Australian Botanic Garden & A Scavenger Hunt Twenty-Two Years in the Making: Week 174

Grevillea paradoxa flower and bee: Australian Botanical Garden

Grevillea paradoxa

In 1992 anything I needed to know could be found in my set of World Book Encyclopedias. In the pre-internet days, my encyclopedias were a carefully curated fountain of knowledge that my parents didn’t need to monitor. Naughty buzzwords like ‘penis’ only ended in disappointment once redirected to the ironically sterile ‘reproductive system.’

Sometimes my dad would use the encyclopedias to create spontaneous educational lessons. There was something about the sight of 21 gilded volumes sitting on a shelf that tickled his fancy at the most inopportune time.

“Stephanie, what is unique about the Liberty Bell?” My dad would ask, clasping the black hardbound cover in his hands.

“I don’t… know.” I replied. It was evening and I was snuggled under a blanket in the downstairs lounge. My peripheral vision was glued to the Sesame Street movie flashing in front of me.

Think about what I read. How is it different from a new bell?”

“It’s… shiny?”

“Stop watching that TV! Here- give me the remote!”

Queensland silver wattle yellow flower: Australian Botanical Garden

Queensland silver wattle

Other times my mom used the encyclopedias to segue into topics such as plagiarism. This usually happened when I was writing school projects. I was completely nonplussed at the idea of getting in trouble for doing homework.

“Well,” my mom explained, “plagiarism means you can’t just write everything you see in the book.” I thought maybe she meant all of my sentences just had to be shorter than the ones in the book.

If I could go anywhere I would go to australia. This is the australian flag. I want to see soom australian animals like the salt water crocodile, a dingo, a koala. a Tiger Quail, a wombat, a cuscus and some plats like the ghost gum.

Looking back at my second grade Australia report, I definitely had my World Book Volume A at my side. Aside from ride an ostrich, (blame my South African mom for this erroneous inclusion) my Australian flora list read like a data table of native plant species.

Forest red gum peeling bark: Australian Botanical Garden

Forest red gum

They were the kind of plants that not even botanists get excited about; I know this because I went to the Australian Botanical Garden to find them. Of all the trees and bushes on my list, only the forest red gum was apparently important enough for a large sign.

Orange thorn bush: Australian Botanical Garden

Orange thorn bush

The Fruit Loop was one of the walks at the Australian Botanic Garden which contained a lot of interesting fruiting plants that definitely were too exciting for my seven-year-old self. The orange thorn bush had berries like miniature oranges. Unlike their namesake, the sweetness of the fruit and the bitterness of the rind were inseparable. After eating a few of them, the back of my throat was as dry as a cotton swab.


The old man saltbush was the hardest one to find. I enlisted the help of both the nursery volunteer and the visitor center to find the location of the elusive plant. The center’s computer eventually prevailed and I was led to a flower bed on the outskirts of an inflatable jump house and a kid’s birthday party. A metal dog tag clasped around one of its stems identified the plant by its scientific name.

Old man satlbush green leave: Australian Botanical Garden

Old man saltbush

I found a Grevillea striata grafted onto a Grevillea robusta, which was also on my list, so that kind of counted as two trees.

Grevillea striata: Australian Botanical Garden

Grevillea striata

The ghost gum and the snow gum were both in the park, but they just weren’t labeled. As this was a scientific journey, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t tell these two apart from each other nor from the red gums. I took photos of pretty flowers instead.

Sturts desert pea, red flowers with a black center: Australian Botanical Garden

Sturts desert pea

I know for a fact that the bonya pine grows on top of one of the tallest hills in the park, however I only learned this after missing the turn and riding my bike down the steep hill. A part of me wanted to traipse back up, but the other part just couldn’t be bothered. Barret sided with the lazier part of me.

The only plant I didn’t bother looking for was the karriatuarra jarrah. It doesn’t exist on Google, so I didn’t have a hope in hell of finding it at the botanic garden.

At the end of the day, I might make a terrible botanist but I will eventually see this list through. My second grade teacher would be so proud.


Dry grassy field at the Australian Botanical Garden

How to get to the Australian Botanic Garden: Narellan Road, Mt Annan NSW 2567

Eveleigh Markets – Week 126

Billy Kwong food cart at the Eveleigh Markets: Sydney, Australia

“I chose the wallaby tail for you,” Barret said with a mischievous look. “It was either that or the rice cake with macadamia nuts and crushed crickets.”

“Wow, ok. What are you trying?”

“The steamed pork bun.”

I think Barret missed the point.

For the last few years Chef Kylie Kwong has been introducing restaurant-goers to sustainable, quality food- the kind that’s locally sourced and underutilized. Her menu includes native plants like Coorong bower spinach, warrigal greens and quandongs alongside Chinese staples like dumplings and silken tofu. She also sources carbon-neutral meat like wallaby, which is raised using 70-90% less water than sheep or cows.

No matter what you order at Kylie Kwong’s weekend food cart (named Billy Kwong), you are bound to get something delicious. Although, the same could be said for everything else sold Saturday morning at the Eveleigh Markets.

The moustachioed purveyor of buffalo milk gelato at the Eveleigh Markets: Sydney, Australia

The award-winning produce market somehow made shopping for parsley and cauliflower cool. In need of Portobello mushrooms? Go talk to the hip young Aussies who looked they had just docked their sailboat to rescue an injured puppy on the wharf. Looking for a sweet treat? Try the moustachioed purveyor of buffalo milk gelato.

Flowers for sale at the Eveleigh Markets: Sydney, Australia

Even the freshly cut flowers on sale were a unique mix of floral arrangement staples and distinctly Australian offerings. I particularly loved the velvety red stalk of the kangaroo paw.

When our grocery bags were completely full, the four of us headed to the onsite café. Cornerstone was a bright, airy corner of an old brick railway workshop built in the late 1800s. The massive structure not only housed the café but also multiple art venues. If that doesn’t sound appetizing enough, I can personally vouch for the tastiness of the flat whites and the comfortable leather couches. Just don’t ask me if they use organic milk.

Cornerstone Cafe inside the Carriageworks building: Sydney, Australia

How to get to the Eveleigh Markets & Cornerstone: 243 Wilson St, Darlington NSW 2008 (near Redfern Station). Markets are open every Saturday from 8am to 1pm.

About: Kylie Kwong

Wellington Botanic Gardens: Week 69

It might have only been a short distance from the retail shops on Lambton Quay, but as the cable car made its first stop at Talavera Terrace, Barret and I were suddenly transported to a quiet hillside suburb filled with green gardens.

Tring tring.

I have been thinking about how to describe the Botanic Gardens, but I am sure you have already seen some form of vegetation in your life. Just imagine what that looks like, multiply it, and don’t forget to include beautiful weather. It just happened to be one of those rare sunny Wellingtonian days that motivate people to go outdoors and enjoy the lush green winter foliage. Truthfully, it is a little difficult to find something to write about when everything went according to plan.

We set up our meal amongst the thorny spindles of a cactus garden because it felt vaguely reminiscent of home and shared swigs from a water bottle filled with sauvignon blanc. Our food was delicious and surprisingly enough I didn’t drop any of it on myself. Once again the stars had aligned and there was nothing disastrous to report- except… a barefoot woman tiptoed past us, supported by the arm of her date. I know, right? After lunch we stumbled out of the cacti garden and followed the winding path down the hill.

The last garden we passed through before reaching city center was the Bolton Street Memorial park; an old cemetery for the early Wellington colony. The weather-worn marble tombstones were sprouting soft tufts of green moss and looked completely out of place straddling a busy highway.

By the time we reached the end of a pedestrian bridge the alcohol had worn off and I was thinking about my new job starting the following morning. Since we were in the vicinity, Barret and I walked past the building and counted up ten floors to where my desk was waiting for me. It might not be interesting to write about days that run smoothly, but I really hoped Monday morning would be as unexceptional and well-run as our picnic.

How to get to the Botanic Gardens:

There are many entrances to the Garden including from Glenmore Street, Salamanca Road, Upland Road and the Cable Car. The only public vehicle access is through Centennial entrance on Glenmore Street.

Wellington Cable Car:

The line runs between Cable Car Lane (near Lambton Quay & Grey St) and the Botanic Gardens (at the end of Upland Road).

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