A photospheric essay upon the mountain
The Mount Wellington Cableway Company typically pictures their cable car from high up and far away. This photospheric essay comes down to earth to show the places where the cableway hits the earth. What is down there?
The 360-degree spherical images (photospheres) were captured from the centre point of each drill site during a reconnaissance by the Wellington Rangers bioblitz group. The exhibition opening (22 March, 2019) coincided with the day the Minister for State Growth signed the Authority for the cableway company to start “investigating” these sites.
The Base Station would sit upon native grasses, sedges and bracken ferns in a clearing surrounded by gums. The cleared area is littered with the dark pellets of wallaby, bandicoot, bird and the forest margin is a known path for Tasmanian devils.
wet sclerophyll hill
Tower 1 would stand on a low hill covered in sclerophyll forest. Rising above fallen giants are old growth gums as well as post-67 fire gums. The giant (at drill point C3.3) has a girth of 6+ metres. Beneath, a scrubby, stinkwood and laurel understory, the ground is rich with leaf-litter, lichens and mossy rocks. This is the hunting ground of bandicoots and devils, both recorded in this bushland on the edge of clearings.
dry sclerophyll hill
Tower 2 would be just below the brow of this unnamed hill. Here, higher up the hill, in wettish sclerophyll forest a few mature trees stand among fallen giants forming a quadrangle of rotting trunks. Beneath them is a lighter, thinner understory of stinkwoods. A sanctuary for birds with its many tree hollows.
A “temporary structure” would stand in this intermediate zone where the gums thin and sub-alpine woodland with dense shrub begins including myrtles and a colourful understory. The scree slope is covered in lichen.
ORGAN PIPES rock garden
Tower 3 would stand upon a boulder field on the short bench directly above the Organ Pipes. Alpine heath grades here into sub-alpine shrubland in sheltered pockets. Low alpine shrubs and small gums (Eucalyptus coccifera). Thermalling over the bench were a pair of wedge-tailed eagles.
The Pinnacle Centre would sprawl across a highly varied, dense, alpine vegetation and boulder field forming the first bench below the Pinnacle Lookout. Alpine heath grading into sub-alpine shrubland in sheltered pockets. Low alpine shrubs and small trees (Eucalyptus coccifera). This is the habitat of the mountain skink and mountain snail, tiny creatures found no-where else on planet earth. We surprised a white-lipped snake.
silver peppermint forest
This is an open forest of silver peppermint gums. Growing on mudstone, such forests are now so rare they are listed under local and national environment protection legislation as "Threatened". The forest offers habitat for ten species listed as endangered, including one of Australia's rarest orchids and the elusive Masked Owl. The Access Road is at present only an “indicative alignment” so this photosphere was taken where the Access Road is shown to cross the Tip Top mountain bike track.
Slideshow by Wellington Rangers: Luke Harwood, David Day and Bernard Lloyd, shot March 2019.