Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Arid lands

Flinders was here before me. In 1802 the Investigator dropped anchor in Spencer Gulf near where Port Augusta is today and while Robert Brown led a group from the ship to climb a nearby hill Flinders and another group rowed further up the gulf to see if it turned into something interesting. They climbed a small, red sandy cliff to get a better view but the water narrows to a muddy tidal mangrove and samphire swamp rather than a big inland strait or lake or river so they returned to the ship.

We also had a look at the view from the top of the cliff by driving to it through the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, and this morning we went up to the same area by boat. We were told that the Grey (White) Mangroves are gradually encroaching naturally on the area and parts of the cliff are collapsing (as cliffs do) so in the future this area will not look as dramatic as it does now.

At the lookout on top of the cliff a group of plants have been planted to commemorate those that Robert Brown, Ferdinand Bauer, William Westall and Peter Good found when they were climbing the mountain that now bears Brown's name. They found, collected and drew many new plants and 200 years later the climb was commemorated by a repeat climb and collection. What a great idea.

We read all about it in a display at the Arid Lands garden and then bought quandong-flavoured icecreams to eat as we explored the eremophila walk. There are longer walks to explore as well as bird hides but we'll have to do that another time, and of course it would be great to revisit in a different season.

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