Last week, I wrote primarily about Tathra Headland and the township. Now that the holiday period is just about over, I thought I would finish it with a post on the northern end of Tathra Beach, where the Bega River meets the sea. This is also my last Thursday post for the time being, as I really do need to get some work done! But the Tuesday posts will continue in a similar weekly format : a monthly feature plant; a favourite garden post; recipes or local beauty spots and a monthly garden post.
The Bega River (48.6 km long) starts at the confluence of the Bemboka River and the delightfully-named Tantawangalo Creek at Moran’s Crossing. It travels east, then north north-east to Bega, where it is joined by the Brogo River, then continues south-east, then east to its mouth at the Tasman Sea via Moogareeka Inlet, 4 km north of Tathra.Moogareeka Inlet enters at the northern end of Tathra Beach and is the start (and southernmost point ) of Mimosa Rocks National Park.
It is very shallow and sandy and a haven for birdwatchers. Birds include : sea eagles, pelicans, little terns, crested terns, pied oyster catchers, red capped plovers, royal spoonbills, cormorants, rails, herons, rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
Fishermen also love the inlet, where they can catch: bream, dusky flathead, estuary perch, luderick, whiting, black fin, yellow fin, jewfish, mullet, tailor and bass. There are prawns in season, as well mussels and oysters on the rocks. A veritable feast indeed!
The area has a rich aboriginal history. With all this abundance of seafood and fruits of the forest, the Yuin people led rich lives and tended to be less mobile than their cousins from the interior, who used to visit. Moogareeka Inlet was the end-point for a major travel route from the Monaro Tableland to the coast and was a popular camp for aborigines. Evidence includes :
Bunan Ground (raised ring of stones used in male initiation ceremonies) in the Moogareeka-Moon Bay area
Nearby rock shelter with occupation deposits
Fish trap in Lower Bega River, noted by George Robinson in 1844
Extensive middens at Moon Bay
Unfortunately, a road was built in the 1850s along the north side of the Bega River to access these middens, which were then carted away and crushed by the early settlers to make lime, used in mortar for the building boom in the recently gazetted township of Bega. There were probably other aboriginal artefacts (eg burials in the aeolian sands, isolated stone artefacts and scarred trees), but much would have been destroyed by logging, clearing and early cultivation.
The first encounter between aborigines and Europeans occurred in 1797, after the wreck of the ‘Sydney Cove’ with 3 survivors finally making it to Sydney after travelling up the coast. By the 1840s, most aboriginal men were employed as agricultural labourers or in the whaling industry, while the women worked as domestic servants or bore children to the occupiers of their land.
In 1843, former convict Fred Moon landed with sheep at a nearby bay, which later bore his family name, Moon Bay. He called his sheep property ‘Riverview’, as it was situated on the prominent headland overlooking the mouth of the Bega River.
Over the years, there were a succession of owners and a large variety of agricultural enterprises from sheep and cattle grazing to dairy farming, orcharding and vegetable growing. The last owner, Mr Neil Ford, was even part of a government-sponsored scheme to grow drugs for pesticide manufacture. The old property is now known as Ford Headland.
The variety of enterprises is reflected in the large number of sheds, aviaries, pens, stockyards, coops, cages and fences. There are also the remains of the old 1890s house.‘Riverview’ (34 ha) was acquired by National Parks on 2nd October 1992 under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme (1973), which allowed for the purchase of coastal areas of significant cultural and natural heritage values. It is one of the most significant former farming properties in Mimosa Rocks National Park.
It is always a fascinating spot to visit, as I love old, wild, overgrown gardens! An assessment by National Parks in 1999 identified over 80 exotic plant species, including an avenue of Golden Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), ornamental shrubs and the remains of orchards and vegetable gardens.
Invasive species that have escaped into the surrounding native vegetation include Periwinkle (Vinca major), Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata), Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia sp) and Passionflower (Passiflora sp).
Potentially invasive species include Cassia (Senna pendula), Privet (Ligustrum
spp), Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) and Giant Reed (Arundo donax). The area contains minor infestations of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sp), Blackberry (Rubus sp), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) and Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albifolia).
There is such a sense of history and it is wonderful imagining what the lives of the early settlers would have been like before modern day roads and bridges!!! I think that it would have been a fantastic place to grow up and explore!The shallowness of the water in Moogareeka Inlet make it an ideal spot for families and kids. There are boat launching ramps, a playground and BBQ and picnic facilities. Water sports include power boating, water skiing, wind surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing and sailing. Here are 2 keen fishermen:Between Moogareeka Inlet and Wajurda Point , there are 3 small beaches, dominated by rocky reefs and backed by steep 20-30 m high bluffs. It is fun exploring the ridges and finding routes down to the beach, when the tide is too high to make it around the rocks.
Here are some photos of the wonderful geology:Moon Bay lies 500m south-west of Wajurda Point and forms a semi-circle 200m wide and 270 m long. The beach faces east and is well protected from the winds, so it is a popular spot for families ( as well as local nudists apparently!). The beach does shelve steeply and rapidly, so care should be taken when swimming. There are rips after periods of high waves. It has a low backing fore-dune and a small backing valley.
There are fascinating cliffs at the southern end of the beach – a geologist’s delight!
The large rock ledges projecting into the bay are perfect for rock fishing, especially at dusk. Fishermen catch bream, flathead, salmon, mulloway and gummy sharks.
At the northern end of the beach are remains of a log slide and mooring site, where timber and farm produce from ‘Riverview’ were loaded onto barges for transfer to waiting ships in the early days. Evidence includes the rusted stubs of mooring rings, grooves in the cliff face and a cutting.
There are 3 access points to Moon Bay :
1.Wajurda Point / Moon Bay Carpark : end of 2 km dirt road from Tathra-Bermagui Road.
There are 2 walks :
Wajurda Point Lookout (500 m) : magnificent views over nelson Lagoon to Picnic Point
Northern end of Moon Bay (250 m) : steep track with steps2. Link walk between former car park at the eastern end of Old Moon Bay Rd via the Moogareeka Fire Trail to Bay Drive Carpark.
3. Bay Drive Car Park, Moogareeka Inlet :
Old ‘Riverview’ driveway (600 m), then a 700 m track through the old property to a signposted walking track down to the southern end of Moon Bay.
We usually do this walk first, then return to Bay Drive car park via the Moogareeka Fire Trail. It is a lovely walk, especially as you descend on the old dirt road through the forest with tantalizing glimpses of Moogareeka Inlet through the trees. We’ve seen cyclists, a tiger snake, but no nudists as yet!
What a wonderful Summer we have been enjoying! Perfect temperatures in the late-20s with some mid-30s and the odd scorcher above 40 degrees Celsius, as well as Summer storms and beautiful rain, resulting in flooded creeks and river beds early in the new year. It is always good to see a decent amount of water in Candelo Creek and the birds love it! I couldn’t catch the fast-flying reed warblers, but I did see this gorgeous swamp hen on her grassy platform, which was at the back right of the large central island in the 2nd photo.
There has been so much growth in the garden! The stems of the climbing roses on the Main Pergola are so long and are urging its immediate construction! We ordered 4 freshly-cut, 3.2 m long stringybark posts yesterday, so the roses and I can’t wait for the building to start!Ross also wired up Lamarque, the climbing rose on the front wall of the house, to train its increasingly wayward canes, as well as making a raspberry trellis at the back of the northern vegie patch. We will transplant all the new canes to the vacant half of the trellis this Winter, so have sowed some multi-coloured sweet pea seed for a last crop in Autumn.
We also planted some very special dahlia seeds given to us by a dear friend. I can’t wait to see the colour combinations in Autumn. While Ross was sowing seed, I collected the bupleurium seed.
When we were ordering the pergola posts, we also picked up 50 old red bricks, so we were able to complete the brick edging around the Moon Bed. It looks terrific and will make maintenance so much easier. I would really like to edge the Soho Bed in a similar fashion, though we might have to use smaller broken bricks on their ends because of the continuous curve of the circle.
We have also done lots of watering, weeding and mulching throughout the month, not to mention giving that rampant pumpkin a severe haircut!!!All Ross’s hard work in the garden is now paying off! Even though the potato plants have struggled, we still had a good crop and we are harvesting red and gold heritage tomatoes every day. We made a second batch of Wild Plum Jam and more Basil Pesto.We feast on delicious fresh salads, divine home-made pesto and tasty pizzas for lunch! The pizzas were made with our own onion, tomatoes, capsicum, basil and pesto.
The plums have been superb! We have been eagerly awaiting the ripening of the large purple plums and after a spell of warm days, we harvested 2 buckets worth. We kept a third of the ripest to eat for breakfast, then experimented with 2 different recipes : http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/11891/dolous+dark+plum+jam and http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/backyard-plum-jam. Both have similar ingredients, but their method and timing differ. The first probably set better than the 2nd, but both are delicious and we now have 15 jars of divine Plum Jam for our pantry. And there are still more plums on the tree!
Our neighbour’s pear tree also has a bumper crop!We have had plenty of avian visitors to the garden, keeping a close eye on the ripening of the fruit. We have chased off a number of raiding parties of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
Oliver and Twist have been regular visitors to the verandah. They seem to like our company and chatter away to us, good-naturedly accepting our less-than-perfect-host behaviour by refusing to feed them! They like nibbling away at the fresh winged seeds of the nearby maple.
The Crimson Rosellas are also enjoying the Duranta berries and at least one of them has been led astray by Oliver and has tried joining him on the verandah!
We even have a young Butcher-Bird, much to the alarm of the other bird parents.The January garden is full of flowers! We have been so impressed with the pink sweet peas, which despite their late start, have positively exploded and are enjoying a long season!The Burgundy sunflowers are equally impressive for their colour, boldness and vigour, producing many many flower heads.
The dahlias are still brightening up the cutting garden with their generosity, as are the calendulas.
They have been joined by exotic scarlet, gold, orange and pink zinnias. Their colours are so intense, as is the purple of the cosmos.The Tree Dahlias have surpassed the shed roof and the corner of the house is a mass of blue and mauve hydrangea mopheads. They are my monthly feature plant for February!The agapanthus provide a sea of blue to cool the senses on the really hot days.And the roses continue to romance us! The Moon Bed looks so pretty with it soft pink, cream and gold David Austin roses.
The Soho Bed is also undergoing a fresh burst of blooms.
The climbers are also throwing out fresh blooms.
My rose cuttings from last Winter are thriving and their roots have reached the base of their 2nd larger pots already, so we have decided to plant them out in their final positions over the next few weeks to make the most of the growing season.
The diversity of the insect world in the garden continues to astound us. We discovered the culprit, which defoliated our potato plants : the larvae of the 28-spotted ladybird (Epilachna vigintoctopunctata). It appears that not all ladybirds are good!!!These red beetles were much more attractive, but had little impact on either the pumpkins or the sunflowers!These beetles were mating on rhubarb leaves.I love the jewel-like beetles on the raspberry below. One could almost forgo that berry for their beauty!But not our precious cumquats for the 2016 marmalade season!
Our stink bugs continue to thwart Ross’s efforts to eliminate them! Unfortunately, their awful smell cancels out any benign thoughts or appreciation of their own unique beauty!
This little moth is in heaven!
The handsome Orchard Butterfly is back, flitting heavily from the buddleias to the Soho Bed.There are some stunning wasps and spiders.These cute little grasshoppers are hopefully behaving themselves!
Summer also means lots of beautiful bouquets for the house!
We actually made it a little larger, so she could use it as a floor cushion. We had a quick impromptu lesson on tassel-making from the habadashery lady, as she had no gold tassels in stock, then Caro made all 12 from gold embroidery thread within half an hour! I was very impressed!!! We had even more fun attaching the central buttons! Having pulled both buttons together tight, we were trying to hide the thread end and actually lost the entire needle inside the cushion!!! Fortunately, we were able to retrieve it and disaster was averted!!!Caro has also had a lot of fun with her watercolours. Having had a lesson from her friend on the way over, she really developed her technique over the holidays. She loves painting animals, especially in quirky or fantastical situations. Here is some of her work!
Tathra is a small coastal township (population 1622) on the Sapphire Coast and is one of our favourite spots! It has the closest beach to Bega and is situated between Merimbula, 25 km to the south and Bermagui, 44 km to the north. It is 446 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway and sits high on a bluff, overlooking its famous wharf. The 3rd and 4th photos show the view north to Wajurda Point and Moon Bay.
The area has a rich aboriginal history, which I will cover in next week’s post (A Slice of History), due to its abundant land and sea food resources. The name ‘Tathra’ means ‘beautiful country’ in the local Yuin dialect, though other sources suggest it has a slightly different meaning : ‘place of wild cats’!!!
The first Europeans in the area settled to the west of Tathra, illegally squatting on Crown Land in the 1820s and 1830s. At that stage, the area was outside the limits of legal settlement, known as ‘the 19 Counties’. See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Counties for more information. This rich dairying country is regularly flooded and teams with birdlife, especially water birds. Apparently, in the 1971 Bega Valley flood, water covered the 45 foot telegraph poles all the way along the mile long flat!
An enquiry into transport facilities in the Bega area in 1851 led to the formation of the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company in 1858. It was an amalgamation of smaller steamer services along the South coast : the Kiama Steam Navigation Company and vessels of the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association and Edye Manning’s fleet. The name was changed in 1904 to the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. The first cargo vessel, a 50 ton sailboat called ‘Vision’, arrived in Tathra that same year and moored offshore, its cargo being transported on a small boat to Kangarutha, where a store shed was erected at a small anchorage, ‘Stockyards’, later that year.
Tathra started out as a small jetty, known as the ‘Farmers’ Sea Wharf’. It was a shipping outlet for a group of local farmers, led by Daniel Gowing, who were fed up with having to transport their produce to Merimbula 25 km away, especially as the wagons often had to wait for the tide to go out when they crossed the beach at Bournda. Daniel Gowing was a farmer from Jellat Jellat, who opened the first store in Tathra for produce to be shipped soon after from Kangarutha.
In 1860, it was decided that Kianinny Bay was more sheltered for loading than Kangarutha, so a store was built at Kianinny. Cargo was still shipped from the beach by small boats to vessels, like ‘Gipsy’, ‘Ellen’, ‘You Yangs’ and ‘John Penn’, moored in the bay. Bad weather often held up the produce wagons on their way to the boats, so loading was uncertain and the freight costs high.
Tathra township was surveyed in 1861 and that same year, the jetty was replaced by a wharf, funded by donations from local farmers and The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. Regular shipping commenced in 1862 with PS Mimosa being the first ship to moor. The wharf was designed by prominent colonial engineer, Ernest Orpen Moriarty, and built by R. Mowatt with the help of Daniel Gowing and John Kirkwood. Turpentine logs, from the North Coast, driven into solid rock. It was sited in its current location, due to the protection from southerly winds, though the northerly waves still caused enough damage to necessitate continual repairs, including re-piling and changing the location of the piles, as piling techniques improved. The steep road down to the wharf also caused problems, requiring extra teams of animals to haul the fully-laden carts back up the hill.
With the opening up of Crown Lands to free selection in 1861, the population rapidly expanded and the increased trade was reflected in major additions to the original wharf. A cargo shed was built in 1866. In 1868, the Bega-Tathra road was cleared to a width of one chain and in 1879, Tathra opened its first post office in Gowing’s Store, a general store and guesthouse, on the corner of the main road and the road down to the wharf.
Due to the expansion of shipping needs and the increase in the size of visiting ships and depth of moorings, major extensions to the wharf were made in 1873; 1878; 1886; 1889; 1903 and 1912, under the guiding hand of another well-known colonial engineer, Ernest Macartney de Burgh. In 1901, cattle and pig yards were built. The route between Tathra and Sydney became known as ‘the Pig and Whistle Line’, due to the transport of pigs, produce and passengers between the two locations. Apparently, as the boats rounded the corner, they would always blow a whistle and the pigs would start squealing!
In 1862, the Illawarra Steamship Company fleet consisted of 3 schooners : ‘Ellen’, ‘Gipsy’ and ‘Rosebud’; a clipper : ‘White Cloud’; and 3 steamers: a paddle steamer : ‘Hunter’ and 2 screw steamers : ‘John Penn’ and ‘Kameruka’, but the sailing ships were superseded by steamers after 1881.
The steamer service was crucial to the Far South Coast, as the roads were very poor and there was no railway service. The Princes Highway from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border was gravel up until the 1940s. Consequently, there was a chain of 15 reliable all-weather wharves up and down the coast, where the steamers would berth and deliver and pick up goods and passengers. Rixon’s wagon left Bega Post Office for Merimbula every Wednesday and Tathra on Mondays and Thursdays to take mail and passengers to and from the steamer. Produce from Tathra included : bacon, cheese, butter, timber, tallow, wattle bark, corn and wool. The boats would also carry prime beef and sheep, horses, pigs, poultry and turkeys, both for the Sydney markets and the Royal Easter Sydney Show. Mobs of up to 700 pigs would be walked to the wharf from local farms. One Bemboka farmer even walked her flock of turkeys over 50km to the wharf by coating her turkey’s feet in tar with a light dusting of sand! Ships arriving from Sydney brought tea, bags of flour and sugar, biscuits, farm machinery and parts, grains and seeds and household furniture.In 1907, the buildings were reconstructed and the present two-storey structure was built. Spring-loaded wrought iron buffers were introduced to assist the berthing of larger vessels in the difficult north-eastern seas. A mooring buoy was positioned north-east of the wharf, to which ships would attach a spring line. Between 1907 and 1912, there were more major extensions, including a subdeck; a jib crane to facilitate loading; a cattle race; a loading ramp and a passenger shelter. In 1914, soldiers and horses were farewelled from the wharf on their way to fight in the Great War. Here is an old photo of the volunteers leaving for the war, as seen on the noticeboard on Tathra Headland.The increase in transport by road had a major effect on the amount of shipping trade everywhere, but because the Far South Coast had no adjacent railway line to carry bulk freight to Sydney, shipping trade lingered on till 1954. By 1919, the number of passengers travelling by sea had greatly decreased, so the passenger shelter was replaced by a single storey shed, next to the two-storey building. Freight and cargo became the predominant trade from Tathra. During World War II, enemy activity off the Far South Coast of NSW, including German mines and Japanese submarines, had a further impact on the amount of trading. The last ship to work cargo was the 1929 SS Cobargo in 1954 and the even older SS Bergalia was the last steamer to visit the wharf later that year to remove valuable items of wharf equipment. The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company suspended trading in 1958.Gradually, the wharf structure fell into disrepair and became unsafe, so a demolition order was issued in 1973. Fortunately, an active local group and National Trust banded together to oppose the demolition. The Tathra Wharf Trust was formed in 1977 and launched an appeal for the conservation and preservation of the old wharf. By 1982, only minor parts of the wharf, the mezzanine deck and a few of the more recent buildings had been demolished. The decking was replaced and the two-storey building was restored, the top storey becoming the Tathra Maritime Museum, dedicated to steamer history, and the bottom storey being used for a cafe and tourist outlet.
Between 1982 and 2010, road access was difficult, as one leg of the access loop road was closed by boulders after heavy seas smashed over the headland.These photos show the old road.It is now the only coastal steamer wharf left on the NSW coast and 1 of only 6 timber wharves still listed for preservation on the Register of the National Estate, as well as the NSW State Heritage Register. It is such a beautiful old building with chunky solid wooden beams and spectacular views and it is a wonderful reminder of our shipping past. The cafe is so impressive and provides top-quality meals, which are beautifully presented. It is also a great venue for selling local arts and crafts – we have some highly creative artists and artisans in the area.
The wharf is also very popular with anglers, as well as seabirds!Tathra Beach has been a tourist destination from very early days. It is 3 km long and stretches from the wharf and Tathra Headland in the south to Moogareeka Inlet and the mouth of the Bega River to the north. It is protected from the Southerlies by the steep headland. Beach fishing yields :
Salmon, tailor and gummy shark – caught with pilchards, fresh fish fillets and stripy tuna;
Bream, whiting and mullet – using beach worms, pippies, prawns and fresh nippers as bait; and
Sand whiting – caught using sand worms and nippers.
It is a great spot for swimming with the Tathra Surf Club (formed in 1909) patrolling the beach every weekend from October to April, as well as Christmas Holidays and Public Holidays. Sail boarding, surfing and snorkelling off the wharf are also popular activities. It has been voted one of the cleanest beaches in NSW, which is not surprising, given the progressive and forward-thinking spirit of environmentally aware locals, who are establishing a solar farm in Tathra. See : http://cleanenergyforeternity.net.au/. Another very active local organization is the local volunteer fire brigade, which was established in 1945, with a 2nd new fire station built next-door in 2011. It is one of the most well-equipped fire brigades on the Far South Coast.
Another tourism drawcard for Tathra is its proximity to 2 wonderful National Parks : Bournda National Park in the south with 13 km of unspoilt coastline and Mimosa Rocks National Park in the north, which extends for 16 km. I shall be discussing Moogareeka Inlet, Ford Headland and Moon Bay, all within the southernmost section of Mimosa Rocks National Park and 4 km north of Tathra, in a separate post next week (A Slice of History), but will focus now instead on the spectacular Kianinny Bay, just to the south of Tathra.
Kianinny Bay is a protected bay with immediate access to the ocean. It is sheltered from Northerly winds and is an incredibly beautiful spot in all weathers, as seen in these photos taken from Chamberlain Lookout above.The coastline between Tathra Headland and Kianinny Bay includes steep cliffs and rugged rock masses, providing wonderful opportunities for rock fishing, using cunjevoi, abalone guts and cabbage weed to catch Black Drummer, Silver Drummer, Leatherjacket, Groper, Luderick and Banded Morwong all year round. From December to May, Bunito, Kingfish, Tailor and Salmon can be caught with live baits.Tathra really is a fisherman’s paradise with its beach and rock fishing, reef and bottom fishing and estuary fishing, as well as all the freshwater streams and dams. The closest reef section is 6 km south of Tathra, 800 m out from White Rock and extending several kilometres out. Fish caught here include : Snapper, Morwong, Flathead, Leatherjacket and Gummy Shark. We found this flathead in a rock pool left high and dry on White Rock after the tide receded – a very easy catch (though we didn’t!)Boats leave Kianinny Bay to drift fish the outskirts of Tathra Bay, catching Sand Flathead and Tiger Flathead, using flesh baits and plastic jigs, and Gunnards and Gummy Sharks. Little wonder that Kianinny Bay is home to the Tathra Fishing Club. There are excellent boat launching facilities : a concrete boat ramp for vessels up to 7 m long; plenty of parking; areas to wash down the boats and tables to clean the fish, as well as a BBQ and picnic area and playground. Sting Rays regularly cruise up and down the shallows, competing for fish scraps with the local sea gulls and cormorants, and can be a little disconcerting for swimmers! Snorkelling and spear fishing are also popular. These photos show a very relaxed swimmer, two very large, friendly sting rays and a sea hare.
Kianinny Bay forms the north-eastern tip of Bournda National Park and is the starting off point for the 9 km long Kangarutha Track, south through cliffs, rock debris and small inlets to Turingal Head. See : http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Kangarutha-walking-track. I will be covering this national park and walking track in a later post. It is a beautiful walk with fabulous coastal views and plenty of bird and animal life, as well as interesting vegetation. I will finish with photos of a Golden Whistler on Tathra Headland, some stunning feral vegetation and a very street-wise local resident!
One of the delightful aspects of living in the country is the myriad of small local shows. Unfortunately, we missed the Candelo Show last year, as we had literally only just arrived and were so exhausted after all the unpacking, that we just didn’t have the energy to shower and change to go out and meet all the locals!!! However, because it is our local show and has a great reputation, we were determined to attend this year!
We did however manage to visit the Bega Show (or to give its full title : the Far South Coast National Show!) last February, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The Bega showground is in a lovely situation on the edge of town, with the mountains providing a scenic backdrop to the ring events.We started at the top of the hill with the Poultry section, one of my favourites, and the Animal Nursery, always a crowd pleaser!I loved this Light Sussex hen and Indian Runner duck.
Unfortunately, we missed the cattle, but we did see some beautiful Angora goats.I love country shows. They are a wonderful way to involve the entire community and a great opportunity to showcase the local produce and incredible talent in the area. With its wonderful climate and diversity of agricultural produce, Bega is a pretty special place when it comes to food from potatoes, sunflowers and corn to apples and pumpkins! I’ve never seen a fridge full of local cheeses and oysters before!The pumpkins were enormous! The one on the far right of the 3rd photo weighed 156 kg, netting its owner, an NM Watson, first prize!Then there is all the the home-made produce!And the fleece section…
I always love the flower section!The kids had a lot of fun decorating pumpkins and biscuits!As well as enjoying all the sideshows…!There was lots of input by local groups like the SCPA South East Producers and the Seedsavers’ Network, the Bega Valley Weavers, the Wyndham Basketeers and the Far South Coast Bird Club. It was a great show and the organizers deserved a well-earned break at the end of it.
We looked forward to the start of the 2016 show season. Candelo Show, held last weekend on Sunday, 17th January, was one of the first to kick off, beaten only by Pambula Show on the 9th January. Here is the schedule for the rest of the shows for the Far South Coast of NSW, just in case you are visiting the area :
Eurobodalla Show 23-24 January; Nimmitabel Show 6 February; Cobargo Show 13-14 February; Bega Show 19-21 February; Delegate Show 6 March; Dalgety Show 6 March; Bemboka Show 12 March; Cooma Show 14 March and finally Bombala Show 19 March.
And so to this weekend.. the long-awaited 129th Candelo Show! The first Candelo Show was held in the School of Arts building on 21st December 1883 and in 1884, an area of 13.6 acres (5.53 hectares) was officially gazetted as the Candelo Showground.
It is in a lovely situation on the side of the hill overlooking the arena, with the scenic backdrop of Mt Dromedary in the far distance.I love old show pavilions and all the exhibits. It’s such a great way for showcasing local produce and we were surprised by the size of the display for such a small area.
The weather was perfect and the show was well attended by lots of families. It’s wonderful seeing all the kids participating!
Candelo Show is a lovely little agricultural show in the true sense of the word, as there are no fairground rides, sideshows or show bags, which makes a refreshing change! Instead, there is a Kids Kastle, as well as Hobby Horse races and pony rides and lots of other activities like goat milking, Akubra hat throwing, the dog high jump and a chook washing demonstration.
There were displays of historic machinery and vintage cars, as well as felting, spinning and woodworking demonstrations. There were a few food outlets for lunch; the famous Wheatley Lane sourdough bread, made just round the corner from our house; our favourite home-made icecream lady from Cobargo, who sells at the local markets; a watermelon shed and a few hopeful politician stands!Entertainment was provided by the Queanbeyan Pipe Band, as well as an Irish folk group and local musicians.We loved watching the ring events, especially the show jumping. There are some very talented local equestrians, some of them very young!It was a lovely day out and we finally got to see our cows!All inspired by the wonderful produce we had just seen, we returned to our garden to harvest our huge clump of rhubarb for rhubarb and apple crumble that night. It was delicious!!! Till next week…!
The perfect meal on a hot Summer’s day, especially when the ingredients are straight from the vegetable garden! These recipes are perfect as they are very quick and easy to prepare, as well as being light and delicious and include :
Warm Chicken Salad
Bean There, Done That Salad
Warm Potato Salad with Mustard Mayonnaise
Green Salad with Vinaigrette
Gorgonzola and Pear Platter
Prawns with Seafood Sauce
Warm Chicken Salad (serves 4)
With many thanks to one of my favourite TV chefs, Ian Parmenter, from his book ‘Consuming Passions’. This is equally delicious served cold.Slice 2 skinned chicken breasts into thin strips and marinate in 1 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1 dsp chilli sauce for at least 1 hour.Fry chicken pieces in 1 tbsp olive oil over a high heat for 1 minute. Do not overcook. Remove chicken pieces to a warm place.
In the same pan, stir 1 finely chopped clove garlic, 1 finely sliced red capsicum, 4-5 spring onions sliced into bite-sized pieces, 200g snow peas and 100g unsalted cashews for a few minutes, then toss in chicken.Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves on a large serving plate. Sprinkle with the juice of 1 lime or lemon and 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander.
Bean There, Done That Salad (serves 4)
Another ‘Consuming Passions’ recipe! Super quick and easy and a meal in itself, which is perfect if you haven’t much time or energy!!!Drain 1 large can tuna and 1 can white beans and put both tuna and beans in a bowl.
Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves, top with the salad and garnish with 2 tomatoes chopped into wedges. Serve with crusty fresh bread!
Warm Potato Salad with Mustard Mayonnaise (serves 6)
This is the recipe I have always used for potato salad, as it is very quick and easy to prepare and always delicious, whether eaten hot or cold! It only ever lasts one sitting, as it’s always demolished first go, no matter how many potatoes you use !!! This recipe comes from a book called ‘Luncheons’ by Ann Creber.Cut 1kg potatoes (peeled or unpeeled according to your preference) into bite-size pieces, and steam till tender. It is much easier to pre-cut the potatoes before cooking than trying to slice steaming hot potatoes! Place in a large bowl.Mix together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup cream, 1 tbsp coarse-grained mustard and freshly ground pepper. Toss the potatoes in the sauce until well coated. Allow to stand till barely warm, then serve.
Green Salad with Vinaigrette
This is our standard daily lunchtime salad and the ingredients vary according to what we have in the garden or fridge!Wash, spin and tear a variety of lettuce leaves and rocket or baby spinach leaves and place in a bowl. Before I had a salad spinner, I used to put the salad leaves in a pillow case and whirl it round my head! The salad spinner is a lot easier!!!
Make a vinaigrette from extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil and balsamic or white wine vinegar (or even lemon juice) in a ratio of 3:1. So, 3 tbsp oil to 1 tbsp vinegar! Add 1 clove finely diced garlic, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp coarse-grained (or Dijon) mustard and shake well in a jar. Toss the salad in the vinaigrette just before serving or serve separately, especially if you think that all the salad may not be eaten. It keeps better in the fridge without the dressing on it!
Gorgonzola and Pear Platter
Very simple! Cut a Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia and a pear into slices. Top each bread slice with gorgonzola cheese and a pear slice. Divine!!!Prawns in Seafood Sauce
I have always made this seafood sauce for as long as I can remember, so long in fact that I cannot remember its source!!!When we were living inland, I would always make this sauce before a trip to the coast, where we would feast on prawns and fresh bread rolls! When our ‘children’ were teenagers, I remember going to pack all the ingredients into the car, so I could make the sauce when we got there, only to discover that the large bottle of brandy was completely empty, when I knew we had had at least half a bottle the previous day! And no, the little darlings hadn’t drunk it! They’d rubbed down the coat of the old horse, who looked ‘cold’! Lucky old Rowie!!! If, like me, you discover the brandy cupboard is bare, I have substituted rum or whisky on other occasions and they all taste good!
Mix together 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 tsp tomato sauce, 1 tsp brandy (Yes! That’s all I needed!!!), a few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste, a pinch of curry powder, 1 tsp lemon or lime juice and 2 finely chopped shallots. It’s that easy! And it tastes divine on prawns! I often double the recipe, especially when presented with a huge tub of sweet bay prawns, freshly caught that very morning from Bermagui, as we were recently! Thank you, Louise and Peter!!!We had a delicious anniversary feast to celebrate our first year here in Candelo, much of it straight from the garden!Here is a photo of our first anniversary meal!Happy Holiday Feasting!!!
It’s official! We have now lived here for exactly a whole year! It has been such an exciting time establishing the garden and learning all about our new climate, birds and local environment. We celebrated by purchasing a beautiful gardenia – a plant whose scent we have always loved and which we didn’t think we would be able to grow in this climate, but we have planted it in a pot beside the house in a slight shady position, which the nursery lady assures us should give it a measure of frost protection. Hopefully, she’s right!!! It’s certainly worth a try, as it is one of our favourite plants! We also had a superb first anniversary feast tonight- delicious salads, garnered from our vegetable garden, and featured in my next post on Thursday.
This post is a bit of a mix- a review of what has worked well or not quite so well; ideas and plans for the future; and finishing with an in-depth look at the first of our monthly feature plants, the agapanthus, which was the dominant plant on our arrival one year ago and an all-time Summer favourite!
We have been really happy with the general garden design. Even though it faces east, with trees on the northern side, creating Winter shade, the site is beautifully protected from strong winds and the soil is superb – a mix of basalt and fertile river loam (with lots of iron from the old blacksmithing days!). It is a real boon to start with established mature trees, which provide a framework to the garden and give pointers for future plantings. Sadly, we did have to remove the beautiful she-oaks last Winter as they produced too much shade and even though it was difficult at the time, we are really pleased we did! The new boundary fence has also been a great addition, as not only does it delineate boundaries, it has protected the bamboo from the horse next door, provided a solid backdrop to the buddleias, especially when they are pruned in Winter, and given us much needed privacy on that narrow side of the house. It should weather to a grey colour and will soon be covered by honeysuckle and woodbine.
Apart from our severe Winter frosts, shade and sun are the biggest factors, which we have to consider in the garden. We did make a major blue at the start by digging up the two beds on the northern side of the path- they are shaded by the boundary trees in Winter, thus delaying our growing season. However, it did mean we had to establish the other 2 beds on the southern side of the path much sooner than we might have. And the no-dig method worked well for the 2nd cutting garden, eliminating much of the digging, though we will have to do a final dig now to ensure all the grass roots have gone.
We were particularly pleased with the Soho and Moon Beds, which work really well and have looked great all year. All the smaller plants (Bearded Iris, Verbena, Flowering Sage, Lavenders and Catmints) have established well and complement our beautiful Soho roses, which have taken on a new lease of life. We do have to continue the brick edging round the rest of the Moon Bed, as well as doing the same on the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, as it makes the edging much easier to maintain. The brick paths are also very useful in both the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, apart from the fact they we have to pull out the odd weed and they provide homes for the snails! But also the Blue-banded Bee I might add!! We do need to discover a cheaper source of bulk mulch for all the garden beds.
The white hedge behind the Soho Bed is growing well with the Philadelphus having tripled in size. We urgently need to construct 3 wooden arches (one at each end of the path and one at the shed corner), as well as the Main Pergola to support the climbing roses.
We did have a few problems with the strike rate of the seeds we sowed in the cutting garden. We still have to get used to managing the annuals and bulbs together. We may yet sow all our seed in pots before transplanting to the garden, except for the ones that prefer to be planted in situ and do have a good strike rate eg Poppies. The dahlias have been fabulous- abundant flowering and excellent growth. I’d like to plant another 2 dahlias on the opposite corners of the path. The bulbs also provided a terrific display, even though the anemones disliked the shadier end of the garden. I was particularly impressed with the tulips! It will be interesting to see how they perform this year, having been underground for the whole Summer. The cornflowers were disappointing, as they required staking, and the strike rate of the bupleureum, foxgloves, cosmos and nigella was poor, but the latter two shouldn’t be a problem after this first season! However, the poppies and peony poppies, the calendulas, the zinnias and even the stock (despite its late entry) have been very impressive! It has been fabulous being able to step out into the garden to pick bouquets for the house!The vegetable garden has also been a great success, despite the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, which decimated most of the foliage; the cabbage moth, which attacked all our brassicas; and the fact that we are still learning what to plant when! The raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and black currant have grown well, sending out lots of fresh shoots and canes. Unfortunately, one of the blueberry bushes died, but the remaining one is doing well. And the asparagus has been slow, but is flowering at the moment, so hopefully it will establish itself over time. We are still working on the tomatoes- they have been affected by grubs too, but nothing eats the pumpkin, nor the rainbow chard! The latter is definitely worth growing, along with the purple cabbage, for its colour alone, and the sweet peas, although late, have really progressed and look so pretty in the vegie garden, as well as smelling divine! The sunflowers have also been show-stopping and flower very generously! Here are some photos of our Summer harvest :
1st photo : Dutch Cream potatoes, variety of lettuce leaves, rocket, tomatoes, capsicum and sweet peas for tonight’s first anniversary feast
2nd photo : All washed with basil and parsley addedThe rose hedge behind the vegetable garden also smells wonderful, although there is a little too much shade from the white mulberry tree, whose branches we may have to trim back further still.
The established fruit trees have also been a great success, with 3 types of plums, 2 apples and the White Mulberry, all of which we have used to make jams, jellies and pies. I’m looking forward to the new citrus trees developing- they all need weeding, manure, blood and bone and mulching. The passionfruit has also been eaten badly- I suspect the grasshoppers! We are still getting to know all our pests! Having said that, I love watching all the birds and butterflies that visit our garden!Now to the rest of the garden!
Back of the house :
The Cecile Brunner arch is a great addition to the front gate and already the climber has reached the top of the side frame, and when fully grown, will shield us from the view of the old house opposite, as well as affording more privacy to the guest bedroom. The multigraft camellia, the Winter honeysuckle, hellebores and violets provide a wonderful and long-lasting display all Winter, although the daphne’s flowering season is a bit short! The Mondo grass provides an excellent low maintenance edging, but the ivy requires constant vigilance and the cement path gap needs filling.Side Path :
The Banksia pergola has also been a great success and the Banksia rose is well and truly recovering from its drastic prune last year and is already providing a measure of shade to the outdoor eating area. The May bush and buddleias have also responded very well to their Winter pruning. The rose cuttings from our old garden in Armidale have taken well and will be planted out next Winter.The herb pots have been wonderful and we have enjoyed their use in cooking, as well as for pesto and mint jelly.The acanthus provide a dramatic low maintenance cover against the house and I love the peaceful corner under the maple tree with the statue, violets and wind flowers. The Blue-tongue lizard enjoys the sunny sheltered corner provided by the geranium pots. The mosaic stepping stones look great, as if they have always been there and probably always will!!!Front Terrace :
The climbing roses against the front of the house have grown and flowered well, but urgently need their training wires. The native bed in the tank was not successful- I think that there was too much straight sand. The crowea died and the other plants have failed to thrive, so we will transplant them to the native area and maybe turn the old septic tank into a shallow pond with a protective grid cover. The fine bamboo looks beautiful, but the large bamboo suffered last Winter and will need chopping back and rejuvenating. The agapanthus bank recovered well after the severe Winter frosts and has provided another magnificent low-maintenance Summer display. We will definitely be looking after the cliveas this year, now that we know where they are! And the hydrangeas are as big as ever and obviously loved their heavy pruning last Winter. The bergenia edging on the path has worked well.Fernery :
Not as successful as we would have liked. We suspect that area still gets too much sun, especially damaging on those 40 degree days! So we plan to move the fernery onto a shadier area close by, under the loquat trees. Eventually, we hope to have a large rainwater tank in this corner. We will also have to protect the new Wheel of Fire and NSW Christmas bush from the early Winter frosts.
Old Shed :
Most of the old-fashioned roses planted so far have grown and flowered well, though some are a little slower. This Winter, we plan to plant out the remaining gaps with the rose cuttings struck last Winter. The tree dahlias will need heavy mulching as well to protect them from the frost, but even though they are so seemingly fragile and succumb so easily, their dramatic displays make them worth keeping and they do keep coming back every year, so they are not that much effort!I would love to plant Albertine against a rose trellis the length of the shed back wall, where it will look stunning each year. We also want to construct an entrance arch for 2 yellow Noisettes next to the cumquats. And I still hope to find my Golden Hornet crabapple, which I will plant in line and next to the Gorgeous variety, which we were mistakenly sold! Ross has found the stink bugs on the cumquat trees a bit of a challenge, so will spray the trees with Eco-Oil this Winter and investigate a pyrethrum spray for next Summer. We will also have to research organic controls of the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, cabbage moth and grasshoppers.
While I have been writing this review, I have also been writing a separate list of all the garden tasks, which need to be done and it’s a long one!!! But that is what is so great about having our own garden again. It’s an endless source of things to do, as well as inspiration, pleasure and enjoyment, and we love it! Finally, the promised description of our first monthly feature plant!
Agapanthus (also known as African Lily, Lily-of-the-Nile)
Nothing spells Summer as much as a cool sea of blue agapanthus, with the odd white one thrown in!
It is the only genus in the subfamily Agapanthoideae in the Flowering Plant family Amaryllidaceae, which is the major group in the Angiosperms and has 79 genera. Agapanthus are herbaceous and mainly perennial and bulbous flowering plants in the Monocot order Asparagales and include : Alliums, Cliveas, Crinum, Galanthus and Leucojum, Narcissi, Hemerocallis, Hippeastrums, Nerines and Zephyranthus.Their name comes from the Greek : αγάπη (agape) = love, άνθος (anthos) = flower.They are native to Southern Africa, but are now naturalized throughout the world.There are six species (though some sources say 10) : A. africanus, A. campanulatus, A. caulescens, A. coddii, A. inapertus and A. Praecox. There are also many cultivars and hybrids of A. Africanus and A. praecox. The most commonly seen species is Agapanthus praecox subspecies orientalis.
They can be very invasive. In New Zealand, A.praecox is classed as an environmental weed. Agapanthus is also considered to be a weed in some parts of Victoria. Therefore, it is best to remove their spent flower heads to prevent seed formation, especially if you are close to native bushland. Better still, plant sterile varieties like ‘Black Pantha’, which don’t set seed.
The perennial Agapanthus grows from an underground rhizome each year. Agapanthus species and cultivars have long, strap-like, fleshy leaves that form dense clumps of evergreen or deciduous foliage. In Summer (November – January), tall stems (up to 1m tall) tower over the foliage bearing large rounded umbels of bell-shaped or tubular flowers, in shades of blue to purple or white. Bold and architectural, their flowering stalks are also simple and elegant. Dwarf and miniature varieties up to 45cm tall also exist.Flowers are sensitive to ethylene gas, so vases should be kept away from ripening fruit. It can last up to 2 weeks in a vase. It means ‘Love Letter’ in the Language of Flowers.
They are propagated by seed or clump division in Winter. Split clumps every 4-5 years for best results. If growing in a pot, use a smaller pot, as they prefer their roots overcrowded. Their foliage forms an excellent groundcover and they can also be used as a low border along a path, driveway or fence.
They are tough and hardy, heat- and drought-tolerant, as well as being very pest-hardy and are tolerant of poor soil, wind and salty air, so are good for coastal gardens. They are very easy to grow and virtually indestructible, except with very heavy frosts. They can be protected with mulch, but they still bounce back as the Summer progresses anyway. Snails like them. They are said to thrive on neglect, but flower far better with full sun, good drainage and regular watering.
Parts of the agapanthus plant are sometimes used for medicinal purposes. Agapanthus contains several saponins and sapogenins that generally have anti-inflammatory , anti-oedema (swelling due to accumulation of fluid), antitussive (relieves or suppresses coughing) and immunoregulatory properties. Agapanthus has been used medicinally for cardiac complaints. In South Africa, its roots are boiled in water to produce a tonic for pregnant women to promote contractions during labour. Expectant mothers sometimes wear charms made from the dried roots to ensure healthy babies.
However, the sap contains substances that can irritate skin or mucous membranes and causes severe ulceration of the mouth. Obviously, it doesn’t worry this little nectar-sucking Eastern Spinebill!My darling daughter painted us this exquisite watercolour of two of our favourite things- flowers and butterflies- to celebrate our first year in our beautiful home. She is so talented and we feel very lucky to be the recipients of such a beautiful gift!
It is wonderful seeing the new directions in which botanic gardens are developing. Nature and environment are increasingly threatened as human populations continue to increase and botanic gardens are playing an increasingly valuable role as seed banks for the future and in the mitigation of climate change and environmental education of the public. As the pace of life becomes even more frenetic, they are also extremely important for relaxation and the soul!
: Part of Mogo State Forest and leased back to the Eurobodalla Council for a Botanic Garden, it showcases the native plants of the Eurobodalla region and their diversity in form, colour, habitat requirements and sensory characteristics. It also explains their use as food and medicine by the local aboriginal people. Here are photos of their official map and interpretive board on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk:: There is a Visitor Centre , a Herbarium and 7km of walking tracks. It is a very impressive contemporary botanic garden.Above the lake, there is an amphitheatre for performances with audience seating set into the hill. I loved the random animal sculptures, including the little possum below, along one of the tracks.
2. Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt. Tomah, 28ha, 1987
: Located in the World-Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains, it is situated 1000 metres above sea level and showcases many beautiful native and exotic plants not suited to Sydney’s climate. It places an emphasis on cool-climate plants from around the world, especially those from the southern hemisphere. This is the view from the Visitor Centre with a stone labyrinth in the foreground. The 3rd photo shows the view from the pond looking back up to the Visitor Centre.: One of the few botanic gardens where plants have been grouped according to their geographical origin, allowing the visitor to see both the similarities and differences between the plants of each region and understand the evolution of the floras of the different continents.: There are wonderful rockeries, water courses and waterfalls and bog gardens in front of the Visitor Centre, (which incidently has a fantastic view!), as well as woodlands, camellia and rhododendron collections and 2 interesting display gardens and walks: The Gondwana Forest Walk and the Plant Explorer walk with excellent interpretive boards. They are so impressive in fact, that we always call in to visit these botanic gardens whenever we are in the Blue Mountains.: There is also a World Heritage exhibition centre called the ‘Botanists Way Discovery Centre’, which tells the stories of early botanists who explored the northern Blue Mountains seeking rare plants and trying to find a crossing to the west, as well as those of the local Darug people. The bookshop is excellent!
3. Australian Botanic Garden, Mt. Annan, 416ha, 1988
: Even though we haven’t visited these yet, we hope to soon! They are the 3rd botanic garden, managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, and they are the largest botanic garden in Australia, so I had to include them !!!
: Solely comprised of Australian native plants, they showcase the diversity of Australian flora and will eventually include most of Australia’s 25,000 known plant species. It contains a Bush Food Garden and the Australian Plant Bank with a seed bank and research laboratories devoted to research and conservation of Australian native plant species, especially those of NSW. See : http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/annan/Australian_plantbank.
4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, 363ha, 1989 and The Australian Garden, 15ha, 2006
: Victoria’s equivalent of the previous botanic garden, it contains 363ha of remnant native vegetation, a protected site of state significance for biodiversity with 390 native plant species, 20 mammal species and 11 amphibian species. There are walking tracks through heathlands, woodlands and wetlands.
: The contemporary landscaped display beds of the Australian Garden contain 170,000 Australian native plants from 85 bioregions in Australia and follow the journey of water from the arid inland landscapes of Central Australia through dry river beds to major rivers and finally the coast.
: The art and architecture are very modern and Australian and the presentation of the garden is very stunningly dramatic.
: Display gardens also feature contemporary garden issues like the Backyard garden, for kids as well as adults, Lifestyle Gardens, the Greening of Cities, even the Weird and Wonderful! A day is not long enough to explore this amazing garden and it is constantly evolving, so there is always something new to discover!
5. Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA, 250ha, 1993
: Located on the shores of the Spencer Gulf, with spectacular views of the Flinders Ranges, this coastal park features significant areas of natural arid zone vegetation including Western Myall woodlands (Acacia papyrocarpa) and chenopod (Saltbush) plains together with coastal vegetation dominated by Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) and samphire.
: There are many highly evolved plant communities that are specially adapted to thrive in an environment where temperatures are extreme and drought prolonged and this botanic garden was established to research, conserve and promote a wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora. In fact, it is the only botanic garden in the world to specialize in the conservation and display of flora from the southern arid zone of Australia (where the annual rainfall is less than 250mm). Regional collections currently include : Flinders Ranges, Gawler, Eyre, Central Ranges and Great Victoria Desert, with further arid areas planned in the future.
: Sustainability is a large part of their charter and sustainable design and practices has been successfully incorporated into these gardens including the use of : solar panels, a Waste Water Treatment Plant, rain water collection, underground evaporative air‐conditioning ducts, an award winning energy-efficient Visitor Centre with rammed earth walls, LED lighting, recycling and the sale of locally produced ecoproducts. I am really looking forward to visiting it one day !!!
And finally, because it is a fairly new botanic garden and we have a personal connection :
6. Gold Coast Regional Botanic Park (Rosser Park), 31ha, 2002
: The land for these botanic gardens was donated in 1969 by the Rosser Family, who are relatives of my husband. John Rosser was a very good friend of Ross’s uncle Alf, who was killed at Pozières in World War I and married Alf’s sister Essie. He was a man ahead of his times in so many ways and was vitally interested in many social issues from education to politics, peace activism, environment , self-sufficiency, gardening, beekeeping and health. John and Essie were both vegetarians and both lived well into their nineties. The couple led simple, non-materialistic lives and valued lifestyle over possessions.They raised 6 highly intelligent, well educated, high achieving children, who all returned to their self-sufficiency roots in later life.
: I remember visiting their daughter Jean and their beautiful old home and garden on a hill at ‘Benowa’ when I was newly married. I struck my first successful rose cutting from their old bush of ‘Countess Bertha’. It was such an interesting place with 4 types of plumbing in the kitchen, lots of unopened packets of hardware on the backs of doors, bookcases of folders and folders of newspaper clippings and scrapbooks and a glass-less lounge window overlooking the beautiful garden and the blue Springbrook mountains beyond the Nerang River. Only now, there is a mass of brick houses between their property and those mountains, as the Gold Coast had grown and developed!!! If ever there was an antidote to the urban sprawl and concrete jungle of the Gold Coast, this garden is it and I think John would be very happy to know his donated land has been put to such good use!
: It includes a sensory garden, specially designed for the disabled, a native butterfly garden, a rose garden, native plants, a montane rockery, freshwater wetlands and a Mangroves to Mountains walk. There are also Commemorative Avenues of Queensland forest giants planted by the Curators of Australia’s Botanic Gardens and International Friendship Force, a nonprofit cultural exchange organization promoting friendship and goodwill through a program of home-stay exchanges since 1977, a concept I’m certain John would have wholeheartedly embraced. We are really looking forward to visiting this botanic garden next time we go to Queensland!
The 1st photo below shows my old rosebush, which I grew from the cutting. The 2nd photo shows my current ‘Countess Bertha’ rose bloom.
Next month, I will be starting to write about my favourite gardens, which are regularly open to the public, including historic homes and gardens, nursery gardens, specialty nursery gardens, education gardens and sculpture gardens. In the mean time, enjoy all those wonderful botanic gardens!