Today I was assigned to the Botanists team AKA “The Plant Pickers”. We travelled to very remote site via helicopter, landed at the top of a gorge and climbed down to find an almost tropical landscape. In choosing this site, the botanist team looked for an area in which the landscape was quite flat but then intercepted with a gorge – creating a unique pocket in which water is held and providing a great stable and protected environment for plants to grow. Arriving at the bottom of the gorge, the first task was to decide which area was most suitable to study. Being in Wilinggin Country, we were assisted by a Traditional Owner of the land who helped us to survey the area and decide if it was ok for us to study.

At the bottom of the gorge was a dried water course, which in the wet season would be filled with rapid moving water. We trekked down the water course over small boulders and were surrounded by rock faces on either side. It was a a magical place and a privilege to be on Wilinggin Country.

I worked with the botanists to collect specimens from the site. The specimens collected needed to contain either a flower, fruit, nut or seed as well as leaves. If not, it is considered a “sterile” specimen. Each collection then needed to be pressed into a wooden press. The specimens were labelled and the site details were recorded including the habitat in which it was found. A section of leave was also taken for DNA sequencing. It was then placed between two sheets of newspaper and a layer of cardboard and then added to the wooden press.
The botanical team included Shelley James, Ben Anderson and Adrienne Markey who all had different interest areas of study. Ben was focussed on grass species and Adrienne was concerned with habitat types in which the plants grew, as well aquatic plants.

After several hours in the field, we climbed out of the gorge to the helicopter site and headed back to base camp. Following dinner, the arachnologists took us into the bush for a late night spider hunt.