By MARION WHITEHEAD
A new initiative will see the first-ever Thicket Festival in Bathurst during the long weekend of September 24-25.
Organised by Friends of Waters Meeting Nature Reserve (FoWM), it will celebrate Albany thicket, the remarkably tough and diverse vegetation type growing on our doorstep.
FoWM chairperson Dr Rina Grant-Biggs “Our Albany thicket vegetation is very adaptable. It’s thousands of years old and has evolved to take anything except extreme frost. It has survived centuries of climate change, and if we take care of it, it will continue to thrive – and us with it,” says Dr Rina Grant-Biggs, chairperson of FoWM.
The Waters Meeting Nature Reserve, which borders Bathurst, is a prime example of Albany thicket and boasts some unique coastal and mesic thicket plants.
The Thicket Festival will feature John Richter’s stunning slide show of the beautiful plants and birds that live in this environment, a guided walk on the Bathurst Common with Emeritus Prof Monty Roodt, a fun lantern parade through the village of Bathurst, as well as a free programme of talks by speakers, all experts in their respective fields.
NMU plant ecologist Prof Alastair Potts will explain why thicket is unique and worth conserving. Threats to thicket will be covered by FoWM committee member Nic Huchzermeyer, while Dr Michael Braack of the Department of Environment, Forest and Fisheries will look at what the state is doing to help save thicket.
Rhodes University Zoology associate professor Ben Smit’s topic will be birds of the thicket, while Bathurst local Serena Gess will share some of her research on settler life in the thicket.
The venue for the talks on Saturday will be Pike’s Post at the Ploughman Pub, on the grounds of the Bathurst Agricultural Museum, where stallholders will offer a range of ‘green’ products for sale.
On Sunday, Elizabeth Milne will host a stall at the regular Bathurst Farmers’ Market and share her knowledge of medicinal plants. Local plant nurseries will have suitable thicket garden plants for sale at the market.
For more information, contact Rina Grant-Biggs at 079 519 5650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org