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