A Brief History of Bathurst Vegetation
The landscape of the region had been actively managed by the indigenous Wiradjuri people for millennia before European settlement. The people understood the landscape and its vegetation and many plants were used as resources to sustain a successful and vibrant culture.
Although detailed descriptions of the vegetation of the region at the time of European settlement are sketchy, it is generally accepted to have been dominated by Grasslands and Woodlands with widely spaced trees of mixed ages. Shrubs were sparse, although more prevalent in moist areas. Grasses and herbs were very prominent with a great diversity of species.
The settlement at the current site of Bathurst was established in 1815. Land clearance for grazing and agriculture and timber harvesting for cooking, construction and mining rapidly brought about dramatic changes to the landscape and vegetation of the region.
In the early days of the settlement, the limited availability of water restricted horticulture largely to market gardening and cropping on the river flats, but as the region became more affluent, ornamental horticulture and particularly the introduction of European trees became popular, to make the landscape look more familiar to the new migrants.
The population grew rapidly through the later half of the nineteenth century, on the back of successful wool production on the river flats and to a range of mining activities throughout the region. Bathurst Council commenced its tree planting program in 1871 and in 1886 it became the first country town with a piped water supply. So began the development of urban gardens and public parklands for recreational use.
The twentieth century saw land subdivision in Bathurst and the surrounding villages, and across the rural landscape. In rural areas, tree clearance continued on the productive lands, leaving only scattered remnants of native vegetation. By contrast, in the urban areas, native vegetation was largely replaced by a diverse range of exotic plants and has resulted in an urban forest with many more trees and shrubs than would have been present prior to non-indigenous settlement.
Australian native plants come in all shapes & sizes and play a number of important roles in Australia. They provide food and shelter for native birds and animals, stabilise our soils and waterways, are tolerant of our extreme climatic conditions and require very little water to thrive, compared to most exotic plant species. As well, native plants can be attractive specimens in your garden and in streets and parks. The planting of native plants helps to maintain and protect the distinctive Australian landscape. They can also help to link pockets of native vegetation that have become isolated by residential and rural development and play a vital role in maintaining the quality of Australia’s land and water resources.