A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published April 7th 2013
Picnic and bushwalk among native Australian plants
When Captain Cook's Endeavour arrived on Australian shores in 1770, botanist Joseph Banks set about documenting as much of the native flora in this strange new land as he could. Some two centuries after Banks made the first major collection of Australian flora, Sutherland Shire Council resolved to establish a native plant garden as a tribute to the famous botanist.
The result, of course, is Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve. Located in Manooka Place, Kareela, this 2.2-hectare reserve covers a wooded hillside and is one of only a few gardens in Sydney dedicated entirely to Australian native plants.
This landscaped garden is set in Hawkesbury sandstone country, distinguished by large sandstone outcrops dotted around the park. Four kilometres of sealed walking paths meander through the reserve, letting visitors take a peaceful stroll through the truly unique surrounds.
A suggested walk starts from the carpark and follows a roughly circular route, taking about 30 minutes to complete. The walk takes in a wide range of Aussie natives, from lilly pillies and ferns to christmas bush, banksias and grevilleas. The natural tree cover includes the twisted limbs of smooth-barked apple, as well as varieties like red bloodwood, blackbutt and Sydney peppermint.
All through the park, your senses are massaged by the sights, sounds and especially smells of all the native greenery. Tiny birds flit through the trees around you, while lizards scurry for cover at the sound of your approach.
There are a couple of small ponds - don't feed the fish - and trickling water courses, with nearby park benches on hand to offer a quiet place to sit down and reflect for a while. Towards the top of the hill there's also a vantage point offering lovely views through Oyster Bay and up towards the suburbs beyond.
Four barbecue areas are dotted throughout the reserve, with picnic tables attached and wood provided. Surrounded by the sights and smells of the Aussie bush, these barbecue areas are lovely little havens away from all the noise and traffic of the Princes Highway - even though it's only a short distance away.