Herping with kids at Sullivan Rock

The WA Naturalists held an excursion in August 2019 to Sullivan Rock. It’s worth checking out the club if you are interested in learning more about nature and meeting like-minded people.

Sullivan rock is found within the Monodocks conservation park. Its a large granite outcrop with Jarrah forest surrounding.

I decided to bring both my kids – Liam (5) and Sienna (nearly 3) as they love getting out into nature and it would give my lovely wife some rare time to herself. 2 others joined the excursion – so just a small group but perhaps best with 2 rowdy kids!

It was a lovely clear day but a little on the cool side. We were hoping for herps but cooler conditions are not condusive to seeing them out on the rocks.

The kids were excited and Liam remembered an earlier trip where he had seen some wildlife underneath rocks. Rock flipping is one way to find critters especially when its a cool day – but we must remember these are their homes so it is critical to replace the rock exactly as found. Rocky outcrops are places that, while they might not seem it, are fragile habitats. So driving on rocks, stacking rocks or taking them home all affect the fauna and fauna that live there.

The car park is on Albany Highway and directions can be found here, then head carefully across the highway and follow a small segment of the Bibbulmun track.

The kids enjoyed the walk in – I gave them instructions to walk on the bare rock and not the moss patches. The moss only hangs onto the bare granite rock face and is therefore very fragile.

Amongst the moss patches other plants were found such as Coral lichen (Cladia sp.), a grey lichen with Resurrection Plants (or Pincushions, Borya sphaerocephala) – the spiky plants seen on the right hand side. During dry periods they look pretty much dead.

On the top of the outcrop we found a number of pools with aquatic fauna and the kids were pleased to find some tadpoles. We were unsure of the species but likely to be Crinia sp. The kids were fascinated to watch water boatman ‘paddle’ around the pond.

We crossed to the other side of the rock stopping for some morning tea. It’s important to keep snack levels high. We found some climbing sundew or Drosera which the kids were fascinated to learn is insectivorous. The cups produce an insect attractant but the surrounding sticky tentacles will curl in to trap any hapless insect that gets into the cup.

On the way back more pool exploring was required with more tadpoles found.

We kept carefully checking rocks as we were hopeful to find some brumating (reptile version of hibernating) Ornate dragon lizards (Ctenophorus ornatus) but none were found this time. The easily accessible parts of the rock get a fair amount of traffic and are disturbed.

In amongst the grey lichen we noticed some tiny orchids only 3-4cms tall.

We then headed for home. The kids had so much fun and thoroughly enjoyed being out exploring in nature.

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