Albury doesn’t deserve a rare and precious flower.

red spider orchid by mycocortex.

It’s an oversight of town planning rather than one of nature that one of the most retrograde populations of troglodytes has been dumped on top of one of the few remaining populations of one of the rarest flowers on earth.

I became aware of the plight of the crimson spider orchid a few years ago and made discreet (albeit persistent) enquiries about what I could do to ensure its longevity.

The response, whatever the source, was the same.

“Leave it the hell alone”.

It should come as no surprise that even among the elite of the orchid fancying world, a crimson spider orchid is the holy grail. It can be obtained for neither love nor money, the hoi polloi of the orchid world (in which I firmly include myself) don’t get a look in.

It’s rarity is legendary, it’s allure as appealing for that fact as for it’s beauty.

Nonetheless, I have it on the best possible authority that a reserve population in captivity is in place to keep the genetic strain alive. Details beyond that are extremely sketchy, it becomes a bit like an X files episode to tell you the truth.

Nonetheless, rural fire brigade Luddite in chief Margaret Wehner is just the latest in a seemingly endless procession of local yokels who seem intent on eradicating every last member of this species from God’s green earth.

Everyone from monkey bike riding naf naffs, misguided orchid thieves, incestuously  spawned arsonists, greedy developers, landscape raping quarry operators, herbicidally over-zealous “environmental managers”  and environmentally appathetic bushwalkers (just to name a few) have had the proverbial crack at pushing this species over the edge of extinction.

The orchid has seen them all off.

Sure “blowtorch Maggie” may yet succeed in eradicating the last remaining specimens of this species with her “life and property has to come before the environment” stance (Midweek Xpress p.6, September 9, 2009), perfectly resonable given that there are six and a half billion humans on the planet and less than 100 crimson spider orchids, truth is I suspect the orchid will outlast her misguided brand of “environmental protection”.

If it doesn’t, it’ll be a sad outcome for the ethno botanical community.

The orchid itself however, will undoubtably survive, even if only in captivity.

The people of Albury? well perhaps they should adopt as their city flag a motif of the crimson spider orchid, a reminder to all and sundry that it’s not just Tasmanian thylacine hunters, Queensland dingo eradicators and other environmental vandals who have robbed every future generation of Australian native icons.

The “good” people of Albury have done their part too.

I’m sure when the sun has set on this species for all time, when their great great grand-children ask them about the long lost spider orchid, the people of Albury will be able to say proudly “I was in Albury and part of the zealous fire clearing mob who in a fit of over-reaction to the black Saturday bushfires burned the last one of those on earth to cinders”.

In other words “I helped kill that”.

It’ll be a proud day.

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About alburywodongaonline

Hi I'm Jack Stone (a pseudonym), I'm a long-time Albury resident and I think it's a great place to live and work. I have a strong interest in local events and media and I started this site because I think a different perspective is often needed when reporting local news. I take a keen interest in local politics, as well as what's going on at the state and federal level, I'm also a supporter of social justice issues, the envirionment and the need for people to have a say in the events that effect their lives. I'm a fan of the Border Bandits and I'd love to see both teams take the flag this year, and next year, and maybe the one after that too.
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13 Responses to Albury doesn’t deserve a rare and precious flower.

  1. AnonymousT says:

    this is an absolute joke… the ‘people’ who found this orchid have closed down nailcan hill… they have stopped Hazard reduction burning. which coming into the fire season will endanger lives…. and most probably loose of lives will result…all for what? some stupid plant…what dose it do for society? look pretty? that’s not how our world works…practicality is necessity

  2. yeah biodiversity is over rated, it’ll be much better when the human race is the only species left on earth, until you work out that all ther is left to EAT is…other humans of course.

    Perhaps “AnonymousT” you’d be happier living out in the Sahara desert, or possibly better yet on Mars or some other dead planet where you’ll be completely unbothered by nature.

  3. nailcanisajoke says:

    Frankly, i’m amazed that any thing of worth is still left alive on Nailcan Hill. Fuel loads? whatever! if ever was a scrap of bush nil threat to life and property it is Nailcan. Criss-crossed by fire trails, fire breaks, stunted and sparse regrowth… I have seen numerous fires there and they are minor. Albury is not Kinglake people! It just ain’t that interesting.

  4. AnonymousT says:

    AWOL: i would not be happier living in the sahara. quite frankley i enjoy the bushland we are surrounded in. i think that the ‘people’ who are protecting these plants are going right over the top. its like a overprotective mother who wont let their 20 year old sun leave home (for comparison).

    nailcanisajoke: I have a very strong case to know why they are minor. Because the NSWRFS who put out those fires when they start are good at what they do, they lay their lives down for the greater good of the bush around albury in particualr nailcan hill. They stop their lives in an instant to stop people’s house’s they have never met burning to the ground and leaving these people with nothing at all. what do these volenteers get out of it??? they get nothing at all only the sence of satifaction of knowing they can sleep easy at night, knowing what they did out there today was the right thing to do.
    The NSWFB(paid) in particular the NSWRFS (volunteer) should be widley recognized.

    On tuesday the 22/12/2009 aprox 9pm there was a fire that came within 10m of homes on nail can then there was another fire behind the albury tafe. these brave men and women went out into the night coverd in water, smoke, dust, soot, heat etc etc to stop theses fires. the only thing that stoped those fires from taking houses were those people from the NSWRFS and NSWFB.

    The point i am getting to is that without all those fire trails (there is no indivdual firebreaks up there, the fire trail serves as a fire break) the hill will become so dense and have a massive amount of fuel load there will be one fire. This fire will wipe the whole hill clean. your precious plant will be up in ash along with hundreds of houses that border the hill line, Alburys water source (the big water tanks in nailcan hill) will be contaminated with ash and bits of charred spider orchid.

    Leave it the way it was. leave the plant alone. it has survived this long without your help why dose it need it now??

  5. Burn the Hill says:

    This is not something that is an overreaction to Black Saturday. For many years the hill has been off limits to Hazard Reduction because of this orchid..

    There were fires in the past and the orchid still stands.

    The Australian bush needs fire to regenerate. What’s more important, a life, a home or some dumb plant…

  6. private says:

    well semingly you must be the local aurthority on local fire behaviour. why do we need professionals when we have someone like yourself with such knowalge and an ego to match.after some research i have found out that there are sections of nailcan hill which have not burnt for 40. that would be interesting to you wouldnt it? but you dont want albury residents to know of the extreme danger all residents face every summer. this mistic orchid that you want to protect. some re-search has found that fire acutally increases populations. but im no expert like yourself. i would like to know what the families(residents) would think about some ego sadistic yobbo. closing down all of nailcan hill at a whim. when he knows (as your the local fire expert) that there is a HUGE POTENTIAL OF BLACK SATURADY conditions up in the hills surrounding albury. especialy nailcan hill. i would like to say as well that life will always surpass a flower. i cant believe that your ego is blinding you. have you actualy read what you have written?

  7. private says:

    well semingly you must be the local aurthority on local fire behaviour. why do we need professionals when we have someone like yourself with such knowalge and an ego to match.after some research i have found out that there are sections of nailcan hill which have not burnt for 40. that would be interesting to you wouldnt it? but you dont want albury residents to know of the extreme danger all residents face every summer. this mistic orchid that you want to protect. some re-search has found that fire acutally increases populations. but im no expert like yourself. i would like to know what the families(residents) would think about some ego sadistic yobbo. closing down all of nailcan hill at a whim. when he knows (as your the local fire expert) that there is a HUGE POTENTIAL OF BLACK SATURADY conditions up in the hills surrounding albury. especialy nailcan hill. i would like to say as well that life will always surpass a flower. i cant believe that your ego is blinding you. have you actualy read what you have written?
    ps.. im sure that all the victims of the black saturday busfires are reassured that the ones that they lost are irrelivent as theres 40 billion others!!!

  8. Michael says:

    I have spotted a single crimson spider orchids growing on my 4 acre bush block Green gully Newstead. I am lucky that i have a good stand of remnant Box-Ironbark wood land. And yes I will leave it alone. It is a moral obligation as care takers of the planet to ensure all species of fauna and fauna are not threatened with extinction be it the Crimson spider orchid or the Bengal tiger. I do believe that fuel reduction are an important part of bushland ecology with the added benefit of protecting property and most of all human life. Aboriginal fire stick culture practises would have had a positive effect on the spider orchids. By reducing the severity of unplanned fires and increasing the amounts of carbon in our soils and waterways. Its the removal of these practices that have had the most negative effects on our bushland ecosystems. This allows fuel loads to build to dangerous levels so that once it does go up in flames nothing can survive the intense heat. The CFA needs to take more into account the ancient fire management practises of the past.

    • hard to know how many species were wiped out by “fire stick” practices mickey, one thing’s for sure, fire from dry lightning has been a part of the ecosystem here for some time, species that don’t adapt get wiped out, natural selection I think is the biological term.
      I’ve certainly known a few indiginies that are just wholesale bushfire arsonists, don’t think I’d trust them with bushland ecology as far as I could kick them (on second thought I could probably kick them hard and far so scratch that).

      My limited experience with native terrestrial orchids is that they spend a fair bit of time completely dormant throughout the summer and come back with the rains of autumn. I reckon they’d probably withstand a rapid cool burn (like a grassfire) and possibly benefit from reduced competition for water, light and space but a more significant burn would likely wipe them out (they have a subterrestrial structure like a tubor, located a centimetre or so below ground seems to contain a lot of water and I think if that heated up much it would kill the plant outrightly.

      Good work leaving them alone on your property, personally I’d probably keep the cluster a bit hush from the authorities or you might find well intentioned beurocratic meddlers wiping out the whole colony.

    • hmm says:

      Wow a balanced reply. Well done!

  9. hmm says:

    Only found this cause I an moving from Sydney to Albury soon and was interested in local native plants. Most of our (tiny) garden is indigenous plants, specially edible varieties. I thought it would be nice to have the flowering ones native and this orchid sounded interesting, but if its that rare, probably not going to happen, shame. If its endangered on the hill, can’t they somehow start growing it under controlled conditions elsewhere so they can then increase its number in less hazardous places as well? Or am I being simple?

  10. actually my front yard is pretty well all local natives too, I love em, best part is that because they are naturally suited to living right here, they need very little maintainence. To quote John Warmsley (the cat hat guy) all Australian species need is a little bit of Australia back.

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