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In and around Albany - Torbay

Torbay is a small town and a bay in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, 20 kilometres west of Albany. Torbay is within the City of Albany local government area. The Torbay townsite was gazetted in 1910.

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The Torbay area is on the eastern fringe of the karri forest region, and with some notable blocks of remnant tall forest. Large granite outcrops are also common. Beaches on the bay tend towards fine white sand. Where streams occur, they are clear but stained dark brown in colour from high-tannin-content vegetation.

The town is named after Tor Bay,a bay on the coast to the south originally named by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1801 after Tor Bay in Devon, the home port of Admiral Richard Howe's Channel Fleet, for whom Flinders had served as a midshipman from 1793 to 1794. Admiral Howe's nickname was "Lord Torbay". Flinders identified a number of local features with Lord Howe-related names, including Torbay (the bay), Torbay Inlet, Torbay Head and West Cape Howe (originally named Cape Howe by George Vancouver), to avoid confusion with James Cook’s Cape Howe in New South Wales. Pre-settlement explorers of the Torbay area included: Matthew FlindersRobert BrownFerdinand Bauer and William Westall (Dec. 1801);Thomas Wilson (Dec. 1829);Roe and Stirling (Nov. 1835) and Charles Codrington Forsyth of HMS Pelorus (1838).

Shipbuilding

In November 1835, Roe and Stirling explored the Tor Bay area, scoping the area for shipbuilding. From the late 1830s to the 1860s an industry building vessels of up to 150 tons was established at Port Harding (Migo Island), using timber from the Guarinup Hills, half a mile behind the beach

Whaling

A shore whaling station was established on the beach at Tor Bay behind Migo Island in 1844. Whales were taken during the periods 1844-1846 and 1861-1864.

Forestry

In 1886 railway contractors C & E Millar established sawmills at Bornholm to supply timber for the construction of the Great Southern Railway (Beverley to Albany railway). Timber was initially shipped out by lighter, schooner and the small steamer Active from Port Harding (Migo Island) to Albany, and later by tramline to Elleker. In 1889 the Torbay Estate, of 22,000 acres, was granted to Millars in consideration of extending the railway from Elleker to Torbay and establishing working sawmills there. The two Bornholm mills were shifted to Torbay and enlarged.A prosperous timber settlement was in evidence at Torbay for about six years. The estate concession extended from Wilgie Hill, at the Albany end of Torbay, to Youngs, the timber being hauled by tramline from 20 miles beyond Torbay as far as Hay River, before the mills were finally moved.[1By 1895 most of the suitable timber at Torbay had been felled. The railway was again extended to Denmark in 1896. In 1898 Millars Karri and Jarrah Forests Limited offered the Torbay Estate back to the government provided they could retain ownership of the strip of land occupied by the Elleker-Torbay railway, which under their contract was to revert to the government after 14 years. The land was subdivided and sold for agricultural purposes in 1900.

WAGR rail service

Millars' Elleker-Torbay-Denmark railway line closed on 31 May 1905. During negotiations over the sale of the railway line the State leased the line and WAGR rail services began on 3 May 1907.In 1908 Millars sold the railway to the state government. Line extension works beyond Denmark were started in 1926 and on 11 June 1929 the first passenger service ran to Nornalup. The Nornalup-Denmark-Torbay-Elleker rail service was permanently shut down on 30 September 1957 and the rails were lifted in 1963

Modern industry

Local industries include dairy farming, beef cattleplantation forestry, specialist horticulture, arts and crafts and tourism, along with rural businesses that service farmers (mechanicslime supply, machinery and labour hire etc.). A seasonal commercial fishing industry occurs within the bay based on catches of herring and Australian salmon during the February–April period. Torbay has been a traditional potato growing area for over a century, particularly for seed potato production. While some pumpkins are grown and the area is suitable for cauliflower production, potatoes are the major horticultural crop. The area currently produces about 50% of Western Australia’s requirements for seed potato production.

Tor Bay

Tor Bay, which includes Port Harding (named in 1838 by master's mate Charles Forsyth after Captain Francis Harding of HMS Pelorus) and Port Hughes (named in 1831 by Roe after Private Thomas Hughes of the 63rd Regiment) as well as Torbay Inlet, lie between Torbay Head and Stony Island. Torbay Head is the most southerly point on the mainland of Western Australia and the most western point of the Great Australian Bight.[21] Islands within Tor Bay include Migo Island, named after the Swan River native Migo, Richard Island, named after Admiral Richard Howe, both by Roe in 1835; and Shelter Island. Popular beaches on the bay include Perkins Beach, Muttonbird Beach and Cosy Corner, all accessible by car. Cosy Corner is the most well-known, a popular family beach with picnic and camping facilities. Children's swimming lessons are held there in the summer. There are other beaches that are accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicle. The Bibbulmun Track passes around the edge of the bay, coming down long steps from the steep hills above Cosy Corner and following the beach around the curve of the bay and across the mouth of Torbay Inlet to near Shelter Island.

 

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Put out water for the wildlife in your garden on hot days

Susan Lawler, La Trobe University
Wildlife need water on hot days. Melanie Thomas, from pixabay.com

Last night I was watering the garden with a hose. It is easy to see how stressed the plants are on a 38 degree day, but then I remembered that the animals in my garden need water too. So I filled some shallow bowls and placed them in quiet shady spots. During a hot Australian summer day, such an act can save a life. A small life, perhaps, but every little bit counts.

I have a small suburban garden but it still supports a range of insects, birds, frogs and reptiles. Whenever we move a pile of wood we disturb some lovely spotted geckos. Even in the city most Australians will have possums moving through the trees and skinks sheltering under the back steps. Suburbs on the edge of town have wombats, wallabies and kangaroos. Birds and insects live everywhere. On hot days all creatures will seek water and shade.

So why not add a routine to your normal gardening chores and put out some water for wildlife? Here are a few hints to ensure that the animals benefit.

Tips for watering wildlife

Use only shallow bowls so small animals do not drown. Alternatively (or additionally) add a few rocks or sticks so they can easily crawl out. Do not use metal bowls as these will become hot and may burn their feet or paws. Place the water in a shady spot, out of the way of human activity and protected from domestic pets.

Birds and tree dwelling animals will appreciate water hung at various levels. You can nail a plastic tub to a fence, or hang a modified water bottle in a tree.
If you are able to set up a hose to mist a shady corner in the garden, you will create a small haven for wildlife. I did this last night with the excuse that the lemon tree needed a good drink anyway.

Don’t worry if you don’t see the animals using your water. It is likely that they prefer privacy and will use it when you are not looking.

On the other hand, if you do see animals showing signs of heat stress, you may have to take further steps.

Caring for heat stressed wildlife

Animals that are suffering from heat stress will behave strangely. Nocturnal animals that are out during the day, tree dwelling animals sitting on the ground, or animals that are lethargic or staggering are all showing signs of stress.

The first concern about stressed wildlife is your own safety. Do not approach snakes, flying foxes, large kangaroos, eagles, hawks or goannas. Your best bet is to contact a trained wildlife carer for advice.

It is a good idea to have the phone numbers of your local wildlife carers handy, or download the wildlife rescue app.

If it is safe to do so, you can assist a heat stressed animal by picking it up in a towel, placing it in a well ventilated box in a cool spot and provide water. Do not feed the animal or handle it more than necessary. The animal may recover enough to release again in the evening, but if not you will need to take them to a wildlife carer or a vet.

Wildlife and bushfires

Unfortunately many Australians now live under the threat of bushfires and face evacuations throughout the summer months. Obviously, fires are bad for both domestic and wild animals. The best thing you can do during an evacuation is to take your dogs and cats with you and leave out plenty of water for wildlife.

If you do find injured wildlife, take them to the vet if it is safe to do so. Never go into a fire affected area searching for injured animals. This is a job best left to trained staff who are coordinated by the appropriate agencies and assisted by volunteers who have had the right training.

The ConversationOn the other hand, all of us can help by putting out water for wildlife. Every little bit helps.

Susan Lawler, Senior Lecturer, Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Losing bees will sting more than just our taste for honey

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Not all bees are honeybees. This is a green ‘sweat’ bee. Ian Jacobs/flickr, CC BY-SA
Marianne Peso, Macquarie University

Changing wildlife: this article is part of a series looking at how key species such as bees, insects and fish respond to environmental change, and what this means for the rest of the planet.

We may lose a lot more than honey if bees are unable to cope with the changing climate and increasing demand for agricultural land.

Your morning coffee might be a thing of the past if bees disappear, and if coffee isn’t your thing, you undoubtedly eat many of the fruit and vegetables (and chocolate) that rely on bee pollination for survival.

In fact, the world’s 25,000 bee species are responsible for pollinating a third of the food humans eat. If we lose bees, then we risk the food security of ourselves, and all the other animals that depend on bee-pollinated crops for survival.

While European (managed) honey bees steal the limelight, other wild (non-honey) bees are just as important for pollinating crops and will also be impacted by climate change. Data from all over the globe suggest that both groups are in decline, but since we do not have a global integrated and complete monitoring system of bee populations, these data do not describe the full extent of the problem.

So how well equipped are bees to survive a warming climate, and is there anything we can do to help?

Bees and plants: it’s a long-term relationship

Bees and flowering plants share a long evolutionary relationship and depend on each other for survival. Plants provide bees with food and habitat, while the bees feeding on pollen and nectar provide the plants with pollination.

To orchestrate this beautiful exchange, plants and bees rely on environmental cues (such as temperature) to coordinate their seasonal activity. However, climate change can disrupt these relationships so that bee activity periods will no longer time with flowering periods. This will cause the bees to lose a food source and plants that fail to fruit, potentially leading to extinctions of both.

The beautiful exchange between bees and plants.

Some plant-bee relationships are highly specialised. These species have evolved together so closely that a plant can depend on a single bee species in order to reproduce and vice versa.

Bees in specialist plant-bee relationships (such as this one) are most susceptible to climate induced extinction, as the loss of one will inevitably lead to the loss of the other.

More generalist bee species, that can collect food from more than one plant species, may fare better than their specialist counterparts. As the climate changes, animals and plants evolve new genetic traits to adapt to the new environment.

However, when the environment changes at a faster pace than evolution can produce new traits, species that already have the physiological and behavioural abilities within its genetic code to cope with the changes will have an advantage.

A bee species that can already access more than one food source (such as the honey bee) can quickly adapt to changing plant communities and survive when other specialist species cannot.

‘Beehaving’ differently in the heat

Bee species that can alter their behaviour to cope with high temperatures (for example by changing their activity periods to avoid the hottest part of the day) will tolerate climate stress. But these adaptive capabilities have their limits.

Increasing heat waves can directly kill bees by overheating them and/or melting wax-based nesting structures. Drought can also kill bees indirectly, by causing dehydration or starvation through the death of food plants.

Alternatively, it is possible that bees will change their range in response to changing climactic zones. As one area gets too hot, the bees can move to more tolerable climatic conditions.

However, a study on bumble bees conducted in North America and Europe using data spanning the last century indicate that bumble bees do not move in a way that “tracks” warming. Rather, they stay in the same place despite the changing climate.

A socially flexible sweat bee can switch behaviour depending on the environmental conditions. Patty O'Hearn Kickham/flickr, CC BY-ND

While most of us think bees live in colonies, most of the world’s bees are actually solitary. In solitary species, female bees generally live alone in nests they’ve built, in which they raise their offspring.

Most bee species are also fixed in their social structures, with some species living alone while others have varying degrees of social behaviour. However, a few native bee can change their social structure depending on the environment, so bees that are solitary in one set of environmental conditions are social under another. These socially flexible species may have surprising responses to climate change.

As the weather warms and growing seasons lengthen, socially flexible bees (such as some carpenter and sweat bees) may, eventually, switch permanently from solitary behaviour to social behaviour. However this may also decrease their ability to adapt.

Leaving wildflower borders at the edge of fields can provide habitat for bees. ukgardenphotos/flickr, CC BY-ND

Bee habitats are disappearing

While changing the climate, humans have also made dramatic changes to Earth’s landscapes. Increasing human population and our consequent demands for space to live and grow food has meant that more of the bees’ habitat has been changed into urban and intensive agricultural areas.

This has resulted in loss of habitat and food sources for the bees (as well as exposure to potentially harmful pesticides). Large areas of monoculture crops fragment vital bee habitats that are required for native bee food and nests. The crops may not provide a suitable food sources for certain bee species and generalist bee species such as the honey bee suffer compromised immunity when only fed one source of pollen.

Our agricultural pollination needs cannot be met with honey bee pollination alone, as native bees are often specialised pollinators for crops honey bees cannot pollinate. For example, the solitary alfalfa leafcutting bee pollinates alfalfa, an important crop for animal feed and a plant with a trip-mechanism that honey bees avoid. Furthermore, native and honey bees can work cooperatively to pollinate, producing the maximum crop yield required for efficient food production.

The problems with taking over bee habitats can be partly resolved by leaving adequate wildflower borders between fields and in urban areas. This can link habitats and food sources (such as Norway’s bee highway) so that bees can move across the entire landscape.

Bees are interpretive dancers

Just as plants and bees are codependent, we are dependent on their relationship for survival and must do our best to keep bees healthy, and this means more research about all aspects of the lives of wild bees including their influence on pollination. Without knowledge of how they live and their habitat needs, we cannot adequately protect them.

Honey bees preform waggle dances to tell the rest of the hive where the best flowers are.

In the case of the honey bee, we can find out what food sources it prefers by asking the bees themselves. Honey bees perform a waggle dance to communicate the direction and distance of their preferred food source, and how much they like it (a honey bee dance is more “vigorous” when they really value a food source).

By interpreting the dance of the honey bee workers, and identifying the pollen on their legs to determine which plant they are dancing about, we can find out where and when they like to forage. This information on foraging behaviour can also be used as an indicator of the biodiversity in the area, and whether the landscape is healthy for bees.

The ConversationThe knowledge we gain from the bees can be used to help conserve them, and in turn, conserve ourselves.

Marianne Peso, Lecturer/Postdoctoral Research Associate, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Off the beaten track - West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe National Park is a national park between Albany and Denmark.

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Torbay Head, the most southerly point of the mainland of Western Australia, is situated within the park.The park is abutted against the coast of the Southern Ocean and takes up approximately 23 km of the coastline between Lowlands Beach and Forsythe Bluff.

The park began as being vested in the Shire of Albany in 1977 for the purposes of recreation. By 1985 the area was gazetted as C Class Reserve after agreement between the shire and vested in the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Authority. Following the addition of an extra 41 ha (100 acres) that was a timber reserve along the northern boundary the park was given an A Class status in 1987. The park is now a single reserve (26177) and is made up of an area of 3,517 ha (8,690 acres). The rare and ancient Main's assassin spider, currently listed as threatened, was found to inhabit the park during a survey conducted in 2008.

The park is home to a range of habitats including karri forest, coastal heath and wetlands each of which support a diverse array of vegetation and plant species. The area around Lake William supports a dense sedge scrub and rare species such as Amperea volubilus and an unnamed species of Melaleuca. The Albany Pitcher Plant, Cephalotus follicularis, is also found in the park.

Due to the sandy nature of many of the tracks, much of the park is accessible only to four-wheel drive vehicles, although all vehicles may reach the popular Shelley Beach where a campground is located. Shelley Beach also has a look-out, toilet and barbecue launching facilities for hang-gliders. The nearby Golden Gate Beach is also a popular location for surfers.

Western Australia's long-distance walking trail, the Bibbulmun Track passes through the park. The park has many facilities for bushwalkers, with a 15 kilometres return trip spur-trail from the track to Torbay Head and a boardwalk section of the track In the West of the park, there is an overnight shelter for walkers that sleeps 12-15 persons, named 'West Cape Howe Campsite'.