Jenolan Caves

No Matter How Chaotic Life Is...

September 25, 2020

There’s a reason why September was chosen as ‘Biodiversity Month’ in Australia.  In a month when so many wildflowers seem to pop up out of nowhere, it’s natural to pause, if only for a moment, and think about the miraculous ‘web of life’ -  biodiversity. We depend on biodiversity for our sustenance, health, well-being and enjoyment of life.  Our ‘enjoyment of life’ is enhanced in Spring, by the uplifting sight of wildflowers. Delicate and often short-lived, wildflowers have come to symbolise joy, freedom and resilience. How many poets have compared beautiful women to wildflowers?  Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow said, “No matter how chaotic life is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.” 

But wildflowers do more than make life enjoyable.  They are vital to the environment, because they:

  • grow without any assistance,
  • don’t need fertilisers,
  • are perfectly suited to the soil and rainfall of the environment in which they appear,
  • are not prone to disease,
  • don’t attract the pests that introduced plants often attract,
  • are an intrinsic part of the food chain for insects and animals,
  • enhance forage conditions for grazing animals,
  • are vital for pollination,
  • are a highly attractive food source for pollinating insects, which in turn are food for birds and animals, and
  • have root systems that help stabilise the soil, prevent erosion and reduce the impact of drought.

Lithgow Mercury 7 September 1900

As you travel to Jenolan, especially along the Jenolan Caves Road, you will see wildflowers throughout Spring.

When people think of Jenolan, they think of caves.  But Jenolan is located in a huge nature reserve, teeming with flora and fauna. In Spring, wildflowers brightly illustrate biodiversity in a natural environment, particularly along the McKeown’s Valley Track.

As you stroll along Jenolan’s bushwalks, you are welcome to linger, admire and photograph the wildflowers.  But please don’t pick them, because all native plants, including wildflowers, are protected by law. 

Sydney Morning Herald 4 August 1927

Since European occupation, land clearing, livestock, and urban development, altered fire and grazing patterns, and the introduction of weeds, feral animals and diseases have affected many native plant species, including wildflowers. More than 60 Australian plant species are now thought to be extinct, and over 1,180 are threatened.

This problem was recognised in the early 1900s.  On 1 July 1927, the NSW government introduced the Wild Flowers and Native Plants Protection Act 1927, making it illegal in NSW to pick, dig up, destroy, remove any native plant or any part thereof. In 2000, the Australian Government brought in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which has been updated many times.  NSW also has the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. So wildflowers can thrive in safety, while we revel in their colours and enjoy all the allure of Spring. 

Famous British actress, Julie Andrews, once wrote “Wildflowers – I envy them.  They’re brave. Seeds cast by the wind to land where they may, they stay and hold against most hot, most cold.  They persevere, roots shallow, yet fierce and free. They epitomize to me all that I sometimes yearn to be.”  

Here is a selection of wildflowers that you might spot at Jenolan right now, on the McKeown’s Valley Track:

Brachyscome spathulata - native daisy
 
Native indigo - Indigofera australis
Rock Orchids or Rock Lilies - Dendrobium Speciosum
 
Native Geranium
Prickly stalwart and bee mimic fly
 
Prickly stalwarts
Wildflower Photos by Dr Anne Musser.


Sources:

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/24293823

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/1205733

https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/act-1927-2

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/biodiversity/overview-of-biodiversity-reform

https://www.turfonline.co.uk/blog/why-are-wildflowers-important-to-the-environment/

 

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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911
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