On Sunday, June 18th, ALCE (Aula de Lengua y Cultura Españolas, Association of Spanish Language and Culture) organized a visit to the Sydney Botanic Gardens for young students and their families. The visit was guided by Dr Francisco (Paco) Sánchez-Bayo, a member of SRAP, an ecologist, and a knowledgeable expert on Australian flora and fauna due to his many years in the country.
We had more than 30 families who came to enjoy the magnificent day in this garden by Sydney Bay. In fact, we had to organize the visit in two shifts: while one group toured the gardens, the other participated in a treasure hunt throughout the park, and then we swapped groups. Between the two visits, we had a picnic together. The children were eager to learn, armed with the booklets prepared by Rosa María Saburido Montero, the teacher.
Tony Martorell, the director of ALCE, organized the treasure hunt, while Rosa accompanied the families on the tour designed by Paco to show them botanical curiosities in the garden. For example, the Wollemi Pine, a living relic from the time of dinosaurs discovered in 1994 in a deep gorge in the Blue Mountains; or the Eucalyptus grandis, the tallest tree in NSW; or the grass-tree (Xanthorrhoea) and the banksias, which regenerate after fires. Among the garden’s most interesting plants are succulents, including various types of cacti, and the Canary Island Dragon Tree, known as the “magic tree” by the Guanches, as its sap turns red upon contact with air.
Paco also showed them the native bees and nectar-feeding birds in the garden, which are pollinators of the flowers, and he mentioned that the large colony of flying foxes (fruit bats) that inhabited the park was relocated to Centennial Park in 2012 because they were damaging the Ficus and other trees in the park.
Everyone, teachers, students, and families, were delighted with the things they saw and the explanations Paco provided throughout the day.