News and Events

Botanical Buzz - 2014 Dubbo Sustainable City Expo

Monday, September 22, 2014

Learn to live in harmony with the environment with the appliance of science at the 2014 Dubbo Sustainable City Expo and Science Cafe at the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden from 9am to 2pm Saturday, 23 August. 

Take the opportunity to combine a refreshing stroll around the botanic garden with learning how to reduce your environmental foot print and save money. Numerous experts will be on hand at the ninth annual Dubbo Sustainable City Expo to give free advice on a wide range of topics from composting to state-of-the-art sustainable living technology, appliances and services.

Learn the art of water-wise garden design, growing vegetables, composting and successful worm farming. Check out the latest solar and renewable energy systems, and electric and hybrid vehicles.

Meanwhile the highly successful Science Cafe now in its second year, will inform, dazzle and amaze under the guidance of highly talented science teacher, successful actor and professional writer James Eddy. Grab a refreshing beverage and listen to live interviews with some of the region’s most talented scientists, including scientists from the Australian National University and medical students from the University of Sydney. Sit back and enjoy SCINEMA films.

Children will be kept occupied by a wide range of free activities including interactive storytelling, the Stormwater Olympics, nature trails, the mobile zoo and face painting.

With so much to see, learn and do the 2014 Dubbo Sustainable City Expo and Science Cafe at the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden promises to be a wonderful family day out.

Science Cafe is a registered National Science Week event and is funded under the NSW Regional Science Grants program supported by Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government. National Science Week runs from the 16-24 August.
                                                                                                                                    By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - The Fig Tree

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Few trees could be more fascinating or important to humans and animals than the fig tree.

There are 850 species of trees, shrubs and vines collectively known as fig trees (Ficus) and they all belong to the family Moraceae. Most are found in India, Malaysia, Polynesia and New Guinea, but there are about 40 species native to Australia, the majority of which are found in Queensland, especially in the rain forests of the north east.

Ficus is a relatively ancient genus being at least 60 million years old and possibly as old as 80 million years.

The Common Fig (Ficus carica) has been widely cultivated from ancient times for its fruit. The fruit of most other species are also edible though they are usually of only local economic importance or eaten as bushfood. Depending on the species, each fruit can contain up to several hundred to several thousand seeds.

The fruits are extremely important food resources for wildlife.

Figs as a group are relatively easy to recognize. Many have aerial roots and a distinctive shape or habit, and their fruits distinguish them from other plants. However, there are three physical characteristics that together are unique to figs. All figs possess a white to yellowish latex, some in copious quantities; the twig has paired stipules or a circular stipule scar if the stipules have fallen off; and "tri-veined" leaves.

Probably the most fascinating characteristic of the fig is its unique pollination system. The tiny flowers of the fig are enclosed in an urn-like structure (sometimes called a syconium) and pollinated by tiny, highly specific wasps, known as fig wasps. Most of the complex life cycle of the wasps is completed inside the fruit.

The Oasis Valley of the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden contains a number of fig species including Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), Small Fruited Fig (Ficus macrocarpa) and Small-Leaved Fig (Ficus obliqua).

                                                                                                                              By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - Lilly Pilly

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The beautiful tough lilly pilly is an important botanical element in the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden.

There are roughly fifty different varieties of lilly pilly grown in Australia. They all belong to the genus Syzygium in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.

Lilly pillies are drought tolerant evergreen rainforest trees and are cousins to the historically and economically important Syzygium aromaticum from which the spice, cloves are harvested.

They may be grown in full sun or partial shade and have attractive glossy green foliage.

There are two species of lilly pilly in the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden, Syzygium australe and Syzygium paniculatum and both are native to Australia.

Syzygium australe, which incidentally is the floral emblem of Coffs Harbour, is grown in Shoyoen and a dwarf cultivar of the species is grown in the Sensory Gardens. It can grow to 35m tall but responds well to pruning to produce an attractive dense compact shape. It is used as a hedging plant near the beautiful sandstone gecko in the Sensory Gardens and may also be found in the refined and elegant outer roji of the Japanese Tea House.

The magenta lilly pilly, Syzygium paniculatum has been planted in the Oasis Valley as part of a suite of Australian dry rainforest plants. It grows to a height of 15 m with a trunk diameter up to 35 cm.

Both the Syzygium australe and Syzygium paniculatum produce attractive edible fruits which may be eaten fresh or cooked. The fruit can be used to make jams and jellies.  Autumn visitors to the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden will be able to spot the fluffy white flowers and small magenta fruits on the Syzygium australe.

                                                                                                                    By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - Demonstration vegetable garden – Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

On the southern boundary of Oasis Valley is a special place, often overlooked by visitors to the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden, a demonstration organic vegetable garden.

It is a place that never fails to invoke the curiosity of young visitors. Many youngsters are unfamiliar with the natural habitat of their daily veggies. Their eyes light up as they spot beans, eggplants and sweet corn. They laugh with delight when a bit of supervised pulling is rewarded by a wonderful carrot!

Many people enjoy gardening but it is particularly important to children. During gardening children develop a love of nature, an understanding of science and learn the delights of eating fresh food. It is also a physical activity which entices them away from electronic gadgetry, and teaches them cause and effect and problem solving, in a real world context.

The demonstration vegetable garden is a living seasonal guide and source of encouragement for new gardeners. There is a varied selection of vegetables growing in the garden at the moment including eggplant, sweet corn, beans, pak choy and carrots. Cabbage and beetroot seedlings have just been planted.

It is looked after entirely by volunteers – Friends of the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden – who delight in sharing their love of gardening with others.

If you are interested in volunteering the odd half hour to tend and water the garden, and generally help maintain this important and flourishing resource, please contact Dubbo City Council’s Community Participation Facilitator Kath Oke 6801 4000.

                                                                                                                       By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Visitors with sharp eyes will enjoy trying to spot the young Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) in the watercourse of the Oasis Valley, Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden. The attractive fish are well camouflaged against the pebbles on the river bed. Counting them as they slip in and out of the shadows – now three fish – now eight - is a simple almost meditative pleasure.

Silver Perch are native to the Murray-Darling river system. They were once widespread and abundant but their numbers have seriously declined. This is due to a number of factors including habitat degradation and competition from introduced species such as carp and redfin.

Silver perch are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW and it is illegal to take them from the rivers or streams in the Murray-Darling Basin. The fish in the Oasis Valley were supplied when they were fingerlings by a reputable fish farm.

Silver perch are omnivorous, feeding on small aquatic insects, molluscs, earthworms and green algae. Adults usually reach 30-40cm and 0.5-1.5 kg.

Care was taken to establish a good habitat for the fish before they were released into the flowing waters of the Oasis Valley.  A carefully chosen selection of native reeds and rushes were planted by local community groups last year, to cleanse and oxygenate the water.

A variety of snags (wooden logs) have been provided for the young fish to take refuge amongst, when threatened by visiting cormorants and herons.

The preparations have paid off. The young fish seem to be thriving. They have more than doubled in size since their introduction to the Oasis Valley watercourse late last year.

Silver Perch were chosen for the Oasis Valley to raise awareness of the need to look after our natural waterways and to give visitors, particularly youngsters an opportunity to observe a beautiful fish which has become less common in its native habitat.

                                                                                                                               By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland Bottle Tree)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland Bottle Tree) is one of Australia’s most visually arresting and affectionately regarded native trees. Its common name refers to its characteristic bulbous trunk which can grow to over six metres in circumference.

It is one of 31 species of Brachychiton, with 30 found in Australia and one species in New Guinea.
Brachychiton rupestris is endemic to a limited region of Australia namely Central Queensland through to northern New South Wales. Yet the tree is quite hardy and can tolerate a variety of climates and soil types. It has been widely cultivated all over the world as an ornamental tree.

The tree grows to 18-20 m and the canopy spans 5-12 m in diameter. It will drop its leaves before the flowering period, which are between the months of October and December. It will also drop its leaves to conserve water during periods of drought. The characteristic bottle shape should develop in approximately five to eight years.

Another striking characteristic of Brachychiton rupestris is that its swollen trunk is made of a spongy pumpkin-like fibre, filled with moisture and water. In times of drought, settlers would cut down bottle trees and peel off the bark to expose the fleshy fibre for their cattle to eat. It is said that a large tree could satisfy a hungry, thirsty herd for weeks.

Aboriginal people historically carved holes into the soft bark to create reservoir-like structures. The seeds, roots, stems, and bark have all been a traditional source of food for people and animals alike. The fibrous inner bark was also used to make twine or rope and even woven together to make fishing nets.

Brachychiton rupestris has been planted near the beautiful sandstone gecko in the Sensory Gardens and in the Oasis Valley, just beyond the entrance of the boardwalk on the right hand side. 
                                                                                                                             By Ian McAlister and Karen Hagan

Botanical Buzz - Oasis Valley

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Oasis Valley has been designed to inform visitors of Australia’s biogeographical history and raise awareness of the importance of Australia’s dry rainforests. 

The term “dry rainforest” may sound like a misnomer but not all of Australia’s rainforests grow in areas receiving evenly distributed, abundant supplies of rainfall. There are four major types of rainforest in Australia and several sub groups.

The majority of native plant species making up the different types of Australian rainforest evolved from the ancient subtropical Gondwana rainforests which covered most of Australia 40-50 million years ago. The plant families in these ancient forests included Nothofagaceae, Araucariaceae, Podocarpaceae and Proteaceae.

As the climate became less suitable for rainforests, those species best suited to the arid conditions and changing environment survived and evolved creating the native species we are familiar with today.

Dry rainforests grow in regions with distinct wet and dry seasons. They are classed as rainforest mainly because of the closed canopy as well as genera composition that is largely similar to that of 'normal' rainforest.

Dry rainforests have been reduced to tiny remnants scattered across the Kimberley, Top End, Cape York, North Hunter Valley and down the east coast of Australia.

The Oasis Valley contains over 40 different dry rainforest species representing 16 families and 27 genera. The plantings have been grouped together according to their families to make it easier for students of biology and botany to compare their characteristics.

Near the beginning of the boardwalk, on the right hand side, visitors may observe the variation in the Brachychiton genus. Although closely related, Brachychiton acerifolius (Flame Tree), Brachychiton discolour (Queensland Lace bark), and the Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland Bottle Tree) differ greatly in foliage, habit, and bark. Each has evolved to survive under particular environmental conditions.

The relatively new Oasis Valley brings an exciting dimension to the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden and as the trees grow, eventually dominating the boardwalk, visitors will enjoy a unique rainforest experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan