Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

La Perouse and Cape Banks

La Perouse is on the northern side of Botany Bay, across the Bay from Kurnell. It is named after Jean François de Galaup de La Pérouse whose ships Astrolabe and Boussole entered the Bay in January 1788, meeting there those ships of the First Fleet that had not yet moved north to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour).

The sandstone landscapes here are similar to those of Cape Solander, though development here has destroyed much of the natural vegetation. Coastal sandstone heath and woodland survive on the headlands from Cape Banks, the northern headland of Botany Bay, to Henry Head, now part of Botany Bay National Park, and around the foreshores to Congwong Beach. Access to these areas is by track from Cann Park (opposite the bus terminus and near the carpark) near Congwong Beach.

Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub

banksia scrub
Banksia aemula at Jennifer Street, La Perouse, in Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub.

A different sort of coastal heath on deep sand occurs higher up the hill, at nearby Jennifer Street (off Anzac Parade). This is a vestige of the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub that once covered most of Sydney's eastern suburbs. Only a few small remnants of this vegetation survive, and it is now listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

Signs, with a map and other information, mark the beginning of a boardwalk through the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub at Jennifer Street. This is part of Botany Bay National Park. The boardwalk protects this small patch from excessive trampling. Shrubs along here include Sydney Golden Wattle Acacia longifolia and the small-leaved Kunzea ambigua, which has small starry white flowers, heavy with the scent of nectar between October and January. The yellow flower spikes of Acacia longifolia can be seen in July and August.

A very conspicuous plant is the grasstree Xanthorrhoea resinosa, with its long thin spiky leaves fanning out from the ground and shimmering in the lightest breeze. Tiny white flowers clustered along a distinctive woody 'spear' attract honeyeaters and insects. Older plants may have a skirt of old leaves hiding their short stocky rough trunks.

Other shrubs along here are the Coastal Tea Tree, Leptospermum laevigatum, with white flowers like tiny single roses in September, and Banksia aemula, the Wallum Banksia, with its thick serrated leaves, warty bark and large greenish flower heads between March and June.

La Perouse - species list

Some species collected by Banks and Solander have narrow habitat requirements and provide evidence for collections in different parts of Botany Bay. Banks' specimens of Bauera capitata and Bauera rubioides are likely to have been collected at La Perouse. Neither species has been recorded from Kurnell. Unfortunately Bauera capitata is now extinct in the Sydney area.

 

Bauera_rubioides