Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden

Cumberland Plain Woodland

Why is Cumberland Plain Woodland important?

  • It is unique to western Sydney
  • It is a place where people can enjoy nature
  • It helps to clean the air
  • It provides habitat for native birds, animals and plants
  • It helps to keep our creeks clean
  • It provides interest and beauty to urban and agricultural areas
  • There is very little of it left

Under threat
Once thought of by many as unsightly scrub, this bushland is now being recognised for what it is - a unique type of Woodland not found anywhere else in Australia, which is rare and threatened with extinction. Both Federal and State governments have listed the Cumberland Plain Woodland as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community - the first time that a whole plant community has been recognised as being in danger of extinction. But even with laws to protect the Woodland, it is still under threat.

The Woodland was heavily cleared in the past for farming and is still being cleared today to accommodate much of Sydney’s population growth. In many places the Woodland is also being badly affected by weeds, fertiliser run-off and rubbish.

We can all play a part in conserving Woodland and bringing the bush back to western Sydney - landholders, community groups, schools, TAFEs and universities, artists, local, State and Federal authorities. We all need to work together to conserve Cumberland Plain Woodland.

How to recognise Cumberland Plain Woodland

  • Find out if you live in a Cumberland Plain Woodland area.
  • Look at the soil - the heavy clay soil produced from Wianamatta Shale is typical of the Cumberland  Plain.
  • Visit some known sites open to the public.
  • Look at the trees - Cumberland Plain Woodland varies slightly between locations, but will contain at least one canopy tree species.
  • Look at the understorey - there are typical shrubs, ground covers and grasses.



Click here to find out about the ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland.

Clarence Slockee visits the Australian Botanic Garden to find out about this unique piece of remnant woodland

View ABC video - go to and find the link to Cumberland Plain Woodland (4:30) - 05/06/2010



Typical plants you would find in Cumberland Plain Woodland

Canopy trees

  • narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra
  • forest red gum Eucalyptus tereticornis
  • grey box Eucalyptus moluccana
  • thin-leaved stringybark Eucalyptus  eugenioides
  • red ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa
  • rough-barked apple Angophora floribunda

Small trees and shrubs

  • blackthorn Bursaria spinosa
  • false sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea
  • Melaleuca decora
  • Sydney green wattle Acacia parramattensis
  • sickle wattle Acacia falcata
  • Dillwynia sieberi
  • native indigo ndigofera australis

Grasses and ground covers 

  • kangaroo grass Themeda australis
  • Aristida ramosa
  • Dianella longifolia
  • blue trumpet Brunoniella australis
  • Glycine tabacina
  • kidney weed Dichondra repens

Distribution of Cumberland Plain Woodland pre-1788 Woodland areas open to the public

  • Glossodia Park, Creek Ridge Rd, Freemans Reach 
  • Scheyville National Park, Scheyville
  • Mulgoa Nature Reserve, Mulgoa Rd, Mulgoa
  • Plumpton Park, Hyatts Rd, Plumpton 
  • Nurragingy Reserve, Knox Rd, Doonside 
  • Lansdowne Reserve, cnr Henry Lawson Drive and Hume Hwy, Georges Hall
  • Kindelan Rd Reserve, Winston Hills 
  • Fairfield City Farm, Darling St, Abbotsbury 
  • The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan Drive, Mount Annan

Cumberland Plain Woodland needs you!

You can get involved by

  • starting or joining a bushcare group
  • contacting your local council to find out what they are doing with local woodland
  • joining a conservation or environment group
  • keeping an eye on any Cumberland Plain Woodland in your area and reporting any damaging activities to the land owner
  • retaining and protecting any local woodland species you may have on your land

Where to find out more

  • Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Trust (02) 4722 2555 (Penrith) 02-4577 4243 (Windsor)
  • Greening Australia 02-9560 9144
  • NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service 02-9585 6444
  • Royal Botanic Garden Sydney 02-9231 8155
  • Australian Botanic Garden 02-4648 2477
  • Nature Conservation Council 02-9247 4206
  • Your local council
  • Australian  Association of Bush Regenerators 0407 002 921

Recommended reading

  • Taken for Granted by D. Benson & J. Howell,  Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
  • Rare Plants of Western Sydney by T. James, L. McDougall & D. Benson, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
  • Urban Bushland Biodiversity Survey, NPWS Hurstville
  • Greenweb, WSROC, Blacktown
  • Losing Ground by Sue Rosen

Ajuga australis

Themeda australis