The Tasmanian bushland garden

By Harry Loots (words and photos)

Over 20 years ago a group of Australian Plants Society members purchased an old dolerite quarry and its surrounding 20 ha bushland to build a Tasmanian bushland garden with funding coming from donations and grants. Located in the hills of Tasmania’s Southern Midlands, 50 km north-east of Hobart, drivers are suddenly confronted with the garden’s impressive iron gates as they round yet another bend. A strong volunteer group laboured for ten years before the gardens were opened in 2010. The high quarry wall was stabilised and the soil on which the rock-pounder had stood was ripped open. A secure perimeter fence was constructed to protect new plantings from kangaroos and other critters who like nothing more than to chew new growth. Paths were laid, garden beds established, water tanks placed and toilets built. Locals with heavy equipment and engineering skills lent a hand. A pipe was placed at the top of the quarry wall to create a waterfall with a pool in the quarry’s depression.

The 1.5 ha of landscaped display gardens of the indigenous flora of south-eastern Tasmania well established and looks a treat. The gardens are divided into different ecosystems: Granite country, Rocky Dolerite Shrubbery, Riverine Flora, Native Grasslands and the Tasman Peninsula. Copious descriptive signage encourages people to learn about the colour and diversity of Tasmania’s native plants. It is hoped that people will be inspired to grow plants of the Tasmanian South East in their gardens.

Behind the display gardens is the dolerite Hilltop. A short walk through mature eucalypts along the Loop Track leads to the summit. There is a heavy eucalyptus slab bench seat to admire the Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) in flower and views of the Prosser Valley that stretches beyond Buckland. In summer the bright yellow Black Wattle flower decorates the length of the Tasman Highway as it winds up through the hills. Native grasses grow on the summit and slopes.

The Tasmanian Bushland Garden has been a labour of love producing exceptional results. The volunteers, many of them aged, have continued to propagate, plant and tend over the last ten years since the garden’s opening. This has been under the leadership of Keith and Sib Corbett who have been the volunteer group President and Secretary for that period. I was reminded of the volunteers’ frailty when visiting the memorial garden where volunteers who have passed away  during the last 10 years are mentioned. May new young volunteers keep on appearing.