Wildflower Season

Barren Grounds Nature Reserve

Sam Garrett-Jones, NPA Illawarra Branch

Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is popular walking area south of Wollongong (see NPA 60 Best Walks #30) that offers spectacular displays of wildflowers. With the adjoining Budderoo National Park, Barren Grounds is one of only four large areas of heathland on the south coast and also has unusual stands of rainforest along the escarpment edge. These varied habitats contain many rare or endangered plant and animals, notably the ground parrot Pezoporus wallicus.

While there are always splendid views to be had at the Illawarra Lookout and the natural stone bridge across Lamonds Creek, the walks are stunning in spring when many of the heath flowers, such as Boronia, Isopogon (drumsticks) and, if you are lucky, Waratah (Telopea speciosissima), are in full bloom.

Muogamarra Nature Reserve

Nell Saxon-Mills, Ranger, National Parks and Wildlife Service

Situated between the suburb of Cowan in the South and the Hawkesbury River to the North, Muogamarra Nature Reserve is an wonderful spot to view wildflowers in spring. Open for only six weekends a year, Muogamarra Nature Reserve is full of rich Aboriginal Heritage and examples of diverse sandstone derived forests. The spring open season is an extraordinary opportunity to view the wildflowers found in the Nature reserve, flowers such as Waratahs, Boronias, Lambertias, Grevilleas, Wattles and orchids are commonly seen from the range of tracks that are open to the public. Visitors can join volunteer guides on bookable tours to learn about the natural history and Aboriginal and European cultural heritage found within the park, or they can choose to go on a self-guided walk at their own pace. Walks range from short, easy strolls to day-long hikes for the more experienced. Views from the multiple lookouts along the tracks take in expansive views of the Hawkesbury River in the north, and all the way to the Blue Mountains in the west on a clear day.

Spring Wildflowers, Canberra and Southern Tablelands Grasslands

Geoff Robertson, Maree Gilbert & Margaret Ning, Friends of Grasslands

The Snowy Mountains are known for their amazing wildflower displays in summer and indeed they are spectacular. However, have you ever considered tracking to see a lower altitude grassland wildflower display? Before the invasion-settlement, eleven percent of south-east Australia was covered by natural temperate grassland, of which much less than five percent remains. In spring, some of these remnants burst into spectacular flower displays. Even in drought times, these grasslands flower, although less spectacularly. Somewhat more extensive were grassy woodlands dominated by Yellow Box, Blakely’s Red Gum and White Box trees and another by Snow Gums. Woodlands may also produce spectacular flower displays, including many daisies, lilies, orchids (although these are rarer), peas, goodenia, buttercup, sundew, violets, bluebells, geraniums, diminutive shrubs, and many more plant families including fascinating plants such as Creamy Candles, Blue Devil, Bindweed and subtle Woodruff. Grasses and sedges are also flowering plants and have their own particular fascination.
Driving around Canberra, Yass, Cooma, Braidwood, Nimmitabel, Adaminaby, Delegate or anywhere in between, be on the look out for flower patches, especially in spring, and if they catch your eye, stop and you will be richly rewarded. The use of traditional cultural burns is encouraging some spectacular displays.

Many books will help you to identify these flower species. We recommend Grasslands Flora and Woodland Flora. Another great resource is the plants component of Canberra Nature Map.

Recommended Canberra sites

  • Mulanggari Nature Reserve, adjacent to Alec Hope Cres. Franklin (Oct). Wildflowers have responded well to cultural burns.
  • Dunlop Nature Reserve off Branson St. (Oct). A Kangaroo Grass community that was burnt in 2018.
  • South Kama Nature Reserve – off William Hovell Drive (Oct). Walk starts in a Yellow Box Red Gum woodland (a bird hot-spot) with a diverse understorey, then becomes a riparian Kangaroo Grass grassland often covered in Blue Devil.
  • Franklin Grassland Reserve (southern end) (aka as North Franklin Reserve) (Oct-Dec). Enter from south east corner of Amy Witting St, Franklin. Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), Forest 20, National Arboretum (anytime). An easy way to see wildflowers and grasses associated with grasslands and woodlands.
  • Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), Forrest 20, National Arboretum (anytime). An easy way to see wildflowers and grasses associated with grasslands and woodlands.
  • St Mark’s Grassland, Charles Sturt University, about 200 metres from east end of Blackall Place, Barton.

Some recommended sites elsewhere

  • Yass Gorge grasslands, enter from north east end (turning circle) of Meehan Street, Yass (Sept-Oct).
  • Old Cooma Common Grassland Reserve – drive up dirt road to radio tower off southern end of Polo Flat Rd, Cooma. From tower, walk 300m south and see display of Monaro Golden Daisy along ridge (late Oct).
  • Bushrangers Hill Road, Adaminaby, roadside about 1.5km to 2km south of Snowy Mountains Highway (late Oct).

Recommended reading

  • Grassland Flora, a Field Guide for the Southern Tablelands (NSW and ACT), by David Eddy, Dave Mallinson, Rainer Rehwinkel and Sarah Sharp
  • Woodland Flora, a Field Guide for the Southern Tablelands (NSW and ACT), by Sarah Sharp, Rainer Rehwinkel, Dave Mallinson and David Eddy

Book Review – Four Wildflower Walks: Perisher Region, Kosciuszko National Park 

By Roger Farrow. Published by the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra Region (Inc) Reviewed by Brian Everingham

Some of the prettiest wildflower walks in the Snowy region in summer months can be found in the Perisher Valley. Indeed the entire valley floor appears to be awash with wildflowers and if you are like me, love the mountains in summer and also love to walk with close attention to what’s around you, this hardy little book is just for you.

Roger Farrow is actually an entomologist and his expertise in insects no doubt got him looking at what those insects were often landing on. He joined the Canberra Branch of the Australian Native Plant Society in 1996 and as a consequence has also fallen in love with the wildflowers of the alpine region. Hence this book! It is designed around four walks, starting at the lower elevations and proceeding ever higher until we are walking the Mount Stillwell Track above Charlottes Pass. The four walks are the Waterfall Track near Sawpit Creek, the Rennix Track, the Porcupine Track at Perisher and the track to Mount Stilwell. All are classic small walks with much to enjoy and with this guide the walks are enriched.

Roger does not presume expertise in botany. Instead he has organised each walk as though you are coming upon the plants. For example, as you leave Sawpit creek you see in these tough spiral bound pages the plants you are likely to spot along the creek and through the underpass. You then find a section of plants you are likely to see through the forested section before arriving at the bog. Photos are used to illustrate and each plant is given its common and scientific names.

Experts might like more detail but leave that book back at base. This one is one to carry – along with a camera and a good macro lens – and it will enrich that walk immensely. I know that next time I visit these walks, all favourites of mine, I will carry it along. Take it with you this coming summer.

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