Wollemi Pine, eucalypts.. and green spaces in the city

Canberra, as with many young cities, is growing rapidly, and sometimes the rush to build overtakes the need to plan long term….so thank goodness the National Botanic Gardens were planned and planted in the 1960s and it is now in the heart of the city.


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During summer I joined a walking group to re-discover some of the joys of the National Botanic Gardens. I have written a few posts on some of the diverse parts of the gardens, The Red Centre Garden, and the Rainforest Gully.

The walks are coming to an end this week, so here is a last snapshot of some of the plants and places we have passed by.. …

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This is the Wollemi Pine, one of the world’s rarest and most ancient tree species.

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The Wollemi Pine belongs to the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family. It was, until 1994,  believed to be extinct. David Noble, a National Parks and Wildlife Officer was bushwalking and abseiling in 1994, and came across an unusual plant in a National Park close to Sydney.

Scientists and Horticulturalists were amazed, as is the general public…because the Wollemi Pine comes from the age of dinosaurs…there are very few left in the wild..

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Palaeontologists say it is likely that the dinosaur crossed paths with the Wollemi Pine and may have eaten Wollemi leaves….amazing!

There are a small amount of Wollemi Pines still in the wild, and they are protected, both from human intervention and from fire, to ensure their survival.

However, people can now buy and grow a Wollemi Pine (if you have a very large garden!) and become part of one of the most dramatic comebacks in natural history.


The trees that do dominate the landscape of the Gardens are the Eucalypts.

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In summer visitors enjoy concerts under the trees, children come for ”Eucalyptus by Gum” educational adventure, couples get married, groups meet to have picnics.

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There are more than one hundred species to be seen if you wander across the Eucalypt lawn.

As we’ve walked around the gardens we were amazed at the colour and texture of bark on the Eucalypt trees……

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The tree below is called a Smooth-barked Apple…it is eye catching and smooth as silk to feel..

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It was one of the earliest Eucalypts collected by Europeans, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander who travelled with Captain Cook in 1770. It is quite easy to see why they wanted to take a sample home.

The Gardens are also the perfect place for photography enthusiasts …..

…where else would you see King Parrots looking so beguiling….

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This shy New Holland Honey Eater is darting between the banksias….hard to catch..

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 And here is another well known Aussie, a Galah, perched on top of the highest point of the highest tree… oh to be a bird…..

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Autumn is a wonderful season in Canberra, and I hope to write a few more posts about my home town before winter begins!

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved.




























20 Replies to “Wollemi Pine, eucalypts.. and green spaces in the city”

  1. What a wonderful tour of Canberra’s Botanic Gardens. The vegetation and wildlife is so different from what I’m familiar with in Canada. Very interesting about the Wollemi Pine. It’s nice to know there are some success stories of species that manage to make a comeback from the edge of extinction.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour! I would love to visit Canada, as you say, our two countries are so different, some parts of Canada look absolutely stunning. Blogs certainly give us all a chance to do a virtual tour!

  2. Beautiful green space, Gerrie. The birds are so colourful, and the gum trees really look so healthy. We had a lot of Eucalyptus trees in South Africa, but as they weren’t indigenous, they have been declared invasive and many have been destroyed. Here is a quote explaining why, “Seeking to create a new environmental policy, the African National Congress passed new environmental laws that protected native flora and created programs, such as Working for Water, to destroy plants designated as “exotic” and “invasive.” The African National Congress has become increasingly critical of “exotic” trees in South Africa, seeking their removal on the grounds that they are not “African.” Go figure! 😕

    1. Your quote gave me a chuckle! However, my brother, who travels through Africa frequently, says that gum trees are a real problem in South Africa, and other countries in Africa. A few years ago, when we were on our way to St Lucia we saw plenty of scrawny looking gum trees ….far too many! Here in Canberra there is always debate about having gum trees in suburbia, as they can drop big branches without warning…but on the other hand, they are the reason we have such active birdlife….. You’ve made me think there is topic for a post in there! Thanks for the comments.

    1. Thanks Sarah, I’m finding that blogs are a great way to look at landscapes and wildlife all over the world.

  3. I loved the fact that the Canberra Botanic Gardens specialized in Australian natives, especially the gum tree. I was amazed at how many different species there are.
    I have invited you to join the “7 day nature photos challenge” Gerrie. I know you love taking nature photos. Hope you can find the time to fit it in. The challenge is to post nature photos for 7 consecutive days, then invite another blogger to join in each day.

    1. Thanks Pauline, I’d love to do that, but have a lot on at the moment, later in the month would be better… Is there a time limit on it?

    1. Yes, the Wollimi Pine story is interesting isn’t it? …I’m just off to make Judy’s lamb and lentils dish….blogs are very helpful in all sorts of ways!

  4. It was a pleasure to see such beautiful trees and birds. Gosh, it is fascinating to think dinosaurs may have been around at the same time as the Wollemi Pine. Such beautiful gardens, you have me wanting to feel the tree trunks.xxx

    1. Yes! I felt a bit like hugging the Apple gum tree. It was lovely to be able to put some photos of our walks in the Gardens into a post, glad you liked it.

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