20.02.19 thru 23.02.19 - an abridged update

So I’ve been a bit MIA, and for that I sincerely apologize. I left off having gone to the Taronga Zoo, and the few weeks between then and now have been nothing short of a whirlwind. In my actual Fulbright proposal I suggested I’d update this blog DAILY, which blows my mind now that I’ve been posting here for about a month. I have more respect for full time bloggers than ever before. I promise now that I’m back from Canberra I’ll be posting more frequently (mainly because sitting down to do these recaps is STRESSFUL, and I forget things). I’m honestly not one to forgo sleep for work, and while that probably makes me the worst fake tortured artist type you’ve ever met, I think it’s very necessary for my sanity and wellbeing. So I’ll try my best.

Back to the important stuff…

On Friday I visited the Royal Botanic Garden here in Sydney for the second time - but the first with my trusty mentor and guide, Dr. Brett Summerell - and got to see the herbarium and plant pathology buildings. It’s still quite surreal entering into these spaces, both because I never imagined I’d actually be here, but also because they’re such incredible facilities that I think most people would be unlikely to find themselves in.

The herbarium is being moved out to PlantBank in Mt. Annan, so most of the room where it was previously held has been emptied out to make room for a conveyor belt scanner setup for digitization of EVERYTHING from the herbarium prior to moving. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that process in motion.

Dr. Summerell took me through each collection, and pulled out samples ranging from recently collected to something from the time of the Cook expedition of ‘New Holland’. I was particularly struck by a large seaweed sample (pictured below), kept in a flat file similar to those artists use for storing work. The process of flattening seaweed is akin to that of paper marbling – the seaweed is floated on top of water and the paper is scooped below it, so that once laid out the sample will dry totally flattened to the paper. I’m hoping that I may get the chance to see this in action.

Or maybe I’ll go rogue and try it myself.

The plant pathology building was fantastic and my brain started buzzing with ideas and shots to be taken. I’ve been working pretty slowly thus far, taking a few images here and there but primarily with my phone. Once I return from Canberra I’ll truly get down to business and break out my “real” camera. There are containers of plants being tested for various diseases, Petri dishes full of mold, and as always some technology that is still a total mystery to me.

As we said goodbye, Dr. Summerell pointed out one of the many gardens in the RBG and explained that it is actually the site where agriculture was first attempted in Australia. How incredible is that? In the end the settlers were fairly unsuccessful growing in the region, thanks to proximity to the water and generally unsuitable farming conditions.  

Afterwards I took some time to explore the area surrounding the garden, stopping by Mrs. Macquarie's chair and scoping out a different view of the harbour. And no, I’m still not over the view of the Opera House.