Before I had walked more than a few metres, I was delighted to see the multi species rainforest growing densely along the edge of Tarraleah Canal Number 1 and by the side of the Hydro Tasmania vehicular track next to the Canal. The air was clean so that every hue of green, grey and brown provided a clear and rich visual texture. The environment uplifted my spirits.
All day I revelled in the fragrance emanating from the forest. It was one of my walk’s great highlights. Thankfully my nostrils did not sniff out rotting animal odours. From midday into the early afternoon when the air was warmest, the natural oils of the trees dispersed creating a strong natural perfume. I could not identify all the trees that were visible leave alone those that were hidden in the dark thickets. Therefore, I could not identify what I smelt. I tried to think of words to describe the smell, but every description I considered is woefully inadequate. All I can say is that there was a hint of eucalyptus but a stronger minty-like freshness floating and pervading the environment. I would love to be able to bottle that forest fragrance.
The quantity and volume of tree ferns astonished me as did how close they grew to each other. I guess that the disturbance to the ancient original forest, which occurred when the Canal was built, caused a monoculture of these plants to thrive. Another of my walks, the one between Wayatinah and here, passed through this ridiculously dense bush. Often there wasn’t a person-sized space between the tree ferns, but I will write more about that challenging walk in a future post.
This hilly landscape with the old Derwent River bed at the bottom constantly surprised me. I could see that thick seemingly impenetrable forests grew either side of the river bed. In the photo below, the land drops steeply to the river bed and then rises equally steeply on the other side. For much of the length of the Canal, when I looked at 150 metres of land across the flatness of a map, I realised the Canal was 250metres above the river bed; both the length and the steepness of the drop seemed extraordinary to me.
Towards the conclusion of the walk the nature of the vegetation seemed to change from dense wet thicket to a dryer and slightly more open landscape – or was it my imagination.
From the start of my walk, the bulk of one green mass on the other side of Cluny Lagoon signalled a plantation forest. This man-made forest showed the irregularity and environmental diversity of the Tasmanian bush clearly by contrast. I was surprised how many of my photos contained this massive ‘foreign’ green.
I will be heading out into the wilds of the Tasmanian bush later this year when I walk near the more inhospitable edges of the Derwent River through old-growth forests; I will be walking away from any tracks and be remote from civilisation.
On this basis, it was with interest I read the article at http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/05/20/4236600.htm. New research about underground communication has extended 30 year old research which introduced the practice of above ground communication between plants in forests. There is talk of ‘mother’ trees.
Some readers might consider this is a crack pot viewpoint that has come out of the inclinations of green politics with which they don’t agree. So I checked who the researchers were, their affiliations were and whether any funding might be seen to skew their research findings.
Leading this research is an academic at the University of British Colombia, Professor/Dr Suzanne Simard who works in the Faculty of Forestry. Her research is grant funded by a neutral body, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada – so that the research findings are not created to support any organisation which wants a particular outcome. At her university, Simard leads Terre WEB (the Terrestrial Research on Ecosystem & World-wide Education and Broadcast project) a Masters and PhD degree level training program that focuses on effective communication of global change research.