Ruth and I went to 2 Australian, as in not typical, botanic gardens–one in Alice Springs and one in Darwin-while Down Under. Olive Pink in Alice Springs specialized in Outback flora and George Brown in local plants, as in tropical palms and baobab trees.
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens encompasses more than 100 acres in the middle of the city. A botanical garden has been in Darwin since 1869 when this remote city far closer to Singapore than Sydney was newly founded. At that time a man named William Hayes planted it in Doctors Gully and at Paper Bark Swamp. He was initially trying to determine which food-producing plants could find a home here. This botanic garden moved to its current location right in the middle of town 17 years later. By the way, the downed paperbark in the monsoon forest showed how unlikely a groomed garden in this part of the world is. These gardens have survived cyclones, fires, and World War II troop occupation. Jack Agostini was the manager who rebuilt them after Darwin was bombed by the Japanese. He was there for the bombing but evacuated to Perth with his family for the duration and returned to find his beloved gardens in shambles. Remarkably, some of the original plants had survived. Some areas were closed on the day Ruth and I were there due to high winds. It was also incredibly hot, but that is normal for here.
Also normal for here, just past the east end of The Kimberley, are baobab trees. About every 10th tree you see in The Kimberley, that remote and beautiful part of Australia between Kununurra and Broome, is a baobab. But different types of them, most of which I had never seen before, were clustered here in an all baobab forest. Baobabs are nicknamed bottle trees because of their shape or Bozy (pronounced Boojy). How they got to The Kimberley from Madagascar is still a complete mystery. These distinctive deciduous trees can grow to 82 feet or more and usually grow singly. I’ve never seen many types of baobabs this close together before.
Don’t expect to find cold weather plants and tulips in profusion at the George Brown Darwin Botanic Garden. Here you will probably find some paths blocked so that stuff won’t fall on your head as you wander about its rainforests, mangroves, and forests that you have never seen before and won’t see again unless you travel to this part of the world.