The unsealed road near Pindar, east of Mullewa, is so bumpy we are towing our caravan at a snail’s pace. Along with other vehicles we could be a funeral procession. Which is appropriate, given we are in search of the wreath flower.
The state of the road depends on when you go. Lucky motorists arrive after the gravel surface has been freshly graded.
One of the world’s unique, rare and odd flowers, wreath flowers are not endangered but limited to small areas of the Wheatbelt and Geraldton sandplains.
Lechenaultia macrantha, (also spelled Leschenaultia) are just 5 cm high but up to 50 cm across.
Countless tourists pour up and down the road, eyes peeled for the flowers that, in their natural state, look as good as any florist-created wreath.
These are flowers that usually can be seen from the car, appearing as if they were neatly laid by florists over the gravelled surface of the roadside.
We see dozens of flowers with frilled red, white and pink petals. One report said there were around 160 in one spot. We leave the car and walk further into the scrub in search of bigger wreath flower numbers – and to stretch our legs after the longish drive.
There’s no tourist booth, no shop nor toilet. The openness of the land and the peace is soothing to the soul. It might be a black thought, but with the region’s tranquility and abundance of wreath flowers, this would be an ideal place to be laid to rest.
But with the arrival of a couple of tourist buses, the stillness and birdsong is taken away. No matter. Just drive further up the road for more of nature’s wonders.
The flowers are usually individual rings but some are interlocked to form a pretty, coloured chain against the ochre sand.
In previous years, visitors who searched for the flowers reported seeing about 50. In other years, perhaps 500.
Wreath flowers start coming out in June but the knowing locals and informed visitors leave their visit until September as wreath flowers commonly come much later in the wildflower season.
People from the eastern states and other countries have heard of the wreath flower phenomenon, probably before many of us West Australians, so rich are we in unique and rare flora.
Wreath flowers aren’t propagated because apparently they don’t look appealing in pots. How long will that last?
There are some other wildflowers about here. One visitor was suggesting to others that they call at Canna to see the wild orchids.
Of course, seasons change and seeing what is flowering is the luck of the draw. So it can be a big help to chat to fellow flora followers.
Given the road corrugations in these parts, a bus tour seems like a good idea. Tour leaders are also better-informed today with training or local knowledge. Unlike most of us, they know where they are going when it comes to specific, flourishing wildflower spots.