A prophecy from an early conservationist
‘So many people think that Sydney is N.S.W. and the narrow fringe of well-watered coast is Australia. They are an integral part, but what a tiny part only time will show.’9
In 1994, just one year after Althofer’s death the relict Wollemia nobilis was discovered in the Wollemia National Park in the Blue Mountains, 200 km west of Sydney. David Noble a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Officer who was on a recreational trek and abseiling trip with friends, found a grove of unusual looking trees in a deep canyon and brought back samples for investigation. The majestic conifer was previously known only as a fossil so has aptly been dubbed the dinosaur tree. It is one of the world’s oldest and rarest tree species – the only genus left of the 200 million year-old plant family, Araucariaceae. In 2000, a few short years later, The Wollemia National Park became one of the eight parts of the Greater Blue Mountains Area to be awarded inclusion to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list. Wollemia nobilis was named after the place it was found and David Noble. It is now available commercially.
'To me it seems that any great National Garden must be situated on the Western side of the Dividing Range for no other part of Australia can grow so many genera of our plants and grow them so well.’10
When Althofer wrote about the location of Nindethana Nursery and where later the Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum would be situated, he did not know such an important discovery to the world, such as the Wollemia Pine, would be made in such close proximity – just 150km's away in the mountainous area to the east.
‘A more observant person in some isolated spot may see an unusual flower and so one day there is a small package in the post addressed to Nindethana. Sometimes it is a plant rare in those parts but common in others. If that is so no harm is done and curiosity satisfied. On the other hand the specimen may be something very rare indeed…none of these people to my mind are ever thanked adequately, but we can only hope that the joy of seeing a rare plant going into many gardens and to sanctuaries may be a greater reward than mere words.’11
From left to right; Grevillea banksii forsterii, Eucalyptus stricklandi, Eucalyptus sepulcralis.12