Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First comments on flora

The Gardens area has many interesting and beautiful flowers - the reason it was given its name. Yes, I know it's not very original, but you have to admire the almost defiant lack of imagination in names like "Big Lagoon!"

The picture above is a Mosquito Orchid (Acianthus pusillus) and is from the Key to Tasmanian Vascular Plants at the University of Tasmania. This orchid, and many others can be found down around the lightly treed area along the Old Gardens Road, more glamorously known as the Tip Road.

The secret to finding it, is to look along the verges of the road or other slightly open areas for the small heart shaped leaves which are clearly visible in the photo above. Believe it or not it's easier to find them, and then notice the flowers which blend pretty well into the background.

Happily, the "mosquito" part of the plant name refers to the shape of the flower, not to any prevalence of that insect!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where is The Gardens House?


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The Gardens is an area smack in the middle of the Bay of Fires. The Gardens House is in the area known as "on the bank." This was the last area made available for housing at The Gardens. The other area is known as "through the gate," which refers to the fact that those blocks are reached by going through The Gardens Farm, run by the Tuckers.

The Gardens lies at the end of the road north from St Helens. Take the C850 out of St Helens and turn left onto the C848 to The Gardens. The whole distance is about 15km from St Helens. The road is sealed now, which makes for a smoother trip, but do take it easy - the corners come up a bit faster than expected, and there is plenty of wildlife who believe they have a prior claim to the roadway!

Over the years, I have seen many small wallabies, echidnas and large lizards all taking a leisurely stroll along the road. But the wildlife is another story, one for next year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Abalone


Tasmanian Abalone is known by the scientific name of Haliotis ruber, and that's about enough of that! The image above comes from Tasmanian Wild Seafood, and lets face it, that's the way most of us relate to abalone.

The rocky point to the north of The Gardens House has abalone and crayfish and you can get to them by the most modest form of skindiving. A couple of words of caution:
If all that sounds a bit like hard work, Bay of Fires Dive can make it happen for you without any fuss. They also hire out scuba gear and do tank fills. They're located in Binalong Bay, between the Gardens House and St Helens.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gardens Granite


One of the most characteristic features of The Gardens area is Gardens Granite, now called Gardens Granodiorite. It is this stone which provides the grey backdrop on which the contrasting orange lichen grows. Some tourists from San Diego told me that the lichen is a good indicator of water quality - they have not seen it in San Diego for some years.

The Gardens Granite plus the white sand are the dominant geology of the area. Soil is not deep and close to the beach is pretty much non existant. At The Gardens house, my parents grew vegetables in pots in a small glass house.

I've added a link to the official Stratigraphic entry on this stone. It's not the most rivetting piece of prose, but it's yet more evidence of the unique nature of The Gardens area.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcome to The Gardens in the Bay of Fires


The recent nomination by Lonely Planet of Tasmania's Bay of Fires as one of the hottest travel destinations on earth has prompted me to start this blog.

I grew up in Tasmania, and visited that area many times. Friends of ours had a shack at St Helens, and my parents had always wanted to live around there, when they retired. The opportunity came along for them to get a block of land at The Gardens so they bought it without even seeing the block - how could you go wrong?

This is the view from the back of the house they built, looking to the north at the granite headland nearby. There's crayfish and abalone on those rocks and its a popular fishing place as well.