The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens on the Pacific Highway at Heatherbrae has reopened to fully vaccinated visitors and the new calendar of events includes a nocturnal wildlife spotlight walk on 30 November.
As you can see on the new signage at the entry to the Gardens, there are rare and endangered Regent honeyeaters feeding on flowering Eucalyptus robusta in the southern forest, a tree also popular with koalas. The sign highlights some of the individual gardens most popular with visitors such as the grevillea, succulent and palm gardens. The insect population is very important to the pollination of our plants.
The Gardens also feature a large expanse of natural bushland with several walking tracks up to 6km in length. The walks provide an opportunity to see local plants and wildlife including numerous birds, goannas, possums, wallabies and koalas.
Visitors will notice the profusion of spring flowers as well as, unfortunately, the abundance of weeds following recent rain and fewer volunteers to help out.
Stella Savory told EcoNetwork that the volunteers are currently focussing on two special projects:
- We are planting more koala feed trees such as E. parramattensis and working to enhance the natural condition of the Gardens to serve as a wildlife retreat.
- We are propagating more rare and endangered plants to expand our own collection of endangered species while collaborating with OEH to produce plants to be returned to the wild. These include Prostanthera askania, P. densa and Pomaderris reperta.
Birds are especially active during breeding season and reptiles such as snakes and goannas are on the move. Spring is a great time to come for a walk. If you come soon after opening at 9.00am you may see some of the Red-necked wallabies that live here.
The 140 hectare site has been one of the Hunter’s leading environmental tourist destinations and a centre for research, education and knowledge sharing on botanical matters for the region. The Gardens’ Chairman, Ken Page, told the Port Stephens Examiner:
‘We are a leading conservation area for wild flowers and animals and an abundance of different bird species. Of the hundreds of plant species, predominantly natives, the biggest drawcards on display are our succulents and orchids. More recently the rainforest and Aboriginal plant areas have drawn more attention.’
The Gardens are a valuable community asset and if you’re interested in plants and good company, please consider joining our wonderful volunteer team. Here are some jobs we could use your help with:
- Join a team in one of the theme gardens
- Help out in the conservation area
- Propagate plants in the nursery
- Take visitors on guided tours
- Help out in the Kookaburra Café
- Assist with admin in the office
- Maintain the pathways and equipment.
Days and hours are flexible. Please call the office on 4987 1655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks from EcoNetwork to Stella Savory for sharing her vast knowledge and passion for the gardens. Stella’s main role is to liaise between the nursery and the theme gardens and to propagate many of the seedlings.