15.02.19 – day one at Australian PlantBank

I woke up early after a less than restful night’s sleep – much like the first day of school I had some pre-visit jitters keeping me up. I was off to the PlantBank for the first time, one of the sole reasons I’m in this country! Though it is a part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, I was heading west to Mount Annan, where the newer branch of the gardens calls home.

The train ride was easy enough, and once again I’m so so thankful to have chosen an apartment so close to a major station without even realizing it. Just one transfer and about 40 minutes of reading later and I was there. The station is connected to yet another enormous mall. The Australians sure do love their one-stop shopping.

Brett Summerell, my main point of contact at PlantBank, had very kindly offered to pick me up and bring me over to the facility. We stopped for coffee and finally had a chance to chat face to face after what has now been a year and a half of email communication. Brett is a Fulbrighter himself, having a distinguished chair position which brought him to Kansas State last year.

It was a whirlwind day, moving through the facility and surrounding grounds over a few hours time. I did only a small amount of shooting, choosing to mainly survey what my options currently are. I’m incredibly thankful to have access to such a phenomenal resource, and for everyone thus far to have been so welcoming and open to my working there. I saw everything from their drying facility to the nursery, the actual collection storage as well as seed cleaning in action. I have a feeling I’ll have plenty to photograph over the coming months.

(You can see what I’m working on under the WIP tab!)

I was also able to tour the surrounding gardens. The PlantBank building sits on 100 acres of land, with much of the area surrounding it filled with native Australian plants. Surrounding this space a bit further out is the Cumberland Plain Woodland, a critically endangered landscape, which the RBG is working on restoring and conserving. Plenty of Australian wildlife call the area home, and though I was only able to see a few birds today, I’m hoping one day soon I’ll get to see a grey kangaroo hopping through the tall grasses.

After just a few hours of exploring and note taking, I was completely beat. I find when I’m in the midst of a project I get drained pretty easily, even if I haven’t done much more than “think” most of the day. I hopped back on the train around 3, and was home just about an hour later. Though I felt as though I could have gone to bed just then (and actually did fall asleep a few times reading on the couch) Tyler helped me stay up by watching a travel food series on Viceland (Dead Set on Life, our current favorite). After a bit of rest, we dragged ourselves the single block to our local pub for fish & chips, chicken schnitty (schnitzel), and a couple of pints. The bar was packed with locals watching rugby and footy on the televisions and sharing jugs (pitchers) in the back beer garden. Tyler and I squished at a high top near the window, the late afternoon sun streaming in and warming us just the perfect amount. Being the sentimental woman I am, I couldn’t help but to feel so grateful for this moment, and took a mental picture of where I was in that time and space to remember forever. Sleepy and full, my mind spinning with new ideas, sat next to the man I love, our beautiful little home just visible through the open window beside me. What a life.

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