Western Australia is a large, dry state. 1,021,478 square miles, you can drop the United Kingdom into it four times, and then fill out the margins with Ireland one and a bit times times. Or you could put Texas AND Alaska into WA and have room for lots of Russians to stand scowling around the edges staring at Dubya and Sarah Palins. The vast majority of the state is semi-arid or arid desert, with almost no precipitation falling in many areas. Australia’s largest state is however also home to 12,000 of the world’s wildflower species.

The South West corner is a micro-climate of lushness, albeit a micro-climate the size of several European countries. The ‘bottom, left-hand’ corner is a well respected wine growing region, as well as being home to hundreds of cattle stations, fruit and vegetable farms and a thriving tourism industry.

Tall stands of Karri Gum are the signature tree of the Cape Naturaliste National Park. Karri gums are the tallest of the Australian Eucalypts, and were prized by the early European settlers for their strong, straight timbers. Hamelin Bay beach is marked today by the remains of a timber pier that once extended 547 metres out, providing a berthing and loading point during the 1800’s for the ships taking on bellyfuls of Karri timber.

In the open flats extending beyond the Karri forests are extensive, flat clearings – cattle feed where only kangaroos once grazed amongst the original forests. Here and there lush, shaded wetland areas predominate. At this time of year in the shade of the gums water lilies stand tall, their roots standing in well watered and rich soil, with the white lily cupping the yellow stamen. The lowing cattle in the distance are collectively unimpressed, though the burbling, croaking, coughing frogs are numerous in their appreciative vocalization.

We passed this lily-grove yesterday. It was worth getting up early to capture it in early morning sunlight.