Source: Recollections Of An Amateur Botanist.
The outstanding feature of Bulahdelah is the massive bluff known as the Alum Mountain. It is not quite 100Oft high, but it dominates the valley of the Myall River with its crags of alunite, rose-pink in the sunshine after a passing shower of rain.
The village is scattered along the western base of one of the most remarkable rocky hills in Australia, known as the Alum Mountain.
THE BOTANISTS' SEVENTH HEAVEN
The Bulahdelah district holds the high-water mark of my botanical activities, for in eighteen months I had collected over 700 species of flowering plants and ferns.
'A botanist paradise' is a term apt to become thread worn, and I have used it before in these recollections; therefore I am almost disposed to class Bulahdelah as the botanist's seventh heaven.
RECORDS 89 SPECIES OF ORCHID
I recorded eighty-nine species of orchids from this district (inclusive of a few not collected by myself but sent to me for identification, and excluding two or three doubtful forms). Among them is one, constituting in itself a new genus and species, which may fairly claim to be the most remarkable orchid hitherto found in New South Wales, and which I had the privilege of describing and naming as Cryptanthemis slateri - the former ('hidden flower') in allusion to its habit, and the latter in honour of its discoverer. This extraordinary plant 'lives and moves and has its being' under the ground, and was accidentally discovered by Mr. E. Slater when digging up tubers of the Hyacinth Orchid (Dipodium).
An orchid of similar habit was discovered in Western Australia three years earlier, creating quite a sensation in botanical circles.
The Bulahdelah plant is too distinct to be included, however, in the W. A. genus named by Br. R. S. Rogers, Rhizanthelia.
Including two Cymbidiums, 22 of the Bulahdelah orchids are epiphytes, the remaining 67 being dwellers upon earth.
On the Alum Mountain itself 58 of the total 89 orchids have been recorded. One of these, a tiny Helmet Orchid, puzzled even the redoubtable Dr. Rogers when I sent him specimens, but ultimately he found that it had been discovered and named by Allan Cunningham in 1833, and thereafter lost sight of for ninety-one years. It has since turned up on Russel Island in Moreton Bay.
Bulahdelah gave me a new friend in Dr. H. Leighton Kesteven, whose osteological and other scientific researches are known far beyond Australia. He was keenly interested in the orchids, and has sent me much valuable material since I left the district. It was at Bulahdelah also that, through Mr. Maiden, I first came into personal touch with our Australian orchid chieftain, Dr. R. S. Rogers of Adelaide, from whom I have learnt so much and whose many kindnesses I can never repay.
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Copyright © 2000, Malcolm Carrall, Archives Officer, The Bulahdelah & Districts Historical Society Inc., 20 Ann Street, Bulahdelah, New South Wales, Australia, 2423. Original content in these Web pages is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be produced by any process or any other exclusive right exercised without written permission from the copyright holder. Published by Malcolm Carrall.