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Australian Plants online

Net Watch...choice selections on the 'net

"Net Watch" aims to report those sites that you, as a grower, propagator or appreciator of Australian plants, might find interesting. Most of them relate to Australian issues of a horticultural, botanical or conservation nature but a few are of more general interest. A couple of other sites 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 us know.

The Living World

Wirrimbirra Sanctuary

The Wirrimbirra Sanctuary is a property of the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales), established and managed as a wildlife reserve by the David G Stead Memorial Wildlife Research Foundation of Australia.

Since 1961, Wirrimbirra Sanctuary has operated as a flora and fauna Sanctuary at Bargo, about 100km south west of Sydney. A small Australian plant nursery operates at the site, supplying many unusual plants not seen elsewhere. It was at Wirrimbirra that the now famous white waratah was first brought into cultivation.

The unique white Waratah Telopea speciosissima "Wirrimbirra White" was collected in the early 1970s and first propagated at Wirrimbirra. Select the thumbnail image or plant name for a higher resolution image (32k).

This page is under development but already contains useful information for the Australian plant enthusiast. You will find:

  • A brief history of the Sanctuary
  • Details of support programmes undertaken (including flora and fauna surveys, environmental impact assessments, rare/endangered species surveys, koala habitat surveys, bush regeneration, horticultural advice, bushfire management plans)
  • Details of special events (eg annual "Wattle Day" and "Brush with the Bush")
  • Information about on-site accommodation (bunkhouse style)
  • The legend of the white Waratah
  • Details of the rare Persoonia bargoensis, one of the geebungs, which occurs naturally at the Sanctuary
This is not a site designed with lots of graphics to achieve a spectacular effect. The aim here is to inform...and there's nothing wrong with that!

Acting Locally

The Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association (IFFA) believes that the conservation of plants, animals and their communities must be based on a sound knowledge of their biology, ecology, status and management requirements. The IFFA researches, collects and disseminates information concerning conservation matters to relevant agencies, groups and individuals. It also publishes a newsletter, "Indigenotes", 11 times a year, and promotes conferences, workshops and excursions.

This site basically outlines the work of the Association, which is centred in Victoria but has a branch in Sydney. Information about coming meetings is provided.

A sample issue of "Indigenotes" is included and those interested in the effect of fire on vegetation will find the two articles on fire of great interest. One article discusses fire in Southern California while the other covers a fire in suburban Sydney, New South Wales.

Garden Web - Australia

The "Garden Web" is one of several general horticultural sites on the internet. The distinctive features of this site are the forums which operate in a similar manner to newsgroups and the fact that this particular site has an Australian flavour. Garden Web is based in the USA and much of the US content is repeated here in the Australian version but there are some specifically Australian features including the new forum for Australian native plants.

The operation of the forum is fairly simple. To quote Garden Web....."The forums allow you to tap the collective wisdom of our readers. You can post queries on plant care and sources, or initiate a discussion on a particular topic. If you're an experienced gardener, maybe you could take a few minutes and help answer the questions of others. "

If you have a question on any aspect of growing Australian plants, you post a message using a special form. Others can respond to the question by filling in and posting another form. The response is posted on the page almost immediately.

Quite apart from the forum there are some interesting articles on general gardening that may be worth looking at...."The Cyber-Plantsman", an online magazine and "Garden Tips" (The Importance of Watering, Integrated Pest Management, Planting with Care, Preparing a New Garden, Starting Seeds Indoors, Seed Stratification)

More Orchids Down Under

"Orchids Australia" is a quality publication on orchid cultivation and is printed mainly in full colour. It is general in its scope and contains topics on species, culture, disease and pests, adventure and, more recently, pictorial essays on specific genera, and is primarily directed to the general orchid growing public. Australian native orchids do receive coverage from time to time so this is a publication orchid enthusiasts should be aware of.

The site is still being developed (aren't they all!) and mainly provides information on the current issue as well as details of how to subscribe. There is also a list of Australian orchid nurseries able to meet export requirements and information on coming conferences.

It would be nice if the site made some older articles (and photographs) available on line. Maybe that's what will happen as time goes on.

Perhaps the main reason to look at the site at the moment is the magnificent photo montage of perhaps 30 different orchid species/cultivars that can be downloaded. Suitable for desktop background, the montage is available in a number of formats and resolutions. It's a spectacular piece of work, which the accompanying thumbnail only hints at. The downside? ....no Australian species appear to be included. Oh well...let's not be too parochial.

Families of Flowering Plants

Whether this site is useful or not will really depend on how interested you are in the botany of flowering plants. This is another site which does not set out to excite (an aim in which it succeeds admirably!); it's prime concern is content. It's text, text and more text but, if your interest in plants goes a little deeper than average, the information will be worth downloading or, at least, bookmarking.

What you will see here is a list of all of the families of flowering plants. Select one and you will be presented with a detailed description of the distinctive characteristics of the family plus a few examples and diagrams to illustrate the features.

As an example, the entry for the Kangaroo Paw family (Haemodoraceae) provides details of habit and leaf form, general anatomy, leaf anatomy, stem anatomy, root anatomy, reproductive type, inflorescence, perianth, fruit, geography and taxonomy. Two illustrations of members of the family are used to show botanical features of flowers, fruit and foliage.

The genus Anigozanthos is the best known Australian member of the Haemodoraceae. This is Anigozanthos humilis, the "Cat's Paw". Select the thumbnail image or plant name for a higher resolution image (42k).

No Plants...But Worth Checking!

Mad Scientist Network

This site has absolutely nothing to do with the Mad Science Home Page reviewed in the September issue. The latter deals with "alternative" theories of the type that Newton and Einstein never dreamed about! The "Mad Scientist Network", on the other hand, is a completely different flavour of quark...

This site exists to provide answers to almost any conceivable scientific question. All you need to do is to submit your question and it will be then redirected to the appropriate expert in that field of science. The expert may be located in any one of a number of countries, such are the wonders of the internet. In a day or two your answer is posted on the site for all to see. What could be simpler?

The branches of science covered are comprehensive......Anatomy, Astronomy, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Cell Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Development, Environment/Ecology, Earth Sciences, Evolution, General Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Medicine, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Physics, Virology, Zoology and, if they don't offer enough scope, you can always try "Other".

On a Wing and a Prayer

The Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU) was founded in 1901 and works to conserve birds and biodiversity in Australasia and Antarctica, through the study and management of birds and their habitats, and the education of the community.

This site goes under the imaginative name of "The Virtual Emu"....for those not familiar with the Emu, it's a large, flightless bird with an overbearing nature and a passable resemblance to an ostrich. Here you will find information about the Union and the projects it undertakes, some photographs of bird species, listings of birds presumed extinct, endangered and threatened and bird observatories operated by the RAOU.

A feature sure to appeal to many are the sound files of bird calls for three of the most musical of Australian birds: The Magpie, the Grey Butcherbird and the Lyrebird (sadly, being "sans soundcard" I could not sample these but, having heard the real thing, I'm sure you wont be disappointed).

Off the Planet!

Testicles of Famous People

Oh dear.....

Please be warned!! This site is not for the faint-hearted. If you are easily offended, you'll be offended here. If you're broad minded...you'll also be offended here!

This site is tasteless, crude, crass, sick and more than a little disgusting. It's also, quite possibly, the funniest thing you'll see in a long time. Then again, maybe it won't be.....

The name pretty well describes what the site is all about. The famous people to be found here (or, at least, a certain specific part of them) include Elvis, Bill Clinton, Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson and Grace Jones(!!). There's also an appearance by John Bobbit, which only stands to reason....... Note that we are not talking photographs here. That would be tacky. A simple cartoon accompanies each person and depicts their, er....unique features. All of the drawings are very professionally executed. Some are very descriptive while others are cryptic in the extreme. Cryptic! It took me 5 hours to work out the Bill Clinton entry and I'm still not sure I've got it right.

One is tempted to describe this site as pure ball-derdash...but that would be cheap and undignified.

I Own Mars....Virtually!

The premise here is quite simple. Type your name and you are issued with a certificate allocating you your own personal 1 acre on Mars.

Of course it's for real....you've just got a suspicious mind.

I already have my own certificate (Number 711) for a beautiful block with a river frontage....or it might have been a river frontage a few million years ago. Anyway, I've only got to wait around until 2100 before I can start hammering in boundary pegs. The recent reports of life on Mars are a bit worrying though....what if I get built-out before then?

Now....I wonder if NASA carries out pest control inspections and what it would cost to re-program the Mars Global Surveyor to do a fly over......?

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Australian Plants online - December 1996
The Society for Growing Australian Plants