Our Rottnest trip to plant trees with the Rottnest Society was a great success. Not only did the weather (after torrential and constant rain on Friday night) turn out to be beautiful, but the chance to reduce our carbon footprint and to go behind-the-scenes of one of my favourite holiday destinations was priceless. We were planting Rottnest Island Pine and Melaleuca – the teatree you see around Rotto – and this year for the first time – as a trial of planting in the low heathland rather than slashing it first. The theory being that the competition from existing plants is offset by their ability to protect the seedlings from the summer sun and high winds.
What they do is fence off an area and then trap any quokkas within the fence so to stop the young seedlings being eaten.
This means the seedlings have a better survival rate and they are much faster to plant as you don’t have to put those little plastic surrounds around them to protect them. It also means when we started we got to do an “emu walk” which is kind of like the fingertip search you see police do on cop shows where they walk in a line across the landscape, in this case to chase any quokkas out of hiding.
It was great fun and the kids enjoyed being very loud.
Then we were allocated a patch and got to planting with hole diggers and about 9200 seedlings. Believe it or not they all got planted in the day and a half we had. Groover has GPS’d the location so we can find it again but I think it will be in my brain forever. Bulldozer swamp.
In the afternoon I walked to the shops with my kids and we took the long way back around Bathurst Lighthouse to the basin. It was a calm sunny winter afternoon. Tee-shirt weather. We saw these enormous fish feeding near the shore and enjoyed the emptiness of Rottnest Island in winter.
It is a special place. And my orchid hunter found a hard-to-find mosquito or gnat orchid.
My thighs are still hurting from all the bending down to plant.