Dry Tropics Biodiversity Group Inc.

(inform, educate, enthuse, implement)


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Castle Hill Quarry Botanical Garden, showcasing Townsville region plants could be a very effective project, lots of quality planning will be required for it to be very effective. Our involvement is necessary if we want to ensure that the right outcome has any chance at all. DTBG have access to many valuable skills and insights that are not otherwise unavailable to a project like this. Our input can help to full set of pictures |

  How’s this for a (crazy?) idea….. (by Doug Silke)

The installation of a stunningly beautiful world class garden requires initially very stark cliffs/waterfalls/creeks/slopes/hollows that the added vegetation will soften. The best natural gardens should be divided into different "rooms", each room largely tantalisingly almost but not quite hidden from the other "rooms", providing places to explore along well graded tracks. Apart from showcasing vegetation/geology with history going back millennia, the historical involvement of man and residual historical artefacts always add value. The quarry site has all these attributes already.

General view of quarry, views, knoll


The Castle Hill Quarry is certainly a main access point from the south and west to Castle Hill walking tracks. It is centrally located to residents, and is easily accessed. Other housing developments are possible (though not all that likely) high up the sides of Castle Hill extending away from the quarry on both sides, but these do not greatly affect the site.


Castle Hill Quarry is the best location around for what could be a really world class garden. The potential of this site is accepted by several other people also… in my opinion it is the best by far.

It is a quarry reserve separate to the Castle Hill reserve. The council says it will never be quarried again, and is currently reserved for use for Shakespeare (and other dramatics) play presentations, and for recreational use.

The concept of promoting Townsville area plants has a lot of value as it promotes the Townsville area directly.

The planned installation of a native botanical garden in Anderson Park featuring North Queensland plants has a budgeted cost of about $6 million, and is very valuable. Even if our council’s planners were aware of the contrasting beauty of the different Townsville area vegetation types and had confidence that they could be grown easily, the Anderson Park installation gains a lot from the inclusion of a more exotic feel. This feel is created by including collections from different areas… areas like the present Cape York collection. There is some scientific/horticultural/garden plant promotion value in having these more exotic native plants visible in Townsville, especially with TAFE and JCU Horticultural/Botanical departments nearby. But the presentation of some of our huge range of local species alongside these will never clearly draw the attention to our own equally spectacular plants.

However the proposed quarry garden, with it’s cliffs/rocky creek beds/steep slopes/waterfalls/hollows as a backdrop for huge local figs and stark Hoop Pines has great potential for showing the dramatic beauty of the Townsville area plants. It could easily upstage many aspects of Anderson Park, thereby promoting Townsville even more.

It is far more appropriate to grow Townsville region’s plants on slopes like those in the quarry. Most local plants grow naturally on slopes like these. But accessibility is also addressed since this site already has a maze (overgrown not easily seen) of well graded roads that will naturally form the basis of walking tracks.

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The Townsville region plant concept also interfaces very well with the natural vegetation of Castle Hill alongside.

Only a little effort will be required to protect young closed forest plantings from fire since the area is naturally protected.

The council planners know that obtaining seed for the planned Anderson Park extension is probably fairly easy. Various North Queensland experienced collectors can obtain reliably identified seed suitable for planting here. But they may not be aware that collecting and growing ability is also available for plants within the Townsville region.

By using plants from the immediate Townsville region the introduction of weedy species just about cannot occur… or these plants would have been there now anyway. This avoids a potentially very large hidden cost.


Dry Tropics Biodiversity Group's role could be, to catalyse the work, to support and encourage the Council to achieve the required result, to assist others to produce the glossy proposal, to assist with obtaining grants, to find professionals to assist with the work.

Scope: very detailed extensive design done by contractors (experienced in local plants/their horticulture/garden design), incorporating magnificent asthetic design and plant habitat design. Obtain approvals from outside experts who are actually experienced in the field, arrange for contractors to carry out physical preparations (introduce water where and if required, introduce additional soil if required).

Chance of being able to proceed…. Very good…. About 5% (update, chances are now up to about 30%... things are going well)

To visit the quarry, park at the corner of Francis St, Echlin St. and Stagpole St, walk up the roadway towards Castle Hill, the Front Quarry only and surrounds are immediately evident. A little way further and the roadway climbs to enter a hidden valley where the main part of the quarry is found.

The Council may have prices that seem reasonable for making the cliffs sufficiently safe.

 Doug Silke

 Assistance from, Alan King.

More about: Castle Hill Quarry Botanical Garden, showcasing Townsville region plants | to full set of Quarry pictures | back to botanic garden main page | top

 Please note that this project has great potential if done very well, but it is at a really critical stage now. There are three ways things could go:

1. Install a block of flats inside the quarry.

2. If we want just to revegetate it, it could easily look like a man made gash revegetated with plants the same as those all around Castle Hill, it would not be special.

3. Rush in and do a quick job, with plants that happen to be available, making a quick and cheap effort (costs are very limited) to improve the appearance from that of an industrial worksite. Without the real skills (money?) and effort, the project could fail to have real depth or excellent presentation. It could be actually be counter productive, it could misrepresent the beauty of our local region.

4. Install a really classy botanical garden

Just with magnificent, well planned, Queens garden like... Rockhampton Botanical Gardens like... plantings, but with a lot of differences too.... This proposal needs adequate roads and tracks, properly erosion controlled, with safe cliffs, but does not need any really expensive addons: buildings, kerbs and toilets. To be classy we do not just plonk plants anywhere, but we plan a great place. With plants that firstly fit into a consistent and powerful theme, secondly are carefully placed for great asthetics and thirdly are placed with consideration of the microclimate, for minimum maintenance. This site could have real depth for very little additional cost. The key factor is planning, the installation can then take quite a number of years to complete, look for long term impact. It would be: a beautiful place to simply relax, a starting place for walks onto Castle Hill, and a place to showcase Townsville Region's assets.

The Theme:


I believe that it is possible to really get across to people a bit more understanding of our wild ecology. To get across "a bit more understanding" would be a terrific achievement. We think the garden should be made up of examples of the main plant communities. These communities are naturally and obviously different, and they can be announced with simple signs. This is one of the easiest ways to simply introduce local regional ecosystems. Educating the public about ecosystems is a major part of environmental policy and practice with a strong insistence now upon Council involvement. Promoting the obvious beauty of the Townsville Region's bushland seems a lot better than promoting somewhere else. And Townsville has the necessary skills to do it.


Main Townsville region plant communities or ecosystems (suggest these for a strong foundation)

Dry rocky slopes and creek closed forest (+/- Hoop Pines)

Forest She-oak forest (needs additional water)

Coastal "old dune" closed forest (needs additional water)

Bluegum forest (needs additional water)

Rainforest (needs additional water)

selected inland species, open woodland

Heathlands (very well drained & low nutrient)

Open woodland (already on the site now, not added)

possibly included for Quarry... vegetation types

not recommended for inclusion

Wetlands (additional water required)


Arid closed forest (+/- Hoop Pines)

Bare saltpans

Frontal dune and Beach She-oak open woodland

samphire vegetated saltpans

Eucalyptus/Melaleuca old dune open forest


Coastal rocky (Hoop Pine)

River she-oak tall open forest

Open forest (wetter types, additional water required)


Castle Hill Quarry: "Imitating Saunders Beach Littoral Scrub" also featuring butterflies and birds. (a subsection of the full Quarry project above) top | back to botanic garden main page

A proposal for approval.

This work involves a portion of the flat area well below the Quarry proper, at the junction of Stagpole, Echlin and Francis Streets, West End. to full set of quarry pictures

After expressing our unsolicited proposal for the whole quarry site (see above), and our interest in participating in a "multiple use garden" project now, the council has suggested that we plan a fairly large area at the quarry " to see in part what we can manage to do".

At least a couple of our members love it. Other details of the proposal have been put together by a couple of members, we think that this planting is something that can excite and interest many of our members. It fits in with the current plan for the whole of Castle Hill. There is a risk of not obtaining funding, but we are pretty sure that it will fit in really well with any long-term plan for the Quarry site.

Planning started with great admiration for the tiny and highly valuable patch of well developed littoral scrub at the Saunders Beach lagoons, this planting is an attempt to copy the appearance of this vegetation type, generally copying the species range.

Planing continued with a track through the area to be planted. The view from the track and from the outside is carefully considered when positioning plants. It features some great local species that are also bird and butterfly attracting.

With council assistance, remove weeds, rip the area if required, ensure we have at least 30cm soil depth over the site, cover with green mulch and allow to age.

It is proposed that we seek the approval and involvement of local people in just the planting task, especially the two local primary schools and other children living locally. We can supervise work. This really does fits with our public education aim.

Planting is intended for September or so.

We can procure, grow on, and install trees. For some ecosystems no watering will be hopefully required after planting. To avoid disappointment we must plan to replace many vandalised plants.

Procure and grow on shrubs for planting some 12 months after the trees. Spread seed of many other shrubs. No watering hopefully required after planting. Again plan to replace many vandalised plants.

Subsequently consider whether to extend the area planted out for a more effective site.

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