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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

Bush Tucker

Vic Cherikoff started Bush Tucker Supply in 1983 following his research into the nutritional composition of Australian food plants. The company has expanded rapidly since 1989 and now supplies over 400 restaurants as well as many retail outlets.

This site is designed (understandably) to promote the company and its products but even casual browsers will find something of interest. In particular:

  • Product Glossary - details of many of the company's products with physical descriptions, typical uses and hints on use. How about some Lemon Myrtle fettuccine or Witjuties (witjuty grubs)?

  • Bushfood Recipes - around 50 recipes for complex and simple dishes (including sauces). One of the simplest is Wattleseed ice-cream (highly recommended by this reviewer) but for something more unusual try wattleseed pavlova or maybe paperbark chicken.

  • Links to other bushfood sites as well as addresses for suppliers and co-operatives.

Quandong Fruit
Quandong fruit (Santalum acuminatum) is one of many bush foods available. Select the thumbnail image or highlighted word for a higher resolution image (28k).
Photo: H.Weber.

Botanical Bookshop

This online botanical bookshop is operated by the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Its catalogue covers:

  • Australian plants, botany, gardening and the environment
  • Floras (botanical identification manuals)
  • Australian birds
  • Australian animals
  • Government publications (environment related)

The bookshop does not offer direct online purchasing. Rather, the user selects the titles required, prints out the order form and sends it by fax or normal post together with credit card details. The catalogue covers most, if not all, titles published on the Australian environment....the first category listed above includes almost 200 titles.

If you're looking for a current publication on the Australian environment, chances are you'll find it here.

Australian Correspondence Schools (ACS)

ACS offer a range of courses in the horticulture field including several relating to Australian plants, plant propagation and landscaping. Most of the certificates, advanced certificates and advanced diplomas awarded by ACS are accredited. Specific courses on Australian plants are:

  • Australian natives; 1 and 2
  • Acacias
  • Australian native trees
  • Australian native ferns

The site also has some useful information for the casual visitor including some brief general and cultural notes on Acacia.

Weed Risk Assessment

The Weed Risk Assessment (WRA) system is an Excel 5 spreadsheet application for Windows and Macintosh computers. The system assesses the potential "weediness" of plant species based on the development of a numerical score which is generated from responses to a series of questions. The score determines if the species should be accepted for introduction into a geographical area, rejected or evaluated further.

The system was developed following a 1994 workshop involving representatives from agricultural and scientific authorities from all over Australia. Although developed for use by those involved in plant quarantine, it is a useful programme for others to experiment with if only to understand better what factors can lead to a pest plant.

The spreadsheet is available for download from the Weed Assessment Group of Western Australia Agriculture.

Rainforest Plants

This is the home page for Greening Australia, Far North Coast (New South Wales) and it's certainly worth a visit by anyone wanting to grow Australian rainforest species....whether you live in northern NSW or not. This is not a "flashy" site but its value lies in the excellent content. Here you'll find:

  • Species Lists of appropriate flora for the NSW Far North Coast
  • Guides to ecosystem and rainforest restoration methods
  • Suppliers: names & addresses for nurseries and contractors
  • Readings: Greening Australia and background documents
  • Green Jobs and the Green Corps
  • Maps of the area and worksites (with sizes)

The species lists are what will interest most people and they cover:

  • Species for frosty sites
  • Rainforest plant fruiting times
  • Species for landscaping
  • Species for podzolic soils
  • Species for red soiltypes
  • Plants for rocky sites
  • Subtropical remnants - weeds in the environment
  • Cabinet timbers for red soil sites
  • Fast species for windy sites

A good example of a site designed for a specific area but with wider application.

The Oysterman's track

A short (but true) story by David Nicholls about the changes that have occurred to the Australian environment in such a short period of time. Very attractively presented and illustrated. Well worth reading.


"But now the sun is lowering, the day is fading, the tide is returning.........It is time to work homewards up the Oysterman's track, from the shoreline, back into the forest, towards the rising moon."

Photo: David Nicholls

No Plants...But Worth Checking!

The Australian Skeptics

The Australian Skeptics take nothing at face value....If you've got a theory that you reckon will revolutionise life as we know it, you had better be prepared to prove it!

In short, the Skeptics aim to stimulate inquiry and the quest for truth, wherever it leads. They do this in many ways, principally through the quarterly journal "The Skeptic", but also by holding public meetings and conducting trials of some of the claimed revolutionary procedures.

There is much to investigate on this site:

  • Selected articles from "The Skeptic, including:
    • Theory of Reverse Speech
    • Acupuncture, The Facts
    • Building Pharaoh's Mountains
    • Planetary Influences
    • Fire Walking
    • Australian Skeptics Divining Test
  • Table of contents to all issues of "The Skeptic"
  • Index of all topics covered in "The Skeptic"
  • Recipients and details of the "Bent Spoon" Award
Koala Logo

The "Bent Spoon" Award commemorates the feats of Uri Geller who claimed to be able to bend cutlery through mind power alone. Needless to sat the Skeptics debunk this claim. The award has been presented annually since 1982 to "the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle on an unsuspecting population." during the preceding 12 months. Needless to say, few recipients actually willingly accept the award but, just in case they try, part of the small print is that anyone wishing to acquire the trophy must remove it from the Skeptics by paranormal means!


Probably the most interesting part of the site currently is a full description of the Ian Pilmer - Allen Roberts Noah's Ark court case (Roberts claims that a formation on a mountain in Turkey is Noah's Ark; Pilmer reckons it's a natural geological formation). Riveting stuff!

Home Planet

I am continually amazed by the work that some programmers put into developing programmes only to release them as freeware. "Home Planet" is an astronomy/space/satellite-tracking package for Microsoft Windows 3.1 and above. The programme allows you to view:

  • An earth map, showing day and night regions, location of the Moon and position of a selected earth satellite.
  • A panel showing detailed position and phase data for the Sun and Moon.
  • A panel showing positions of planets and a selected asteroid or comet,
  • A sky map, based on either the Yale Bright Star Catalogue or the 256,000 star SAO catalogue and including an extensive and user-extensible deep-sky database.
  • A horizon window which shows the sky view toward the horizon at any given azimuth.
  • An Object Catalogue of images, sounds, and tabular data about celestial objects.
  • More....much more!

Sky Map South eastern view at Castlereagh, New South Wales on New Year's Eve, 1997 at 11.59pm. If you are one of the few not otherwise engaged at that time, you'll see the Southern Cross constellation at about 25 degrees above the horizon. The two "pointers" to the cross, Alpha and Beta Centauri are labelled by the names, Rigilkent and Hadar, respectively.

Select the thumbnail image for a wider field of view (10k).

It's hard to imagine what more anyone other than a true enthusiast could want.

It's not perfect, however. The Sky Window is extremely cluttered with names and objects and, while the display can be customised, it doesn't really solve the problem. It's not a major worry though as the Horizon Views are very clear and far more useful anyway. There is also no simple way to print from the programme. If you want to print out horizon views for particular places and dates you will need to capture each screen to the clipboard, paste it into a graphics programme and print from there. Not elegant...but it does work.

This is a large download (7-8 MB) but the Windows 3.1 version is broken up into a number of files so you don't have to download the lot in one go. The Windows 95 version comes as a 1.44 MB "lite" version which is complete except for some of the large databases. If you like the programme you can download the rest later.

Off the Planet!

The Essence of Dark

Hand's up all who have, at one time or another, taken a photograph with the lens cap in place. Don't be shy....I'm prepared to admit it and I've always used an SLR (and for those who haven't, with an SLR it's just not possible to have the lens cap in place and not know about it).

Well here's a site dedicated to Lens Cap Photography. It doesn't take much imagination to visualise the photographs displayed here but they are beautifully presented. This is part of The Pumpkin Centre for the Arts (which includes the Museum of the Ephemeral or MOTE) and I'm not sure whether the site is serious or a parody...you'll have to judge for yourself. As for the Lens Cap Photography, I can only quote Pieter van Ogrrip, MOTE's guest Curator of Photography, who commented:

"The highly charged sexual energy that writhed in front of Marcel Poke's lens cap has been magically transferred to these Cibachrome prints"

First Contact!...well, maybe!

  • Do you secretly feel you are special or chosen?
  • Do you dream about seeing UFOs, being inside UFOs, or interacting with UFO occupants?
  • As a child or adult, did you ever hear a voice inside your head talking to you which wasn't your own?
  • Have x-rays or other procedures revealed unexplainable foreign objects lodged in your body?

These are just a few of the questions you will find in the Alien Abduction Survey. This claims to identify "typical experiences shared by many abductees.....it lets you compare your experiences with those of known abductees."

Known abductees?

"Known" abductees???!!!

Well, as a few of the questions seemed uncomfortably familiar and as I would prefer to remain in blissful ignorance of my abductee status, I coerced my son into taking the survey.

His results....

"0 - 5 'Yes' answers: Your score indicates very few similarities with experiences of known abductees. You probably have not been abducted."

Needless to say, he was shattered by this outcome.


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Australian Plants online - December 1997

The Society for Growing Australian Plants