Southern Highlands get together – rain and shine!

By Heather Miles

Thank you to the Southern Highlands group for hosting us at the recent get together. The weather was sunny on the Saturday, and then drenching the rest of the time. Still, we all had a very enjoyable time. The bush was alive with wildflowers – potentially delayed in their flowering due to the rain and cooler weather. But this Kunzea growing by the side of the road, in mass, was magnificent.

Kunzea parvifolia, by the side of the road, image Heather Miles

We started with a talk by Dan Clarke sharing about the ecosystems and plant species across the Wingecarribee.  Dan is a botanical consultant providing flora survey services, consultancy advice, and vegetation management and bushland regeneration services. He is the Conservation Officer for APS NSW. Dan has undertaken extensive vegetation surveys of the Wingecarribee Area for Wingecarribee Council’s Vegetation Mapping (in conjunction with NSW Department of Planning and Environment). He took us on a whistle stop tour of the region and what was special about each region. Dan’s presentation slides can be downloaded here:  https://resources.austplants.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Presentation2-1.pdf  

From there, we visited Tanya Excel’s garden and bush regeneration area. Tanya is actively planting out a large area of her property with native plants to create a biodiversity haven for plants and wildlife. She is supported by Warren Walker, the founder of Wariapendi Nursery.  

From here, as the clouds were gathering, we headed to Morton National Park, Bundanoon. We gathered at Echo Point and then wandered the paths and lookout to explore the flora of the area. 

In the evening, we had an enjoyable dinner at the Mittagong RSL, where Jane Lemann shared the story of the regeneration of Mount Gibraltar, with her team of volunteers. It is a story of success, after 30 years of dedicated weeding, regeneration and maintenance. Her story can be found here

Next day, as the rain pooured down, we visited two gardens – those of Kris Gow, a life member, and Sarah Cains. A successful plant sale was also held. 

Kris’ garden was small but packed with plants and quirky features, that delighted the senses. Sarah’s garden showcased some stunning specimens. 

Unfortunately, due to the rain, the excursion to Mt Gibraltar was cancelled, but I made my way to Lake Alexandra, on the way home, and found the bushland alive with waratahs and orchids!

I particularly enjoyed the duck on the side of the lake. At first I wondered about its feet, and realised it was sheltering at least a couple of babes!

Thanks again Southern Highlands.