This exhibition has closed
This exhibition tells the remarkable story of how the denuded landscape of Broken Hill was repaired by a bush regeneration scheme in the 1930s.
When we think of Broken Hill it conjures images of a mining town on the edge of the outback in western New South Wales. Not many have known its significance in environmental history, as a site of one of Australia’s earliest green actions. In 1936, the Barrier Field Naturalists Club led by Albert Morris, an assayer, enlisted the help of a mining company and through the process of native revegetation, defeated the drifts of sand that were swallowing the outskirts of the town, also reducing the effects from dust storms.
Albert Morris, a Quaker and self taught amateur botanist developed a passionate interest in plants from a young age and founded the Barrier Field Naturalists’ Club, named after the nearby Barrier Ranges. Albert Morris believed that the growing problem of sand drift and dust storms in Broken Hill could be overcome by establishing regeneration reserves around Broken Hill to the north, west and south. In 1936 the mines and community led by the Barrier Field Naturalists Club and Albert Morris fenced an initial area and planted trees and local native vegetation. Now known as the Albert Morris Park it was seen as highly successful. In 1938 more sections of land were fenced from grazing rabbits and livestock and left to recover, these are known as the revegetation reserves. The Broken Hill revegatation site was the first example of successful bush regeneration in its broadest sense within Australia. It improved the standard of living of residents as well as conserving plant and animal biodiversity. The regeneration reserves are now National Trust listed.
Albert Morris’s legacy does not limit itself to Broken Hill as he amassed a collection of about 7,000 plant specimens and his collections are represented in several of Australia’s major herbia. More than 1,000 of these are held in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. His methods were applied to other mining towns in Australia and the improvement of living conditions in Broken Hill were quoted world wide. Albert also photographed the flowers and landscape of the surrounding area. These black and white slides were hand coloured by his wife Margaret Morris and are represented in the exhibition.
The revegetation also planted a seed for further similar work around Australia. In the 1960s there was the birth of a larger conservation and land care movements in rural and suburban Australia.
This is a Powerwhouse Museum touring exhibition in collaboration with Broken Hill City Council and community, and supported by Movable Heritage NSW.