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Australian Plants online

Net Watch...choice selections on the 'net


"Net Watch" is about finding sites that might be useful to those interested in Australian native plants but it's not restricted to horticultural or botanical sites. A few "general interest" sites are included and a couple of others are "thrown in" for no other reason than that they redefine the term "bizarre". If you know of a site that fits into these general categories, please let me know.

Brian Walters

The Living World

Living Near the Bush

"Living Near the Bush" is a project of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society. It consists of:

  • A 48 page booklet outlining environmental responsibility for residents and visitors to the Blue Mountains area
  • A colouring book
  • A teacher's guide
  • This web site

Before going any further, though, I have to declare a vested interest...I was involved in writing the booklet so, naturally, I can only describe it as superb in every way! Well...it's been favourably received, anyway. Currently the booklet is being distributed through schools in the Blue Mountains, through the Conservation Society, through the local Council and through the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

'Spot' the Quoll

The web site comprises all of the text and illustrations from the booklet and cover such topics as:

  • Cultural sites and relics
  • Bushland plants and gardens
  • Animals and birds
  • Recreational and educational use of bushland
  • Emergencies and vandalism
  • Fire
  • Buildings and other structures
  • Recycling
  • Chemicals and pest control

Being involved in this project was the greatest amount of fun I've had in a long time (OK...I need to get out more...I know....I know). I hope others find the information useful.

By the way, the little guy enjoying a meal at a bush campsite is "Spot", a spotted quoll. Spot was drawn by artist Ester Kasapuu and features throughout the booklet and the website.

Plant Finder

This is a great idea which should have wide appeal as it develops. It is an internet search engine for those trying to find mail order sources for various plants.

It is the brainchild of Dennis Kramb and "the database contains tens of thousands of entries from nurseries around the world." The site allows the user to type in the name of a plant and find out the places where you can buy either the plant or seed.

Although based in the USA, Dennis is attempting to include nurseries from all over the world in the database. There are already a number of nurseries from Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and Canada.

Plant Finder Logo

At present the range of Australian species in the database is limited but should improve as more nursery lists are included.

Plant hardiness Zones

Gardeners in the USA regularly refer to plant hardiness zones based on work by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This divides the United States into 11 zones, characterised by their average minimum temperature. No such similar system is in wide use in Australia but there would be obvious advantages if such a system were devised. At the very least it would allow producers to label plants as being suitable for particular areas and may help customers choose suitable plants for their locality.

This is an attempt at a system of plant hardiness zones for Australia produced by Iain Dawson of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Iain has divided Australia into 7 zones based on the average annual lowest temperature. Zone 1 is the coldest (-15 to -10 degrees C) while zone 7 is the warmest (15 to 20 degrees C). A map accompanying the article shows the extent of each zone.

Iain freely acknowledges the limitations of the map. In particular "the spread of weather stations is insufficient to give good resolution of the zones and too many places with different climates are lumped together."

Rainforest Restoration

The Brisbane Rainforest Action and Information Network (BRAIN) was set up in 1995 and is active in rainforest regeneration and rehabilitation around Brisbane. The site has a much wider scope, however, and will be of interest to anyone involved in bush regeneration.


Particularly useful are the archives of articles from BRAIN newsletters. These include:

  • Dispersal of rainforest seeds by frugivorus birds
  • Seed collection
  • A new way of approaching bush regeneration
  • Rainforest remnants - preservation
  • Pharmaceutical properties of some south-east Queensland rainforest plants
  • History of hoop pine rainforest

Another most useful part of the site is the list of weeds and their control. A cursory examination of the list shows that these are not just a problem in Brisbane! Lantana, balloon vine and morning glory, for example, cause more than a little trouble in many parts of Australia!

An excellent resource!

No Plants...But Worth Checking!

Have a Snack.....

The Exploratorium is a "hands on" science museum in San Francisco, California. Since the museum opened in 1969, it has been a resource for teachers wanting to interest their students in the practical uses of science.Exploratorium Science Snacks are miniature versions of some of the most popular exhibits at the Exploratorium. The "snacks" are designed to use inexpensive, easily available materials and are divided into easy-to-follow sections that include instructions, advice, and helpful hints.

So here we have a collection of over 100 "snacks". To name a few......

  • Bernoulli Levitator; Suspend an object in air by blowing down on it.
  • Blind Spot; To see or not to see.
  • Cat Cheshire Cat; Make a friend disappear, leaving only a smile behind.
  • Descartes' Diver; "I sink, therefore I am."
  • Glue Stick Sunset; Why is the sky blue? That's a sticky question.
  • Electrical Fleas; Start your own electric flea circus!

If you have school age kids, this site is certain to be of value. And if you don't....?? well. we won't tell anyone if you want to have a bit of a play here!

Australian Wilderness Photo Gallery

An excellent collection of photographs by Peter Sundstrom.....

The site is well arranged into several galleries:

  • Bushwalking Gallery - wilderness areas of Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory
  • Snow Gallery - the high country
  • Ski Touring Gallery - Jagungal wilderness
  • Huts Gallery - huts in Kosciuszko National Park
  • Reflections Gallery - an interesting use of a java applet to apply shimmering reflections to still photographs. Be sure to have a look at this!
  • Guest Gallery - images by others

Mimosa Rocks

Not being a skier, the bushwalking gallery held most interest for me and, despite the limitations of the jpg format, the images are excellent. My favourite location here is the "South Coast - New South Wales" Gallery....particularly the image of Mimosa Rocks.

Select the thumbnail for a larger image (30k)

Photography is very much about being in the right place with the right light - Peter seems to have achieved this difficult combination more consistently than a photographer has any right to expect (OK...my envy is showing!).

Peter has also set up a postcard facility so, if you want to send an image to a friend and want to send something a bit different, there's plenty to choose from.

The whole site is an excellent way to dream about that next holiday.......

Over the Top!

Absolute Trivia

Trivia logo

There are those who claim that detailed knowledge of meaningless and insignificant events is a certain sign of a misspent youth....or, at the very least, a sign that you need to get out more!

Be that as it may, if you're addicted to trivia, you're certain to find a few items here that can be added to your mental database. A modest example......

While filming the popular 90's Television series Baywatch, its cast and crew would go through 306 pounds of body makeup and one 50 gallon drum of sunscreen in a season.

Isn't that interesting? And we all thought the oil slick was due to industrial waste.....

The site has a distinctly American bias so, if your knowledge of things USA is limited to Bill Clinton's smoking habits, you may need to ignore items such as:

What was hockey star Wayne Gretzky's jersey number?:

Still....there's enough to keep the rest of us amused. Some more modest examples....

  • Napoleon suffered from ailurophobia, the fear of cats.
  • In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.
  • It is believed that 90 percent of all scientists who have ever lived realize now, and that as many scientific paper have been published in the years since 1950 as were published in all the centuries before 1950.
  • In 1859 a shower of fish fell from the sky in Glamorgan, Wales. The fish covered an area the size of three tennis courts
I'm sure everyone needed to know that!Fish

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Australian Plants online - June 1999
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants