PORT AUGUSTA is a small city in South Australia. It is mainly located on the east coast of the Spencer Gulf immediately south of the gulf’s head and about 322 km (200 miles) north of Adelaide, the State capital. It has a natural harbour and was founded on 24 May 1852. The average annual rainfall in Port Augusta is 255.7 mm (10.067 inches) and in Adelaide it is 544.9 mm (21.453 inches).
Australia can be a very harsh country for growing plants and flowers and it is often hard to imagine any plants living in some of the hottest parts of this continent. The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden highlights that we can be wrong, and that it is possible for plants to grow and prosper in areas of limited rainfall and extreme temperatures. The Botanic Gardens were established in Port Augusta in 1993 to provide a living example of conservation and to promote Australia’s arid zone flora to international visitors and locals alike. The Gardens are spread over 200 hectares and are divided into several regional areas to highlight the flora specific to each area and to demonstrate that there can be beautiful plant life in the areas to the north of Goyder’s line.
Goyder’s Line is an imaginary boundary line across South Australia corresponding to a rainfall boundary believed to indicate the edge of the area suitable for agriculture. North of Goyder’s Line the rainfall is not reliable enough and the land is only suitable for grazing and not cropping. The line traces a distinct change in vegetation. Much of the land immediately north of the line is covered by saltbush.
I walked the Port Augusta Coastal Path from the cabin in the Foreshore Caravan Park to the Arid Gardens. The views of the distant ancient Flinders Ranges were stunning and the lookout is the best place to see the tip of Spencer Gulf and the amazing vivid red sand dunes reflecting in the water below. The path is well-marked and is shared by both walkers and cyclists. The scenery is picturesque.
Exploring the garden was something very special as I experienced the sights, sounds and scents in this waterwise garden. Some of the resident reptiles joined me.
I met my friends at the Café within the gardens where we enjoyed mouth-watering, home-cooked dishes including the famous Banjo patties seasoned with native herbs and spices followed by a quandong treat, of course. Our table overlooked the Eremophila garden. Eremophilas are commonly known by many different names such as Emu Bush, Poverty Bush, Native Fuchsia and Turkey Bush. They are a diverse and fascinating group of Australian plants with over 200 named species in the genus. A variety of plants can be purchased at the Visitor Centre.