WHYALLA’S SMART GREEN PITS
Greening a city like Whyalla isn’t for the faint-hearted. Sitting on the Spencer Gulf, it’s described by the city’s own Project Manager Landscape, as a desert. And Sam Bourne doesn’t stop there. “It’s very arid – we get around 270mm of rain a year, and there isn’t any fresh ground water.” He goes on encouragingly to say the soil is high in nitrogen, but then points out that it’s sadly alkaline so the nutrient potential is locked away. Clearly this is a tough place to successfully establish plants.
Not that Whyalla was settled with the aim of becoming the garden centre of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Its primary existence is due to the presence of iron ore at Iron Knob. In fact, until the blast furnace was built in the early 1940s, and a pipeline put in place to bring water in from the Murray River, Whyalla’s municipal plantings featured no exotics such as maples and ash, but toughies from Western Australia out of necessity.