Olive Pink Botanic Garden: A research visit.

 

 

Our inland  journey to do some research on the Australian pioneer Olive Pink was done in early March before the Pandemic had been declared. We were aware  of the virus but flying inland seemed very innocent. By the end of the week flying back to Sydney, it was not innocent – we felt on tender hooks to get home. How things can change in one week.

However in that week of pandemic-innocence we had  very rewarding visit with Brekky at the Bean Cafe in the garden with the wallabies and birds and then each day the walks. Later in the day visiting other channels of research. We stayed in the Mecure Motel by the Todd River and behind the Gardens

 

 

Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs

The Garden

Today we treasure a globally unique arid zone botanic garden and continues to work towards Miss Pinks vision:

 . . .forty-nine acres of ground on which to preserve and grow native trees, shrubs and flowers – as a ‘soul-feeding antidote to the restless rush and materialism of what ‘modern living’ entails for so many in this isolated town. from Fran Kilgariff

Nestled in the valley of Annie Meyers Hill and bordered by the Todd River is where you will find the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Its close proximity to the CBD of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, allows visitors and locals alike convenient access to the 16 hectare Garden including the 6 hectares of arid zone plantings in the valley floor and the native vegetation of the encircling hills.

 

Founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink (1884-1975), the Garden was originally gazetted as the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve with Miss Pink as the Honorary Curator. Prior to this Miss Pink had studied the anthropology of both the Arrernte and Walpiri people and was a great agitator and  advocatefor Aboriginal rights, which lead to her insisting that Aboriginal gardeners receive employment conditions under the award.  Jampitjimpa Yannarilyi  (Johnny) was one of the Aboriginal gardeners whom Miss Pink held in high esteem and was employed in the Garden from 1960 for a period of 12 years.,

From the time of Miss Pink’s death in 1975 until 1985, like minded people rallied to keep Olive’s Mission alive. Local gardeners,  water-conservationist John Blakeman, orthonologist Barry Bucholtz  and many towns folk  with many developments  to preserve the garden as viable. The garden and the Bean Cafe and were opened to the public in 1985as the Olive Pink Flora Reserve, and in 1996 it was renamed to more accurately reflect its purpose as the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. A voluntary seven person Board of Trustees manages the Garden. They draw on experience and expertise in commerce, science, law and tourism and are responsible to the NT Minister for Local Government. On my recent visit I met the present curator Ian Coleman. I had an immediate rapport with Ian as he spoke of his understanding of Olive Pink’s vision and understanding for the park.  He has the sensibility of a spirituality and a philosophy of the story of the land on which the garden stands.

Some aspiring and educational walks wander through the park.
1. An historical walk called the Olive Pink Walk,
2. the Mulga Woodland walk,
3 the Mallee Walk
4 The Arrernte Trail  and the marvellous challenging for us (no longer spritely) called 5. the Annie Meyers Hill walk .

There are Bird groves specialising in bird feeding trees, many seats to sit and enjoy the peace and educational nodes with very informative coloured and modern stories. Education is a key element of the Garden’s ethos with information available about the evolution of Australia’s arid zone flora, the traditional use of plants by Aborigines and local history in the graphic displays housed in in shelter nodes along the tracks.

Another valuable treasure is Peter Latz a renowned Central Australian botanist and garden volanteer. as he says at the end of an article he wrote,

Decades of dedicated work by Olive Pink, Jampiijinpa (Johnny) and other staff as well as countless volunteers has gone into producing this globally unique treasure -trove of bio-diversity and store of potential foods and medicinal cures 

 The Botanical Garden  Newsletter for botanical gardens of Australia and New Zealand. No. 3 July 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blakeman Shelter

 

Livistona palms at the Garden waterhole

 

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The Blakeman Shelter

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Livistona palms at the Garden waterhole

The Garden

Nestled in the valley of Annie Meyers Hill and bordered by the Todd River is where you will find the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Its close proximity to the CBD of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, allows visitors and locals alike convenient access to the 16 hectare Garden including the 6 hectares of arid zone plantings in the valley floor and the native vegetation of the encircling hills.

Founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink (1884-1975), the Garden was originally gazetted as the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve with Miss Pink as the Honorary Curator.

The Launch of Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

A launch or not a launch

The beautiful collection of poetry Desert Patterns  is launched at a non-launch in a Desert Garden.

At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden in Alice Springs, Central Australia, with an idea of ‘no clustering groups’  which is now coined ‘social distancing’ we launched Desert Patterns in a desert garden to wallabies, a wide variety of interested birds,  skinks, the wonderful vegetation of this arid garden and to one very curious Euro ( a mountain wallaby who hopped down from Annie Meyers Hill to join the frey.

 

as I read  ‘quiet stillness settles into our very soul’

and continued:

‘maybe it’s the way the light falls

throws its arms around the old familiar  cliffs

brings them alive  beckons come

come’

 

desert patterns

the landscape dreams
of caterpillars and rainbow serpents
composed
sculptured
moulded for aeons
wind water sand
carved chiseled hefted
hewn
from rock and clay
heave of ochre red
weave curve wave

desert patterns 
draw us in                                                                

every escarpment every contour
named and known
as a mother knows its children
garments of beauty
that dress our earth
like whims of scarves 

desert patterns
draw us in 

the night sky dreams
of journeys emus echidnas
black spaces
compose
shimmer
imagination
reflects ancient stories

desert patterns
draw us in 

 

 

 desert garden  18/03/2020 ( written the day of the launch . Not in the poetry book)

already some have gathered under the umbrellas
conversations tête-à-tête over coffee
hushed murmurs like one makes in a cathedral
standing in the presence of awe-inspiring domes
and zig-zag shimmer
of coloured floors of lead-light reflection

here dreamy gold light catches the tips of ghost gums –
Namatjira’s signature –that breaks the silence from long ago
how arrogant in our colonising we had become
from rocky boulders rustic-red breaks in the hills
flames out in mica shine
wallabies laze in shady groves of Mulga.

magpies sing from spindly river gums
and one wallaby sits in red sand nearby
no doubt waiting for left over fare.

all morning the magpies watch me in the garden
their bodies wiry sleek and mottled
a good reminder of yin and yang
the balance that we always seek

I write in my journal sip my coffee
nibble on toasted fruit loaf with tiny strips of cherry
spread with whipped cinnamon butter.
Around us spinifex pigeons enjoy the company

I am startled by beauty wherever i look
and I wonder how proud Olive Pink would be
to see us all enjoying the peace of her long ago vision

 

Mother and joey                                                                 sun set from Anzac Hill in Alice

Thanks to all our supporters, . Thanks to Ginninderra Press and to the magic of Inland Australia.