanchep, Yonderup and Crystal caves.  Cabaret Cave (previously known as Silver Stocking Cabaret Cave) was converted to an underground function centre in the 1930s, with some major modifications (concrete floor, doors, wall seating) to its structure.  Crystal cave is the largest cave which now offer guided tours for the public!

After leaving the koala boardwalk, we headed to Crystal Cave for our scheduled 3pm tour.  Our tour guide, Peta, gave us a very informative walk through of this cave, which had three large chambers!  We were just hoping there wouldn't be a test later on the definition of calcites and dolomites, or an explanation of the theory of chemical thermodynamics, or explain the difference between stalactites and stalagmites!  Fortunately, there was no exam afterwards!  Thankfully!!   However, we thought the cave tour was very educational and would recommend it for anyone visiting the park for their first time!

After the tour, we made ourselves back to the lake area where we took the opportunity to take a 2 km wetland walk around Wagardu Lake.  This walk, which began at the Lakeview picnic area, ended at the Yanget picnic area where we were met with a group of Western Grey Kangaroos, grazing on the lawn!  These kangaroos must have quickly identified us as tourists just wanting to take their photo, as they weren't threatened by our presence and continued to graze around the picnic area!  In fact, they seemed so comfortable with our presence, I asked one kangaroo if they didn't mind taking a photo of us!  Just kidding!  

As sunset was nearing, it appeared the park's entire herd of kangaroos decided to come to the picnic areas around the lake front!  They were everywhere!  Before leaving the National Park, we decided to view a beautiful sunset over Wagardu Lake!  With the wetlands in the background and waterfowl on the lake, the setting offered something different!  

This afternoon, we got nearer to nature!  And we loved the experience!    

Cheers, Rick & Elsie!  

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