June Challenge: River red gums

Riding over the weekend was thwarted by cold, wet, windy weather. We only reached a high of 9C and 8C on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That’s as wintry as it gets here, but I used that as an excuse to sleep a lot instead of ride. Monday brought clear skies, but I needed to call my parents around noon. And then I needed to go get all hooked up in the afternoon for the sleep study. So it’s just a short 20 kms around town today.

Oh yeah, you gotta love all this junk. This does not even include the nose cannula, the finger probe and the wristband that get attached at bedtime. Lucky me got to walk four blocks through town and then drive all the way home (45 min) looking like this! What one will do for a diagnosis! (A friend says I would have looked like an escaping crash test dummy when I was driving home).

I need to show you some red gums before this challenge is over. These are not the largest ever, but they are good-looking ones. These trees are along the new cycle path that Indigo Shire has just chip-sealed. This provides a link from the existing track along the river to some dirt tracks that extend to Lake Moodemere. Now you can go all the way from Wahgunyah to the lake without getting on roads – if you don’t mind some boggy, muddy bits in winter (the 4WD folks like to bush bash on the tracks). Eventually, they will get the sealed path all the way to the lake. This new section is about 2.5 kms and is very, very pleasant. (Sorry for the poor picture quality – but this is from my mobile phone and it appears to have some smudges on the lens).


See bike against the trunk and the new bike path curving along.
Tiny bicycle in the distance and two big river red gums. There are plenty of big ones along the path. The Murray River is just a few hundred metres away.

Here is an easy-to-read summary about red gums from  http://www.murrayriver.com.au/about-the-murray/river-red-gums/ 

The river red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis is the most widely distributed eucalyptus species in Australia growing along watercourses throughout the country. It lines the Murray River for most of its length. The trees are usually 20–35 m high with some over 45 m, with a diameter of 1–3 m. Canopy is dark green and the forest floor is usually devoid of undergrowth. The trunk is vari-coloured, which includes patches of leaden grey bark above an area of brown-black. The branches are often twisted and the root system is often partly exposed.

It is the association with the water that makes the tree interesting. It needs periods of partial flooding where its trunk may be inundated for months. Seeds are washed to high ground during a flood and germinate to take root and grow before the next flood submerges the new tree.

Old rotten limb hollows, or broken branches, provide nesting hollows for galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos, gang-gang cockatoos, cockatiels and various parrots.

The timber is a reddish colour with a strong interlocking grain.  It is hard and durable and is renowned for its slow-rotting character. The hard, heavy red gum provides foundations for buildings, and timber for railway sleepers, wharves and fences. It polishes beautifully and sometimes turns well.

Flowering is usually in summer in Victoria and varies in New South Wales. The flowers are white to pale cream. Honey produced has a clear golden colour, is mild and of good flavour.

Eucalyptus oil is well known in the pharmaceutical industry for a variety of products such as cough lozenges, inhalations, linaments and mouth washes. It comes mainly from E. globulus but some is derived from E. camaldulensis, but it is in the supply of eucalyptus gum that the river red gum leads the field.

The Aborigines used the tree for its medicinal properties. A handful of young leaves, crushed and then boiled in water, was used as a linament that was rubbed in for chest or joint pain, particularly for general aches and flu symptoms. Young leaves were also heated in a pit over hot coals, and the vapours were inhaled, which helped with the treatment of general sickness.

Nerdy chick in Australia who loves to ride and is accompanied by the crew: 'The Commander' Verne and the 'Mental Health Specialist' Kermit.

8 response to "June Challenge: River red gums"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: June 18, 2018

    Nice trees, Em. Sleep study? If wearing all that gear, I think my results would say “Unable to sleep due to all the gear.”

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 19, 2018

      Yes, the river red gums are very stately. All that sleep gear wasn’t too horrible – and I guess being exhausted all the time helps you sleep through annoying stuff.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 19, 2018

      As an asthmatic, I’m not very good at breathing any sort of vapours, medicinal or otherwise, without trouble. If I knew how to crush the leaves correctly, the ointment might be good for my weird, cramping muscle pain, though.

  2. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 18, 2018

    Big trees for sure! Were there any koalas up in them? Not sure where you rode is in an area inhabited by them though.
    My friend in Melbourne has warned me about the dreaded Drop Bears! 😉 He didnt mention drop trees!! Yikes!

    At least you got to go home to sleep, people I know who have done the test had to stay at the sleep clinic, and had to sleep on their back regardless of their favorite sleeping position. With all the wires etc, not very sleep inducing, as Bill said.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 19, 2018

      No koalas in the red gums – not their preferred leaf. But the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park that I rode in the week before does have koalas. I don’t see them too often – normally I’m looking down and forward at the road surface and they are usually pretty high up in the trees! And yes, drop bears love terrorising tourists!

      Over here, I think they like to have people do the home sleep study first – then if that identifies issues that a simple CPAP can’t fix, they then send you to the in-clinic sleep study. With the public health system paying for part of the tests, they want to make sure you really, really need something before they fork out. The in-clinic tests are really expensive. Since I have no risk factors for sleep apnoea and my only symptom is unrelenting daytime exhaustion and disrupted sleep, this was just a test to exclude that problem on the way to confirm a provisional ME/CFS diagnosis. It would be different perhaps if they were doing a thorough investigation of known risk factors and multiple symptoms.

  3. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: June 18, 2018

    4 blocks – did people look at you wonderingly or look away?

    Red gums – terrific trees large and sculptural and the home for so much wildlife. It’s interesting how gums have evolved to survive both fire and flood.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 19, 2018

      Ha! Yes, the further I got away from the med centre, the wider the berth I got on the footpaths and pedestrian crossings! The right-turning cars at the light gave me plenty of room and time to cross, too!

      Yes, the wonderful habitat of the red gums means they are a noisy place to camp and one of the reasons I don’t really like river camping. That and their propensity to drop huge branches with no warning – meaning you can’t really use their shade much. There were plenty of screeching corellas about when I took those photos….

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