Between Crowdy Head and Diamond Head is a great plain that has long been home to Australian wildflowers, particularly Christmas bells, Christmas bush and flannel flowers.1 Until 1900 the wildflowers were considered weeds but with the growth of Australian sentiment there was a spike in affection for these flowers.2 Visitors would take day trips to the plain during summer to gather armfuls of flowers which would decorate homes, hospitals and churches over Christmas.3
By the early 1920s, grave concerns were expressed at the number of flowers being taken from the bush. With the advent of motor cars it was not unusual to see thousands of cars returning on a weekend loaded with flowers. In an appeal to save the wildflowers, Professor Lawson said “It is right and proper that we should know the pleasure of gathering an armful of them; but when it comes to the point of destroying the thing we love, it is time we stopped.” 4
Manning Shire Council was an early adopter of wildflower preservation by proclaiming flower sanctuaries in different parts of the district.5 In 1927, the flowers were protected throughout NSW under the Wild Flowers and Native Plants Protection Act for a year.6 This protection was extended over several years until finally in 1952 it was declared illegal to pick any protected wildflower from Crown or public lands.7
Today the wildflowers are still there but not in the numbers they once were. For families who holidayed at Crowdy Head over Christmas the wildflowers symbolise wonderful times and memories-gone-by.8 Fires in 2019 destroyed much of this habitat, but less than a month later the Christmas bells have started to bloom again – just in time for Christmas.9
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 24 July 1923, 4.
2 Northern Champion, 26 July 1924, 3.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 28 December 1907, 4.
4 Northern Champion, 26 July 1924, 3.
5 Northern Champion, 26 July 1924, 3.
6 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 24 June 1927, 7.
7 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 25 August 1952, 3.
8 Recollections from Kate Beazley, 8 December 2019.