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: 17-05-2002


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: June Meeting - Saturday 8th April 2002, 1.00pm in the WMC Herbarium/Meeting Room.
All friends and others interested are warmly invited to attend.

GUEST SPEAKER:Our guest speaker will be Dr Lance McCarthy who has established a wonderful collection of scientific publications from the voyage of Matthew Flinders to Terra Australis. Dr McCarthy’s presentation is titled:
Influential Scientific Publications from Matthew FIinders’ Voyage to Terra Australis
Dr McCarthy writes: “My interest in the scientific publications from Matthew Flinders’ Voyage to Terra Australis started when on being interviewed for a research and teaching position in physics at Flinders University I learned for the first time who Matthew Flinders was, and that Brownian Motion, known to all physicists, was named from the observations made by Robert Brown, botanist on Flinders’ voyage. In 1970 1 collaborated on a booklet for matriculation “On the development of the Concept of the Atom’; a collection of original papers in which Robert Brown’s Microscopical Observations” was included. The interest was reopened in 1991 when my daughter requested that I borrow from the library, books written about early Australian exploration for a school project. My response was “Yes, but it will be what they themselves wrote.” The talk will concentrate on the original documents and illustrations.” The Port Augusta Council has acquired some of Dr McCarthy’s collection of prints of original paintings by botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer who accompanied Flinders on his voyage of discovery. Some of these prints are on display in the WMC Herbarium/Meeting Room at the Garden. In addition Dr McCarthy is donating some of his collection. This will be a wonderful opportunity to see some of these historic documents and hear of their significance. Some of them were on display at the Garden during the Encounter 2002 celebrations in March this year. We look forward to Lance’s presentation.

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 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). Stay and talk with other friends over afternoon tea following the meeting.

COMMITTEE MEETING: Committee members, please note there will be a committee meeting held on Sat 8th June at 10.00am in the WMC Herbarium/Meeting Room at the AALBG.

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

LAST MEETING: Our guest speaker was Rosemary Pedler, a long term member of the Friends and supporter of the AALBG. Rosemary who farms at Koolunga gave a presentation on her Gibson Desert trip, undertaken in 1999. This was a wet year in that region with much of interest for a plants person. The trip of about 3,000km was organised by Frontier Services (the bush ministry arm of The Uniting Church). Those participating drove their own vehicles, in convoy and Rosemary drove her farm ute. The trip began and ended in Alice Springs, and botanical highlights included Grevillea wickhamii, expanses of Ptilotus, Parakeelya and cassias, many Acacia species, eremophilas., and some desert eucalypts. Rosemary was surprised and impressed by the number of large trees in this, one of the driest deserts in Australia. Another highlight was the opportunity to visit some remote Aboriginal communities. Rosemary said “this was a thrilling, exhausting trip but I would do it again in a flash"! Thanks Rosemary for a fascinating presentation.

EREMOPHILA BROCHURE: A colour, brochure featuring Eremophila is in preparation. Text was provided by members of the Australian Plants Society, SA Region Inc with illustrations by Rosemary Pedler. This brochure may be ready by the June meeting. The Eremophila collection at the Garden is probably the largest collection of this genus anywhere and is one of the most interesting features at the AALBG, located next to the Visitor Reception Building. The diversity of foliage colour and texture, flower colour and attractiveness to birds and relatively small size of many species all add to the increasing popularity of eremophilas as garden plants.

GARDEN REPORT 6.2.2002 - 9.5.2002 by Bernie Haase.
It’s been another dry summer and the dryness is still continuing. The last decent rain at the Garden was in October 2001, when we had a total of 30.2mm, with the highest daily rain of 12mm. Since then we have had in November, only a total of 19.6mm (highest daily rain of 10mm), December total 10mm (7mm), January 9.8mm (8mm), February .8mm (.6mm), March 3mm (2mm), April, I don’t know exactly but it wasn’t much, and this month we have had 1.5mm. Some areas of the Garden are showing stress from dryness, even though we had a mild summer.
The problem has been compounded by the blocking of drippers with ants and the deterioration of some of the older poly irrigation pipe. The main time consuming job we have been working on is the replacement and upgrading of the irrigation systems and drippers. The latest dripper we are trying is a Netafim Techflow. I hope these are unblockable. The irrigation main lines are being upgraded to 25mm B class pipe and fittings, which is being buried. Hopefully this will stop breakdown of the pipe. Solar irrigation pipe has been replaced in the Research Plantation and screening belt area, and replantings have been undertaken where necessary.
We are currently working on the mixed planting areas by extending the regional planting main lines into adjacent mixed planting islands. This will reduce the size of the irrigation systems enabling extra planting in the mixed planting areas. Drippers are also being replaced in these areas. Friends volunteers, Morry & Fay have replaced some drippers in the Eremophila Garden. More planting will be done in the Eremophila Garden, Rare Plants and mixed planting areas very soon.
A batch of plant labels has been made for Pinery Nursery which raised $264 for the Friends. The Friends also purchased a new batch of plant label blanks for $1,500. Labels were made for the commemoration of Robert Brown’s ascent of Mt Brown in 1802, and these were placed next to species of plants in the Garden which he initially collected. I have made some small information signs for the regional plantings which show the areas being represented and some information on these areas and their plants.
A track plan review and review of site planning are being undertaken for future funding applications. A Living Collection Policy for the Garden has been prepared by Helen Smyth of The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and this has been adopted by the AALBG Board.
Native Fig, Ficus platypoda, native to granite outcrops in the far NW of South Australia have been planted in pots and used as indoor plants in the Visitor Reception Building. These will be grown until they are larger and then planted in the Garden. Previous attempts with smaller plants failed because of winter frosts.
The Friends donation box near the entrance path was broken into and damaged but has been repaired. An irrigation timer solar panel was broken and has been replaced and all timer solar panels have had bird deterrent spikes made and fitted to them. The Boardwalk gate was damaged and some decking planks broken, all of which have been repaired. Plant labels are being regularly pulled up and thrown around. I even found a pile of them near the highway at the boardwalk entrance. Some people are just not happy unless they are wrecking something.
Rabbit and fox control are continuing. Work has commenced on extending the kitchen of the Bluebush Cafe. Foundations have been poured and drainage works and flood control around the buildln9 are due to start soon. That’s it for the latest update on the Gardens progress.
B. Haase

WEDNESDAY WORKING BEES: A group of Friends meets at the Garden each Wednesday. The main task is plant propagation, but other tasks include label production, educational sessions with visiting groups of students, weeding and assistance with upgrading irrigation systems. If interested in helping occasionally or on a regular basis phone Gwen Leane or Bob Baird for details (Phone numbers on front of News Release). Plants propagated by the Friends are available for sale from the Garden on Wednesday mornings only. If you wish to pre-order plants to be propagated by the Friends please discuss this with Bruce Leane. Friends from other areas who can not normally participate in Friends activities are welcome to call in and meet our volunteers if passing through Port Augusta on a Wednesday.

FRIENDS VOLUNTEER GARDEN GUIDES: We have several trained garden guides who meet tour groups and individual visitors for guided tours of the garden. We urgently need more volunteers to be trained as guides to spread the load for our existing guides. The guides provide a valuable service in the Garden, and they meet interesting people from many places. Training is not difficult and is quite comprehensive. If interested in this please contact Secretary Gwen. You may like to accompany a guide on a Garden tour to see what is involved, before making a decision. Visitors pay a small fee for guided tours and 80% of this goes to the Friends.

SHOW AND TELL: Those attending Friends meetings are invited to bring unusual plant specimens and other relevant items of interest to meetings for a show and tell segment, which we expect will be educational for us all.

EREMOPHILA FESTIVAL: The third biennial Friends Eremophila Festival is scheduled for Saturday 7th September 2002. Secretary Gwen has been working hard planning for the day and contacting potential speakers and participants. We will have several stalls selling arid zone plants Including our own - Friends propagators are growing a wide range of plants for this. Other stalls will feature bush foods and produce. Presentations will include talks on Mallee Fowl, Living with Herbs, The Green House - environmental house project, Eremophilas, and Working with Sugar - making native flowers out of sugar for cake decoration. Story telling for children, indigenous dancers, singers, and bush ballards are proposed. Garden tours and propagation demonstrations are also planned. All this and more. Gwen has formed a sub committee to help organise this event. If you would like to assist in any way or have suggestions, please contact her on Ph 86436191. Additional helpers will be needed nearer the time.


  • The Greening Australia arid zone tree trials were inspected; weeded and data collected in December by Neville Bonney. This trial planting which is replicated in other dry parts of Australia is progressing well.
  • After almost three years the Port Augusta Council has not yet resolved the Cultural Gifts Program with the Taxation Department. Further generous donations to the Garden of books and artworks are being delayed as a consequence, and indeed donors may look elsewhere.
  • Plant labels indicating species collected by botanist Robert Brown in 1802 which were placed in the Garden before the Encounter 2002 celebrations received favourable comments.
  • After a delay of three years work is being undertaken around the Visitor Reception Building to improve drainage and ensure that storm water in the event of rare torrential rain does not lie adjacent to the building and cause water damage or flood the interior. Unfortunately the building is set partly below natural ground level which has caused problems during heavy rain in the past.
  • Funding is being sought from Tourism SA to extend and improve the outdoor eating area adjacent to the Bluebush Cafe.
  • Port Augusta Council now provides insurance coverage for all Friends volunteers working at or for the AALBG, providing each volunteer is registered on appropriate forms available at the Garden.
  • All Port Augusta City Councillors are to be offered a free guided tour of the Garden to enhance their knowledge of the Garden, its aims and achievements.
  • The Quandong Industry Association has inspected and maintained their plantings in the Research Area.
  • Random comments left in the visitors’ book at the Garden in recent weeks: Very informative tour. Excellent, and a great tour. Very impressed, lovely meal, friendly staff. Gardens and exhibition were a real treat. Wonderful, so different from English gardens, a real pleasure. Best kept secret in SA. Visitors have been recorded recently from all states and many countries including Switzerland, UK, Holland, USA, and Canada.

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.

FRIENDS AGM Saturday July 27th 2002, 1.00pm at the AALBG. The guest speaker will be Cohn Jennings, leader of the Australian Plant Society Eremophila Study Group who will speak about eremophilas. More in the next News Release.

AUSTRALIAN NETWORK FOR PLANT CONSERVATION (ANPC): The ANPC is a non profit network of organisations and individuals interested and involved in plant conservation in Australia The aim of the network is to bring together and increase linkages between the community, industry and government. If you have internet access you may like to visit the ANPC Directory at:

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.

Friends are welcome to participate in these bird watching outings.

Saturday 10th August 2002 Lake Gilles Cons Pk, 2 day camp out. Meet at Tanks carpark Lincoln Gap, 1.30pm
Sunday 11th August 2002 Lake Gilles camp out (10 & 11th August)
Sunday 29th September 2002 Mambray Creek - Meet at Mambray Creek Roadhouse 8.00am
Sunday 20th October 2002 Chinaman Creek - Meet at turnoff on Highway One 8.00am
Sunday 10th November 2002 Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden - Meet at carpark, 7.00am
Sunday 1st December 2002 Port Patterson - Meet at weighbridge, Highway One, 7.30am

Issued 17.05.2002 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

© 2002 The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden