National Geographic : 1995 Jan
ire-essential to many Australian wildflowers-reduces competition, opens seedpods, triggers germination, and provides nutrient-rich ash. A blaze set deliberately to provide a firebreak (right) leaves a charred land scape (below). Across it ambles a lizard called a mountain devil, looking like a cross between a hand grenade and a seedpod. Behind this six-inch long, ant-eating monster, cones of Banksia, cracked open by heat, have released their seeds. Rustling in the breeze, papery everlastings (following pages) adorn the picnic that bush guide Allan Woodward and Philippa, at right, enjoy with visiting friends. In flower arrangements, everlastings live up to their name. A favorite of grazing kangaroos, the fresh blossoms last only a month in the wild. As Philippa says, "When they go, they're completely gone, and the ground will be just parched until next year."