My love of nature developed at an early age because I was surrounded by the Australian bush during my formative years. I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when one could disappear from parental view for the entire day – this is just what I did almost every weekend. Pristine bushland was my playground and, as a consequence, I developed a deep affection for our native flora and fauna.
A life filled with an appreciation of nature, as well as a desire to acquire knowledge in this area, prompted me to complete a degree in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle. This was followed by an Honours year in 2015 when I received Class 1 Honours and was awarded the Faculty Medal.
My Honours project covered a full twelve-month survey of native terrestrial orchids at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. The project included weekly field trips to the Botanic Gardens together with research including orchid location, identification, notation of phenology detail, measurements, colony density and date of observation. Each specimen was photographed and GPS coordinates noted. The information collected, together with my watercolour paintings of the orchids, formed the basis of a book entitled Native Terrestrial Orchids of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. A large poster complimented the book, and has been donated to the Gardens.
Since the completion of my University degree, I have continued my interest in the native terrestrial orchids of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, where I am Deputy Chairman. Regularly, I venture into the bushland there to search for orchids, notate my findings, then enter the data into a ‘Botanical Survey’ document. I now derive much pleasure from my continued exploration into our natural bushland; this is always an enriching experience which furthers my appreciation of nature and builds on my knowledge of our flora and fauna.