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Cue the dramatic theme from Jaws…da-dum, da-dum… Alice Springs has been in the grip of an invisible threat…the Gidgee. Friday morning we awoke to a smell of very strong LPG gas throughout the house. It was alarming at first, until we realised, outside it was worse. That was the clue. It was the annual invasion of the Gidgee, or Acacia Cambagei. Releasing their odours far and wide these trees always raise comments and pulled faces among the residents; but this particular day, when we had heavy cloud cover and rain to trap the smells close to the earth, it was extra special–as in awful.

My plan to have eggs for breakfast was abandoned for something that didn’t require the gas cooker to prepare them. Ugh. In fact, eating itself was almost abandoned, except that I am a hungry girl in the mornings! After breakfast we went into town to buy groceries. There was no escaping the smell as it even permeated the processed air in the grocery store. But outside was worse. We returned home feeling quite bilious.

The local ABC radio announcer swears she left a note for her husband before going to work on the early shift to ‘have the gas bottle checked today’, due to the smell! She is new to town and has not experienced the joys of the Gidgee. Nor have most of us experienced it quite to this degree. I pity the poor tourist who has lobbed into town for a few days, wondering why the travel literature did not warn of the smell of Alice Springs!

I sacrificed myself to the challenge of locating a Gidgee tree to show you. Smelly though they are, finding one proved difficult, as they are fairly nondescript in appearance. Since they are an Australian native tree I thought my best chance to photograph one would be at Olive Pink Botanic Garden. If I could smell it, I could find it. But it was more difficult that it sounded; in fact, gave myself a headache sniffing it out. I tramped the trails and studied the tree names, pointing my nose skyward like an animal tracking its prey. Sniff, sniff. No Gidgee here.

As I searched– the Sturt Desert Pea…

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White Cypress Pine…

White Cedar with moisture and light

White Cypress Pine with moisture and light

Bush Tomato…


Bush Tomato blossoms with moisture


Eucalyptus Orbifolia with moisture drops

Eucalyptus Orbifolia with moisture drops

  …revealed their droplets of adornment, remaining after the rain and cool temperatures. These were rare sights in our normally arid lands.

Acacia Cambagei, or Gidgee, or stinking tree!

Acacia Cambagei, or Gidgee, or stinking tree!

And then all at once ‘ugh’ there it was, that repugnant aroma at once a happy discovery, but also instantly making me sick again. I had sniffed it out–literally. Fortunately the intense smell that blanketed the town only lasted while the cloud cover was low. The now localised aroma was at least escapable. And so I did, escape home to warn you…beware the grip of the Gidgee!