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SGAP Cairns Home Page

The Cairns Branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP)

The Cairns Branch of SGAP

History of the Branch

This branch was formed in 1980 to create interest in the cultivation of our native species in preference to exotic species. Originally, monthly meetings were held at night with an excursion held on one Sunday each month, visiting interesting botanical areas as well as parks and private gardens. However, nowadays the meeting and excursion are held together on the third Saturday of each month. Species lists were compiled for all the sites visited.

In the early days the branch filled a need to grow and provide native plants for the public as native plants were rarely found in nurseries. Plant stalls were held at various venues, not only to provide plants for sale, but also to raise money for the club. Before the onset of the Conservation Act and the Wet Tropics Heritage Listing propagation materials such as seeds and cuttings were readily obtainable and members grew all sorts of species. Nurseries were made aware of the need to also source native plants.  For many years, the club was very active in selling plants at the Tropical Garden Expo and the Botanic Gardens festival, as well as mounting a display at the Cairns Show horticultural display.

Community work in fostering interest in native plants was undertaken. The group undertook regular plantings at Centenary Lakes, Carpentaria Home, several schools and park areas around Cairns. Some years later, this function was taken over by other community groups, school environment studies and the City Council. One exciting project was the Tree Train, organised by the former Mulgrave Shire Council and Queensland Rail. The Tree Train travelled up to the side of the range behind Jungarra (Redlynch) loaded with interested parties and trees to plant on the deforested areas. This was to prevent the bush fires doing further damage to the hill slopes.

An expo and sale of Australian plants was held in 1985 and this proved a great success. The following year Cairns Branch together with Tablelands Branch hosted the Queensland Regional conference. Many people from all over Queensland attended and enjoyed informative talks and field trips to various places. The climax was a trip to Cape Flattery sand dunes and Isabella Falls, preceded by a planting of the Banks and Solander collection in the Cooktown Botanic Gardens which had been recently been resurrected from neglect for many years. The Group has continued to service this garden with an annual trip to Cooktown to work on it as well as the main gardens. We take a stock of plants that are not only donated to the gardens, but also are planted for them.

Plants have been donated to various groups and money or book donations given as prizes for the Cairns Show and the City Council Garden Competitions.  Flowers were sent to SGAP flower shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and other areas for several years.

Over the years excursions went to places near at hand and far afield. Many were combined trips with the Tablelands SGAP group. Near places are Mossman, Daintree, Babinda, beaches, local walking tracks, Copperlode Dam, Irvinebank, Watsonville and Tablelands.  Far afield places include Forsayth, Cooktown, Home Rule, Chillagoe, Mt Lewis, Windsor Tableland and Innisfail. Both day trips and weekend camp outs were organised.

Mary Gandini
(Founding member)


Haemodorum coccineum
Scarlet Bloodroot
Xanthostemon verticillatus
Bloomfield Penda
Curcuma australasica
Cape York lily
Syzygium malaccense
Malay Apple
Tabernaemontana pandacaqui
Banana Bush