Wildflower Garden

A Brief History

In 1949 Mr & Mrs F.C. Payne retired and developed the Athelstone Wildflower Garden. Plants from all states and varying habitats were collected and planted in this site where visitors could wander and enjoy the diverse flora and rich bird life.

The Paynes sold the garden In 1963 to the Corporation of the City of Campbelltown. Council adopted its new role and with the expert managements of Mr Ray Holliday the Wildflower Garden Nursery flourished. Countless locals and visitors wandered through the garden and were able to purchase a wide variety of native plants at very reasonable prices. The garden was later increased when Council accepted adjoining land when section 813 was subdivided. Soon after, when the Department of Environment & were consolidating the 900 hectare Black Hill Flora Park, Council was pressed to sell the Wildflower Garden. One of the conditions of sale was that the plants should continue to be made available to the public.

In 1976 the fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi was said to be found in the garden. The entire plant stock was destroyed and a much larger nursery was established on the corner of Maryvale and Montacute Roads.

Due to continued reductions of funding and staff, the National Parks and Wildlife Service found itself unable to continue with the maintenance and upkeep of the Wildflower Garden.

In 1990 the Friends of Black Hill & Morialta Inc. agreed to rehabilitate the garden and a 5 year plan was agreed upon. Revegetation work, along with educational activities, continues to be carried out be the Friends Group and its supporters.

In 2000 National Parks and Wildlife SA commenced a program to upgrade the walking trails in the Wildflower Garden.

this view of the Wildflower Garden was taken in November 2000
This view of the Wildflower Garden was
taken in November 2000

Wildflower Garden Rehabilitation Project

In August 1990 the Friends of Black Hill and Morialta Inc. agreed to formulate and carry out a 5 year plan to rehabilitate the area then know as the Athelstone Wildflower Garden in the Black Hill Conservation Park.

Having completed the 5 year program we are now continuing to upgrade the area and improve habitat, making the are more appealing for visitors.

Our five year plan and beyond

A view of the Garden
5 May 2002 at the end of one of the
driest summers on record.
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Wildflower Garden Project Site Report 2019

This year, we have done significant work on controlling freesia that compete with the the orchids for space, water and nutrient.

This year for the first time, we recorded Thelymitra luteocilium flowering in the Wildflower Garden. One of the many orchids we see as the seasons change.

A grant under the 'Communities Environment Program' has been applied for to extend the dead-end track to the east of the building. The grant will also allow for stone benches to be installed for seating and plants for revegetation. It is our intention to host a community planting day in the Wildflower Garden in 2020.

Newsflash!! the 'Communities Environment Program" grant application has been assessed and approved. We will be able to proceed with the intended works!

One of the flowering orchids from 2019
Thelymitra luteocilium
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Wildflower Garden Project Site Report 2018

To some extect the area around the building has had a bit of a set-back this year, as much of our attention was diverted to controlling blue-bell creeper that has escaped from the Wildflower Garden into the park proper.

Fortunately NRM Grassy Woodland funding has been used to map the extent of bluebell creeper, and in 2019, some funds will be used to assist in its control.

The dreaded bluebell creeper, escaped into the park some years ago, and is now taking up a lot of our time.
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Wildflower Garden Project Site Report 2015

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ongoing volunteer efforts of all those that contribute to the Wildflower Garden Project Site during our scheduled working bees on Addison Avenue.

This year's winter rainfall which we have missed in the previous couple of years has made a large difference to the plantings in the wildflower garden - with plenty of new growth visible.

Unfortunately we continue to have our share of plant losses from the long hot dry summer - unless we are able to get some supplementary watering to the plants especially in the 1st couple of years while they get established.

We have once again re-planted these areas with new plants with the intention of ensuring they will be watered at least a couple of times during this and the following summer.

Despite the amount of effort we have put in this year to keep the footpath on Addison avenue relatively clear of weeds both by hand pulling and careful spraying - the council has recently come along and non-selectively sprayed most of the footpath area. This has resulted in the death of some of the natives either from direct spraying or overspray. Amongst the losses appear to be a couple of white forms of Hardenbergia violaceae.

A couple of years ago I noticed a spider orchid located quite near to the building and carefully marked the area with a circle of rocks. Interesting this year the spider orchid came up about a metre away from the circle of rocks!!

We continue to try and eliminate the Monadenias (Disa bracteata) have also put a bit more effort into limiting the spread of the freesias - so the native orchids have more of a chance.

It is always interesting to notice the great variance in the soils throughout the WFG as following the recent rains quite a few areas showed quite good moisture penetration to the sub soil - whereas in other areas it was if it hadn't rained at all.

Russell Dahms

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Wildflower Garden Annual Report 2014

Overall this has been a fairly good year for the wildflower garden project site. Most of the plantings from previous years that have survived to date survived through last summer. In some situations we have continued to use a wetting agent to help any applied moisture to soak deeper into the soil. Even two Prostantheras that were planted several years ago in a very poor soil area are still alive and showing some signs of growth as well as the endangered Olearia pannosa ssp pannosa

Unfortunately a couple of grouped plantings have suffered either from dry conditions or kangaroo attack. From my own experience when the conditions in the park are dry - with little green vegetation the kangaroos, which are becoming quite populous in the park, will each any vegetation that is green - quite often down to ground level! They seem to be particularly attracted to Hardenbergia violaceae and as of late we have been fitting tree guards around any juvenile plantings.

The part of the garden I like to think of as Lola's patch near the western fence continues to grow well and now contains relatively dense vegetation coverage which helps keep the weeds at bay.

Before the winter rains the only plant that seemed to be thriving was the bridal creeper which made the pest easy to spot and either hand pull or spray. During this time I happened to venture down to the creek line and was somewhat surprised to see what seemed to be an explosion in the amount of bridal creeper. Rust had been spread in this area before and the numbers seemed to be declining - whereas there now seemed to be a large quantity of plants on both sides of the creek line.

Whereas it was not the time of year for rust to be evident I decided to do some spraying over three consecutive working bees and managed to eliminate all the plants that could be sprayed (that is were not entangled with local plant species)

We do still miss Judy's contributions from WFG working bees as she focused most of her time on bridal creeper eradication.

A lot of work has been put in by the volunteers to keep the weed front at bay both by hand pulling around sensitive areas and spraying.

I would also like to thank the continued efforts of the Kiwanis for helping with some of the heavier work and keeping the place tidy.

We were also able to check on the condition of and plant a few more Hakeas in the quarry location at the back of the WFG to help establish habitat for the yellow tailed black cockatoo.

Russell - Project Coordinator

Wildflower Garden Annual Report 2012

This has been a very busy year with maintenance and planting continuing throughout the gardens. This was aided by heavier than normal rainfall during the winter season. We have now been able to establish five Olearia pannosa ssp pannosa in the garden as well as another colony of Goodenia albiflora.

We were lucky to have the assistance of the Kiwanis and their hard work is always very much appreciated. Also we have had several new members come along where possible to assist including Heather, Storey and John.

It has been good to see the expansion of the bridal creeper rust in the creek line with 95% of plants now infected.

Major weeding work has continued to the east of the main building as well as on going maintenance of the already cleared areas.

Also during the year we were lucky to be able to host a major plant out of Hakea carinata for Plant a feast and some of the plants are already flowering! With assistance from several of the members the tool room was re-arranged with extra shelving and is now a lot easier to use.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members who participated and wish them a safe and happy new year.

Wildflower Garden Co-ordinator

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Wildflower Garden Annual Report 2010

This year has been a good year - continuing the work that Lola and Russell commenced on the western side of the building. The weeds are predominantly under control in this area and we are looking to slowly expand the area that is weed free.

The garden continues to remind us of all of Lola's hard work and she is deeply missed by all.

The area by the western fence has really developed with the Bursaria spinosa and Goodenia amplexans taking a strong hold.

It is now the second year for some of Colin's correas and they seem to be quite well established. This year Colin planted an area with the grass Austrostipa densiflora and they initially grew well.

About a week after we removed the protectors the kangaroos came in and trimmed all the grasses so that only 2-3 inches was left. Since this time they have started to reshoot. If only we could get the kangaroos to eat the winter weed grasses instead!

A new area has been planted out with Goodenia albiflora behind the building and apart from a few initial losses they remaining plants are growing at a very fast rate. The material for these plants was sourced form the Olive Hill project site and we have tried to choose a location with a similar aspect - that is a sunny exposed position.

Judy has been doing an excellent job keeping the bridal creeper infestations under control.

Any weeding we are now doing we are collecting the material as it has formed seed heads.

I have included photos of the new plants of Goodenia albiflora and grasses.

As the project co-ordinator I would like to take this opportunity to thank all that have participated in working bees during the year including the Kiwanis.

Russell - Project Coordinator

Judy busy planting
Judy busy plantimg. 2009

Wildflower Garden Annual Report 2009

Another busy year in the Wildflower Garden! What a difference the rain has made, with the general appearance of the garden looking much better. Some of the Western Australian plants in the wildflower garden which have not yet been removed have cheerfully reminding us of their presence with their colourful flowers. These plants that are remaining have a lower priority for removal, as they are not proving as invasive as others such as Kunzea baxteri and of course the blue bell creeper (now Billardiera heterophylla).

There are still outbreaks of wild gladiolus, monadenia, bridal creeper, Flinders Rangers Wattle etc. to test our observation skills. But the extent of these is reducing, enabling us to concentrate this year on the area immediately around the building.

With the weedy grasses better controlled, Colin has been trying out direct seeding of some native species. It will be interesting to see how well they get established.


Russell and the chainsaw
Russell making good use of
his chainsaw course. 2009
Russell has been especially busy, spraying the winter grasses and making good use of his chainsaw skills by clearing some fallen dead trees. Russell has also been responsible for renewing the plant signage in the Garden. I hope you have noticed that out of place signs have been removed, and a range of revised signs now identify plants of interest in the Garden.

We were very pleased this year to see a fine display of native orchids, including Thelymitra antennifera, Thelymitra rubra, Caladenia tentaculata and Microtis sp.

Thanks especially to Lola Both for her ongoing commitment to the site. While there have been times in the last year when Lola was unable to be with us, her guidance and support it greatly appreciated. Thanks to our regulars, Judy, Anne, Colin and Russell and also to our Kiwani friends, Phil, Bob and Chas, who diligently work at improving the appearance of the area, and are happy to range around the area on weed hunting missions.

Sadly Lola has told me that she won't be able to continue as project coordinator of this site, so please contact myself or one of the other committee members if you are interested in taking on this role.

Replaced seats
DEH replaced some tables and benches this year.

On behalf of the Committee

Wildflower Garden Annual Report 2008

Kiwanis lend a hand
Kiwanis removing some dead wood.
January 2008
After good autumn and winter rains (413.2mm to the end of August) the Garden has revived from its summer doldrums and even produced some seedling regrowth of its own. In July and early August, the creek ran and the ponds were full. The local springs are also contributing to the water flow in the Garden. The Group has been working hard on weed control during the last few months and while we have made inroads into them, there is still more work to be done. Bridal Creeper and Monadenia keep us on our toes.

Planting this year has been minimal because seed quality was not good during the dry spell. We did manage to put out about 130 new ones, which is well below our usual efforts. There are more in the pipeline for next year if the weather holds.

In June the Green Corps repaired our access from Addison Avenue, and the main path in the Garden covering the latter with pine chips. It has made a welcome improvement to walking conditions in the Garden.

Kiwanis finish the job
Kiwanis posing for the photo.
January 2008

Also in June, the Group, with other volunteers took part in a planting morning at HQ at Maryvale Road. 1,000 plants were laid out and all were placed in the area around the main building. Some helpers stayed for a sausage sizzle afterwards.

In July our liaison ranger, Tammy gave birth to a baby girl. Congratulations!!

I would like to thank all the volunteers who have supported the project at working bees during the year. Our "muscle men", Phil Smyth and Bob Elliott, the regular helpers, John, Colin, Russell, Ann and Judy. Unfortunately, during the year, Pam Kentish was obliged to give up as a volunteer for health reasons. Thank you, Pam for your efforts in the past. Some of the "regulars" have spent extra time during the week and I thank them for that.

Lola - Project Co-ordinator

Wild Flower Garden Annual Report 2007

The results of the 2006/2007 drought showed with quite a few losses of our plantings - even the weeds died off. Rain has revived the remaining plants, although several of the larger, older trees have succumbed, they could cause problems at a later date.

Kangaroos, which have moved in since the fire track gate has been opened, have done a good job of pruning - even killing - some of our plants.

The never ending battle with weeds continues - Bridal Creeper, wild Gladiolus, Freesias and the usual garden varieties - and keeps us busy.

The rust virus which has been introduced to attack Bridal Creeper had found its way into the vicinity, this may prove a blessing in time to come.

Our group members continue to support the project, as do our helpers from the Kiwanis, thanks to Bob and Phil and the other members.

Liaison ranger, Tammy has also been supportive and we thank her for her efforts.

We anticipate another year of sore knees, aching backs and dirty hands. What else would we do?

Lola - Project Coordinator.

2005 Wildflower Garden Report

First Aid demonstration
First Aid Demonstration.
20 May 2006
After a late start to our planting season, rain was loath to fall until June, the Group placed 900 seedlings in and around the Wildflower Garden. This was a great effort on everyone's part. A high percentage of these are alive and well at the time of writing, but who knows what the future will bring.

The area around the building is showing improvement, and several people familiar with native plants have commented favourable. On the other hand, we still get comments to the contrary.

The recent storm in October accounted for several of our large native pines, which is a great pity. These trees were quite a few years old and well grown and it will take some years before their replacements will grow to a similar size.

The creek ran again this winter and the ponds were full for some time. Severak brown ducks took advantage of the water. Run-off from the rain continues to be a problem along the main path from the back of the Garden to the street.

First Aid demonstration
What to do in case of snake bite.
20 May 2006

Bridal Creeper removal continues to be a focus at our working bees, and our efforts are showing results. The rust virus, which attacks bridal creeper, has been introduced into the surrounding areas, and we are anxiously waiting for the results. Sollya heterophylla is pounced on whenever we come across it and the problem is under control. Eradication will not occur while residents, whose property abut the park boundary, continue to grow it in their gardens. The biggest problems we have with weeds is the sour sobs, annual grasses and an interloper call Gladiolus undulatus, but what would we do if we did not have something to contend with?

Attendance at the working bees has been good, with out regulars being Ann, Judy, Pam, Colin, John and myself, and out two regular workers from the Athelstone Kiwanis, Bob and Phil. We appreciate the help we have received from Graham when we have needed a bit more muscle. I would also like to thank Colin for the extra help he has given me in the park during the week (at least once a week throughout this year) and his assistance with growing seedlings for plantings. Last but not least, our Liaison Ranger, Eric for his advice, help and cooperation during the period he has been with us.

All in all it has been a successful year, and hopefully next year will be the same.

Lola - Project Coordinator.

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2004 Wildflower Garden Report

This winter, our little creek ran a "banker" for a few days and it was quite exciting to stand on the bridge and hear and watch the water rushing along the watercourse. The was the most water I had seen in the creek since I began working here, 14 years ago. The frogs sang loudly and the 700 plus plants which we put out this year enjoyed the damp conditions.

The eternal struggle with alien species continues.

keep us busy when the planting is finished. We are making a concerted effort this year to remove the bridal creeper cladodes by hand and remove them from the site. Hopefully this will lessen the spread of the seeds. The "bridal creeper junkies" seem to get great satisfaction from doing this and we have carted away a surprising amount of material.

On the plus side, we have planted a number of rates species that are doing well, e.g.:

I have received excellent support from the Group. Colin has worked an extra day almost every week and also raised quite a number of seedlings and cuttings to add to the area. Ann is a regular contributor as are Pam and Arthur. Judy gets here kicks from digging up bridal creeper and John not only helps with the general tasks around the area but also takes magnificent photos of the flowers, plants and animals. Graham also lends a hand whenever it is needed. Thanks to Bryn and Eric for their assistance in the position of Liaison Rangers.

Lola - Project Coordinator.

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2003 Wildflower Garden Report

The sorcerer's apprentice
5 May 2002 Arthur carting water
to the plants put in
during the winter of 2001.
During the last summer, our dedicated 'bucket brigade' watered the previous season's plantings, which came through summer very well.

This year the Group has added 1120 plants to the area - a great effort. We have extended our planting to the creek banks and hope this will further enhance the appearance of the area and help to subdue the ever present weeds. The extra time given by Colin and Ann during the week made the effort possible. We have succeeded in introducing several of the more uncommon species to the area and hopefully, will be able to add others in the future.

Since planting finished, we have concentrated our efforts on weed control, mainly bridal creeper and gladiolus undulatus. By removing the cladodes and the bulbs, we hope to gain some measure of elimination of these intruders. Someone once said that a chihuaha, given time, could eat an elephant - and this is how we see the bridal creeper problem, but we keep chewing.

The use of the brush cutter has been a great help in dealing with the grassy weeds and the cut grass makes mulch for the plants.

During a working bee, one of the Group discovered two geckos, possibly a mating pair. These have been identified as 'Underwoodisauris milii' or the Thick Tailed Gecko. They are sometimes called 'barking geckos' because they emit a coughing sound when disturbed. They are one of the only three species of gecko found in the Adelaide Hills. We watched these strangely marked little creatures for a few moments and then left them to go about their business. Hopefully they will continue to live happily and productively in the Garden.

Also recently seen were two Beadred dragons and a Boobook owl, a flock of about twenty Yellow-tailed black cockatoos and on grey cat with a red collar.

I would like to thank the Friend's Group for their support during the year, also Bryn for liaison with Parks and especially by band of helpers, Ann, Judy, Colin, John and Arthur and look forward to another productive year in 2004.

Project Coordinator.

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Wildflower Garden Report - 2002

The group has worked hard again this year on both planting and weed control. A succulent species, which had been planted here previously and which had taken over several areas, can now said to be under control, with only occasional specimens found. Clematis vitalba, which was growing west of the building when the group began, and which had smothered any shrubs that were there, is now found in single specimens here and there in the area. When these "interlopers" are found they are dealt with immediately. Likewise Sollya heterophylla plants appear only occasionally in the Garden.

Our next target species is bridal creeper, and we are working on this in several ways. Where suitable, we dig the bulbs out; if the plant is flowering, we pull the stems from the ground to prevent seed set this year, and where practicable, we spray the plants. In this way, we hope to check the spread of seed and thus reduce the number of plants next year. Any regrowth will be treated appropriately as it appears.

Grassy weeds continue to thrive, but with the increase in native plant species, it is hoped they will gradually be reduced. Rice millet seems to be under control, and we have reduced the number of Gladiolus undulatus considerably. Unfortunately, Monadenia bracteata has become a very big problem outside the Garden and we may not be able to eradicate this pest plant.

The orchid population did not respond to the late, sparse rains and did not flower in their usual profusion. Flowers on plants such as Hardenbergia violacea, Astroloma conostephioides and Pultenaea largiflorens produced flowers with a greater depth of colour then usual. This, I have been told, can be due to very cold temperatures, which we had during winter.

Planting began as soon as the rains permitted and was finished by the end of June, to take advantage of all rainfall that became available. The difficult part will be keeping seedlings alive throughout the predicted long, dry summer. Hand watering will be a large part of our summer and autumn activities.

The Group has added 730 (round figure) plants this year, bringing our total to almost 4,500 since planting began in 1992. Not all have survived, but each one that has is a small victory. We are now seeing reproduction from some of our plantings, which is very satisfying.

I would like to thank all those who have supported the project this year, members of the Group, Athelstone Kiwanis and our Liaison Ranger, Bryn.

Project Co-ordinator

Wildflower Garden Report - 2001

Good autumn and winter rains enabled our planting to get under was early and we had finished by the end of July. With extra help during the week from some of te group, we were ale to add almost 1,000 plants to our previous total. Flowering has started and some of he showiest have been the acacias. Cheiranthera alternifolia (blue) and some of the native orchids. I would like to thank those who gave extra time planting.

National Parks and Wildlife SA have upgraded paths in the garden, sealing thos around the building with "Dustex" and spreading pine chips on most of the others. They have also replaced many of the old sleepers. This work has made a great difference to the appearance of the garden and made walking in the area much easier. Many visitors have commented favourably on the improvement.

During a recent working bee, a bearded dragon was sen warming itself on a tree trunk near the building. During the winter, two foxes were seen by the building and another in the quarry - all on the same day.

Some visitors to the park still interfere with the plants, which is very disappointing.

The group has benefited with the addition of several new members this year, and their input has been greatly appreciated.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the Friends Group who have supported me in the garden, and special thanks to Ann, who filled in for me on occassions while I was away. I would also like to thank members of National Parks and Wildlife Service SA for their support and Bryn, our Liaison Ranger. Last, but not least, thank you to our loyal supporters from the Athelstone Kiwanis.

Project Co-ordinator

Wildflower Garden Report - 2000

Filling tubes ready for planting
Filling tubes ready for propagating work.
March 2000

The new millennium has sen continued activity in the Wildflower Garden and beyond NPWS have remved some old trees and begun work on the paths.

Planting began in March with approximately 750 plants being put out in the garden, quarry and lake areas, making a total of 2,750 since we began work in the site. After very good rain plants look healthy and flowering has been good.

Recently, we received three compliments about the garden. One walker thanked us for keeping the garden alive! Two others said they found the area more interesting that an open garden they had paid to visit and another congratulated us on replanting the native vegetation.

Benches fitted with frames for shade cloth and watering have made plant propagation much easier this year. I would like to thank NPWS, Kingsley and Graham for their part in providing and setting up the benches. Next year, hopefully, more plants will be added to the area.

Filling tubes for plant propagation
Filling tubes for plant propagation.
March 2000

In February we welcomed Andy Warner as our Liaison Ranger but he will be moving on soon to new pastures. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf.

We have two new volunteers, Judy and Jean, who are helping us battle with the never ending weeds. Our Kiwani friends continue to support us in the war against Bridal Creeper and other pest plants as well as revegetation. Members continue to support the cause and I would like to thanks them all, along with members of NPWS.

Project Co-ordinator

Wildflower Garden Report - 1999

Once again this year has been another busy year in the project area. Good winter rains gave our 725 new plants a great start. Average spring rain will assure their well being through the summer.
Filling tubes for plant propagation
Filling tubes for plant propagation.
March 1999

Exotic species are gradually removed as others take their place. Pest plants are still keeping us busy and while most are dwindling in number, some seem to continue to thrive.

Regeneration from previous plantings is a reward in itself and the absence of rabbits, I'm sure has boosted plant survival.

Two new volunteers have joined our group, John and Arthur, and we are pleased to have them assist with the area. The Kiwanis have given their time again this year, for which we are very grateful. They are able to help with heavier work such as track maintenance. Members of the group have also given assistance, foremost being Graham and Ann. Thanks also to Ron Saers, Ranger Liaison Officer, and Lofty District for their support.

Project Co-ordinator

Wildflower Garden Report - 1997

We are now in the seventh year of the "Five Year" Management Plant and will continue for some years yet.

Filling tubes ready for planting
Filling tubes ready for propagating work.
March 1997

Some 270 plants have been added since April 1997 and hopefully there will be a good showing of flowers in spring.

Plant propagation is done by two of our members and this is a big job in itself.

Members of the group, and our regular volunteers from the Athelstone Kiwanis, have replaced some sections of the sleeper track edging and commenced some track rationalisation along with storm water control to reduce the velocity and volume of run off water which is causing surface erosion in many areas of the track system.

With the help of the Kiwanis, more plant posts have been placed along the walking trails and this will enable visitors to the area to identify plants by their botanical and common names.

We are endevouring to replant the indigenous vegetation that was removed when the garden was planted with non-endemic natives, 40 odd years ago.

Kiwanis replacing track edging
Kiwanis replacing track edging.
September 1997

Introduced plants such as Bridal Creeper, Gladiolus undulatus, Freesias, Cape Tulip, Clematis albida, Boneseed, Olives, African daisy, Sollya heterophylla (now Billardiera heterohylla), Modadenia bracteata and an introduced succulent need regular monitoring and control. DENR (now DEH) has agreed to install a drinking fountain for use by visitors and hopefully, this will be operational by summer and storm water erosion problems have been attended to.

Thanks to our liaison ranger Ron Saers, members of the Friends Group, and the Athelstone Kiwanis for their support during the year.

Project Co-ordinator

If you would like to contribute to our efforts or wish to obtain further information about this are please contact the project coordinator:-
Friends of Black Hill and Morialta Inc.

We hope you enjoy your visit to the Wildflower Garden.

Page last updated 17 January 2020
2019 Project Report added

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