Friday, 14 September 2007


This sign at the entrance to the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens gives an indication of the effects of the goldrushes of the 1850s on the colonial local town culture. Many of the major goldrush towns now have botanical gardens, and there was a supportive network of designers and suppliers centred on the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and the charismatic and energetic Ferdinand von Mueller. Von Mueller was the most important of colonial scientists, he had done extensive collecting and classifying of the local flora, he was in contact with his peers overseas through his prolific letter writing, and he was unstinting in his support of local botanisers. I visited the garden, which was next to the camping ground, about 7am one Sunday morning recently. It was 2C, and the sun was just rising.
In the centre of the gardens is this sign and, fleetingly, the shadow of my head. The picture is of three trees which are still growing in the garden: a Deodar cedar Cedrus deodara, Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata.
The tree closes to the camera is the Red gum, that to the right is the Spotted gum. The Red gum now has a bole of about 4 feet diameter, which is a small tree compared to some in Victoria.
This is the Deodar cedar with the red gum in the background immediately to the right. This tree is now more than 150 years old and is a faster growing tree than the Red gum which was mature when the gardens were first constructed. The trees are roughly the same height, about, guessing, 30 metres.
The entrance to the gardens from inside, just down the avenue of various elms, including examples of the nototious Dutch elm. This is another elm- my favourite-the Weeping elm. Several examples appear on this blog, but these are the only ones so far in a botanical garden.
Sitting in an elm tree, English elm by the size of it, a flock of cockatoos, another of my favourite eblems of the forest. These birds can be very destructive, they like the newly budding tips of trees, pine cones just before maturity and anything easily and messily torn up. They are also very gregarious and noisy. The 4X in the title refers to a famous Australian beer XXXX which is now produced in Queensland, but which was first produced in Castlemaine. The Castlemaine goldfields where part of an extensive line of goldfields which stretched 150 miles across central Victoria. For more info try here.

1 comment:

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