Dry But Not Desolate

Round Australia Road Trip #25

The arid outback of Australia looks desolate and uninhabitable but it’s far from empty. Flora and fauna are plentiful if you know what to look for. We learned about what grows in the desert at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden at Port Augusta.

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The garden, established in 1993, promotes the research and conservation of Australia’s arid zone plants and animals. The eco-friendly Visitor Centre, made of rammed earth and powered by solar panels, sits comfortably in its surroundings. Water harvested from the roof is recycled for use in the building and the gardens.

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There are several walking paths around the garden, ranging from the 200 metre Children’s Walk to the 4.5 km Red Cliff Walk, which passes the place where the explorer Matthew Flinders landed on 11 March, 1802.

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The Eremophila Garden features an astounding variety of plants all belonging to the same family. While some eremophilas are prostrate ground covers and others are shrubs and small trees, they all bear brightly coloured flowers and fruit. The common name for some eremophilas is emu bush because emus feast on the fruit as it ripens.

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For more variety, the Regional Walk displays plants from the arid regions of South Australia, including the Flinders Ranges, West Coast Mallee and the Great Victoria Desert. In October, eucalypts laden with delicate blossoms attract Singing Honeyeaters.

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It’s also wildflower season. Everlastings show off their vibrant colours while Poached Egg Daisies nod gently in the breeze coming off the waters of Spencer Gulf.

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Yaccas, also known as grass trees, send up long flower spikes which local indigenous people once used for fishing spears.

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There’s life aplenty in the arid lands of Australia.

The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden is open 7 days from 7.30am to sundown. The Visitor Centre is open week days 9am to 5pm, weekends and public holidays 10am to 4pm. Admission is free. Guided walking tours are available daily.

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23 thoughts on “Dry But Not Desolate

  1. Could be MY favourite post yet – I love to see the flora and fauna of another country and have a soft spot for Aussie / South African species. I used to grow a plant called ‘poached egg’ but it wasn’t a daisy, must look it up. Cannot select a favourite photo – I love them all!!

    • Thank you Jude. That’s a wonderful compliment, coming from one who fills me with inspiration. I really tried to think carefully about what I was photographing on this trip and I’m quite pleased with the results. It’s tricky when you’re on a guided walk though and you don’t want to keep the others waiting. I spent the whole time catching up after stopping to take photographs of yet another beautiful plant.

  2. Fab post! So informative and interesting and your photos are wonderful. It is always so good to be reminded that life is teeming even in the most barren looking of landscapes. You made me really look at your photos 🙂

  3. Brings back wonderful memories of driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs. It had been a wet spring, so the desert was in full bloom. I had never been to a desert before. Loved it.

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