The period between Late Winter and Early Spring (August/ September) is one of the best times to visit Green Cape. While the weather is certainly cold, wild and windy, as seen in the photo above, the wildflowers are starting to come into full bloom and the whales are just starting to return south from their tropical Winter breeding grounds, with babies in tow.I have touched on Green Cape in previous posts (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/16/ben-boyd-national-park-part-1/
It is the southernmost point of the Light to Light Walk, as can be seen in these maps from the NPWS interpretive boards.Green Cape lies at a latitude of 37 degrees South and longitude of 150 degrees East and because it juts so far out into the Tasman Sea, it is a wonderful spot to see humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) closeup, as they hug the coastline on their journey back home to their southern Summer Antarctic feeding grounds.The Yellow-Nosed Albatross (Diomedea chlororhynchus) can also be seen in Late Winter/ early Spring off Green Cape, though I have yet to see one, while the Short-Tailed Shearwaters (Puffinustenuirostris) head south in long black clouds from late September to early November on their annual migration from the North Pacific to their breeding burrows on the islands in southern waters.We have however seen plenty of other birds: Australasian Gannets (first photo above), Ospreys and White-Bellied Sea Eagles (2nd photo above), Nankeen Kestrels (3rd photo above), Cormorants and Pacific Gulls (first photo below), Crested Terns (2nd photo below), and Sooty Oyster Catchers (3rd photo below).Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) are also often seen, the latter forming bachelor rafts just off the point and lolling about in the surf with the odd Queen’s Wave!And on land, there are wombats, usually fast asleep in their burrows during the day, but sometimes surprised grazing on the tough wiry grasses, especially in more remote areas. More commonly seen are the quiet Eastern Grey Kangaroos (first photo) and Swamp Wallabies (2nd photo), which graze near the lighthouse.In the coastal heath, there are Southern Emu Wrens (Stipiturus malachurus) and Grass Parrots. I would love to see the latter, which are best observed on first light.I love all the wildflowers of the rugged coastal heath, which is adapted to cope with the salt-laden winds and sandy soils of Green Cape. I have organised them into colour ranges and identified them by their genus only:
White: Clockwise from Top Left: Westringia; Hakea; Leucopogon; and Leptospermum;
Yellow: Clockwise from Top Left: Hibbertia; Banksia; Senecio; and Pomaderris;
Reds: Clockwise from Top Left: Kennedia; Correa; Epacris; and Grevillea;
and Pinks: A beautiful Epacris impressa;Blues: Clockwise from Top Left: Patersonia; Comesperma; Dampiera; Hovea; Glossodia; and Hybanthus;
and Purples: Tetratheca and Comesperma;
with special sections for wattles (Acacia):
and peas (numerous genera).
Green Cape is a stunningly beautiful area, as the following photos attest. It looks south across Disaster Bay to Baycliff and the mouth of the Wonboyn River, to the tall sand dunes of Cape Howe, the Nadgee Wilderness area and the Victorian border.And then, there is the lighthouse itself- such beautiful architecture with a fascinating history!
The East Australian Current flows south at 2 knots off Green Cape, which was great for ships sailing south, but difficult for northward-bound vessels, which would hug the coast to avoid the current, exposing them to the risk of being wrecked on reefs and promontories. It is a very rugged section of the coast, which has claimed over 10 shipwrecks, including the Ly-Ee-Moon 1886, in which 71 people died, 24 of their bodies being buried in the cemetery nearby.The decision was made in 1873 to build a lighthouse at Green Cape, the buildings to be designed by the then-colonial architect James Barnett. Building supplies, as well as food and later supplies until 1927, were shipped from Eden to the storehouse at Bittangabee Bay, 7 km to the north, then were transported by horse-drawn tramway through the dense coastal heath and across creeks to the headland. The lighthouse complex included the 29 m tall octagonal lighthouse and residences for the Head and Assistant Lightkeepers; a Flag Locker (for marine and semaphore flags) and Signalling Mast and a Telegraph Station (Morse code from 1892 on);
and workshops, stables and garages; a tennis court; wells; a helipad and a garden.The light was first lit in 1883 and was originally powered, along with the resident quarters, by kerosene and coke coal and from 1962 on, diesel oil generators. It operated all night every night with 4 hour shifts for over 100 years till 1992, when the lighthouse and weather station were automated, the power now supplied by solar panels.
Given that we are keen gardeners, it should be no surprise that another great interest is botany and the beautiful wildflowers of our incredible continent! In Australia alone, we have over 18 000 species of flowering plants, grouped in 200 families! We are forever identifying and photographing wildflowers whenever we are bushwalking and are always learning new things.
The botanical world is endless and knowledge is always expanding. The Pea Family is a classic case, so the best one can do is to have a broad understanding of the major families and know how to work the plant identification keys, but even then, there are always anomalies! From my experience, it is useful to have a number of wildflower books, especially those pertinent to your specific locality, though having said that, there are often cross-overs between areas, so a wide variety of books is beneficial. Recent publications are also useful, as taxonomists often change scientific nomenclature, especially in the Eucalypt world! Here is a good general Australian wildflower book:
Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers by Denise Greig 1999
This book covers over 1000 Australian wildflower species, commonly encountered growing wild. They range in size from tiny annuals and terrestrial orchids to large perennials and shrubs. The book only includes a few trees, mainly colourful rainforest species or large-flowered mallees, and some common and conspicuous introduced plants, but ferns, fungi, sedges and grasses are not covered.
It is primarily a field guide rather than a definitive reference work, and early chapters are devoted to an explanation of terminology and nomenclature; how to use the guide; a small section on plant anatomy; a map of Australia showing the vegetation zones with accompanying descriptive text; and a guide to all the different Australian plant families, with a brief description and page reference numbers.
The remainder of the book is devoted to each family with species descriptions, flowering times and distribution on the left-hand page and colour photographs of each plant on the right-hand side. In the back is a useful glossary and bibliography. There are so may Australian wildflowers, but this general guide is a start!
Because we lived in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales for many years, the next set of books were very useful.
Wildflowers of the North Coast of New South Wales by Barry Kemp 2004
Local flora guides are essential and this one is terrific! It covers the New South Wales coast from Newcastle, north to the Queensland border (500 km), and altitudes up to 800 metres elevation.
The plants are arranged into major habitat groups: Coastal Dunes, Headlands and Estuaries; Swamp Forest, Freshwater Wetlands and Riverbanks; Coastal Heath; Woodland Heath; Open Forest; Rainforest and Weeds, all sections with a description of each environment and its challenges and further division, based on size (Small Trees and Large Shrubs; Small Shrubs and Herbs) and then family (in alphabetical order); genus and species. Beautiful photographs of both habitat and each species abound.
Many of the plants described are not restricted to this area, so the book is still relevant to Sydney and South-East Queensland.
Australian Rain-Forest Trees WD Francis 1970
One of the original classics in rainforest tree identification, this third edition was produced almost 50 years ago, the first edition being published in 1929.
The introduction covers rainforest distribution in Australia; the character of Australian rainforests; the relationship of rainfall to rainforests; their atmospheric conditions and light; the soil and leaf litter; the effect of bushfires; tree size; buttresses and flanged stems; the bark, wood and leaves of Australian rainforest trees and the cultivation of these trees in Australia.
There is a brief description of the families of Australian rainforest trees, followed by identification keys and detailed descriptions of each family, including the derivation of its name, description, distribution, remarks and uses, as well as references, for both subtropical (Part One) and tropical rainforest trees (Part Two) !
I loved its black-and-white photographs of huge old rainforest trees with enormous girths, their height dwarfing the humans (often with axes in hand, the book having been produced by the Forest and Timber Bureau!) beside them, as well as close-up scaled photographs and diagrams of leaves, flowers and seed pods!
There is also a personal connection to this book, with photographs of my husband’s aunt and uncle in one of the photos, as well as a number of her moustached surveyor father, James Edgar Young, an early member of the Queensland Naturalists Club Inc, which was started in 1906 and still operates today.
Ornamental Rainforest Plants in Australia by David L Jones 1986
Another excellent guide to Australian rainforest plants, with not an axe in sight!
One thousand species are discussed in detail, especially those with ornamental interest, with a focus on their cultivation and propagation in the home garden.
There is a wealth of information on rainforest types and distribution; cultivation requirements (soil; light; planting; mulching; watering; fertiliser; and pruning); leaf terminology (divisions, shape and margins); creating a rainforest (site conditions; species selection and layout; preparation and planting; mulching and nutrient recycling; watering and misting; and maintenance); and propagation by seed, cuttings, layering, division, grafting and budding.
The plants are discussed in family groups, with general notes on family features; horticultural attributes; cultivation; and propagation, then specific entries on genus (arranged alphabetically) and their species (common and scientific names; type of rainforest habitat; flowering period; description; distribution; notes and cultivation and propagation).
There are black-and-white scaled botanical sketches of foliage, fruit and flowers throughout, as well as coloured plates of photographs, making this book an invaluable identification guide as well.
In the back of the book is a variety of lists of rainforest plants for different situations and purposes, titled: Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, Coastal and Inland Regions; Pioneer Plants and Fast Growing Species; Indoor Plants; Shade Trees; Curtailing Stream Bank Erosion; Attractive or Decorative Bark, Foliage, New Growth, Flowers and Fruit; Fragrant Flowers; Edible Fruit; and even Species Attractive to Nectar-Feeding or Fruit-Eating Birds.
This book certainly fulfils its promise of encouraging a love of rainforest plants and incorporating them in the garden.
Gardening With Australian Rainforest Plants by Ralph Bailey and Julie Lake 2001
A very similar book, also promoting rainforest gardens, with a slightly different approach. While starting with a description of the different types of Australian rainforests, it digresses to dispel certain misconceptions and myths and then has very detailed chapters on:
Planning : Site considerations; design; climate; and soil
Plant Selection : Watercolour garden designs; buffer zones; essential steps in the creation of the garden; and lists of plants for specific needs eg windbreaks; buffer zones; variegated foliage; fragrance; and the rainforest floor.
Planting : Soil preparation; pH; planting for the different levels of the rainforest (for example : canopy, understorey and floor); climbers; planting in established gardens; watering; protection from wind and frost; staking and mulching; and more lists of plants: shrubs and understoreys; climbers and scramblers; palms; trees and shrubs with spectacular flowers; trees for the home garden; and pioneer plants.
Final Details: Vantage points; furniture; lighting; and rainforest pools, creeks and waterfalls.
Care and Cultivation: Water; fertilising; pruning; weed control; insect attack; and common pests and diseases; and
Feature Rainforest Plants and their incorporation into mixed and exotic gardens; poolside plantings; colder climates; and boggy areas and creek banks.
There are also chapters on : Small Gardens and Courtyards: Seaside Rainforest Gardens; Drier Inland Gardens; Container Growing; Wildlife in the Rainforest Garden, including bird and butterfly attractants and pond life; Rainforest Plants for Bush Tucker, including lists of edible and toxic plants; and finally, propagation by seed, cuttings and grafting.
The authors include their 100 favourite rainforest plants, with key symbols for light levels, temperature, water requirements and special features for quick reference. Primarily a gardening book, its photographs are still useful for supporting other identification guides.
Rainforest Plants I-V by Nan and Hugh Nicholson 1985-2000
A wonderful series of five books by the owners of Terania Creek Nursery in Northern New South Wales, we used these small books extensively during our Dorrigo years, as our block was perched right on the escarpment, bordering Bellinger National Park and Dorrigo National Park and was surrounded by subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest species.
The photographs are beautiful and make identification much easier, though at times I wished that they covered all aspects – flowers, fruit and leaves on the one page!
The accompanying text is also very informative with common, scientific and family names and notes about the name derivation; distribution; identification features; habitat; fruit, seeds and dispersion; germination and use in the garden.
Other features include: a distribution map for the East coast of Australia (Volume 1); notes on growing a rainforest and weeds (both in Volume 2); rainforest types (Volume 3); disturbing rainforests (Volume 4); and rainforest seeds and their propagation (Volume 5), as well as a cumulative index for all 5 books.
There are certainly some beautiful rainforest plants and this series really engenders a great appreciation of them all.
Australian Rainforest Fruits: A Field Guide by Wendy Cooper 2013 *
While on the subject of Australian flora (and fauna), it is well worth checking out an organization, called Bush Blitz, which is based at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra and conducts biological surveys all over Australia, discovering many new species in the process. Our friend, Brian Hawkins, with whom Ross worked back at the Rainforest Centre in Dorrigo, is a Senior Project Officer with them. See: http://bushblitz.org.au/expeditions/ and http://bushblitz.org.au/team-profiles/.
Guide to Wildflowers of Western Australia by Simon Nevill and Nathan McQuoid 2008 *
Field Guide Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria by Tony Bishop 1996
The number and diversity of orchids is so vast, that it is worth having a specialised book on these beautiful little plants. We had a number of different orchids on our Dorrigo trees and rocks, like the sweetly scented Orange Blossom Orchids, Sarcochilus falcatus, and the delicate Dagger Orchids, Dendrobium pugioniforme, and Box Orchids, Dendrobium aemulum.
In Victoria, we also really enjoyed hunting for terrestrial orchids at the Grampians, as well as Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road each year, when a specific area was fenced off during the Spring Wildflower Festival and marked with identification flags to aid the search. I remember dragging my daughter and her non-botanically inclined boyfriend along one year and watching the little old ladies taking them under their wing was priceless!
We also really loved seeing the wonderful Spring display of Rock Orchids, Dendrobium speciosum, on the cliffs of the Merrica River last year. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/. They brought back many fond memories for Ross of the King Orchids on the cliffs of his childhood home in South-East Queensland. He adores their scent, which is very similar to that of the flowers of another rainforest vine, Ripogonum scandens.
This comprehensive guide covers the lot from descriptions of Horned Orchids, Donkey Orchids and Hare Orchids; Bird Orchids, Duck Orchids and Beak Orchids; Lizard Orchids; Mosquito, Midge and Gnat Orchids; Onion and Leek Orchids; Greenhoods, Ladies’ Tresses and Helmet Orchids; Elbow Orchids and Parsons’ Bands; Fairy Orchids and Sun Orchids; and Waxlips,Tongue and Beard Orchids, to name but a few!
Each genus and its species are described with general remarks about the genus and specific details on each species, including common and scientific names, flowering season, description, distribution and habitat; identification features and similar species, all supported by excellent colour photographs and identification keys, though it still doesn’t make the task any easier, as so many of them are alike!!!!
The last two books are very pertinent to our local area now.
Native Plants of the Blue Mountains by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham 1995
I always love visiting the Blue Mountains, especially in Spring, when all the wildflowers are in full bloom, not to mention all the wonderful gardens!
The sandstone plateau supports many vegetation communities: eucalypt woodland and open forest; tall open forest and closed forest; heath and cliff-faces; and swamps and stream communities. There are over 1500 species of flowering plants in the Blue Mountains National Park, including 20 endemic plants species and 72 rare or threatened plants.
After a brief description of the general area, the book is divided into each of these plant communities, with a general description and photo, followed by detailed entries (including a description; preferred habitat and family name) of all the plant species within those communities on the left page, with photos of each species on the right page. For more on the flora of the Blue Mountains. It is also worth consulting: http://www.waratahsoftware.com.au/wpr-flora-bluemountains.shtml.
Kosciuszko Alpine Flora by Alex Costin, Max Gray, Colin Totterdell and Dane Wimbush 2000
Back on Australia Day 2005, the family enjoyed the wonderful 22 km Main Range Walk from Charlotte’s Pass up to Hedley Tarn, Blue Lake, Club Lake, Lake Albina and Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, then back via the old road.
There were masses of wildflowers (Lake Albina particularly stole my heart!) and still patches of snow, despite being High Summer! We bought this book to help us identify all the photographed wildflowers, little realizing that years later, we would be residents of the Far South Coast of New South Wales, within a morning’s drive of this very special alpine area!
The photographs in this book are superb, many having been taken on beautiful clear sunny days, unlike our 2005 trip, which still included a fair proportion of mist and cloud! It is a very interesting and informative book, with chapters on alpine and subalpine areas; the evolution of the Kosciuszko Alpine Area; the human history of the area and its impact on the Kosciuszko flora; the plants and plant communities, including montane and subalpine communities; the alpine communities of feldmark; heaths; herb fields; grassland; bog and fen; introduced species; and distribution and succession in alpine communities. There are also excellent maps and profiles of the area.
The rest of the book is devoted to the 212 native species, subspecies and varieties of ferns and flowering plants in the Kosciuszko Alpine Area. There is an introductory table with species and common names, as well as growth form, habitat, distribution and page number, followed by beautiful photographs of each plant species in its habitat. I look forward to doing more alpine walks next Summer!
Flowers of the South Coast and Ranges I-III by Don and Betty Wood 1998-1999 *
Even though fungi are not plants, I will include them at the end of this post, as they inhabit a similar world!
A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia by AM Young 2005
I love looking for fungi, especially on wet Autumn days, when not much else is in flower! They can look quite exotic and have such a wide diversity of form, colour and texture, as well as a fascinating life history!
I find them all endlessly fascinating from the puffballs and jelly fungi (ear shaped Auricularia; brain-like Tremella and the bright yellow pikes of Calocera) to the giant bracket fungi, delicate coral fungi, trumpet-shaped Cantharellus and stinkhorn fungi – the Aseroë and meshed Colus, the earth stars and cone-shaped, honeycombed Morchella. They vary from white and creams to browns, reds, yellows, greens and even blues and purples, as well as having amazing stripes, spots and patterns. Some are even luminescent, though I have yet to see one!
It’s difficult to choose, but I think my favourites are the white spotted bright red and extremely toxic Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria), the fairy toadstools of childrens’ books; the quaint Earth Stars Geastrum triplex and the Red Starfish Fungus, Aseroë rubra, with yes!, its bright red starfish-like double arms, waving at the top of its body.This is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, about which is still very little is known! This book is only concerned with macrofungi, the fungi whose finer structures can be seen without a microscope (as opposed to microfungi-like moulds) and at the time of publication, there were 20 000 to 25 000 species of macrofungi in Australia, of which 60 per cent are unknown, and yet they perform an essential role in the life cycle of all living matter, being the prime agents of decomposition and the recycling of nutrients and elements.
They also have important mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of other shrubs and trees like eucalypts, casuarinas and wattles, as well as being an important animal food resource.The introductory chapters explores the fungal organism and anatomy (we only see the fruiting bodies); fungal reproduction and spores, which also display a wide variety of shape and texture; the difference between toadstools and mushrooms; the divisions within macrofungi : Ascomycetes (yeasts; truffles and morels; ); Basidiomycetes (the majority of bushland fungi, including cultivated mushrooms); and Myxomycetes (slime moulds); and collecting, describing and preserving fungi.
It includes interesting fungal facts about fairy rings; luminescence, as in the Ghost Fungus of South-East Queensland rainforests, which are the favourite food of Giant Land Snails; mycorrhizal relationships; fungal-infected caterpillars; and their role in the diet of Australian marsupials and reptiles, as well as that of humans! The book then has a black-and-white illustrated key for all the different types of fungi, but because so many fungi have yet to be identified and the book only describes less than 200 species, the keys serve more to indicate groups of species or genera, then refers to the relevant sections of the book. Because the number of Agarics or Gilled Fungi is quite large, they have been divided on their location or food source: forest/ woodland (wood, leaf litter, soil); grassland; animal remains; and dung. There is also a toxicity key (most important for those adventurous souls out there!). The main body of the book is then devoted to species descriptions – their common names; fruiting bodies; spores; habitats; distribution and notes, backed up by black-and-white illustrations and a central section of superb colour photographs. Did you know there was a fungi called a Curry Punk, that Stinkhorn Fungi emit the odour of rotting meat to attract flies for spore dispersal or that the fruiting body is 90 per cent water and is totally for spore production and dispersal. It is such an interesting book and an essential component of the natural history library!
Note: You will notice that I have included an asterisk * next to some of the books mentioned. These are books, which are on our bucket list, which we would love to purchase over time, which leads me to my final recommendation! If you are visiting the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, an excellent bookshop for natural history and gardening books is the Botanical Bookshop at Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St., Acton ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6257 3302. Opening times are : 9:30am to 4:30pm 7 days a week (Closed Christmas Day). You can also order books online at http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au.
To see us through the Winter, over the next 5 weeks, I will be focusing on other natural history and environmental books in our library, after which I will have an update of the Winter Garden and resume the normal format of posts on different types of roses, special rose gardens to visit and more interesting books on history, art and architecture, poetry and travel !
Merrica River Nature Trail is another walk we had wanted to do for a long time and it lies in the northern precinct of Nadgee Nature Reserve, a 20 671 ha wilderness area. In fact, it is the end of the road and car access to this wonderful wilderness area. From Merrica River, it is a 3 to 4 day hike (55 km) around the coast to Mallacoota, Victoria, and is another bucket list camping trip, involving heavy packs and booking ahead. Only 30 hikers are allowed in the reserve at the one time and the cost is $10 per night per person. Permits can be obtained by phoning (02) 6495 5000. I would love to visit it in November to see the masses of moulting swans, resting on Nadgee Lake, while waiting for their new plumage to grow, as well as to run down the enormous sand-dunes at Cape Howe in Croajingalong National Park, also involving a long walk in. There is not that much information online about Merrica River, but I did read in a bushwalking book that in Spring, the banks of the river were lined with King Orchids Dendrobium speciosum in full bloom, so we resolved to visit it on the last day of September. We had not envisaged how wonderful the Spring wildflower show would be, so it was a double visual treat in store! Because there were so many wildflowers (over 800 species in Nadgee Nature Reserve), this post will be more of a photo essay, in which I will probably just refer to the genus name, unless I am sure of the species name. Here is a much magnified map from the National Parks board of the area:To get there from Eden:
Travel south along the Princes Highway for 22.5km. Turn left on Wonboyn Road and follow it for 8.7 km, just before the fork to Wonboyn Lake. Turn right into the gravel Old Bridge Forest Road and travel for a further 5.6 km, turning left at the fork-it is well signposted.The Merrica River carpark and the start of the track is located across the Merrica River causeway.The Merrica River Nature Trail is 4 km to the mouth of the Merrica River, where it joins the sea, so it is worth taking a sunhat, drinking water, walking boots and bathers if it is a warm day. The track starts through a tunnel of Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia. The track crosses a creek, which flows into a small waterfall, then joins the fire trail through a eucalypt forest to the beach… and the mouth of the Merrica River… lined with grey lichen-covered rock blocks, with forest right down to the edge of the water.The vegetation in Nadgee Nature Reserve has been almost undisturbed since European settlement and has such an isolated remote feel. We walked down along the river to see if we could spot a King Orchid, but only found one specimen far on the other side. We did however find a base camp with a kayak and a fireplace under the huge Bracelet Honey-Myrtles, Melaleuca armillaris, which flower later in Summer. What a wonderful spot to camp! I loved the brown and gold colour of the water, evidence of all the tannins in it! We then turned our attention to Disaster Bay and waded across a shallow knee-high passage, following the cliff line on the right… where we discovered masses of King Orchids in full bloom on the higher rocks – such a spectacular show and well worth the long walk in! They obviously liked that aspect with full northern sun and even salt spray and wind! The lower rocks along the shoreline were very attractive with quartz banding and were covered with oysters, as well as being refuge for scurrying crabs! We saw a Pied Oyster Catcher, a Reef Heron (photo below), and a Black Cormorant searching for food and Gannets diving, but alas, no whales, Ground Parrots, endangered Eastern Bristlebirds, or the pair of resident White-Bellied Sea Eagles! We ate lunch out on the rocks facing the ocean and looking straight across Disaster Bay to Green Cape Lighthouse, around the corner from a couple of salmon fisherpeople! Then, it was time to retrace our steps, taking more wildflower photos and watching and listening to the many forest birds, including Grey Fantails, Eastern Yellow Robins, Golden Whistler, White Throated Tree Creepers, Lewin Honeyeaters, Satin Bowerbirds, Wonga Pigeons, Grey Thrush, Lorikeets and the migratory Fan-Tailed Cuckoo, who has returned for the Australian Summer. We didn’t see any other animals, as most of them would have been asleep in their tree hollows, but here are some photos of the homes of the resident ants: Finally, here are the wildflower photos, grouped according to colour :
White and Cream:
Forest Clematis Clematis glycinoides; Wedding Bush Ricinocarpus pinifolius; Daisy Bush Olearia sp; Apple Berry Billardiera scandens; Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum; Pimelea linifolia; Beard-Heath Leucopogon sp; and a Boronia species.Yellow, Gold and Orange:
A number of different native pea genus: Pultenaea; Dilwynia, Bossiaea – all that is certain is that they all belong to the Family Fabaceae!; Golden Glory Pea Gompholobium latifolium; Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata; Guinea Flower Hibbertia sp;Toothed Guinea Flower Hibbertia dentata;Fireweed Groundsel Senecio linearifolius; Pomaderris elliptica; Stringybark Wattle Acacia linearifolia; Prickly Moses Acacia ulicifolia; Melaleuca megacephala;Pink and Purple:
Waxlip Orchid Glossodia major; Native Iris Patersonia sericea; Love Creeper Comesperma volubileGreen: Large Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetraand the pods of the Sunshine Wattle Acacia terminalis.There were even some interesting fungi.It was a wonderful day out and we were so impressed with the Kings of Merrica River, that we immediately followed up with a visit to Nethercote Falls the next day to see if their King Orchids were also in bloom, as we had missed them last Spring and we were thrilled to discover that they were! Third time lucky! I have added the new photos to the old post: November Falls. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/19/november-falls/. Next month, we will finish the year with Wonboyn Lake and Bay Cliff, truly the pièce de résistance of the area and a fabulous place to enjoy the Summer! Till then…!
In early Spring, we finally made a visit to Mt Imlay, a long-held ambition ever since we first arrived here. Mt Imlay (886m) dominates the skyline from Merimbula to the Victorian border and is accessed via Burrawang Rd, 20 km (15 mins drive) south of Eden, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. Here is a photo of the National Parks map: It was named after the Imlay Brothers, who settled in this region in the 1830s and 1840s, establishing a huge pastoral, whaling and trading empire. It was known to the local aborigines as ‘Balawan’ and is a place of spiritual significance for them. Apparently, it was used as a site for telepathic communication with groups to the north near Wallaga Lake. The foothills were selectively logged in the 1960s and a fire trail was built to the summit, giving access to the trig station, but the track was closed in the 1970s to allow the area to revegetate. There is also a Telstra Sea Phone facility, built in 1994 and serving as the last communication link between Melbourne and Sydney for coastal vessels. In 1972, 3808 ha of steep, heavily forested country around the peak was reserved as Mt Imlay National Park, which has since been extended to 4822 ha. The park has a variety of habitats and is an important refuge area for the conservation of the local native flora and fauna, including a number of threatened or geographically significant species. The summit is of particular scientific interest because of its predominantly undisturbed nature, the presence of several threatened plant species and its biogeographical similarity to Tasmanian peaks. I will be describing our walk soon, but first some introductory notes about this beautiful national park.
Most of Mt Imlay National Park was formed during the Ordovician Period, 500 to 435 Million years ago, from sedimentary and metamorphosed rocks of the Mallacoota Beds, part of the Southern Highlands Fold Belt, including greywacke, sandstone and shale. The summit of Mt Imlay and the upper slopes are younger, with Devonian (395 to 345 Million years ago) rocks of the Merimbula Group, lying above the Ordovician sediments. The Merimbula Group includes sandstone, conglomerates, quartzite, siltstone and shale. Quaternary sediments form narrow river flats along the Towamba River on the northern edge of the park. The soils on the summit and ridges are shallow with many rock fragments and the upper slopes are very sandy, loose and very erodible and subject to movement. I always marvel at the tenacity and optimism of seedlings growing in rock! The summit area is only small and drops steeply in all directions with cliff lines in the north and east and a series of steps on the western slope. These steps are formed by the differential erosion of the alternating bands of sandstone, conglomerate and shale. Ridgelines extend from the summit, dissecting the rest of the park, which has narrow rocky ridges and deep gullies, as seen in the photo below.Vegetation
The ridges and dry lower slopes are covered by open forest, dominated by Silvertop Ash, Eucalyptus sieberi and also includes Yellow Stringybark E. muelleriana and occasionally E. globoidea and Blue-Leaved Stringybark E. agglomerata. The understorey is shrubby and includes Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis, Hickory Wattle Acacia falciformis, Shiny Cassinia Cassinia longifolia, Tetratheca thymifolia , Narrow-Leaf Geebung Persoonia linearis, Acacia obtusifolia , Prickly Broom-Heath Monotoca scoparia , Smooth Geebung Persoonia levis, Banksia collina, Bedfordia arborescens, Hakea macreana, Mountain Speedwell Derwentia perfoliata, which had just finished flowering when we visited, and Hibbertia saligna, which is regionally uncommon and at the southern limit of its range. The steep south-east facing slopes (especially just below the ridge crest) are covered by stands of White Ash, E. fraxinoides, a species with a restricted distribution.
The moist sheltered gullies and slopes support a tall open forest of Yellow Stringybark, Monkey Gum E. cypellocarpa and River Peppermint E. elata, with a shrub layer of Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata , Blue Olive-Berry Elaeocarpus reticulates, Lance Beard-Heath Leucopogon lanceolatus and Fireweed Groundsel Senecio linearifolius.
There are also pockets of rainforest, including Black Olive-Berry, Elaeocarpus holopetalus, Banyalla Pittosporum bicolour, Soft Tree-Fern Dicksonia antarctica, Hard Water Fern, Blechnum wattsii and Pomaderris species, including Pomaderis phylicifolia subsp. ericoides.
Other ferns include: Maidenhair fern Adiantum sp (Photo 1); Bracken fern Pteridum esculentum; Coral Fern Gleichenia rupestris (Photo 2); and Rock Felt Fern Pyrrosia rupestris (Photo 3). Climbers include Austral Sarsparilla, Smilax australis, which is shown in the first three photos at various stages and Drooping Mistletoe, Amyema pendula (Photos 4 to 5).On the rocky summit is a woodland, dominated by Narrow-Leafed Peppermint, Eucalyptus sp. aff. radiata, but also including Silvertop Ash and Messmate E. obliqua. There is also a stand of less than 200 trees of the very rare, endemic Mallee Gum, Eucalyptus imlayensis, which emerges from a closed tall heath, containing Leptospermum scoparium (1st photo below), Scented Paperbark, Melaleuca squarrosa, Mat Rush Lomandra longifolia, Sunshine Wattle Acacia terminalis (2nd photo below), Prickly Broom-Heath Monotoca scoparia, Common Oxylobium Oxylobium arborescens, Boronia pinnata and Hibbertia dentata. Other plants we saw on our walk included: Hairpin Banksia Banksia spinulosa (photo 1), Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata (photo 2), and plenty of flowering Epacris impressa (photos 3 and 4), which was quite spectacular!The Imlay Mallee is only found at a single site on the steep rocky east-facing slope at an altitude of 850m to 870m. It grows to a height of 7 metres and is multi-stemmed with smooth orange-brown and grey bark, which is shed from the stems in ribbons. Seed production is rare and there are no juvenile plants recorded. Mallee Gum appears to be related to Tasmanian eucalypts, an association backed up by the presence of Eriostemon virgatus, which normally grows in Tasmania, Mt Imlay being one of the few mainland locations of this shrub. Known by its common name, the Tasmanian Waxflower, it is the only four-petalled Eriostemon in Eastern Australia. The Weevil Aterpus kubushas, also found in Tasmania and the Victorian Alps, has also been collected on the summit, further evidence of Mt Imlay’s biogeographical similarity with the Tasmanian peaks.
The summit of Mt Imlay also has a number of threatened and biogeographically significant plant species including: Pomaderris costata, Persoonia brevifolia (close to northern limit), Monotoca elliptica, Saw Sedge Gahnia subaequiglumis, Prostanthera walteri, and Leafless Pink Bells, Tetratheca subaphylla, seen in the photo below. We enjoyed seeing the early Spring blooms of another endangered endemic species, Boronia imlayensis, seen in this photo. It had only just started flowering on our visit in late August. We could not identify this shrub- perhaps someone could help us?Recent mapping of the park revealed that half of the park is fragmented old-growth forest, whose hollows provide essential habitats for all the arboreal mammals.Fauna
Native mammals include: Red-Necked Wallaby, Swamp Wallaby, Greater Glider, Brush-Tail Possum, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Platypus, Wombat, the Large-Footed Myotis and Bush Rat. There are three threatened species: the Long-Nosed Potoroo, the Koala and the Tiger Quoll. Native birds recorded include: the Gang-Gang Cockatoo, the Superb Lyrebird, the Little Eagle, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, the Wonga Pigeon, Common Bronzewing, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, King Parrot, Grey Currawong, Little Lorikeet and Red-Browed Finch. Reptiles include: Red-bellied Black Snake, Brown Snake, Lace Monitor and Cunningham’s Skink.And now to our walk, as seen in the National Parks map above! From the Princes Highway, a 20 minute (10 km) drive up the gravel Burrawang Rd through the East Boyd State Forest with dramatic examples of the devastation of clear felling practices along the way , as well as revegetated areas from 1977 and 1978, brings you to the Burrawang Picnic Area and the start of the Mt Imlay Summit Walking Track. At the start of the walk and the last stretch to the summit are Boot Cleaning Stations with an information board (seen in the 2nd photo), to stop the spread of the Cinnamon Fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi. These include a brush to clean your boots and a dip with a chemical solution to wash your soles. Already, a number of species have been affected including the Austral Grass Trees, Tea Broom-Heath, Common Heath, Leafless Pink Bells and Hairpin Banksia. The fungus attacks the roots and causes them to rot and has already destroyed large areas of Grass Trees in particular.The track is described as a challenging 3 km walk, rising 600 m to the summit (6 km return; 3 to 4 hours), but because the walk is broken up into different sections and there is so much botanical interest, we managed it quite easily with photography stops along the way. Also, I think we are fairly fit, as our daily walks in Candelo involve steep hills either side of the valley, and we weren’t even stiff the next day. I was very impressed with my usually suspect knee, which behaved beautifully on the walk with not a twinge of pain! The walk follows the ridge up the right hand side of the mountain, shown in the photo below. The track is marked by silver tags on the trees and there are interesting information boards at intervals. The first stretch of the track is a bit boring through dry open eucalypt forest along the old road, but once you reach the Austral Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea australis) ridge, it becomes much more interesting. We ascended a steep path past Dianella tasmanica outcrops (photo 2) to our first set of large boulders. We skirted around a natural amphitheatre on the same level, then ascended to the base of a cliff with huge boulders under a tall forest of Silvertop Ash trees. A steep slope leads to a razorback ridge, which runs 500m to the trig station. There were lots of Spring wildflowers in a variety of colours- whites, creams, yellows, pinks, blues, purples and reds. Here are a few more photos. In order: Eriostemon virgatus, Lance Beard-Heath Leucopogon lanceolatus , Hakea macreana, Pomaderris phylicifolia subsp. ericoides, Sweet Wattle Acacia suaveolens, and Common Heath Epacris impressa (last two photos). The stunning photo opportunities were further increased by the spectacular views of the coast, north to Mt Dromedary (photos 1 and 2) and Eden, including the wood chip mill (photos 3 and 4); west to the mountains (photos 5 and 6); east to Green Cape and Bay Cliff and the Wonboyn River (photos 7 to 10); and to the far south, the holiday shacks, beaches and river entrance at Mallacoota (photos 11 and 12).Unfortunately, the day was a bit cloudy and grey and the summit quite cold and windy, so we ate a quick picnic lunch at the top, disturbing a roosting Little Eagle in the process. Then descended back to the Silvertop Ash forest, where we met the only other bushwalkers we saw that day- a couple with a six year old daughter, whose timing was better as the sky had just turned a bright blue for their arrival at the summit. Their views would have been even better! These photos contrast our day (photo 1) and that of the next couple (photo 2). We really enjoyed visiting this iconic local landmark. Next week, we explore the Merrica River, another stunning walk in Springtime. I will finish with a lovely photo of the stump of a dead Austral Grass Tree, which captured our attention!
On the eve of my birthday, I thought a post on landmark birthdays was appropriate! My birthday falls on the first day of Winter, which is special enough in itself, and while I enjoy all my birthdays, there have been 3 stand-outs : my 35th birthday in France, my 40th birthday on Lord Howe Island and my 49th birthday on Cape York in Queensland. The Lord Howe celebration was planned, but the other two just happened to be in exotic places, because my birthday fell during our travels. As this post is fairly long, I have divided it into two sections, which I will post either side of my birthday week. I have had such a lovely time writing and researching this post. It has been like having these holidays all over again!!!
The year I turned 35 was a pretty special year, not only because we eventually found our home in Armidale, as well as our country property at Dorrigo, but also because just prior to these purchases, we had a wonderful ten-week holiday in England and France with the whole family. Most of our major holidays have been at turning points of our lives, between leaving our old home and settling down in our new life, and this occasion was no different. We had been renting for a year, all the time searching for our new home unsuccessfully, so we decided to take a break and fulfill that long-held dream of taking the kids overseas.
It was a wonderful experience and even though there was the odd moment, it was fantastic travelling with young children. Because they were so young – all under 8 years of age – we were able to plan a nature-based trip, staying mainly in country areas, and were able to avoid places like Disney World! It also opened many doors to us, especially in France. The French love children and were so impressed that we had brought the entire family from such a long distance away, as well as the fact that I was able to communicate with them in their own language! Whenever we arrived at a new place, the kids would be whisked away by the hosts and plied with hot chocolate and croissants at the kitchen table while we unpacked or we would find them playing upstairs with the owners’ children or reading Tintin books in French.
We had so many amazing experiences from sailing on the Norfolk Broads in one of the original wherries; sitting with the puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory; walking on the Cliffs of Hermaness with the bonxies and tysties; visiting Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on the island of Jersey, viewing prehistoric cave art 14000 years old in the Dordogne, watching pink flamingos feeding in the Camargue marshes; and hiking in the Pyrenees amongst wildflowers. I have touched on some of these experiences in my post: My Love Affair With France. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/12/my-love-affair-with-france/.
My 35th birthday in the Limoges countryside was definitely one of the highlights! We’d just spent the day exploring the beautiful potager gardens at Villandry and visiting Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, with models of all his amazing inventions (see photos above), and as we left the Loire Valley, I hinted to Ross at the possibility of spending the night in a château (see photo below) for my birthday, only to be told it was far too expensive! We drove on and on along the scenic back roads of the alternative tourist route and by 8.30pm, we still hadn’t eaten dinner, nor found accommodation for the night! In the evening light, we spotted a little chambre d’hôte sign on a tree, just south of La Trimouille. Proceeding down the tree-lined driveway, we discovered the beautiful old Château de Régnier.
Because it was so late, we decided to enquire about the price , only to find that it was very reasonable and quite affordable! On asking about nearby restaurants, the hostess Anniq apologised profusely, saying that had she known that we were coming, she would have prepared us a meal. She also apologised for the overgrown state of the circular driveway lawn, which had not yet been mown for the upcoming hunt! She phoned the local hotel, only to be told that dinner might not be possible because they had run out of bread! I suspect the kitchen may have been about to close! But no problem! Anniq had a whole loaf, which she sent down with us to the hotel dining room. After a five-minute wait, a surly waitress clomped out and took the bread from us without a word, disappearing back into the kitchen. Not a menu in sight, so no difficult hassles translating menu meals! Out came the bread, now sliced, with a huge bowl of pâté and some sliced avocado. Thinking this was dinner, we bogged into the pâté, only to be surprised by a main course of beef and fried potatoes with a delicious red wine, fresh pears for dessert and then coffee, all without having to make any decisions!!!
Because it was my birthday the next day and also because we were down to our last clean clothes, the’ best’ outfits, we decided to spend another night at the château. Doing the laundry while travelling was always a hassle and I was dreading having to use a French laundromat, but Anniq insisted on washing all our dirty clothes herself in her laundry, set in one of the lovely old outbuildings, and hanging them out to dry in her bat-filled attic overnight.The next morning was warm and sunny and we had a lovely extended breakfast with lots of conversation and laughter. Anniq was a wonderful communicator and between our dodgy command of each other’s languages, we were still able to make ourselves understood, even discussing quite complex matters! Ross gave me a beautiful green woollen cloak, which we’d bought in Ireland, and some lovely perfume. Anniq gave us a guided tour of the current château, built in 1820. The original Château de Régnier was built in 1399 for the Loubes family, but it had been in the Liniers family for 5 generations since 1799. The château had 25 rooms, 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a small, disused, cobwebbed family chapel underneath our room (bottom photo). The walls were covered with an Aubusson tapestry and trophies from the hunt- stuffed birds, foxes, boars and deer. Anniq showed me her shell collection and her own hand-painted porcelain.
Her husband Charles showed us the stables, laundry, machinery sheds and dairy, all housed in these superb old brick buildings. The bottom photo is of the gatehouse.The kids ran all day, dressed in their Sunday best and gumboots, in the long grass with the family dogs, two friendly Weimaraners called Hamlet and Jean, and Ibis, a very active, visiting Jack Russell terrier, with whom Chris fell in love. He is in the photo below. After lunch, we wandered down to the creek, from where the château had the appearance of a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle! I picked a bouquet of Summer wildflowers- buttercups, forget-me-knots, grasses and lots of pink, purple and white wild blooms, as well as a bunch of apple mint for dinner. The girls found a baby bird and waded in the creek. Of course, Chris fell in and ended up swimming in his clothes!On our return to the château, Anniq made us a cup of tea with shortbread and we met an English couple, who had discovered this wonderful place a few years ago and now always called in en route to their holiday house in Spain each year. Because they could not speak French and Anniq’s English was limited (although she was attending English classes at night), whenever they called in, Anniq would invite her neighbour Yvonne, who spoke excellent English, for dinner. Dear Anniq had made a special trip into Limoges to buy me a birthday present, as she didn’t have any spare hand-painted porcelain of her own to give me. She bought me a beautiful china terrine, decorated with French wildflowers, a cherished gift which I still have today. She also gave me a bouquet of her own pink roses- the first of the season.My birthday dinner was amazing! An entrée of an egg, tomato and lettuce salad; a choice of roast pork or goose with fried potatoes, carrots and peas for our main course with a green salad made by Yvonne; and palate fresheners between courses and a different wine with each course. The pièce de résistance was the homemade chocolate cake, aglow with candles and served with icecream, followed by a selection of cheeses and coffee. It was such a funny night! Both Brian, the Englishman, and Charles, the proud Frenchman, were very similar in character and neither was EVER going to learn one another’s language! They spent all night slinging off at each other in their own languages and Yvonne and I were very amused by their accuracy and similarities!
It was raining by the end of the night and as Yvonne departed, she invited us to visit her in her 11th century home at Courtevrault Manor the next day. It was amazing! Her bedroom, on the first floor next to the 11th century turret, was situated above a deep dungeon, accessed via a door on the ground floor and into which French soldiers would throw their English captives during the Hundred Years War. The depth and number of skeletons down there was unknown and did not unduly worry Yvonne!
There was also a 13th century addition with a well underneath and the main house with 11 bedrooms, a stone-flagged kitchen and amazing artwork, including a painting by Raphael. Yvonne was obviously very well-connected! She had her own gardener, who lived onsite, lit her kitchen fire every morning and kept her and his family in vegetables all year round. The vegetable garden and herb garden were huge and the flower garden filled with Old Roses and a huge Philadelphus shrub. There was also a dovecote, a pool and a creek, which ran through the garden. It certainly was an amazing opportunity, not often afforded to the normal tourist and a very memorable birthday!
Five years later, it was my 40th birthday and I wanted it to be equally special! I worked an extra job all year, sorting private mail boxes for Australia Post, in the wee hours of the morning – 4am on Mondays and 6am on the other weekdays. By the end of the year, I had earned enough to buy my coveted Bernina sewing machine and fund an 8 day trip to Lord Howe Island for the whole family to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had always wanted to visit Lord Howe Island. It is one of those very special places, especially if like us, you love nature, the environment, birds and bush walking. It was listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. We took a small plane with Eastern Airlines on the 29th May out of Sydney and, after a 1.5 hour flight, had to circle the island twice until the winds were conducive to landing on the tiny airstrip in the middle of the island. We had an excellent view of Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack at 551m, 26 km south of Lord Howe , as well as the lagoon and all the island landmarks.Before you can purchase your flight tickets, your accommodation must be pre-booked, as there is a limit of 400 visitors on the island at any one time. There is no camping on the island. Because we had the entire family with us, we booked a self-contained apartment at Hideaway Apartments on Middle Beach Rd, halfway up the hill from Joy’s shop. Because there are weight restrictions on luggage, you cannot bring your own food and supplies are very expensive, due to the fact that everything has to be brought in via the Island Trader. Consequently, our diet was fairly basic, until a departing couple of tourists left us the stuff they hadn’t used! There are few cars, so we walked everywhere or rented bicycles for longer trips. It was such a lovely free feeling, cycling with the breeze in your face, past aqua seas and tropical palms, and not a care in the world about cars or traffic! We were so lucky with the weather too- sunny blue skies and no rain, unlike the mini-cyclone last week! Here is a link to the official brochure : http://lordhowe.com/files/2014/11/LHI-Holiday-Planner.pdf.
and I have also included a map to give you an idea of some of the things we did from : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/travel-essentials/map-2/ On our first day, we walked up to Clear Place to get our bearings and had a beautiful view of Muttonbird Island and Wolf Rocks. In the Valley of Shadows, the kids enjoyed playing in amongst the pendulous aerial roots and buttressed trunks of the massive Banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla subsp columnaris), whose long branches extended over a hectare (2 acres). There is also a forest of 40 feet high Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana), one of 4 species of palms endemic to the island and the world’s most popular indoor palm for 120 years.
The palm seed industry was started in 1906 with the formation of the Kentia Palm Seed and Plant Cooperative and is a key component of the island’s economy, along with tourism. See : http://lordhoweisland.info/library/palmseed.pdf. The Kentia Palm is a lowland palm. The other 3 endemic palms are : Curly Palm (Howea belmoreana), another lowland palm, which grows slightly higher up; Big Mountain Palm (Hedyscepe canterburyana), which grows from altitudes of 400m up to the summit of Mt Gower and Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana), which only grows on the summit. There are also some lovely specimens of Pandanus (Pandanus forsteri) with their long prop roots on the walk to Boat Harbour.
At Middle Beach, we came across 16 Landcare members planting 200 native trees for their Big Muttonbird Ground Project, which aimed to restore the natural bushland and nesting habitat of the migratory seabirds : the Flesh-footed Shearwater and the Black-Winged Petrel, both classified as vulnerable on the Threatened Species List for NSW. They were very appreciative of our help and wrote us up in the Lord Howe Island Signal, their local paper.
We had lunch on the top of Transit Hill, which has a 360 degree view and was the site of the 1882 observation of the Transit of Venus across the sun. These photos are of the western side of the island: Mt. Gower; Blackburn Island; and the main area of settlement, looking across to the island and the lagoon. We saw our first Emerald Dove here. We loved the birdlife on Lord Howe Island. There are 180 species of birds on the island , which provides breeding sites for 32 species, of which 14 are sea birds and 18 are land birds. A good website to consult on the bird life of the island is : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/things-to-do/bird-watching/nature-calendar-2/ and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2014/12/birds-of-lord-howe-island .Because of its isolation, bird species are often similar, but not quite the same as their mainland relatives. For example, the Lord Howe Island Currawong has a longer, more pointed beak and totally different call to its Eastern Australian cousin, the Pied Currawong. The Lord Howe Island Silver-Eye is endemic to the island and has a white ring of feathers around its eye. It has a heavier build, larger feet and claws and a longer bill then the mainland Silver-Eye. The lack of natural predators meant that the birds had little fear and were easy targets when humans arrived in 1788, followed by rats in 1918, as well as introduced owls and feral cats. Their habitat was further destroyed by feral goats and pigs. For information on the island’s extinct birds, see : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/e137ac48-41b7-4f69-9b60-359a0763c635/files/lord-howe.pdf and http://www.lordhoweislandbirds.com/index.php/extinct-birds.
The Lord Howe Island Woodhen, a flightless rail endemic to the island, was brought to the very brink of extinction (less than 30 in late 1970s and restricted to 2 tiny populations on the inaccessible summits of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower), but thanks to a successful captive breeding program begun in 1980, they have increased in numbers ( 200 in 1997; 117 in 2001), though they are still considered a highly endangered species. We saw this woodhen up on the top of Mt Gower. For more information on this lovely little bird, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/woodhen.pdf and http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/TheLordHoweIslandWoodhen.htm.Then, there are the migratory birds, who return year after year to breed. Lord Howe Island is the only known breeding ground of the Providence Petrel, which arrives in March for its Winter breeding season (see photo below). The island is also the only breeding site in Eastern Australia of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, which breeds in large colonies on the forest floor between September and May. It is the only breeding location in Australia for the Kermadec Petrel and Grey Ternlet and is the most southerly breeding location in the world for the Sooty Tern, Common Noddy, Black Noddy and Masked Booby. The White Tern breeds on Lord Howe Island between October and April.The Red-tailed Tropic Birds are also Summer visitors, arriving in September from the North Pacific Ocean and performing their airborne courting rituals off Malabar Hill (208m), where we saw them on our second day. Lord Howe Island has the world’s largest breeding concentration of Red-tailed Tropic Birds. They nest on cliff ledges between Malabar Hill and North Head and head off late May back to the North Pacific Ocean.
Looking to the north from Malabar Hill, we could see the Admiralty Islands and to the east, Middle Beach (with Muttonbird Island in the background) and Ned’s Beach.We walked out to Kim’s Lookout, then headed back down to Old Settlement Beach, so called because it was the site of the first settlers in 1833. For more on the natural history, it is well worth consulting Ian Hutton’s website : http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/. Ian Hutton is the island’s resident naturalist and has written many scientific papers and over 20 books, as well as producing 3 videos about Lord Howe. He is a keen photographer and has run Lord Howe Island Nature Tours since the early 1990s.We had a beautiful day for my 40th birthday! It started with present-giving, including an unexpected bonus, when departing guests left us their food, including bottles of red wine and port! We spent a wonderful morning snorkelling down at Ned’s Beach. Lord Howe Island has Australia’s, and in fact the world’s, most southern coral reef ecosystem. Due to its location at the cross-roads of 5 major ocean currents and the influence of the warm East Australian Current, which flows south from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tasman Sea, the island has a rich and unique biodiversity of tropical, subtropical and temperate species, including 447 species of fish, 305 species of marine algae, 83 coral species and 65 species of echinoderms (sea stars and sea urchins), as well as sea turtles, dolphins and whales. There are over 60 world-class dive sites, including the spectacular Ball’s Pyramid, and most of which are only 10-20 minutes off shore. The alluring Admiralty Islands are home to 30 dive sites. See: http://www.prodivelordhoweisland.com.au/pages/admiralty-islands-dive-sites.We were blown away by the colourful corals, the bright green seaweed, the huge sea urchins and clams and the amazing variety of fish from rainbow coloured wrasses of pink-aqua-green or orange-yellow-green combinations with blue fins, blue double-header wrasses, black-and-yellow striped butterfly fish and purple striped fish to large schools of sea mullet. And that was only an nth of it! For a more in-depth look at the species list for Lord Howe Island, please consult : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3ed1e470-6344-4c6f-b8f1-c0e9774ce639/files/lordhowe-plan.pdf.
My birthday lunch was at the restaurant of the luxurious Capella South, now called Capella Lodge. It was delicious, especially the sticky date pudding, and having just watched the Getaway program on Capella Lodge, I feel extra lucky to have dined there, as the restaurant is now exclusively for Capella guests. See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtnYMx6ovM.
Through the restaurant windows, we looked straight up at Mt. Gower, our destination for the next day. We cycled down to the start of the track to check it out and saw our first, very quiet Lord Howe Island Woodhen in the wild. The air looked like it was full of little specks of ash, with all the Providence Petrels being buffeted about by the strong wind. We met an older fellow, Les, who had been in ill health for 4 years with heart problems and Ménières Disease, a disorder which affects the inner ear and balance, resulting in tinnitus and attacks of vertigo, so we really hoped that he wasn’t going on the guided tour the next day!The hike to the summit of Mt Gower (875m) is considered to be one of the 20 best walks in Australia. It’s a 14km round walk (7km straight up hill and 7km back!). Because of the rugged and often risky terrain, you can only access it with a guide and Jack Shick, our guide, is one of the most experienced on the island, having been a mountain guide for more than 20 years. See : http://www.lordhoweislandtours.net/.We started walking at 7.45 am, as the walk takes 8.5 hours to complete. There were 6 adults (including our guide) and our 3 kids and yes, Les was there!!! He was determined to prove his doctor wrong, but it did slow things down a bit, especially on our return, and meant that we were often looking after Les, instead of keeping an eye on the children!!! Luckily, they are an adventurous lot and fairly sure-footed when it comes to outdoor activities. It was such a great adventure for them.
The first lesson was climbing a Kentia Palm. Being a 5th generation islander, Jack was a master, but Chris quickly got the hang of it!Once everyone had arrived, we started on the track, ascending quite quickly to the first challenge of the day- the Lower Road, where we had to don our helmets and follow a rope along the edge of the black volcanic cliff, with a sheer drop of over 100m to the sea below! You can see the ledge in the photo above , as well as photos 1 and 3 below.We came to a clearing at Pandanus-lined Erskine’s Creek , where I surprised a feral mother goat and her two black kids and found a freshly-laid Muttonbird egg. We then walked up through a forest to the saddle and then finally, the Get-Up Place, where there is a rope to help you pull yourself up the incredibly steep slope. Below is a photo of my family with a much younger Jack and Les on the far left. From the summit, there are incredible views out over all the island and the ash-speckled sky is filled with Providence Petrels (Pterodroma solandri) , wheeling and whittering to each other. This photo shows the view to the north over the rest of the island. These gentle, trusting birds can be called out of the sky, to land with a heavy thud at your feet and then be picked up and cuddled. David Attenborough has recorded them falling from the sky in this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgHch5Bg9Jg. It is such a special experience to hold these fearless birds in your hand, a little akin to our experience sitting with the Puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isles. See : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/17/when-the-king-comes-to-tea/.The summit is covered with 52 acres of mist forest with Dendrobium moorei orchids in full bloom, elkhorns, ferns and mosses, wet fungi bells, the Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana) in red berry, Green Plums (Atractocarpus stipula, the endemic Hotbark (Zygogynum howeanum) with its chilli flavoured bark, the Fitzgeraldii tree (Dracophyllum fitzgeraldii) and the endemic Scalybark (Syzygium fullagarii) with its sharp, deep red fruit, high in vitamin C. The photos below show a mist-covered Mt Gower; a forest covered Mt Lidgbird; and the orchid Dendrobium moorei in full bloom. The vegetation on Lord Howe Island is also very special, with half of the island’s 241 native plant species being found nowhere else in the world. Overall, there are 52 tree species; 24 shrub species; 24 creeper species; 12 orchid species; 28 grasses and sedges; 48 herb species, 56 fern species and 105 moss species. There are at least 100 different types of fungi. For more information about the vegetation, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/plantlife.pdf and http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/biodiversity/plants/.The high degree of endemism (up to 60 per cent in some groups) is also found in the invertebrate population with over 1600 species. There are 157 species of land and freshwater snails; 21 species of earthworms; 515 species of beetles; 27 species of ants; 137 species of butterflies and moths and 71 species of springtails. As with all oceanic islands, there are few vertebrate land animals, apart from birds. There are only 3 on Lord Howe Island : a small insect-eating bat; a gecko and a skink, both of which are endemic to the island. There are no native frogs or terrestrial mammals on the island.
Even though he is looking a little older than in our photos, it is worth watching this video, produced by Jack, to get a feel for the climb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkb24DPjE0. We were so exhausted at the end of the day we fell straight to sleep at the start of The English Patient, a film we had not seen and which we had rented out on video at enormous cost, especially for my birthday! We woke up early at 6am the next day to watch it before its return!
We were so stiff and sore and very very tired, so we were fair game for the spruikers and easily convinced to join Ron’s Rambles boat trip around the island! The boat was overcrowded with 40 people crammed in and the weather rough with a giant swell, so most of us (but NOT Ross!) were very seasick. Still, we did get to see the island from a different angle, but I was pleased to get back on dry land, safe and sound! This jaunty video was taken on a far better day, but will give you a bit of a feel for exploring the island by boat : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcN2ZhzosM.
Still sore the following morning, we had a low-key day : viewing the Woodhen breeding enclosure at Stevens Reserve, swimming at Lagoon Bay and Blinky Beach and visiting Lovers Bay and the rock pools of Middle Beach, where we saw Turbans, Sea Urchins, Nerites, black-and-white Cone shells and coral. We fed the fish at Ned’s Beach: Silver Drummers, Mullet and enormous King Fish. This amusing video will give you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NbtNtlYf4U.We finished with an evening of jazz and dinner at Pinetrees Lodge, the largest and oldest resort on the island , having housed guests since 1895 and now run by the 6th generation of the original family.
Yet to explore Mt Eliza (147m) and North Bay, we cunningly decided to hire sea kayaks, so we could spare our still-sore legs! We had an easy and quick trip down to North Bay with the wind behind us, climbed Mt Eliza and explored the rock pools of Old Gulch, but at 3pm, when we started our return paddle, we discovered that the wind was now against us and it was strong! We made little progress, so in desperation, we tied the kayaks together then, with much swearing and pushing, we finally inched our way past yachts, amused onlookers and the imminent arrival of the Island Trader, heading straight for us, back to the original beach. It was so good to get home and we’d achieved balance- now, our arms were as sore and stiff as our legs!!!We went down to the wharf the next day to see the MV Island Trader (http://www.islandtrader.com.au/) being unloaded. Owned and operated by the islanders, it makes fortnightly trips from Port Macquarie on the NSW coast and delivers all the islanders’ needs from groceries, building supplies and hardware to cars and furniture, and even a few passengers- though the trip takes much longer than flying! We revisited Old Settlement Beach, site of our other dream resort, Trader Nicks, now known as Arajilla Resort. If you had the money, it is so hard to choose between the two : Capella Lodge has the views, but Arajilla, nestled in amongst old Banyan trees, is closer to everything and has a lovely beach! For information on Arajilla, see: http://www.arajilla.com.au/ or http://lordhowe.com.au/.We watched White Terns wheeling in the sky and snorkellers in the Sylph’s Hole, then made our way back to Ned’s Beach to say goodbye. A Sacred Kingfisher farewelled us at the airport. We flew home that afternoon, having had the most magical island holiday – an unforgettable way to celebrate my 40th birthday!!
The wonderful thing about gardening is that it can be done at any age and there is always more to learn, no matter how experienced a gardener is. In this post, I will be discussing a variety of gardens, which can be loosely collected under the category of ‘Education Gardens’. I have started with children’s gardens and progressed through school gardens to tertiary institutions offering horticulture courses like Burnley, Victoria and research like the Waite Institute, South Australia. Community gardens, plant shows and sustainable house days also provide valuable learning opportunities, especially for those interested in organic vegetable gardening, sustainability and permaculture.
Children’s gardens have become increasingly important these days with the shrinking size of the backyard. In my generation’s childhood, we all had our own gardens, in which to develop our gardening skills, but these days , the house blocks are much smaller and often low maintenance with lots of hard surfaces, due to the fact that both parents are working and have little time to spend in the garden. Poor urban planning and the disappearance of open space, increased street traffic, parental fear for their child’s safety and the proliferation of electronic communications, to the extent that many children spend more time in front of screens (television, computer, mobile phones) than outside in the natural world, all contribute to decreased exercise and contact with nature, resulting in an obesity epidemic and a newly described syndrome: ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ . See the Children and Nature Network website at: http://www.childrenandnature.org/.
The garden is open from 10am-sunset, 7 days a week, during school holidays. During term time, it is only open Wednesday-Sunday and public holidays, while Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for school groups. It is closed for 8 weeks just after the July school holidays for restoration and maintenance.The garden provides an interactive environment for children of all ages, backgrounds, physical abilities and cultures to play, explore and discover the natural world. It is designed to encourage creative unstructured play and imagination with a number of small, child-sized spaces, each with a different planting theme including : a jungle and rain forest ; a ruin garden; a bamboo forest; a gorge with rocks, gum trees and grasses; a tea tree tunnel; a wetland area, a rill which runs through the garden; and a meeting place with a spiral fountain.Lastly, there is a Kitchen Garden, full of food plants, which delivers classes on sustainable gardening, composting and mulching and worm farming and companion planting to a wide variety of ages from preschoolers to school children right up to tertiary students and adult education classes.
The Patch has a very impressive 2 acre school garden, which includes a 1 acre fenced wetland, as well as an eco-centre, orchard, specific gardens and chooks, and it plays a major part in the children’s education.It was planned and established and is totally managed by the students with the guidance of environmental education teacher, Michelle Rayner, who incidentally is the wife of John Rayner, who lectures at Burnley. The students spent a whole year from 2006-2007, doing site surveys and analysis, including orientation, levels and soil type and pH, so that they really understood the environmental conditions of the site. They researched school and community gardens throughout the world and factored their requirements into the final design eg animals; fruit trees; edible produce; baking; creative activities and construction.The garden is divided up into separate areas :
Produce garden : onions; tomatoes; capsicum; cucumbers; beans and strawberries
Dry Garden : Drought-tolerant plants
Koorie Garden : dianellas and themedas; Bush food
Alphabet Garden : Prep-Grade 2: Literacy eg V is for violets; P is for PoppiesChickens and Ducks : the chook house has a living roof of hardy succulents; Eggs are incubated and kids learn about egg hygiene; fertility rates; incubation; weight and body development of different breeds; life cycles; behaviour; movement; courtship; habitat; physical features; chook handling/ feeding/ care.Eco-Centre : for formal learning and resources. Animals include bearded dragons and blue-tongue lizards, stick insects, green tree frogs, guinea pigs and budgies.There is artwork throughout the garden, as well as willow structures like tepees; scarecrows; a wood-fired pizza oven; and a grass maze.
The kids can join a number of different groups including the following
: Weed Group
: Chook Group : looks after the poultry
: Pizza Oven : manages the pizza oven when in use
: Food Forest Group : prunes and maintains the orchard
: Willow Weavers Group : prunes and weaves the willow
: Animal Carers group : looks after the animals in the eco-centreBecause they are involved in every aspect of the garden, the kids have a strong sense of ownership and pride in their garden. They learn so many gardening skills from soil preparation, propagation and planting to watering, mulching and harvesting. The garden also functions as an outdoor classroom, where the lessons learned in class can be applied in a practical sense. For example :
Mathematics : measurement of perimeters and circumference; measurement of tree height for a tree survey and habitat census; depth/ spacing/ plant size
Literacy : lots of writing and reflection; scientific nomenclature of plants
Art and Design : artwork; building living willow sculptures; scarecrows
Science : animals/ plants/ habitats; native animals : butterflies; native bee species; wetland species and the insect world. Entomology experts visited the school in December 2014 for a BioBlitz with the students. See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ3wM8PTEcU. Land crayfish, giant earthworms,the great yellow slug, native bees, wombats, scorpions, freshwater eels, satin bowerbirds, wedge-tailed eagles, sugar gliders and water rats are just some of the animals that live on and around the school grounds.
: Sustainability and environmental science are important subjects at the Patch and the school was chosen as one of three finalists in the ‘Education’ category of the 2013 Premier’s Sustainability Awards, as well as winning the Eastern Metropolitan Region division of the School Gardens Awards in 2012.
Creativity and problem solving, innovation, teamwork and interpersonal skills are all valuable learning outcomes.It is well worth visiting the school on one of their annual open days. It is a lovely day out with live music, wood-fired pizzas and food made with produce from the garden; plant and produce stalls; tours by the students and talks and demonstrations eg scarecrow making; plant propagation; making miniature gardens and art.
Burnley is a world class research and teaching facility, specializing in horticulture, only 7km from Melbourne’s CBD. It is one of the oldest colleges in Australia and this year celebrates 125 years of continuous horticultural education (1891-2016). See : http://ecosystemforest.unimelb.edu.au/burnley125years
Originally established in 1861 by the Horticultural Society of Victoria on the Richmond Survey Paddock, Burnley Gardens were experimental gardens to trial plants for the new colony. The 6 acre gardens were highly decorative and laid out in a geometric style. They were officially opened in 1863 and included 1400 fruit trees, many of which were lost in a great flood later that year and had to be replanted. Vegetables were trialled in 1874. The gardens were extended, a pavilion built and annual horticultural shows were held until the 1930s.
The Victorian Department of Agriculture took over the gardens in 1891 and started the first horticultural school in Australia. The first headmaster was Charles Bogue Luffman, an English landscape designer, who favoured a more natural style of garden design, so the geometric layout was changed to a more informal style with curved and sunken paths; shrubberies and deciduous trees; open lawns and ponds; cool shady areas and separate Winter and Summer gardens and paddocks of wildflowers. Production and ornamental horticulture were taught, but the college also had a dairy herd, poultry trials and bee hives. Women students were encouraged and the shool has produced a number of famous female garden designers including Edna Walling, Olive Mellor, Emily Gibson, Grace Fraser and Margaret Hendry.In 1983, Burnley was amalgamated with the other colleges owned by the Department of Agriculture under the name of the Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (VCAH), then in 1997, it was absorbed into the School of Land and Environment of the University of Melbourne.
2. Lily Ponds
3. Rock Point and Bergenia Walk
4. Grey Garden
5. Ficus macrophylla Bed
6. BBQ and Sugar Gum table
7. Pine Bed
8. Sunken Garden and Wisteria Walk
9. Herb Garden
10. Shady Walk
11. Orchard Gates
12. Orchard Border
13. Ficus obliqua Bed
14. Old Cypress Bed
15. Azalea Lawn
16. Fern Garden
17. Bog Garden
18. Wild Garden
19. Rose Garden
20. Native Rainforest Garden
21. Perennial Border
22. Oak Lawn
23. Island Beds
24. Native Shrub Garden
25. Native Garden Ponds
26. Mud Brick Hut
27. Native Grasslands Garden
28. Citriodora Courtyard
29. Ellis Stones Garden
31. Bull Paddock
32. Roof Garden
Reception / Main Administration Building
B. Student Amenity Building
C. MB 10 (FOBG meetings)
G. Classrooms / laboratories
Burnley also contains : a unique collection of indigenous and exotic plants; landscape construction areas; a pruning garden; experimental plots for master and PhD students; research areas; container and field nurseries; training gardens for design and maintenance; a graphics studio; a horticultural library and a plant tissue culture and genetics laboratory.Burnley conducts cutting-edge research into the changing needs of contemporary horticulture, especially with the influences of climate change. Current projects include the reduction of energy consumption for heating and cooling; rainwater absorption; the reduction of urban air temperatures; and the creation of wildlife habitats. New additions to Burnley include native grasslands; a rain forest garden; indigenous gardens and most recently, the Burnley Living Roof, a Green Roof and Green Wall demonstration centre with areas for succulents, vegetables and natives. Green infrastructure is used to reduce energy consumption with its insulation properties, cool the urban environment and provide wildlife habitat for biodiversity. See :
: Landscape Design, which I studied in 2012- covers topics like the landscape industry; design process and principles; garden history and contemporary and traditional garden designers; and the use of form, texture and colour.
: Landscape Construction and Graphics
: Horticultural Principles- plant function, structure, production and nutrition; site evaluation; soil composition, texture, structure and management; planting, propagation, transplanting and water use; and environmental and ecological considerations including sustainability
: Plants for Designed Landscapes- use and selection
I loved my course and learned so much, especially about Arts and Crafts gardens and the Geelong Botanic Garden- two of my assignments. Andrew Laidlaw was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher and we had some interesting field trips to Edna Walling’s Bickleigh Vale Village and the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. We also had an enjoyable creativity and design workshop, where we divided up into groups to solve design challenges. Each group had to create a garden, specifically for each of the senses. I was in the ‘sound garden’ group. We suspended buckets of water in the trees to create the sound of a waterfall and the other students were led through the garden with their eyes shut. We also had to work on individual projects too like the warmup exercise of creating a design from precut vegetation.5.Associate Degree in Environmental Horticulture (2 years) https://coursesearch.unimelb.edu.au/majors/141-environmental-horticulture
6.Associate Degree in Urban Horticulture (2 years)
The staff are excellent and there is a strong Alumni network, which offers employment and mentoring opportunities. The Friends of Burnley Gardens includes staff and former and present students. They provide guided tours of the gardens, as well as courses and workshops, for example botanical illustration and creating bee hotels. See : http://www.fobg.org.au/blog/.
Urrbrae House Historic Precinct Gardens
Waite Historic precinct, Waite Campus, University of Adelaide
Part of the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide, a leading agricultural and teaching facility only 10 minutes from the city centre of Adelaide, the property was bequeathed to the university by Peter Waite, a prominent South Australian pastoralist, in 1922.The Waite Campus includes :
1.Waite Arboretum : Open from dawn till dusk every day except in extreme fire danger, the 30 ha arboretum contains 2300 plants of 800 species and 200 genera, all growing with an annual natural rainfall of 624mm and less.
2.Waite Conservation Reserve : 121 ha of Grey Box Grassy Woodland and home to hundreds of native plant species, as well as kangaroos, koalas and echidnas. Also open dawn to dusk daily, except in extreme fire danger.3.Urrbrae House Historic Precinct
Open Monday/ Tuesday and Thursday 10am-4pm, except on days of extreme fire danger. Entrance is free.
Urrbrae House is a two-storey bluestone mansion, built in 1891 as the family home for Peter and Matilda Waite and is now used as a working museum, as well as an exhibition, conference and social function venue. The restored ballroom housed the National Textile Museum of Australia until 1999.The 1880s coach house was the site of the first laboratory of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute and much work on the deficiencies of trace elements in South Australian soils was conducted there in the 1920s to 1930s. The garage is the oldest purpose built garage in South Australia, while the battery house is believed to be the first purpose built domestic powerhouse in South Australia.I love visiting the gardens, especially for the peak flowering season of the Old Roses in October and November. I will write more about the 20th Century Rose Garden in a future post on my favourite rose gardens. It portrays the history and development of the rose and has more than 200 types of roses, including many species roses. I loved the circular rose garden, which inspired our Soho Bed, the formal parterre and all the arches covered with climbing roses.The sensory garden beside the coach house was built in 1998 and was designed to stimulate all the senses with plants of many different colours, textures, aromas and tastes. Birds, butterflies and bees love it!The Garden of Discovery is a fascinating spot with a scientific discovery trail, supported by soundscapes, outdoor books and interpretive signage, which highlights the significant achievements of South Australian scientists at the Waite Institute in environmental and agricultural science over 75 years. Some of these achievements include :
Genetic studies and plant breeding and evaluation projects from 1949-1955
Constance Eardley’s work with the arid lands of Australia
James Davidson’s research into insect pest management and Tom Browning’s work on understanding insects, sustainable development and biodiversity.
The use of biological controls to manage insect populations as an alternative to the use of chemical pesticides.
Future research includes work on biotechnology and DNA sequencing; molecular marker development; the management of plant diseases; land use technology and horticultural and viticultural production and processing.
The Waite Institute is home to the Australian Wine Research Institute, responsible for research and education in viticulture. Major research areas include : the selection of and biochemistry of wine yeasts and bacteria; the importance of viticultural practices to grape quality; the molecular improvement of grapes, wine quality assessment and varietal evaluation, wine colour and phenolic chemistry and the development of sensory procedures for wine assessment.
We enjoyed the display of different wheat varieties from early spelt to the latest varieties.The Labyrinth (2010) is the latest addition to the garden and is built on the site of the old tennis court. Dr Jennifer Gardner, the Curator of the Waite Arboretum, designed the labyrinth, basing it on an ancient Finnish 9-circuit stone labyrinth, and it is made of 921 timber rounds, recycled from trees from the Arboretum. There are also a number of outdoor sculptures around the garden and arboretum.
More informal learning opportunities are offered by practical experience in community gardens, as well as visiting plant shows and Sustainable House Days.
Community Gardens :
We have visited a number of very inspiring community gardens during our time in Victoria. including Geelong West and Mornington. Community gardens are a wonderful resource for those with limited space at home to grow vegetables and are strong supporters of sustainability and organic gardening. Not only do they promote good health through healthy eating and physical activity, but they provide valuable opportunities for people of widely differing backgrounds and abilities to share their knowledge and ideas and develop friendships and a sense of community.