Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden Port Augusta Incorporated


The Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden Port Augusta, Incorporated

NEWS RELEASE: 27-09-2000


The Society

Current Newsletter

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John Zwar

Ph (08) 867 0324 ah


Gwen Leane

Ph (08) 8643 6191


Bob Baird

Ph (08) 8643 6343 ah.

Tradesperson / Gardener

Bernie Haase

Ph (08) 8641 1443 ah
Ph (08) 8641 0711 w

NEXT EVENT: October Meeting - Saturday 14th October 2000, 1.00pm in the WMC Herbarium/Meeting Room.

Local photographer, Garry Wright will present a slide Show focusing on the flora and fauna and natural history of the Southern Flinders Ranges. Garry was one of the presenters at the recent Eremophila Festival and his work is sure to impress. Stay & talk with other Friends over afternoon tea following the meeting.

GARDEN LOCATION The AALBG's main entrance is off the Stuart Highway (Woomera Road) approx. 1.5km north of the junction with the Eyre Highway at Port Augusta West. Follow the entrance road into the garden to the car park (about 1.2km). Besides the Bluebush Café, the Visitor Reception Building houses a fine interpretive display, a large range of Australian made gift items and books in the shop (ideal gifts), and toilet facilities as well as the adjoining WMC Herbarium Meeting Room. Why not arrive early, visit the Garden and enjoy lunch in the Bluebush Café?

LAST MEETING - the AGM: Our AGM was held on Saturday 19th August, in the WMC Herbarium Meeting Room at the Garden. The usual reports were presented, followed by the election of officers for the next year. The new committee is as follows: President - John Zwar; Vice President - Maurice Vile; Secretary - Gwen Leane; Treasurer -Bob Baird; Committee members - Bernie Haase, Fay Poole, Bruce Leane, Julie Franks, Bill Daniells, Margaret Hancock and Nicole Scharenberg.

The Guest Speaker for this meeting was Neville Bonney, Manager of Field Operations with Greening Australia. He spoke about his role providing oversight and technical advice to revegetation areas, to the farm forestry support programme and helping institutions with revegetation works, especially by direct seeding. Neville has had a strong empathy with understanding and creating natural landscapes and has been involved in growing native plants for many years. He is also an author of a number of books including "What Seed is That", "Economic Native Trees and Shrubs for South Australia" and "Plant Identikit Common Plants of the Flinders Ranges".

Neville's talk included two topics, 1. Opportunities for Arid Lands Farm Forestry, and 2. Eucalyptus cladocalyx (Sugar Gum), its origins, distribution, and uses, along with other information on this South Australian tree which is found in the Flinders Ranges near Port Augusta on ridges, slopes and around the bases of mountains from Wirrabara to Dutchmans Stern. Neville spoke well and his presentation resulted in many questions and discussion. It was a pleasure too to have two of our overseas members present at the meeting, Ian and Jocelyn Bell of Wanganui in New Zealand. Interestingly they had grown "Sugar Gums" on their property along with a wide mange of Australian and other plants. They were able to talk with several Friends after the meeting.

COMMITTEE MEETING: Committee members please note: A brief committee meeting will be held in the WMC/Herbarium Meeting Room at 10.30am on Saturday 14th October before the meeting at 1.00pm.

BadgeCLOTH BADGES: All financial members of the Friends will receive a coloured cloth badge with this News Release as a small gesture of thanks for their ongoing support of the Garden. These can be sown onto clothing or other items to promote the Garden.

Friends are welcome to participate in these bird watching outings.

Sunday 15th October 2000 - Mambray Creek - Meet at Mambray Creek Roadhouse 8.00am

Sunday 12th November 2000 - Port Patterson - meet at Weighbridge Highway One 7.00am

Sunday 10th December 2000 - Bird Lake Port Augusta - meet at Pistol Club Old ETSA Road 7.00am
For more detail and further in formation contact Peter on telephone (08) 8642 5723.

THE SECOND EREMOPHILA FESTIVAL organised by the Friends and held at the Garden on Saturday 9th September 2000 was a resounding success. Thanks to Gwen Leane and the many who helped with organising and staging the event for a job very well done. The count at the gate recorded 372 people from Port Augusta, 236 from elsewhere in SA, 79 from Victoria, 22 from NSW, 2 from WA and 4 from the UK. The Friends plant stall was very popular, and stalls operated by commercial nurseries also did very well. It was a great opportunity for people to purchase arid zone native plants not widely available commercially. Jeff Cook, the MC and entertainer for the day did an excellent job with his singing and poems between other activities. Guided walking and bus tours were also popular with visitors. Wood turning demonstrations by two Friends from Adelaide, native produce and crafts, Aboriginal dancing, singing by Desert Voices and some impromptu performances by visitors on the day added considerably to the day. This year there were presentations on topics including birds, natural history photography, the Arid Recovery Project and Greening Australia which attracted good audiences. The usual high standard of food was available in the Bluebush Café, along with supplementary food stalls.

There were many complimentary remarks by visitors on the day and afterwards which were encouraging to volunteers who organised and staged the event, which we have decided to stage biennially. The assistance of all who helped make the day a success is gratefully acknowledged. Importantly the Garden was seen for the first time by many people, and arid zone native plants, eremophilas in particular, are becoming increasingly popular with home gardeners.

Our AGM is normally held in July so this meeting is a little later than would usually be the case.

The Friends have continued an active and effective support group for the AALBG in many ways, both financial and practical. This is our 5th meeting since our last AGM and we have had interesting guest speakers and topics at each of them. These were John Smyth of Bushland Conservation, Noel Lothian who presented books to the AALBG and talked about Mt Lofty Botanic Garden, Peter Langdon talking about local birds, Michael Wigg speaking about national parks in the South Flinders District, and later today Neville Bonney of Greening Australia.

Bird walks in the Garden, both for Friends and other visitors have been held through the year, led by Bernie Haase and Peter Langdon, with bush breakfasts provided by Morry Vile. The recently completed bird hide provided by the Port Augusta Bird Society, once fitted with interpretive signs will add significantly to the visitor experience in the Garden.

Our Committee has worked well together and I thank each of them for their involvement through the year, representing the Friends on the Garden Board, folding and addressing news releases, organising propagating houses and sessions at the Garden and many other tasks. Special thanks to Alison Daw our former treasurer and to Secretary Gwen Leane for her great job as Secretary, general contact person and chief organiser of the Eremophila Festival.

Four Friends undertook a successful plant and seed collecting trip to the far west of SA last August. Plants collected and seed raised has recently been planted in the appropriate regional section of the Garden. A trailer fitted for transporting plants was designed and purchased by the Friends before this trip and is available for use in the Garden and for future collecting trips.

Discount in the Bluebush Cafe and Garden shop offered to Friends in the last year is appreciated.

The Friends Garden Guides provide a valuable service and help make a visit to the Garden so much more meaningful for visitors. Thanks to each of our guides for their service which is a significant fund raiser also.

Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide visited in August last year and again earlier this week. Both trips were enjoyed by the visitors who appreciated local hospitality and meeting our members, as well as seeing progress at our Garden.

Friend Pat Katnich of Andamooka and I were successful in applying for Centenary of Federation funding for the Garden - $15,000 was granted to develop regional plantings. This was the first government funding for the Garden for many years. Friend Horst Weber from Dublin, Ireland and I continue to develop the website for the Garden and hope this will go live soon.

The Marree Soil Board's collection of more than 800 herbarium specimens, stored in the Garden's herbarium is a valuable addition to our collection.

Our Christmas Dinner in the Bluebush Café was enjoyed by all who attended and was a fitting end to the calendar year.

The second Eremophila Festival is planned for Saturday 9th September. Planning is well advanced and this is sure to be a popular and well attended event. The first, held two years ago was a great success, and our intention is to run the festival as a biennial event. Please tell others about this and encourage them to attend. It is a great way of promoting the Garden and seeing it at its best, with arid zone plant sales, musical and cultural performances and guest speakers, guided tours and bus tours of the Garden and food stalls.

Recently the Friends provided another ‘iron ranger' donation collection box which has been installed near the main entrance to the Garden from the car park and I understand this is working well and will soon pay for itself.

This is but a brief summary of our years activities. Much more could be said, but I thank all Friends and other Garden supporters for their ongoing interest and support, especially those who are in a position to help at the Garden and with Friends activities. Thanks too to those who have been in a position to make financial donations, both large and small. I assure you that funds raised are spent wisely on Garden development and improvements. We look forward to another interesting year of activities and further development and growth at the Garden. It is very pleasing after almost 20 years to see that the Garden has developed into one of the regions most significant drawcards. It has helped change the image of Port Augusta for the better.

Again, my thanks, and best wishes to each of you.
John Zwar, President, FAALBG Port Augusta Inc 19 August 2000.

NEW MEMBERS: A special welcome is extended to recently joined members of the Friends.

Photo: H. Weber



John Zwar, President,

The Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta Inc.

Saturday 9th September, 2000

Photo: H. Weber

Good morning and a very warm welcome to this the second Eremophila Festival to be organised by the Friends, here at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden. Our first festival, two years ago attracted more than 1,000 visitors on the day, so on the strength of that success we decided to organise the Festival every two years. The aim is to showcase the Garden when it is looking its best, in early spring and to provide plant stalls selling many of the plants seen in the Garden, including of course Eremophilas' Many of the plants available here today are not widely available, and can be found only at specialist nurseries. At least one Eremophila on sale today is a new release, "Peaches and Cream" available from Nellie Nursery's stall.

The Eremophila Section here at the Garden represents possibly Australia's largest collection of this genus, and the wide variety of sizes, colours and forms of Eremophilas which are all native to arid or semi arid Australia means that there is an Eremophila for almost every situation in a garden. As water conservation is so important to us all, these beautiful but drought tolerant plants are rapidly gaining in popularity as garden and landscape subjects. Indeed, four years ago, I suggest few people in Port Augusta would have known what an Eremophila was, but now because of this wonderful display at the Garden, just four years old, they are widely sought after. Many Eremophila plants are available here today and I urge you to purchase at least one and try it in your garden or in a container.

Of course there are many other plants to purchase, displays to inspect, music and dancing, presentations in the WMC. Herbarium/Meeting Room, guided garden tours, either walking or by mini bus and food to eat in the Bluebush Café or from stalls. Take your time and enjoy the Festival and the Garden, stage one of which was opened just four years ago'

To all who have contributed in any way to the organising of today's event my special thanks. Planning commenced last year and am sure our Secretary Gwen Leane, whose idea it was to stage an Eremophila Festival and who has led the organising team is very pleased that the day has arrived and promises to be successful. Special thanks too to all participants, exhibitors, presenters, tour guides, sales people, entertainers and others for their willing involvement today, and to all our visitors. Enjoy the day and perhaps plan another visit to the Garden to experience the peace and serenity of this lovely setting.

It is almost twenty years since I proposed the development of this Garden to the City Council here at Port Augusta. Our Friends group kept the idea alive and raised funds and lobbied strongly for the Garden. Interest from government was low and Council had little money for the project, but when in 1989 WMC became the Garden's Corporate Sponsor, Council also made a significant financial commitment to the development and work commenced, albeit slowly and on a small scale. The continuing lack of government assistance to further develop the Garden is a disgrace, especially when compared with the $24 million the Northern Territory Government provided to develop the Alice Springs Desert Park in just four years. Only a fraction of that amount has been spent here, but we have a fine young garden and excellent facilities which will expand and grow over the years as funding and labour is available. WMC is to be congratulated for their generosity and commitment to this important environmental project! Likewise I congratulate and thank all Friends members who have worked tirelessly to promote the Garden, raise funds (approaching $200,000) and work in various voluntary capacities in the Garden. Without their sustained efforts the Garden would never have eventuated.

Besides being an important scientific and educational resource, the Garden has become a major tourist drawcard in the region and has helped very significantly to change the image of Port Augusta. It certainly gives travellers and other visitors the opportunity to experience and learn more about our vast expanses of arid lands, and see some of the fascinating and beautiful arid zone plants first hand in this lovely setting. To all who have participated in my dream of establishing this Garden my thanks. I am sure all will agree it has been worth it!

I have great pleasure in opening this, the second Eremophila Festival. Enjoy the festivities, and remember to tell others about this special place. Thank you.

AALBG WEB SITE: Work on this project is nearing completion, with Friend Horst Weber of Dublin, Ireland, preparing the site with input from John Zwar and others–The site is large and covers many aspects of the Garden including a section on the Friends. It can be inspected as a draft on if you have internet access. Should you have any comments or suggestions please e-mail them to Horst at We expect the site to go live soon (with an appropriate domain name) and it will be updated and added to periodically. I am sure those who can access the site will agree that Horst has done a fantastic job and we extend thanks for his ongoing efforts. It is remarkable how an overseas member, many thousands of kilometres away can participate as a volunteer!

MEMBERSHIP: Would members please check the date on their News Release address label to see if their subscription is due? Renewed subscriptions are very much appreciated! Receipts are normally attached to the next news release to save on postage.

MEMBERSHIP CARDS: Don't forget to show your membership card in the AALBG shop to receive your 10% discount on purchases - including meals.

VOLUNTEER INSURANCE COVERAGE: All volunteers working at the Garden are covered by Council's insurance coverage, but each MUST sign a statement which indicates the work they are undertaking on behalf of the Garden Board within the AALBG site. All volunteers please check with Bruce Leane, Bernie or with Pauline Hedger at the Garden to ensure that you have signed the appropriate paperwork to ensure coverage in the event of accident or injury.

Issued 27.9.2000 by John Zwar, President, The Friends of the Australian And Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta Inc., P0 Box 2040 Port Augusta SA 5700. Ph (08) 8671 0324 ah, (08) 8671 8558w, Facsimile C/-. (08) 8671 0179 or by e-mail



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