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CD Review

Coastal Plants of the Royal National Park - Sutherland Group, Australian Plants Society (NSW)

Reviewed by Ros Cornish

CD cover

This new CD for Windows on the coastal plants of the Royal National Park has taken thousands of volunteer hours to produce by mainly the Sutherland District Group of the Australian Plants Society but was originally conceived by the late Doug Irving. Doug retired from a career as an engineering academic and researcher about six years ago. Despite knowing very little about plants he quickly developed an interest in the local native flora and it became a passion.

On one of the Sutherland group's regular walks in the Royal National Park, Doug asked the name of every single plant and wanted to know as much as possible about them. Soon afterwards he decided to photograph and catalogue every plant in the park and create an interactive identification program on CD. As there are over 1700 plants in the park, this was an ambitious plan. The project was narrowed to those plants seen on the most used coastal walk. This reduced the number to about 300 - still a daunting task, even more so because it was decided to take four photos of each plant - the leaves, flowers, fruit and the whole plant.

The project was only partly complete when Doug became seriously ill and went into hospital for a few weeks. He passed all of his discs, books and other material to Doug Rickard - the project coordinator. Three weeks later (now three years ago), Doug died. The task fell to Doug Rickard, Margaret Bradhurst (who took most of the photos) and other amateur colleagues to complete the task. Once all of the pictures had been taken, the group wrote descriptions of the plants. Help was given by several professionals including Belinda Pellow, curator of Wollongong's Janet Cosh Herbarium and Ruchir Sodhani, a database expert.

The CD was released in late 2006. There are more than 1,200 photos with detailed descriptions of the plants and their habitat. The interactive part allows you to check a series of boxes about the plant's appearance and eventually identify the plant, as long as your observations are mostly correct. Updates which reflect changes to plant classifications can be downloaded from the Sutherland group's website. The CD is available from the Royal National Park Visitors Centre or can be ordered directly from the website, which contains a lot of information about the CD including a quick tour of what it contains and how to use it.

The CD looks excellent and is incredible for such a price.

Coastal Plants of the Royal National Park

Sutherland Group, Australian Plants Society (NSW), 2006.
RRP $20 plus $2 postage
CD ROM, text, colour photographs

From the newsletter of the Canberra Region of the Australian Native Plants Society, June 2007.

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Australian Plants online - 2007
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants