Weekend Get-together, Goulburn, 18-19 November 2023

By John and Liz Aitken, Sutherland

A highly successful weekend get-together was hosted by the Southern Tablelands Group at Goulburn from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 November. The Southern Tablelands Group, albeit a small group, did a fabulous job in organising an excellent program for the 77 members who attended. Congratulations and thanks to all those members of the Southern Tablelands Group who made us so welcomed and ensured that our weekend was an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Part of the 77 members being welcomed by APS Southern Tablelands President, Jen Ashwell. Photo: Celia Galland

The weekend began at the East Goulburn Public School at 10am where we were greeted by a wonderful and indulgent morning tea provide by the Goulburn CWA. This was followed by Jen Ashwell, President APS Southern Tablelands who acknowledged country and welcomed us to Goulburn. This was followed by a fabulous talk by Dr. Lyndal Thorburn, leader of the ANPSA Erempohila Study Group, who wowed us with the wonderful variety and beauty of this group of plants.

The name Eremophila, translates from the Greek, to ‘desert lover’, Whilst they are usually associated with Australia’s harsh outback and drier areas, Lyndal assured us that many can be grown in our gardens with selected species which are also are quite resistant to frosts. Many are grafted onto myoporum root stock to improve their hardiness to east coast gardens.

For those interested in growing this group of plants or are interested in joining the study group, I can highly recommend a visit to the Eremophila Study Group 

The website is a treasure trove of information on this group of plants and all it past newsletters are available for you to read.

Eremophila nivea Photo: Brian Walters, ANPSA website

After lunch, which was also provided by the CWA, we moved down the road to tour the Goulburn wetlands. The Goulburn Wetlands Project was a staged regeneration of a 13 hectare, weed infested abandoned former brick pit and pond flowing through Goulburn City. It has since been converted into a public parklands and a natural storm-water treatment system. Works completed on the site included construction of rock walls to capture, direct and retain water crucial for the support of wildlife breeding habitats and the protection of fauna indigenous to Goulburn.

Work was started on regenerating the area about seven years ago by the FROGS Landcare Group who removed weeds and planted of vegetation indigenous to the area. Despite losses, most of the plantings have been successful and have resulted in wonderful wooded areas with surrounding grasslands. Many of the plants used were propagated by members of the Southern Highland Group and highlight how APS groups can work with other groups to regenerate degraded areas. The Landcare Group is continually improving the area and is attempting to replace the exotic grasses with indigenous species.

Goulburn wetlands, image supplied by Southern Tablelands Group

The wetlands are a tribute to the vision, hard work and commitment of the members of the FROGS Landcare Group and they are to be congratulated on their efforts. Thanks to Heather West and John Reynolds from the Landcare Group for sharing their time and knowledge with us. At the top area of the wetlands is a lovely native garden that has been planned and planted by members of the Southern Tablelands Group. Although the plants are not necessarily indigenous to Goulburn, the purpose of the garden is to highlight the beauty of our flora that will grow in the area to the local residents and so encourage them to plant them in their gardens. Thanks to Pauline Husen for the guided tour of of the garden.

On the Saturday evening 60 of us met over a wonderful two course dinner at the Mercure Hotel. During the evening, Tim Hayes was presented with the APS NSW Life Membership, which is the highest accolade the Society can confer on a member. We were massively impressed by Tim’s contributions to the objectives of the Society over many years. Tim’s humility shone through in his reply speech as well as his passion for our flora and his continued involvement in conservation.

Tim’s presentation was later followed by Dr. Brian Faulkner who is the Biodiversity Assessment Officer for the local Council. Brian gave an overview of his work in assessing areas that need to be protected under the relevant legislation, an overview of local threatened species and the problems involved with landowners who clear their land with consultation with the relevant authority.




Tim being presented with his Life Membership by John Desmond, President APS NSW (right) and Jen Ashwell, President APS Southern Tablelands (left). Photo: Liz Aitken

On the Sunday we had the opportunity to visit three members’ gardens and/or a walk through the Alison Hone Reserve, which was only recommended for the active walkers in the group. Needless to say, Liz and I with many others chose the former and visited three wonderful gardens in rural settings. Peter Wauchope’s garden was inspirational in his creative garden design, choice of plants and use of contours to produce an environment that immediately welcomed us and invited us to explore the various areas of the garden. From the size, vigour and density of the trees and plants it was hard to believe that the garden was only seven years old.

Kaye Norman’s garden was only three years old but was obviously thriving despite being on the top of a hill. She had a wide variety of plants and shared her enthusiasm and knowledge with us.

Bob and Celia Galland’s garden posed a problem for us to find. After an hour of driving aimlessly around the countryside, almost to Gunning, we finally stumbled on it. We were warmly welcomed by Bob and Celia to their lovely well established garden which beautifully enhanced their home. Although their garden is a mixture of native and exotic plants which complimented each other and show how both types of plants can be used to create a harmonious, colourful and charming environment.

Once again thanks to the Southern Tablelands Group for a successful weekend and we look forward to next years get-together. If you haven’t attended a weekend get-together , we highly recommend that you join us next year.

From left to right: Peter Wauchope’s, Kaye Norman's and Bob and Celia's gardens. Photos: Liz Aitken