Red centre turns shades of green


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12-04-2010 08:26 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


12-04-2010 08:26 AM



12-04-2010 09:06 AM

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2010-04-12 08:26:17

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Red centre turns shades of green -

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TONY EASTLEY: Earlier this year big summer rains saturated large parts of central Australia, and
Alice Springs received more than its average yearly rainfall in just one week. The water has
transformed the usually arid bush landscape. The red centre now has a carpet of green and the
desert is full of life.

Sara Everingham compiled this report for AM from Alice Springs.

SCOTT PULLYBLANK: It's a bit like looking at those little books that you give to little kids with
the colours in them and you've got the orange page and the yellow and the red page and then you
turn it over and suddenly it's the green page. The change is that dramatic.

SARA EVERINGHAM: At the Alice Springs Desert Park, the curator of botany Scott Pullyblank has been
watching the changing colours of the desert.

SCOTT PULLYBLANK: It's a really exciting time out here.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the first two months of this year more than 400 millimetres of rain fell in the
centre of Alice Springs.

SCOTT PULLYBLANK: It's just a total transformation it's like the whole country has put on a
different coat.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Leah Laughton, an Indigenous woman from the Alice Springs area, works as a guide
at the Park.

LEAH LAUGHTON: All of the grass is just starting to shoot like the kangaroo grasses and the native
mullet grasses which were used traditionally to make damper and bread and stuff like that. All of
the different types of fruit are all starting to come out too like the bush banana.

SARA EVERINGHAM: She says the rain has produced an abundance of bush foods and medicine.

LEAH LAUGHTON: The native apple bush is starting to come up that's used for colds and stuff. And a
lot of that limestone rock fuchsia is starting to come up.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And what's that for?

LEAH LAUGHTON: That's used for washing your body like if you've got sores on your body and stuff
like that.

(Sound of birds)

SARA EVERINGHAM: But Leah Laughton says just as soon as the plants shoot up, they're ravaged by
insects and the birdlife now flourishing in the desert.

LEAH LAUGHTON: Yeah you've got to beat all the birds and not only with that - all the grasshoppers
are out so they've stripped a few of our (inaudible) bushes - our bush bananas so that's really

SARA EVERINGHAM: This year's rain came after Alice Springs recorded its driest year on record last
year. The downpour was a huge relief for pastoralists.

The executive director of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association, Luke Bowen, says some
stations in the centre had been in drought for up to eight years. Many had been forced to destock
their properties.

LUKE BOWEN: It's great to see the country in central Australia now, it's really rebounded and it
looks fantastic. And the spirits of people there have significantly improved. It's amazing to see
the difference - the looks on people's faces, the smiles, and the general optimism that follows

SARA EVERINGHAM: If the rain continues, Scott Pullyblank from the Alice Springs Desert Park says it
will add even more colours to the landscape.

SCOTT PULLYBLANK: If this rain keeps going on into autumn and spring we'll end up with carpets of

SARA EVERINGHAM: He says it's been almost 10 years since the last major wildflower event in the

SCOTT PULLYBLANK: So it just tells you how remarkable those species are that the seed can remain in
the soil for that long, just waiting for the right climatic conditions at the right time of year.

TONY EASTLEY: Scott Pullyblank from the Alice Springs Desert Park ending Sara Everingham's report.