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E.G. Waterhouse Camellia Gardens

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published March 10th 2015
Be amazed by the beauty & fragrance of the Camellia Gardens.

There are 4 main types of Camellias. There's Sasanqua; the Japonica; the Reticulata, which has much bigger flowers; and finally Sinensis, which comes from China - that's the one that gives us our cup of tea, but you don't find many of them in home gardens.

In my garden, I have 11 different Camellias, and a few of the Sasanqua's are starting to flower, which gave me the idea of visiting the E. G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens in Caringbah in Southern Sydney.

E. G. Waterhouse Camella Gardens at Caringbah.

Camellias have been cultivated here for 200 years, since the early days of European settlement, and if you're looking for a hardy, Autumn/Winter flowering plant, Camellias are hard to beat. They'll give you beautiful blooms right through autumn, winter, and into spring. And they make a great foliage plant too, even without the flowers - those dark green glossy leaves are most attractive.

Don't forget to get a map of the gardens from The Tea House.

ABOUT THE GARDENS.

The Gardens began as a project under the 1970 Captain Cook Bicentenary program, and the first plantings were made in 1969. They are named after the late Professor EG Waterhouse, a leading world authority on camellias, who lived in Sydney. The garden has grown over the years into its present beauty, in part due to the generous donations by numerous groups and individuals.

The gardens has over 450 cultivars and species, donated and acquired since its first plantings began in 1969, in addition to many other rare ornamental and native plants. Plantings are in the context of garden beds over a widely varying terrain, including gullies and rock ledges. The collection is of unique value to Australian horticulture. The Gardens is also a member of the International Camellia Society, a non-profit international organisation devoted to the genus Camellia.

How pretty is this?

Ferns galore in the gully walk.

The Gardens classifies its collection according to the International Camellia Register, which is maintained by the International Camellia Society. Soon you will be able to explore the Camellia Gardens Register to view this remarkable collection.

In March 2014, E.G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens was named by the International Camellia Society as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence. It is only one of 40 International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the world, and the only such garden in New South Wales.

It's not just Camellias at the garden - you will find fern, tree ferns, roses, and much more.

The rose garden is worth a visit when the flowers are in bloom.

Don't forget to look up. You never know what you may see.

HOW TO GET THERE.

By Car: Travelling from the Sydney CBD, you will need to get onto the M1 and head towards Rockdale/Wollongong. Keep right until you reach General Holmes Drive/A1. From here, you will need to continue onto Grand Parade; look for the signs to Miranda/Cronulla, and continue onto Sandringham Street. Once you reach the T intersection at the top of the hill, you will need to turn left into Rocky Point Road. Travelling south, you will drive over the Captain Cooks Bridge and onto Taren Point Road.

At the end of Taren Point Road, you will take a slight left into the Kingsway, and then turn right at President Avenue. From here, it will only take a couple of minutes to the top entrance of the Camellia Gardens.

If you are coming up from Wollongong, you will either drive up the Mount Ousley Road or Bulli Pass, and onto the F1. You will pass through Heathcote, Engadine; past the Royal National Park and Sutherland. The bypass will take you past the dolphin wall. Once you reach President Avenue, you will need to turn right and follow this road down past Miranda. This will usually take about forty minutes.

By Public Transport: From Central Station, you will need to get onto the South Coast Illawarra Line, to Sutherland. Board the Cronulla line, and get off at either Miranda or Caringbah. From here, you will either need to get a taxi, or check out the local bus time table.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO AT THE GARDENS?

Walks.

The Gardens have something for all seasons. The camellias are in season during autumn and winter. Camellia Sasanqua blooms from autumn, to early winter or early spring; followed by Camellia japonica, from late autumn, right through winter; and with Camellia Reticulata in bloom from mid-winter to September/October. During springtime, the spring annuals are in bloom; these are followed by roses during the summer months.

There are six walks throughout the gardens. They are as follows:

• Elizabeth Cook Walk
• Yowie Bay View
• Wedding Walk
• Duck Pond Walk
• Gully Walk
• Tsubaki Walk


Take a walk through the gardens.

The walks and other facitities are well sign posted.

A brochure, detailing a series of suggested walks that show off many of the garden's best features, is available at The Tea House for a $1 donation.

Guided tours and displays.

Guided tours are often conducted by volunteers between June and August each year, which is the main camellia flowering season at Camellia Gardens.

Further information about guided tours - Email: sutick@grapevine.com.au

Playgrounds.

There are two playgrounds located within the garden grounds. One is situated near The Tea House at the top of the gardens, while the other is located at the lower section of the gardens near the BBQ area.

Lower playground.

Upper playground near The Tea House.

The Tea House.

Tea House Opening Hours
Monday - Friday 10.00am to 3.30pm;
Saturday - Sunday 10.00am to 4.30pm
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The Tea House is located near the top gates, off President Avenue. It operates independently of the gardens, and staff cannot answer questions about the garden. To make a booking, you can phone: (02) 9540 2018.

Remember if you have a large group going to the Tea House call to make a booking.

Feed the ducks.

There is a small creek that runs through the Camellia Gardens and down into Yowie Bay, in the Port Hacking River. It is in this creek and adjacent duck ponds that you will find plenty of ducks and other bird life, waiting for a free feed. Most of them are very comfortable around humans, and will take the bread right from your hand. I would take a bit more care when the ibis are around, as they can get a bit nasty.

The ducks just love a feed of bread.

Feed me! Feed me!

You can buy, for a small fee, feeding bags from The Tea House, or you may want to bring some of your own leftover stale bread. Great place to introduce the kids to a bit of friendly wildlife. Just outside the bottom section of the gardens, there is a small bridge that goes across the creek. You can feed the ducks and cockatoos here as well.

The duck ponds are a great place to take the kids.

Weddings, wedding photography and Naming Ceremonies.

To hold a ceremony or take wedding photography in the gardens, you must ring the Sutherland Shire Council on (02) 9710 0251 to reserve an area of the gardens. A fee does apply and most of the funds raised goes to the upkeep of the gardens.
Click here for further information.

Picnic and BBQ areas.

Dotted throughout the gardens, you will find a number of places where you can have a picnic. Down towards the bottom of the gardens, you will find a couple of free gas BBQ's if you want to thrown a sausage on the plate.

There are a number of areas to have a picnic throughout the gardens.

Why don't you have a sausage sizzle the next time you visit the Camillia Gardens.

Accessibility.

The establishment of the gardens on a steeply sloping site makes sections inaccessible, or difficult to access for people who have limited mobility. Access is available from the top gates, to the lawn and teahouse areas; from the lower gates, access is available to the specially designed Senses Garden, and to most of the lower sections of the garden.

Accessible toilet facilities are available adjacent to the lower entrance, and in The Tea House adjacent to the top gates. There is also a parking area at the top of the gardens, and down at the bottom.
The top car park on President Avenue.


INFORMATION ABOUT CAMELLIAS.

If you would like to learn more about the different varieties of camellias, and How, When and Where to plant and maintain them, you could join the St George and Sutherland Shire Camellia Society Inc.

They meet on the first Saturday of the month, from March to October, at the St George Leagues Club from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

For further information, you can contact either Marj Mansfield on (02) 9531 7309, or Jim Powell on mobile 0415 114 443.

Or, if you live out of the St George and Sutherland Shire and you would like to investigate further information and up-to-date news you, could go to this website.

Opening Hours.

Monday - Friday 9.00am - 4.00pm; weekends and public holidays 9.30am to 5pm; 9.30am to 6pm daylight saving time)
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Even though I have eleven different Camellias growing in my yard, it is great to be able to walk through the E.G. Waterhouse Camellia Gardens, as it is one of the loveliest gardens anywhere. It is so peaceful to just wander through and along the narrow paths, past flowers of all description, down to the immaculately kept rose garden, surrounded by manicured lawns. It's somewhere you can grab a seat, or put down a blanket, and just watch the world go by.

There is plenty of seating nestled in and around the gardens.

It's a place where you can also visit year round, as it is full of lush green tree ferns, ferns, and a collection of Camellias that come into full bloom in the spring. Pergolas are provided to sit and dream in, while looking out over the beautiful gardens.

A couple of my Sasanqua Camellias are starting to flower.

Even the ants like the nectar of the flowers.

So, if you are looking for a place where you can take the family for an outing to take in a few walks, feed the birds, hold a wedding or naming ceremony, have a picnic or a BBQ, have a bite to eat, and be amazed by the beauty and fragrance of the Camellias and many other flowers, the E. G. Waterhouse Camellia Gardens is the place to visit.
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Why? Be amazed by the beauty & fragrance of the Camellia Gardens.
When: Year round
Where: Caringbah, Sutherland Shire
Cost: Free and open to the public
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