Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden Port Augusta Incorporated

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Research Area

Sturt’s Desert PeaThe objective of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden is a pre-eminent facility where research, education and the display of plant biodiversity from the southern arid zone of Australia is centred. The entrance to the botanic garden is 1.5 km north of the Stuart Highway and Eyre Highway junction at Port Augusta West. The entrance road leads to the main car park and visitor reception building 1.2 km in from the main gate. Existing natural vegetation is incorporated into the new landscape. A visitor reception building was completed in 1995 and houses botanical and natural history displays, a gift shop selling a selected range of books and Australian made souvenirs, the Bluebush Cafe, and toilet and office facilities. This Royal Australian Institute of Architects award winning building incorporates energy and water saving features including stabilised earth walls, a combination passive and evaporative air-conditioning system, solar hot water system, rainwater storage and filtration for the majority of water needs and on-site effluent treatment for irrigation use. Solar lighting illuminates the building surrounds, car park and sections of the entrance road. The garden incorporates and displays technology appropriate to arid Australia through quality interpretive displays.

Arid zone water efficient irrigation and landscape techniques are employed and displayed. The educational role of the garden will continue to be developed for the general public, students at all levels and for tourists. The garden is already a significant venue for tourists, and interpretive displays and brochures, with guided tours by Friends volunteers all help provide an informative and enjoyable experience for visitors.

Substantial sections of the site including locations of significance to Aboriginals remain undisturbed. Over the years a vermin and pest plant eradication programme has been implemented and 9 km of vermin proof boundary fence erected. Disused tracks and disturbed areas are being rehabilitated. Extensive walks with signage interpreting existing vegetation are being developed. A boardwalk and interpretive lookout in the north western part of the Garden, accessible by car from the Stuart Highway, commands views over the site. At Flinders Red Cliff an interpretive lookout has been developed featuring the plants that were collected by Botanist Robert Brown in 1802, while on the journey of discovery with Matthew Flinders.
This site over-looks coastal vegetation, where a boardwalk into the mangroves is planned.

A healthy Quandong tree
Photo: John Zwar
The garden will become an important centre of expertise in the management and conservation of arid zone plant biodiversity. A research area exists on the western side of the Stuart Highway where various trials including tree establishment under various irrigation regimes, water harvesting and experimental plantings of Quandongs and Bluebush, have been undertaken. This area is not open to the public but can be seen from the Highway.

The AALBG will continue to develop as funding and staff numbers allow. The Garden will eventually display the vegetation of the southern arid zone of Australia, including the WA Goldfields north to Shark Bay; east to include all of the SA arid zone, South West Qld and Western NSW. Regional plant communities will be represented. Plant displays will include species useful to man, both Aboriginal and European, including bush tucker, medicinal plants, species used for artefacts, tools, building and for other purposes. Collections of plants will be included of particular relevance to the pastoral industry, and those useful for ornamental purposes, shade and shelter. Each of these topics provides opportunities for research. Arid zone ecosystems, land rehabilitation and species of potential economic importance are other research areas. An extensive Eremophila Garden has created colour and interest and is one of the largest collections of this genus in Australia. Collaborative research opportunities with industry and other organisations will be sought on a continuing basis.

The WMC Herbarium - Meeting Room
Significant links have already been developed with industry; for example WMC Limited is the major corporate sponsor and the Electricity Trust of SA has also provided assistance. Links with similar gardens including Endilloe, established by Brian and Fay Powell near Quorn, the Olive Pink Botanic Garden at Alice Springs and the Alice Springs Desert Park have been established. The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide has provided considerable support and assistance since the inception of the project.

The future of the AALBG is exciting as there is enormous scope for development. The SA Government is considering the establishment of a SA Arid and Pastoral Zone Research Centre in conjunction with the AALBG utilising several hundred ha of adjoining land with the opportunity to share facilities and resources. Such a joint facility would become a major centre for arid lands research and would play an important role in developing a greater understanding of caring for the national heritage we have in the biodiversity of our arid lands.

Entry to the Garden is free. It is open seven days a week. Visitors are reminded that the development of any garden is a long term commitment and they are seeing a young garden in its infancy. Please come and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, plants and birdlife, and changing displays in the Reception Building. Feel free to return again and again, to observe changes as the garden develops.

Eremophila Garden
Eremophila Garden
Photo J. Zwar
Boardwalk lookout
Boardwalk with Lookout
Photo J. Zwar

 

Photography, unless otherwise stated, by Adelaide Impact, A. Bruzzone, P. Dobre


© 2012 Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden