Sunday, July 29, 2012

Australia Red Centre: Garden Walk

Nana and I spent most of our time at Ayers Rock trying desperately to keep warm through a gauntlet of stunning sunrises and sunsets. But the morning of our last day in the Red Centre we took advantage of a free tour through the Ayers Rock Resort gardens, guided by the same folks in charge of the Aboriginal dance performances and cultural talks. The walk provided a great introduction to the plant life of the Australian Outback, which despite its arid climate is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. 

Below are some shots of a few of the plants on the tour, with brief notes on any of the ones I remember learning about.

This bush produces berries colloquially known as "snot-gobblers."

As you can tell from Nana's expression, it's an appropriate name.
A famous desert plum - very important in the traditional diet of the local Aboriginal tribes.

This Jurassic-looking fern is, in fact, a living fossil, having survived for millions of years in central Australia's isolated ecosystem.

For whatever reason, most of the trees have whitish trunks. These are actually called "ghost trees."

You recognize these from every floral arrangement ever. Never knew they were native to the Outback!

This is the old man saltbush. Imagine spinach that tastes like potato chips.


A desert rose.

A good shot of a ghost tree. You think of the Outback as being a desert, but most of it is more like very arid savannah - a mixture of sand and scrubby grasses, with sparse stands of trees in the low-lying areas.

This is a kind of aloe. Great for your skin, and also a source of water if you're stuck in the desert.

Even the leaves and needles have a silvery sheen.

This is a honeybush flower. The nectar tastes like, um, honey.

A quick glance out from the edge of the resort to more open country.