Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

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Tree tour north - Cunningham Drive

Self-guided tour by car or bicycle around the north 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 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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Mount Annan

Mount Annan

Start
Exit from the main carpark onto the central loop road and then follow the signs to 'Exit Narellan Road' and 'Eucalypt Arboreta' this will take you onto Cunningham Drive.

1. Angophoras
2. Corymbia - bloodwoods
3. Blakearia - paper-fruited bloodwoods
4. Eudesmia
5. Latoangulatae - mahogany and grey gums
6. Bisectae and Dumaria - mallees
7. Sejunctae - sugar gums
8. Tallowwoods
9. Casuarina - sheoaks

For numbers 10-19 see tree tour south - Caley Drive.

 Cunningham-Drive

 

1. Angophoras
The first group of plants on the left are angophoras. These trees are commonly known as ‘apples’ - perhaps because the gnarled branches, the foliage or the blossoms of some Sydney species reminded the early settlers of apple trees. Angophoras are related to eucalypts but their flower buds lack covers and their leaves are arranged opposite each other rather than alternately. All of the thirteen species of Angophora are from eastern Australia. 

2. Corymbia - bloodwoods
On the right you will see a group of trees clustered around the S-bend in the road. These eucalypts have recently been separated from the genus Eucalyptus and placed into a new genus of their own - Corymbia. The group includes bloodwoods and yellow jackets, and many are from the tropics as well as eastern New South Wales and Queensland. Look for the spotted gum Corymbia maculata, which occurs naturally along the road to Appin, and the popular lemon scented gum Corymbia citriodora

About 200 m further along on the left hand side is a small planting of the three local eucalypts - the forest red gum Eucalyptus tereticornis, the narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra and the grey box Eucalyptus moluccana. Opposite these, on the right hand side, are the paper-fruited bloodwoods.

3. Blakearia - paper-fruited bloodwoods
Paper-fruited bloodwoods have a mainly tropical and desert distribution. The central Australian ghost gum often painted by Albert Namatjira is the best known species in this group. This stand of Corymbia tessellaris, the carbeen or Moreton Bay ash, has decorative tessellated bark on the lower trunk. It is the only paper-fruited bloodwood to extend into New South Wales.

4. Eudesmia
Further along on the right hand side close to an S-bend is a group of trees which are mainly mallees from Western Australia. The tallerack Eucalyptus pleurocarpa has square, white stems and fruit and often  juvenile leaves. The inland yellow jacket Eucalyptus similis has peeling, yellow bark. They are differentiated from other eucalypts by having their stamens in bundles.

5. Latoangulatae - mahogany and grey gums
About 50 m further along on the right hand side is another group of eucalypts. Coming mostly from moist, coastal environments, these trees are generally larger and have broader, greener leaves than trees from the arid parts of Australia. Many of the gums in this group have been commercially harvested for their timber.

6. Bisectae and Dumaria - mallees
On both sides of the road going up the hill, you will see some mallees - small multi-stemmed eucalypts. These are from arid parts of Western Australia and South Australia. Look on the left for the interesting orange-red buds on the popular fuchsia mallee Eucalyptus forrestiana and on the square-fruited mallee Eucalyptus tetraptera. On the right, going up the hill, you will see tall species such as Eucalyptus megacornuta and the very fine foliage of Eucalyptus angustissima.

7. Sejunctae - sugar gums
About 50 m further on the left at the top of the hill there is a group of sugar gums (Eucalyptus cladocalyx). These trees have durable timber and are also widely planted as ornamentals. 

On the left hand side as you go down the hill you will see more mallees in the Dumaria arboretum.

8. Tallowwoods
About 400 m further on, look to the left and along the water race easement and you will see a line of tallowwoods Eucalyptus microcorys. Tallowwood is one of the best hardwoods in Australia. It is classified in a section of its own as it is not closely related to other eucalypts. The wattles you see on many of the bends are coastal myall Acacia binervia

9. Casuarina - Sheoaks
About 400 m along you will see a number of sheoaks around Lake Nadungamba (meaning ‘water of the flowers’ in the native Tharawal language). Sheoaks include casuarinas and allocasuarinas. They can be found near fresh or brackish water (e.g. the swamp oak Casuarina glauca) or in drier sandstone soils (e.g. Allocasuarina distyla). Sheoaks range in size from very small ground covers (e.g. Allocasuarina nana) to large trees (e.g. Casuarina cunninghamiana). Their common name, which would now be considered insulting to women, is derived from the timber which is oak-like in appearance but inferior in strength. After the end of the Casuarina Arboretum you will pass the Woodland Picnic Area. 

A little further on you will enter the Woodland Conservation Area. Here at the Australian Botanic Garden we are fortunate to have valuable remnants of the original Cumberland Plain Woodland - including the endangered species Pimelea spicata. These areas make a valuable contribution to conserving local biodiversity. Eucalypts occuring in the Woodland include grey box Eucalyptus moluccana, narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra, and forest red gum Eucalyptus tereticornis. The shrubby blackthorn Bursaria spinosa here provides valuable habitat for birds.

Have a picnic by the small pond, amongst the native birds, or continue on to Melaleuca House Cafe for lunch or a snack. Alternatively you might like to complete the self-guided tour of the Arboreta by following numbers 10-19 around tree tour south - Caley Drive.