A public garden in Port Augusta, SA, offers an authentic snapshot of its outback surrounds.

Story Gretel Sneath   Photos Robert Lang 

When the English Commander Matthew Flinders mapped the SA coastline in 1802, he wrote of “low banks covered with mangroves” along a serpentine inlet he named ‘Spencer’s Gulph’. The sloop HMS Investigator was well equipped for scientific observations, and voyage botanist Robert Brown documented the vegetation he encountered during a two-day land expedition in the later-named Southern Flinders Ranges. 

Port Augusta’s Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden contains many of the species discovered during that history-making voyage, with the 250ha site located close to where the British explorers camped well over two centuries ago. “At Red Cliff Lookout, we’ve included a lot of the plants that they collected from the shoreline to the top of Mount Brown. Nothing gets planted there other than what was originally listed in their diaries,” head gardener Ryan Hayward says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #134

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2021