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.
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).
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.