I look forward each summer to the flowering of this thistle-like plant. I bought it several years ago before Bunnings took over the big building out Kings Meadows way and when the nursery section was overseen by Jo McIntyre. She had great plant taste and this is a great example of the unusual things it was possible to find then.
It's about 60-70cm tall and very thistle-like in its structure. The flowers are the palest shade of lavender and soft and fragile. I thought that it might have been Carlina acaulis but the petals fall away and are soft and not stiff. The foliage is a fresh green all over with no downiness or white hairs. The prickles are sharp but not lethal like a common thistle.
So if there's anyone out there in the ether with any suggestions, I'd be greatly delighted! It doesn't appear to set seed and it is reluctant to divide so it's certainly not a common garden plant nor a weed!