Meet 2017 Team of Murdoch Branch

The last AGM at Murdoch Branch resulted in the election of a new group of enthusiastic Murdoch Branch Committee Members. With a few changes along the way our current committee is: President: Christine Allen, Vice-President: Diana Corbyn, Secretary: Sheree Walter, Treasurer: Mathew Woods, General Committee Members: Felicity Bairstow, Gus King, Ross Young, and Eddy Wajon. Let’s introduce you to the team:

Dr Christine Allen has been a life-long plant-lover and spent her childhood exploring the second-oldest National Park in the world, the Royal National Park in NSW. The weird and wonderful diversity of plants in the southwest of WA drew her to Perth where she completed a PhD at UWA with DPaW on threatened flora in the Stirling Range National Park. Christine is now an active advocate for conservation and sustainability. Favourite plant: Banksia coccinea.

Diana Corbyn has served as Branch President through three terms, has been a Vice President and a committee member throughout the life of the branch. Since she became a lecturer at South Metropolitan TAFE’s Murdoch Campus in 1991 she continually enthuses her love and knowledge of the local flora in hearts and minds of the students she teaches. In 1998 she initiated the wildflower walks and has continued to this day. Come on out this year and meet Diana at Wireless Hill, Orelia or Samson Park.

Sheree Walters joined Murdoch committee for the first time, few weeks after our AGM (Welcome!), and she took bravely on a responsible role of secretary. Sheree grew up in the wheatbelt region of Western Australia with a passion for the environment and natural landscapes. After completing a Bachelor degree in Environmental Science in 2014, Sheree has recently returned to Curtin University to undertake a PhD in restoration genetics of native flora. She is particularly interested in landscape ecology and the importance of biodiversity – including plants, animals, insects and fungi – in both natural and restored landscapes.

Mathew Woods is our fantastic treasurer. Mat works in the Bushland’s and Wetland’s of Perth. Mat has a Love of all plant life but especially WA natives. He is particularly fascinated by the food plants and prehistoric flora. He was exposed to the native plants very early while camping in the Jarrah forest and surrounding regions and could not get enough. This fascination led him to study Conservation and Land Management at the Challenger Institute of Technology. In his spare time Mat enjoys practicing traditional bushman skills.

Felicity Bairstow (ex McGeorge) calls herself a life long nature nerd from country WA. She has spent the last 20 or so years working to conserve bushland and wetlands south of the Swan river here in Perth. A lot of that time went into the long campaign to protect the North Lake Reserve from Roe Highway Stage 8. She is now a co-convenor of the Community Wildlife Corridor group which has the vision of transforming the now partially cleared road reserve into a wildlife corridor and trail for people to enjoy and learn about the amazing plants, animals and culture of this area. Felicity served on the Murdoch committee many years ago and is very pleased to be back on Committee and dealing with much more pleasant aspects of plant conservation.

Ross Young is fresh out of uni, having graduated from Curtin University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology. Don’t let that fool you, though – he’s longer in the tooth than you think, as uni followed a 27-year jaunt with Commonwealth Bank (and an accounting degree). Ross has a keen interest in plant ecology (and birds) and Western Australian plants (and birds), in particular – and has always been interested in the natural world around him. As a kid, he learnt (from his Mum) the pleasure to be had from being able to recognise (and name) the plants (and birds) in the garden (which, even then, included native plants). Banksias are probably his favourite plants (especially Banksia coccinea and Banksia ilicifolia) but, if pressed, he’ll still admit to a lingering fondness for roses.

Dr Eddy Wajon loves nature – whether it be chemical, botanical or zoological, he loves beauty in all its forms. He’s been called a disrupter – challenging the status quo, thinking outside the box, trying to be different, and generally annoying those in power and supposed leadership positions. However, he tries to be creative, inclusive, contributory and a force for positive change.

Angus (Gus) King, like Eddy, loves the beauty and magic of nature, especially our native trees. Other than recognising their beauty and threatened status he knows little about native plants but can still actively contribute to preserving them for future generations. He originally studied geology but more by accident than design had a career in IT. His real passion is renewable energy and even though retired he probably still spends too much time on his computer helping to bring about its adoption rather than learning those plant names.

Come and say Hi!

LIKE US and See more updates on our MURDOCH BRANCH FACEBOOK PAGE.

May Management Update Now Available

The most recent monthly update from the Management Committee is now also available on our website, access exclusively for Members only. Log in to the Members area and then the tab ‘Management Committee Updates.’ If you have any difficulties logging in to the system, please email our volunteer administrator at – we can reset your password, give you a simpler password, or guide you through the log-in procedure.

WA Semi-Advanced Identification Workshop

On the 5th of August the Murdoch Branch of the Wildflower Society will be running a workshop on more advanced methods of plant identification. Details follow.

Where: WA Reference Herbarium, WA Conservation Science Centre
17 Dick Perry Avenue, Kensington.

When:   8 am – 5 pm


  • Morning: detailed instruction on key characteristics to examine and dissect to identify 6-8 specific plant genera such as Hibbertia, Melaleuca, Acacia, Gastrolobium, Thryptomene, Baeckea, Scholtzia, Aluta, Micromyrtus, Thysanotus, Asteracea, Poacea
  • Afternoon: walk in local bushland to practice identification skills
  • 5 instructors present to assist
  • Microscopes, scalpels and forceps supplied

Who:      Wildflower Society members have 1st preference.  Basic plant knowledge assumed


  • $80 Wildflower Society Members
  • $100 Non-members
  • Morning/afternoon tea included
  • Attendees to bring own lunch

How:      Contact: Wildflower Society

  • Email:
  • Phone: 9383 7979 (24 hour telephone)
  • Office hours: 10 am – 2.30 pm
    Tuesday and Thursday only
  • Website:

RSVP:   Friday 28 July 2017

NOTE:   Numbers limited to 20.  Reference Herbarium has strict quarantine rules regarding exclusion of food and plant material

Bob Cooper and the Bush Tucker Talk

This Thursday the Murdoch branch of the wildflower society will be hosting Bob Cooper an outback survival instructer from right here in WA.

For over 30 years Bob Cooper has honed his survival skills by learning from many traditional cultures.

His experiences include living for extended periods with Aboriginal people in our Western Desert, sharing bushcraft abilities with the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana also with the Lakota Sioux Indians in Dakota and jungle time with the Orang Asli people in Malaysia.

His roles have included instructing the Special Forces Units, conducting survival courses throughout Australia, lecturing with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service on survival in the Mexican Desert and delivering wilderness survival lessons in Malaysia and the UK.

Bob has also organised many projects throughout Australia, from social adventures with movie stars and other international celebrities to personal development courses for Youth at Risk.

In 2000 National Geographic America filmed Bob conducting his advanced survival courses in the television series True Survivors which featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. More recently he has participated in two documentaries with the BBC in the UK and a feature segment on 60 Minutes in Australia.

Bob’s long term commitment to protecting and enhancing the enjoyment of people venturing or working in the Australian bush, won his Outback Safety and Survival Course the prestigious Excellence in Safety Training Award, from the State chapter of the Safety Institute of Australia in 1996.

Over the years Bob has gained a vast knowledge of Australian plants used for food, medicine and as foraging/hunting tools – this knowledge is what he will be sharing with the wildflower Society in June.

Bobs survival courses are well organised and highly educational, combining modern and traditional survival techniques as well, as the psychological factors of being in a survival situation. Bobs courses will provide the invidual with the knowledge and skill to safely and respectfully deal with survival situations when they happen.

More about Bob Cooper on his web site


Source: E-mail correspondance with Bob Cooper.


Nature Expo for Kids

The Educational Sub-Committee has been investigating different approaches to foster children’s interest in the bush (see Andrew Price’s  ‘Connecting Kids’ on this website).  We would like to invite you to bring your children and grandchildren to our inaugural Nature EXPO, at which we are offering activities designed to engage your children and prompt their curiosity and creativity through interaction and play with our amazing native bushland.

It will be held on Sunday July 9, 2017, at the Henderson Environmental Centre, in North Beach. Registration starts 10.30am; we conclude at 3.30pm. We encourage everyone to bring a picnic lunch, as there is no kiosk on-site. We plan to run seven nature experiences concurrently, over three, one-hour sessions. The children can choose which three they’d like to attend. Participation in each workshop is limited, ages from 7-16 (– ish).


More information on our Events calendar – link here.

Members Only Event !

Well known eucalyptus experts Dean Nicolle and Malcolm French this evening!  Dean Nicolle has two popular titles recently published:  Taller Eucalypts for Planting in Australia: Their Selection, Cultivation and Management and also Smaller Eucalypts for Planting in Australia: Their Selection, Cultivation and Management and Malcolm French, whose most recent very popular book is also available from the Society, Eucalypts of Western Australia’s Wheatbelt have agreed to give a talk on their work and latest publications to the membership.

This is a Members Only event – details on the Members Only website page – link here.  If you are having trouble logging in, or are a member and would like the details emailed to you, please email for help!

ANPSA 2018 Conference – Registrations Now Open!

The Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) Inc. (ANSPA) presents a national conference every two years, in conjunction with the ANPSA Biennial General Meeting. These rotate through the 6 states & the ACT.  Tasmania is to be the host in January 2018 which enables access to flowering alpine flora.

Conference Theme: Grass Roots to Mountain Tops, depicted in the logo with Themeda, the grass roots, and the recognisable mountain tops shaping the map of Tasmania.
Dates: 15-19 January 2018
Venue: Hobart – Wrest Point
Pre-post conference Tours: A selection of tours are being planned to King Island and to alpine and rainforest areas of the Tasmanian mainland.

More information:  The 2018 Conference website – link here.  Registrations are now open – link here.

Programme:  Download the programme which shows registration details and critical dates:  ANPSA Hobart Conference 2018 – Program

Come and Learn about WA Native Community

DPaW invites you to attend the Banksia Woodland Management Workshop on Friday 16th June 2017 from 10am – 4.30pm at the McNamara Conservation Science Centre, Department of Parks and Wildlife (17 Dick Perry Avenue, Kensington, WA). SEE VENUE CHANGE BELOW

Department of Parks and Wildlife is planning a packed program with 21 speakers giving 5, 15 and 20-minute talks for community and professional land managers of Banksia woodland. One of the speakers is the patron of Murdoch Branch Dr Joe Fontaine. Joe will also talk on outcomes of PhD project undertaken by one of his student Pawel Waryszak. Pawel and Joe spent 4 years surveying and analysing the outcomes of multiple experimental treatments in the restoration project that utilized  topsoil salvaged from under cleared Banksia woodland at the Jandakot Airport. The topsoil, that contains large native seed bank, was transferred to two restoration sites, at Anketell Road and Forrestdale Lake, with aim to rehabilitate degraded paddock. Come, learn and show your support for this unique WA ecological community.

The workshop is planned to start with an overview of Banksia woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain and more details about its very recent federal listing as a threatened ecological community. Parks and Wildlife staff will then share outcomes from five years of the Banksia Woodland Restoration Project, as well as research on fire recovery and weed management. To follow, sessions will showcase studies from respected academics and researchers on the topics of dieback, groundwater, genetics, fire, and fauna, and feature case studies of Banksia woodland management from local government and community perspectives. An opportunity for informal discussion will follow. The workshop is a free event with lunch, afternoon tea and refreshments provided but registration is critical.

On Tuesday 20th June 2017 (10am – 12 noon),  Parks and Wildlife staff offers also a guided tour to Banksia woodland restoration site at Anketell Road in Oakford (self-drive).

To register, contact Julia Cullity at or on 9442 0320 (please indicate whether you will be attending the workshop, field trip or both). Registrations close Friday 2nd June 2017.


Due to a huge response of interest, we have changed the venue of the Banksia Woodland Management Workshop.

  • Banksia Woodland Management Workshop
  • The University Club of Western Australia, UWA
  • 9.45–4.30pm Friday 16 June 2017

Parking may be limited. Additional free parking at Parks and Wildlife Crawley office is available 1km from the venue. Please see reception for a parking permit.

Please confirm that you can make this change of venue. And if you haven’t already responded, please let me know if you have any special dietary requirements and if you would like to attend the post-conference field trip on Tuesday 20 June 2017.


Julia Cullity

Community Bushland Coordinator

P: 9442 0320| M: 0400 017 977| E:

Newsletter now available – Members Only

The Wildflower Society of WA newsletter (May 2017, Vol 55 No 2) has now been published electronically.  Members who have elected to receive electronic copies of the newsletter have been notified.  The printed newsletter should be posted to those who have requested a hard copy (no green discount) mid May.

You may view the newsletter online by going to the ‘Members’ tab at the top of the page, then ‘Newsletters’ at the side of the page.  If you are having trouble logging in, it may be that your membership is overdue.  Please ring Perry House to enquire during office hours, or email at any time.  You can set up your membership online (which will be activated when payment processed) or ring the office to use your credit card.

Front cover: Wilson Nature Reserve, Warradarge.  Photo J Keeble.

Western Australian Fossil Plants and Climate

Dr Ken McNamara, University of Cambridge was guest speaker for Armadale Branch meeting in April 2017.

Ken began his talk by stressing the importance of looking at the nature of rocks and fossil plants in helping to understand past climates. In particular they have helped show that over the last half a billion years, the Earth has experienced long periods of alternating ‘Greenhouse’ and ‘Icehouse’ worlds. During the former, CO2 levels and global temperature were much higher than in the current ‘Icehouse’ world we inhabit.

Ken’s talk centred on two fossil plant sites, both of which have only received preliminary studies. One, dated at about 130 million years old (Cretaceous Period) is near Kalbarri. The other, about 40 million years old, is at Walebing, east of Moora. They are very different from one another in that the older site near Kalbarri contains plants living before the advent of flowering plants. The fossils show that the area was dominated by ferns (about 40% of the flora), including gleicheniacean, dipteridacean and osmundacean types. The rest of the flora was mainly arauraciacean conifers (25%) and an extinct group, the seed ferns (25%). The rest are forms yet to be identified. Some of the seed ferns are similar to fossils found in India, which was close to Australia at this time. While much of the fossil plant material is leaves and broken branches, there are a number of seeds and also frequent seed scales from the conifers.

Like this Cretaceous flora, the younger 40 million-year-old (Eocene Epoch) Walebing site preserves the fossils as impressions in very silicified sandstones. These rocks are known as silcretes and reflect formation at a time when the climate was much wetter and warmer than today, despite being located at much higher latitudes than now (55°–60°), with pronounced seasonality. The fossils are very common and reflect a very diverse flora, dominated by proteaceans, such as banksia, grevillea and possibly macadamia. The very diverse array of banksia leaf types show biodiversity levels were high even at this time, and probably had been on the nutrient-poor soils for tens of millions of years before, back into late Cretaceous times.

As well as these sclerophyllous plants the flora also contains rainforest elements, such as the Southern Antarctic beech, Nothofagus and many myrtaceous leaves that resemble modern rainforest types. Araucareaceans are still present, as well as casuarina-type fruiting bodies, including some types present today only in rainforests in eastern Australia and New Caledonia.

Study of the leaves of one of the banksia species, B. paleocrypta, shows that it has sunken stomata, suggesting that it was preadapted for the drying out of the Australian continent that has occurred over the last 25 million years or so. The rainforest elements have disappeared from WA, leaving only those forms, such as the proteaceans, that were preadapted to both the nutrient-deficient soils and the seasonal periods of low water availability.

In his closing comments, Ken pointed out that much more work needs to carried out on these floras. This will help provide a better understanding of the evolution of the rich flora that we see in Western Australia today.

Nothofagus and Banksia leaves, Walebing (Photo: K. McNamara)
Kalbarri fern, Microphyllopteris (Photo: K. McNamara)