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: 06-11-2000


The Society

Current Newsletter

Application Form


John Zwar

Ph (08) 867 0324 ah


Gwen Leane

Ph (08) 8643 6191


Bob Baird

Ph (08) 8643 6343

Tradesperson / Gardener

Bernie Haase

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

NEXT EVENT: November Meeting - Saturday 25th November 2000, 1.00pm in the WMC Herbarium/Meeting Room.

GUEST SPEAKER: Friends President and founder, John Zwar will present an illustrated talk which will cover aspects of environmental management at Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs, particularly water efficient landscaping. He will also include comment on arid zone plants and landscaping from elsewhere in Australia and overseas. John is the founder of the AALBG and of the Friends group. Following training at the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide he moved to Leigh Creek as Technical Adviser (on amenity plantings) to ETSA and then on to Lae in Papua New Guinea where he was Curator of the National Botanic Garden. On returning to Australia he accepted a position at Port Augusta to establish the city's Parks and Gardens Department. He held that position for 13 years, and in that time proposed the development of an arid lands botanic garden at Port Augusta, secured support for the proposal and formed our Friends group which lobbied intensively for the establishment of the Garden. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship enabling him to undertake a study tour investigating arid zone landscaping and amenity plantings in Chile, Peru, USA, Israel, Namibia and South Africa in 1978. In 1987 he moved to Roxby Downs, initially with local government, and is currently employed by WMC Olympic Dam as Senior Environmental Scientist, Community and Environmental Services. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1988 for service to the community in the environmental area, and received the Roxby Downs Citizen of the Year award on Australia Day 2000.
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 Cafe, the Visitor Reception Building houses a fine interpretive display, a large range of Australian made gift items and books in the shop (ideal Christmas gifts with 10% discount for Friends), 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 Cafe? (Cafe purchases also 10% discount for Friends – show membership card).

FRIENDS CHRISTMAS DINNER: November 25th. The dinner will be held in the Bluebush Cafe in the evening following our November meeting, 6.30pm for drinks with meal at 7.00pm. The three course meal will cost $22 including drinks (non alcoholic), and is sure to be of a high standard. Please book with Morry Vile, Phone/Fax (08) 86422021. Payment can be made on the night and correct change would be appreciated. This is not a really late night but is sure to feature excellent food and is a fitting way to end our activities for the year.

COMMITTEE MEETING: Committee members please note: A brief committee meeting will be held in the WMC Herbarium Meeting Room at 10.30am on Saturday 25th November before the meeting at I .00pm.

LAST MEETING: Gary Wright of Wilmington presented a slide show featuring the flora, fauna and natural history of the southern Flinders Ranges. His excellent slides showed some of the wealth of flora in the ranges near Wilmington, and close up shots of many seemingly insignificant species showed their full beauty.

LATE NEWS RELEASE: We had a smaller than usual attendance at the last meeting as there had been a mix up with posting Friends News Releases. Although ready two weeks before the meeting, Port Augusta Council which assists with posting had put them aside and they were posted only two days before the meeting, meaning many members did not receive it in time. Our apologies for this. Hopefully the problem has been resolved. We do appreciate Council assistance with postage.

Friends are welcome to participate in this last bird watching outing for the year
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.

GARDEN REPORT 17.7.200 27.10.2000 by Bernie Haase.

Propagation of plants by seed and cuttings continues, as does planting out. More planting has been undertaken in the Eremophila Garden, the Plantation, throughout Stage One and in other areas. Planting records have been progressively updated and name labels engraved and installed throughout the West Coast Mallee Region and Stage One area. Plant labels were also engraved for Pinery Nursery and Willunga Trees for Life which raised money for the Friends. (The engraver was provided by the Friends).

Irrigation systems have been checked and blocked drippers cleaned or replaced. Weeds have had a good winter so weeding either by hand or spraying has been a major job, and has been undertaken along the track systems, main road verges and garden areas. Rabbit and boxthorn eradication has continued.

Soft scale insects are attacking some of the eremophilas, myoporums and succulent pigfaces and have been sprayed. Locusts have hatched on site and occasionally bands of them have moved through developed garden areas. So far only a few species of plants have been damaged and dense patches of locusts have been sprayed. Locusts may be vandalising some plants, but some locust brained people have vandalised irrigation systems, gates, boardwalk display panels, main entrance lights and solar panels. They have even pulled out all the road signs from the carpark to the main entrance. I pref~r*ie4ocusts to people who do this sort of pointless damage.

The Friends supplied donation box has been installed at the main entrance path to the Garden from the car park and $366.40 has been collected since 4th August. The two bird hides built by volunteers from the Port Augusta Bird Club are now both complete (except for interpretive signage which is being prepared), and water pipe has been installed to a watering point near the second hide. This is proving popular with birds in this bluebush/saltbush habitat.

An irrigation timer has been installed in the Research Area and the irrigation system improved. Host plants for quandongs have been planted. These are edible seed producing acacias, and the quandongs will be planted next year. Frost guards on frost sensitive plants have been removed. These were successful for most sensitive plants this year. The winter cover on the propagation house has also been removed.

The seed storage cupboard has been reorganised, with compartment boxes made, seeds packed in standard containers and filed in alphabetical order or in regional groupings. The clay pan area has been weeded and waIking tracks cleared. Some planting will occur soon.

The Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide visited us in August and went on a morning birdwalk, followed by a BBQ breakfast supplied by our Friends group. They also went on a guided Garden tour, led by our Friends Guides. The Eremophila Festival was a success with minimal damage to the Garden and little rubbish left. It did highlight the need for additional parking which we hope will be provided before the next Festival.

The next major job is to develop the Flinders Ranges regional planting, and I hope to report on this development in the next newsletter.
B. Haase

SEED COLLECTING: From 6th to 14th November, 3 or 4 Friends will be travelling to the Gawler Ranges to collect seed, cuttings and plants for the Gawler Ranges section of the Garden. This follows a successful trip to the far west of SA last year which resulted in more than 500 plants from this region being propagated and grown on at the Garden, before being planted out in their permanent locations. The Board will cover expenses.

LETTER FROM NZ: As mentioned the last news release AALBG-Friends Ian and Jocelyn Bell from Wanganui-NZ attended our AGM during their visit to northern SA. Ian has since written and extracts from his letters are included here.

"We thoroughly enjoyed our time in South Australia, this in no small way, can be attributed to the help and assistance of so many friendly & kind people such as yourself. We are very grateful to you for introducing us to Pat Katnich. Our day with her was well worth while & provided us with local help, history, scenery, flora & fauna which we would have missed otherwise. We so enjoyed the waterhole on Muloorina station, that we returned to this idyllic spot on the following day.

In our view the AALBG is a wonderful asset which is being supported by a group of very dedicated people and companies such as WMC. Our two 11.00 am tours were very beneficial. We found the time spent in the gardens allowed us to become aware of & in a small way familiar with the flora which we encountered in the Flinders, & further North. We were very pleased to have been able to join the Friends at the AGM & to have met & spoken with such a friendly group afterwards. We are especially thankful to you for your help & to Bernie who, whenever we met, greeted us as old friends and helped with our queries. We trust the Eremophila festival was a success and are sorry that we missed it.

The unseasonable rain encountered at Blinman gave us a different aspect of dirt road travelling and we were indeed thankful that we had hired a 4WD. This vehicle was invaluable also at Arkaroola where we, with Marg Sprigg's assistance and advice, explored some of the one way 4WD tracks. In this way we were able to see so much more including the very lovely Acacia araneosa.

With regard to your suggestion for reciprocal contact between AALBG and similar groups in NZ. We are members of a local Botanical Group and / will send you a copy of our latest news letter, we will also ensure that the AALBG friends letter is made available to our own members. Wanganui has a Botanical Park with a friends group, the chairman and a leading committee member are members of our Botanical group & / will talk to them also.

During our 48hr stay in Melbourne, we managed to track down Pat Katnich's "Bible's "Plants of Western NSW by Cunningham et al." Now we have the pleasure of reliving our trip, having great fun trying to identify photos & slides.

We did not say how much we enjoyed a morning & an evening with Brian & Fay Powell. We so appreciated Brian taking us round his extensive garden, which was considerably enlarged since our visit about ten years earlier. This beautiful garden is a tribute to a dedicated couple."

With kind regards from us both."


lan and Jocelyn have a nursery and flower farm specialising in rare and unusual plants and although the business has been downsized they continue their interest in unusual, rare and difficult to grow plants. (Pat Katnich, mentioned in Ian's letter, is a tourist operator in northern SA, a keen botanist and member of the Friends, and is also the state's Tourism representative on the AALBG Board. Pat trained our Friends Garden Guides). The Wanganui Museum Botanical Group newsletter has been received and will be tabled at our next meeting.


  • Extensions and modifications to the Bluebush Cafe are planned for early 2001 for completion by March. Kitchen and storage space are very confined and the redevelopment will make the kitchen area much more user friendly. During this period drainage work to more effectively divert storm water away from the building will be undertaken.
  • Consideration is being given to the installation of solar panels and a wind generator to supply additional electrical power to the building. Should this go ahead a government funding programme will subsidise the cost, and it will be an excellent demonstration of alternative power and appropriate technology which could be used in many other situations.
  • A sealed footpath linking existing footpaths in the city to the Garden is proposed to allow easier access for pedestrians. This will be undertaken as Council funds allow.
  • A brochure featuring the genus Eremophila is to be produced for visitors. Thanks to members of The Australian Plant Society who assisted with this project.
  • Some members of the Board inspected mound springs, and artesian bores in the Marree region in September. Consideration is being given to developing a realistic mound spring display at the Garden.
  • A funding application to the SA Tourism Commission to develop a partly sunken, screened picnic shelter near the main car and bus park was unsuccessful.
  • Guided tours occurred on 43 days in August and September netting $1,354.80.
  • Visitor numbers for August & September 1999 were 6542, compared with 8,200 for the same months this year, reflecting a healthy increase in visitation to the Garden.
  • Visitors' comments have included praise for the clear signage at the Garden, recommend extending the Garden, praised the high standard of food available and items on sale in the gift shop, and requested guided tours at weekends.
  • A proposal to develop a salt lake section on clay pans in the Garden is under review. This display would be in two sections, featuring plants associated with salt lakes in SA and WA respectively.
  • AALBG Board member Dr Brian Morley, former Director of the Botanic Garden of Adelaide retired on 20th October. He will be farewelled by the AALBG Board at the next meeting on 6th December. It is unknown whether his replacement when appointed will become a member of the AALBG Board. I join with all Friends in wishing Brian well in his retirement, and thanking him for his contribution to our Garden.

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

EREMOPHILA FESTIVAL: Our biennial Eremophila Festival will next be held on Saturday 7th September 2002. How is that for forward planning?

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.

WATER SAVING TIPS FOR SUMMER: (and throughout the year)

  • Group plants with similar water needs together so they may be watered according to need.
  • Do not over water plants. Toughen them up by allowing soil to dry out before watering, encouraging deep root systems. Water only when needed, no more than twice a week.
  • Use drip irrigation rather than mist sprays or sprinklers to water trees and shrubs.
  • Use a timer with sprinklers. A forgotten sprinkler wastes more than 1,000 litres of water per hour.
  • Install a rain water tank.
  • Direct air conditioner overflow onto your garden or into your swimming pool, not down the drain.
  • Use a broom not a hose to clean driveways and paving.
  • Irrigate during the cooler parts of the day or at night.
  • Avoid watering on hot or windy days or during the hottest part of the day to reduce wastage by evaporation.

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS to all Friends and supporters of the AALBG and best wishes for a wonderful year in 2001. Special thanks to all who have helped with Friends activities and Garden development during the year.

Issued 6.11.2000 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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