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Published October 16th 2014
Where sun and sand can't deter nature's gifts
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. But 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 1993 to provide a living example of conservation, and to promote Australia's arid zone flora to international audiences. The Gardens are spread over 200 hectares, and are segmented in to several regional areas (Flinders Ranges, West Coast, Central Highlands, Great Victoria Desert, Gawler Ranges) 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 Goyders Line, albeit not at productive crop levels.
Several self-guided walks of varying distances (200m to 4.5km) exist, over a total estimated trail network of 12km. Most walks start from the Visitor Centre, which is alongside the car park. There are also guided tours on weekdays at 10am, with a small fee applicable. The Garden Lookout at the end of the Boardwalk provides an overview of the entire Gardens against a backdrop of Central Australian sand dunes.
Inside the Visitor Centre is a Gift Shop where there is an excellent collection of souvenirs, gifts, native foods and books. Alongside the Gift Shop is the Bluebush Café which serves light meals from mid-morning onwards, various cool drinks and ice cream as well as freshly ground espresso.
And for those who are keen to establish their own arid garden, some of the plants on display are available for purchase on Wednesday mornings from 9am to 1pm. The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens are open everyday from 730am until Sunset, with the Visitor Centre open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, and 10am to 4pm on weekends.