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Journeys : Dec2011 Jan2012
I find it difficult to select a favourite slice of Tasmania, because it is all very dear and close to me. I was born and raised on a red-soil dairy farm on the North-West Coast, but Hobart has become my home and family base. I married a northerner from the Tamar Valley, and spent most of my working career as a field geologist on the West Coast, with stints in other parts of Tasmania and in Western Australia. Many of my holidays have been spent in the east so Tasmania is like a very large back yard for me. As a geologist and bushwalker I have been to wonderful and beautiful places, many of them off the beaten track. Favourite places are the Denison R ange, near Adamsfield, where I did my PhD in the 1960s; the Tyndall Range on the West Coast, one of our very best alpine regions, where I’ve often camped and walked for work and pleasure; and the Cradle Mountain area, where we stay in a cabin and bushwalk for a fortnight ever y Christmas-New Year, and where the family now owns a block of superb subalpine woodland-forest. I’ve travelled and walked in some of the wilder parts of Canada, USA, South America (particularly the fabulous Patagonian mountains), South Africa and New Zealand, but have not found anywhere to match the natural beauty and diversity of Tasmania. The Tasmanian flora, in particular, seems to have so much more var iety and interest than any where else, although South African wildflowers are ver y impressive. And our mountains seem to be more ‘personal’ and accessible than the huge and somewhat overpowering ranges of other countries. I also have a great love for just exploring the back roads of country Tasmania, finding those unexpected vistas and quirky nooks and crannies which we have in such abundance. But I would like to recommend a particular ‘slice’ in the relatively civilised south-east of the island. Over the last ten years or so I’ve been involved in a project based around grow ing and interpreting our indigenous plants at a regional botanic garden and nature reserve near Buckland, beside the Tasman Highway, about an hour’s drive from Hobart. The 22-hectare Tasmanian Bushland Garden is open every day during daylight hours and entry is free. It has been entirely developed by volunteers, from donations and grants, with no government funding. There’s about one hectare of display gardens, w ith hundreds of native species arranged in natural communities (such as she-oak groves, native grasslands, granite floras etc), plus rare and endangered plants, Tasmanian wattles and bush-food plants with interpretive signage. There’s also a memorial garden to lost friends, planted with some of their favourite plants. There are public toilets, a picnic shelter and tables, an electric barbeque, a number of walking tracks through natural bushland and an old dolerite quarry that has been landscaped with large rocks and a waterfall and pond, making an impressive open-air theatre. There is abundant birdlife, a host of cheerfully-vocal frogs and a thriving marsupial population (fenced out of the display gardens) including echidnas and wombats. Also on display is a wonderful series of sculptures by Tasmanian artists, including some w ith a prehistoric aspect, which fit very appropriately in the Jurassic dolerite quarry. The Bushland Garden is a peaceful and restful place, and although it has only been open for a year or so, it’s being much enjoyed by local, interstate and international visitors, as we know from our guest book. A visiting Canadian botanist has described it as ‘a botanist’s delight!’ In these days when pleasant roadside pull-off places are difficult to find, and where everything seems to have a price tag, we think you’ll enjoy this quiet place, which celebrates some of the best of natural Tasmania. In Tasmania today Opposite pag e: Qu arry p on d and waterfall at the Bushlan d Garden. This p age, c lockwise from ab ove left: Entry gates at the Bushland Garden ; author at natural arch near Denison Ran ge, 1963; Cradle country in autumn ; sp ring flowering at Bushland Garden; lakes on Tyndall R ang e with view to Eldon Peak Photos: Keith Corbett December 2011 / January 2012 43
Oct Nov 2011
Feb March 2012