In this closer view of an Australian eucalyptus tree you can see dark black branches that have died even though the tree is still healthy. These hardy trees can cut off the supply of water to certain branches in times of drought, allowing the main body of the tree to remain alive. These sacrificed branches can fall off without warning, hence the nickname “Widow Maker”. Knowing about the eucalyptus’s tendency to drop branches might be handy if you are wandering in the outback.
Karijini, the subject of my last two posts, is only a small part of the Pilbara, a dry outback region in Western Australia. The Pilbara has huge expanses of gum trees, spinifex grasses, and other desert plants.
The area pictured here is rich in ire ore. Miners fly in from other parts of Australia and work for an allotted period, then return home temporarily. Everyone we saw at the local airport where we flew out wore a miner’s uniform and was headed for work. We took a wrong turn one night and ended up at a huge mine that was all lit up like a big city. It could have been an interesting photo, but a sign said, “STOP! Do not proceed!” So we turned around. We saw trains and big rigs, much longer than the ones we have in the U.S., filled with iron ore.
This state preserve near San Diego, California, features the critically endangered Torrey pine, the rarest pine in North America. The semi-arid parkland, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, is subject to fierce winds that sweep down from the desert. But on this quiet, windless day the uniform gray-greens of the pines and chaparral give the landscape a strikingly understated elegance.