Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

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Tree tour south - Caley Drive

Self-guided tour by car or bicycle around the south loop

Trees at the Australian Botanic Garden

Some trees at the Australian Botanic Garden - in particular wattles, banksias and bottlebrushes - have been planted in special ‘theme gardens’, with picnic and barbecue facilities set amongst them. 

Other groups of trees - including eucalypts, cypress pines, kurrajongs, figs and casuarinas - have been planted more widely around the Garden. The best way to see this ‘Arboretum’ is by taking our two self-guided tree tours around the North and South Loops.

Eucalypts are an important feature of the the Australian Botanic Garden Arboretum, and they have mostly been planted  in botanically related groups. These trees dominate most Australian landscapes and almost all of the 700 or so species are native to Australia. They are used extensively in the arts to represent Australia and their uses range from timber, food, dyes and weapons to medicinal and perfumery oils. They are also planted extensively overseas because of their rapid and reliable growth.

What is the 'Arboretum'?

The ‘Arboretum’ is the collection of trees planted throughout the 400 hectares of the Australian Botanic Garden. The trees are arranged in botanically related groups. Other areas of the Garden are still under development and more plant groups will be represented in the future.

Two self-guided tours are available: North Loop (Cunningham Drive) and South Loop (Caley Drive). Each is approximately 5 km long, so we suggest you travel by car or by bicycle. Both of the one-way loop tours start and end at the central carpark adjacent to the Visitor Centre. The numbers in the text correspond to the numbers on the map below and the numbers in the garden beds. 

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Blue Ruin

wattles

callitris woodland

Start
Exit from the main carpark onto the central loop road and then follow the signs to the 'Picnic Gardens' and 'Mountain Bike Trail', this will get you onto Caley Drive. Follow the numbers on the map, for numbers 1-9 see tree tour north - Cunningham Drive.

10. Adnataria - boxes and ironbarks
11. Maidenaria
12. Araucariaceae
13. Capillulus - stringybarks and scribbly gums
14. Acacia - wattle
15. Callitris - cypress pines
16. Tropical boxes
17. Brachychiton - kurrajongs
18. Exsertaria - river red gums
19. Ficus - figs

 Caley Drive.

 

 

 For numbers 1-9 see tree tour north - Cunningham Drive.

 

10. Adnataria - boxes and ironbarks

On the right hand side of the road around Lake Fitzpatrick is a group of eucalypts that includes the boxes and ironbarks. Many of these are from northern Australia although you will also see the local narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra both here and throughout much of the Australian Botanic Garden. Mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon is widely grown for its contrasting black trunk and light grey leaves, and also for its hard timber. Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora is one of the most important trees for the production of honey. If you look through this arboretum you may catch a glimpse of the Fig Arboretum in the Central Valley - this arboretum is only accessible by foot along the walking paths.

11. Maidenaria
This is a small, scattered arboretum on the left hand side of the road. Here you will find the Camden white gum, Eucalyptus benthamii, which is a local tree of very limited distribution and is classified as a threatened species. On the top of the ridge is a grove of Maiden’s gum, Eucalyptus maidenii,  which was named after Joseph Henry Maiden,  who was the Government Botanist and Director of the Botanic Garden in Sydney 1896-1924.

12. Araucariaceae

About 100 m further along park your car on the left at the top of the hill after the pedestrian crossing. Along the ‘gap’ you will see brigalow trees Acacia harpophylla with silvery foliage. This species has been cleared extensively in agricultural districts of southern Queensland. A walk up the path on the higher side of the road will take you to the top of Sundial Hill. The path goes past native pines, including the Bunya pine Araucaria bidwillii and hoop pine Araucaria cunninghamii. At the ‘Sundial of Human Involvement’ you can tell the time using your own body as the marker. Take a rest and enjoy the magnificent views across Campbelltown to the Royal National Park and the other way across to the Blue Mountains. If you are feeling fit, continue along the Central Valley Walk and up the zig-zag path to the summit of Mt Annan. Here the original dry rainforest species are being gradually regenerated and the African olive and pepper tree weed species are being removed.

13. Capillulus - stringybarks and scribbly gums

Down the hill on the left hand side of the road opposite the Big Idea Garden you will come to a group of eucalypts. These stringybarks, ashes, scribbly gums, peppermints and snow gums come mainly from south-eastern Australia. As well as tall trees you will see mallees - small, multi-stemmed eucalypts - such as the whipstick mallee ash Eucalyptus multicaulis, from near Sydney, and the Faulconbridge mallee ash Eucalyptus burgessiana, which has a restricted range in the Blue Mountains.

The Big Idea Garden has picnic, barbecue and toilet facilities. It offers creative ideas on sustainable gardening for your own garden including composting, worm farming, water wise gardening and the use of recycled landscaping materials. You can find many of the plants used in this Garden in good plant nurseries. The eucalypts here are grey box (Eucalyptus moluccana). 

14. Acacia - wattle

After the Wattle Garden you’ll come to the Arboretum where you will see tree species of wattle on the left hand side. These trees are usually longer lived than most wattles. They include mulga (Acacia aneura), coastal myall (Acacia binervia) which is a local grey foliaged tree and golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) - Australia’s national flower.

Continue along and on your left just before you arrive at the Banksia Garden, you will notice a mixed planting of trees and shrubs. These were planted by some of our local schools on Arbor Day. Mawarra Primary School planted in 1995, Kearns Primary School in 1996 and Camden South Primary School in 1997. The Girl Guide movement have also celebrated their centennary here by planting koala food trees along both sides of the road. Over time these plantings will provide a safe corridor for koalas to move from the Nepean River into the Garden.

At the Banksia Garden you will see trees from the Proteaceae family including banksias, hakeas and grevilleas. The large flower heads of many banksias are popular in the cut-flower industry, and grevilleas and waratahs are popular plants for attracting native birds into the home garden. The Banksia Garden is a good spot to have a picnic or barbecue - or to take a walk under the trees and do some bird-watching.

As you leave the Banksia Garden you will see the striking Blue Tree on your right. Just because a tree is dead, it doesn’t mean that its useful life in the ecosystem is over. This tree has been dead for many years and yet is still a beautiful home to a host of interesting creepy crawlies, including termites and slaters that are natures great re-users. It’s also a favourite perching site for our birds of prey. They have a clear view of anything that may be moving in the grassland below and can swoop down, out of the blue, and snatch up insects, small mammals and reptiles.

15. Callitris - cypress pines

About a half a kilometer further along on both sides of the road, is a grove of cypress pines (Callitris). All Callitris are native to Australia, except for two species which occur in New Caledonia. The black cypress pine Callitris endlicheri is used extensively for timber, though it is not as durable and insect-resistant as the white cypress pine Callitris glaucophylla. The northern cypress pine Callitris intratropica was used by Aboriginal people for the treatment of diarrhoea and as a mosquito repellent.

16. Tropical boxes
There are only four species in this group of eucalypts, one of which, Eucalyptus deglupta, does not occur in Australia and the other three occur in tropical Australia. These species have the smallest fruit of any Eucalyptus but they can still produce thousands of seeds. Why not stop and have a look at our stand of Eucalyptus raveretiana?

17. Brachychiton - kurrajongs

After the cypress pines and tropical boxes you will find a group of trees which are grafted onto Illawarra flame tree rootstocks, to improve their reliability in our clay soils. One of these is the little kurrajong (Brachychidton bidwillii) which, as with most kurrajongs, flowers on bare branches before the new leaves emerge. Within the Arboretum on the right hand side of the road, is the spectacular Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius). Further along are the fat trunks of Queensland bottle trees (Brachychiton rupestris). The trunk of these trees may reach 2 m in diameter and they have edible roots and seeds.

18. Exsertaria - river red gums

Just after the kurrajongs you will see some river red gums (Eucalyptus obtusa) on the right hand side. This is the most widespread eucalypt of all, found throughout arid Australia along watercourses. About 30 m further on, looking to the west, you can see the developing suburb of Mt Annan.

19. Ficus - figs

The Fig Arboretum could be seen from your car from point number 10 on the tour. It is only accessible by foot, and here is the ideal place to park and walk to it.

Continue to the end of Caley Drive where you can either go to Melaleuca House Cafe for lunch or a snack or you might like to complete the self-guided tour of the Arboretua by following numbers 1-9 along tree tour north - Cunningham Drive.