Sydney's Natural Landscape


Formation of the Natural Landscape
The landscape of the Sydney Basin as we know it today is claimed by geologists to have begun to take shape nearly 300 million years ago during the Permian geological period. The basin was at the mouth of a broad swampy river basin, covered in lush plant life of predominantly conifers and ferns, much of which were the ancestors of today's natural vegetation. At the beginning of the Triassic Period which scientists estimate to be some 230 million years ago, sand, silt and clay eroded from inland mountains was brought down by rivers and deposited where these rivers met the sea. These deposits created a flood plain similar in size to today's Nile and Ganges deltas. Successive layer of sediment filled the basin, covering the Permin swamps and turning the organic layers into the coal seams that lay beneath the area from Newcastle to the Illawarra. The lower sandy sediments were compacted into the deeper sandstones and shales known today as the Narrabeen Group, the middle levels formed the Hawkesbury Sandstone visible around Sydney and from which many of Sydney's stone buildings were constructed, and youngest upper layers of compressed silt and clay became Wianamatta Shale.

By the end of the Triassic period, the subcontinent, which included Australia, Antarctica, India, Africa and South America, began to split and separate into the continental land masses we know today. During the Jurassic, Cretaceous and early Tertiary Periods, as the continents slowly separated, sedimentation of the Sydney Basin had stopped. The subterranean forces created by the separation of the continents caused uplifting volcanic activity in South Eastern Australia, leading to the creation of the Great Dividing Range. In the Sydney area, this resulted in the formation of the Blue Mountains and the gradual sinking of the Cumberland plain along the line of flexture (the Lapstone monocline and the Kurrajong fault), which is followed today by the Nepean-Hawkesbury River.

During the Tertiary Period, earth movement slowed down sufficiently for rivers to form and begin depositing the alluvial sediments of gravels, clays, silts and sand which cover the Cumberland Plain and carve deep gorges through the erosion-resistant sandstone near the coast. Geolosists estimate that during the Pleistocene ice ages, the sea fell to its lowest level, but as the temperatures began to rise and the majority of the ice began to melt, the sea rose by around 130 metres to its present level, drowning the coastal valleys to form Broken Bay, Sydney Harbour and Port Hacking.



The Sydney Basin

Sydney Harbour, which covers an area of 55 square kilometres, streches inland some 21 kms from the Heads to Ryde Bridge (from which point it becomes the Parramatta River) yet has a shoreline extending over 240 kms in length, made up of hundreds of bays and inlets formed when the sandstone escarpments of the area were drowned at the time the ice age receded. Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, Broken Bay, Georges River and Port Hacking are all rias, drowned river valleys into which hundreds of small tributaries of the Parramatta, Nepean-Hawkesbury, Georges and Woronora Rivers flow. Most of Sydney Harbour is over 9 metres deep at low tide, its deepest point - over 40 metres - is near the Harbour Bridge between Circular Quay and Kirribilli.

Vertical cliffs and headlands feature prominently on the coast, they having been created by centuries of pounding seas eroding their soft Hawkesbury Sandstone. Inland, away from the action of the ocean, the cliffs and headlands of Balls Head and Manns Point have retained their original shape. Around the shores of Pittwater, Brisbane Waters, the Hawkesbury River, Port Hacking and Middle Harbour, very little flat land exists as the headlands which surround the bays are the escarpments left by ancient rivers which once carved deep valleys through the sandstone. The exceptions are the flat topped plateaux of West Head (west of Pittwater) and Royal National Park (south of Port Hacking). The southern and western parts of Sydney are built on the Cumberland Plain, which begins with rocky ridges interspersed with sand dunes along the coast, falling away to flat, mainly sandy country to the west, much of which was dotted with wetlands when the first white settlers arrived in 1788. Not understanding their environmental importance, many of these wetland areas such as the Lachlan Swamps of Centennial Park and the low lying areas on the fringes of Botany Bay where golf courses and Mascot airport have been built were regarded as undesirable swamps and filled in, resulting in major damage to the natural local environment.

To the north west of Sydney is the deep alluvial Hawkesbury floodplain, formed over centuries by the erosion of soil deposited downstream from The Blue Mountains by rivers in the Hawkesbury and Colo systems. The southernmost section of these rich plains, in the vicinity of modern day Parramatta, were discovered and first cultivated by the white settlers during their first year of occupation. The plains are still subject to flooding, in spite of a series of dams built as much to control the water flow and stop flooding as a water supply for the city of Sydney. To the south east of Sydney is another fertile and rich, dark alluvial plain, that of the Nepean and Georges Rivers and their tributaries in what is today the Liverpool and Macarthur districts. The first Europeans into the area were not people, rather a small herd of cattle which strayed away from the main settlement in the winter of 1788 and were found again on the banks of the Nepean River in 1795. The area where they had settled is still known today as Cowpasture. It was here that Australia's wool industry was established when grantee John Macarthur moved into the area in 1803 and began breeding merino sheep.



The Natural Vegetation of the Sydney Basin

It is difficult to know exactly what the bush was like before the arrival of the Aborigines as there are no written records of what conditions were like then. Indications are that a climatactic change may have taken place around the time of the arrival of the first Aborigines to the Sydney basin. It is also known that sea level was quite different then to what it is today. All these factors make it uncertain to know what changes if any they had on the natural vegetation of the Sydney basin.

Contrary to what is commonly believed, the Aborigines did make a considerable impact on the natural environment they knew by their practice of controlled burning off, particularly in the heavily forested areas. This activity had a threefold function - to reduce the fire hazzard in Summer; to make the bush more accessible, both for passage through it and for ease in hunting; to allow the germination of seeds which in turn brought new growth (and fruit) to the trees.

The arrival of white man brought the greatest changes of all. Not being hunters and gatherers but agriculturalists, the Europeans stripped large tracts of the land of their natural vegetation, planting in their place cereal crops, grass and plants introduced from overseas. Pick axes and then bulldozers modified the landscape, particularly along river and harbour foreshores to such a degree that the people of colonial Sydney would not recognise many locations were they to come back and see them today.

Patches of natural vegetation which escaped the axe and bulldozer can be found scattered throughout the Sydney metropiltan area. Whilst one would like to think they give us a glimpse of what the place was like in its natural state, this is not necessarily so. Seeds of introduced plants blown from gardens or washed into the valleys and streams by runoff have infiltrated many of these "natural" bushland pockets. Some of them are today so overgrown by exotic ferns and lantana, they give a totally false view of what the natural bush was like. Such a case is the vegetation along the banks of the Lane Cove River upstream from Fullers Bridge. Today, the shoreline is a dense mass of vegetation though early records describe it as being lightly wooded with easy, open access to the water's edge. Because seeds rarely blow upwards and run off flows from it than to it, higher ground has remained virtually unaffected by introduced plants and is close to its natural state except where bulldozers and graders have removed the natural vegetation.

BLUE GUM FOREST


Sheldon Forest, Pymble

Found in the high rainfall areas of Wianamatta Shale soils. Tall, open forest or wet sclerophyll forest, composed of big trees up to 50 metres high. Most common trees were Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna), which were particularly abundant on the lower slopes and in valleys, and Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), which occupied the ridges. Other trees included Angophora costata; Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus globoidea); Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera); Forest Oak (Allocasuarina torulosa). The undergrowth included shrubs up to 2 metres high which included Dodonaea triqueta, Persoonia linearis, Leucapogon juniperinus and Hibbertia aspera. In moister depressions, ferns such as Culcita debia, Doodia aspera and Adiantum aethiopicum were common, with small trees like Pittosporum undulatum, Polyscias sambucifolia, Coachwood and Lillypilly (Acmena smithii).

Original location: Central spine of the North Shore from Crows Nest to Hornsby; high land between Castle Hill and Eastwood. It was these forests which became the major source of timber for Sydney during the 19th century.

Surviving examples:

Carlingford - remants of Blue Gum High Forest remain at Mobbs Hill and along the creeks and hillslopes of the whole Hills district.

Beecroft - 2ha of high forest is preserved at Ludovic Blackwood Sanctuary.

Pennant Hills - remnants of high forest trees in Pennant Hills Park.

Normanhurst - small clusters of trees remain from the forest which once covered the area. Other remnants are scattered beside roadsides and parks throughout the district.

St. Ives - Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve and Browns Forest contains 16ha of the high forest of Blackbutt, Grey Ironbark, Red Mahoganies and Blue Gums which once covered the upper north shore.

Pymble - 7ha of original high forest is protected in Sheldon Forest.

Wahroonga - 1.7ha of high forest is preserved at Clive Evatt Reserve.

Eastwood - remnants of high forest remain at Brush Farm Park and Darvall Park (Denistone).

Artarmon - remnants of high forest can be found at Artarmon Reserve.

TURPENTINE - IRONBARK FOREST


Excelsior Reserve, Carlingford

Found in medium rainfall areas of Wianamatta Shale soils. Medium height open forest (up to 30 metres). The most common trees were Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera); White Stringybark (Eucalyptus globoidea); Red Mahogany (Eucalyptus resinfera) and Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata). Understorey was quite dense except where it has been burnt off by the Aborigines, a task they performed on a regular basis to kep the bush accessible, reduce the fire hazard in Summer and make hunting easier. Acacia trees were common understorey species.

Original location: A large Turpentine-Ironbark forest extended from Glebe and Newtown west to Auburn and south to Hurstville and Milperra. This forest continues south beyond the Georges River. Another forest was located north of the Parramatta River between Ryde and Glenorie.

Surviving examples:

Northmead - banks of Darling Mills and Toongabbie Creeks have fine examples of Blackbutt and diverse shrub understorey, with over 200 species of Excelsior Reserve.

Pitt Town - woodland area featuring Grey Box and Forest Red Gum and Longneck Lagoon.

Kenthurst - O'Haras Creek catchment features ridge-top woodland of Sydney Peppermint, Red and Yellow Bloodwoods, Grey Gums and Narrow-leaved Apples and tall open-forest of Sydney Blue Gums on the valley floor.

Maroota - relatively untouched country abounds in White Stringybark, Turpentines and Grey Gums.

Cattai - cross section of forest types depending on terrain may be seen in the Cattai National Park.

Round Corner - a remnant of ridge-top forest, typical of that once covered the whole district, can be found at Ellerman Park.

Arcadia - sample of the forest of White Mahogany, Red Mahogany and White Stringybarks which covered the area located in NE corner of Fagan Park.

Hornsby - Turpentine-Ironbark forests abound beyond suburbia and are conserved in Ku-ring-gai Chase and Marramarra National Parks, Muogamarra Nature Reserve, Pennant Hills Park, Berowra Valley Bushland Park and Elouera Bushland Natural Park. Gordon/East Lindfield/Forestville - vast forests fill the valleys of Garigal and Davidson National Park.

Ryde - 6ha of forest remain in Wallumatta Forest, East Ryde.

Ashfield - Turpentine and Blackbutt trees in Ashfield Park and Albert Parade are remnants of the original forest.

Silverwater - 20ha of forest on land used for storing naval munitions. It contains over 100 native species; Rookwood Cemetery,

Auburn - bushland remnants including good examples of mahogany, ti-tree, wattle scrub, stringybark, woollybutt, banksia and scribbly gum.

Bankstown - sheltered gullies near Marion Street and small escarpment between Milperra and Punchbowl.

Greenacre - Norkfolk Reserve contains remnants of original vegetation including Ironbarks and Woollybutt.

Leighton, Birong and Regents Park - find examples of Ironbark-Grey Box, melaleuca etc. in valleys of creeks such as Duck River and Salt Pan Creek.

Bass Hill, Leightonfield and Condell Park - good examples of small shrubs along railway line and in Carysfield Park

Wiley Park - remnants survive in the grounds of Wiley Park Girls High Shool.

Concord - strip of natural bushland in the grounds of Dame Edith Walker Hospital containing Ironbark, Red Mahogany, Grey Gum, Turpentine and Rough-barked Apple. Some Turpentines, Grey Ironbarks and Blackbutt remain in Queen Elizabeth Park, at Concord Golf Course, along Majors Bay Road. Rough-barked Apples and White Stringybarks in grounds of North Strathfield Public School.

Rhodes - woodlands with original vegetation of small shrubs and dense shrubby undergrowth exist at Cabarita Park, Bayview Park and Prince Edward Park, with Blackbutt, Red Bloodwood, Smooth-barked Apple, Black She-oak, Cheese Tree and Coast Banksia remaining on the headlands.

Hurstville - small remnants in Riverwood Park;

Penshurst - important group of trees in Olds Park;

Oatley - group of Syncarpia trees in River Road. The only surviving occurance of Grey Ironbark on the Georges River foreshore is at Oatley Point Reserve.

Marrickville - a few examples of Blackbutt and Swampy Oak remain around the Marrickville Golf Course.

Strathfield - a few turpentines remain in Strathfield Park.

Randwick - remnants of a eucalyptus forest, the kind of which were common in the sheltered sandstone gullies of the area, can be found in Glebe Gully.

Bondi - Cooper Park at the head of the major draining gully into Double Bay, has a pocket of woodland forest.

Huters Hill - tiny remnants of Turpentine-Ironbark forest remain on the sandstone slopes of Boronia Park. Smaller pockets exist in other parts of the suburb.

North Ryde - remnants of hillside forest remain east of Northern Suburbs Cremetorium, north-east of Macquarie University and throughout the Lane Cover National Park.

Ryde - remnants of forest at Wallumetta Forest. Change from sandstone to shale is reflected in change of vegetation from Turpentine-Ironbark to Sydney Blue Gum in forest remnant at Burrows Park. Field of Mars Reserve contains a well preserved sheltered woody valley near the Cascades.

Sutherland/Bonnett Bay - remnants of forest, similar to those once covering the area are now ccupied by inner Sydney, abound between the pockets of recent urban development and on the steep hillsides above the Woronora River.

CUMBERLAND PLAIN WOODLANDS


Geiorges River Reserve, Ingleburn

The driest part of Sydney which includes deep clays, shale and some sandstone strata on level or slightly rising plains. Easily penetrated open scrubland, free of shrubs and dotted with smaller trees including Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana), Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) and Broad-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa) on the rises; Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) on the lower hills. Cabbage Gum (Eucalyptus amplifolia), Blue Box (Eucalyptus bauerana), Bosito's Box (Eucalyptus bositoana) and Broad-leaved Apple (Angophora subvelutina) near creeks or in poorly drained areas; with Stringybark (Eucalyptus eugenioides) and Woollybutt (Eucalyptus logifolia) appearing more prevalently in the east near Bankstown.

Original location: Plains west of Parramatta, south to Campbelltown and Camden and north to Richmond and Windsor. The Cumberland Plain Woodlands is bordered to the north-east around Castlereagh and Londonderry by woodlands of Grey Box and Forest Red Gum, and to the north on the Nepean-Hawkesbury River floodplain, particularly downstream from Windsor, by River-flat forests of Sydney Blue Gum, Deane's Gum (Eucalyptus deanei), Forest Red Gum, Broad-leaved Apple, River Oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana), Water gum (Tristaniopsis laurina) and Cabbage Gum.

Surviving examples:

Bankstown - extensive area with a wide variety of species in Lansdowne Park.

East Hills - remnants of river-flat forest at Deepwater Park, with pockets of woodlands and mangroves nearby.

Parramatta - a few Grey Box and Forest Red Gum survive in Parramatta Park.

South Granville - 11ha of original vegetation remain along Duck River. It includes open scrub, open heathland, clumps of Melaleuca and Kangaroo Grass. Trees include Grey Box, Woollybutt, Red Mahogany, Stringybark, Rough-barked Apple, Grey Gum and a fine stand of Cabbage Gum.

Eastern Creek - extensive stands of natural vegetation preserved on Water Board land surrounding Prospect Reservoir. Includes Grey Box, Forest Red Gum, Spotted Gum. Smaller stands at Kareela Reserve along Eastern Creek.

Berkshire Park - Well preserved native vegetation in Castlereagh Nature Reseve.

Marsden Park - extensive Castlereagh woodlands.

Shanes Park - extensive woodlands preserved within radio transmitter station.

Camden - Camden Park has the best preserved examples of alluvium forests on the Nepean River which includes Blue Box, Broad-leaved Apple, Ribbon Gums, River Peppermints, River Oaks, Water Gums.

Campbelltown - small stands of Grey Box and Forest Red Gum remain in Mount Annan Botanic Garden.

Appin - a fine stand of Spotted Gum stand beside the Appin Road.

Airds/Kentlyn/Minto Heights - pockets of natural vegetation exist along the length of the George River Gorge between Macquarie Fields and Airds.

Fairfield - a small section of a forest of Spotted Gum which once covered the whole area has been preserved at Bossley Bush Recreation reserve.

Hoxton Park - the remnants of a large Spotted Gum forest is found west of Hoxton Park Aerodrome.

Penrith - pockets of River Oaks, Deane's Gum, Blackbutt and Red Cedar fringe the Nepean River Gorge north of Penrith.

SANDSTONE HEATHS, WOODLANDS AND FORESTS


Bents Basin

This vegetation and landscape is the traditional image evoked by the term "Hawkesbury Sandstone". Areas of shallow sandy soils comprising of sandstone heaths, woodlands, and light forests which make up the largest areas of remaining natural vegetation around Sydney. Coastal heath is the main vegetation on the headlands between Palm Beach and Royal National Park. Pockets of similar scrubland occur around Middle Harbour, Deep creek, the Lane Cove valley, between Hornsby and Kenthurst and Sutherland to Holsworthy. Vegetation, mainly low scrub includes Banksia ericifolia, Angophora hispida (left) and needle-leaved Hakea teretifolia; smaller eucalypts such as Eucalyptus haemastroma, Red Bloodwood (Eucalyptus gummifer and Eucalyptus oblonga); and Mallee eucalypts (Eucalyptus luehmanniana; Eucalyptus obtusiflora and Eucalyptus multicaulis). Higher ridges populated by Scribbly Gums, Red Bloodwood, Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata), Black Ash or Silver-top Ash is very common around Sutherland and Yellow Bloodwood (Eucalyptus eximia) occurs extensively around Arcadia and Maroota. Open forests occurred on exposed hillsides.

A vegetation type common to many bushland parks and reserves, it includes Sydney Peppermint (Eucalyptus peperita), smooth-barked Angophora costata, Red Bloodwood and Black She-oak are frequent. In open forest on sheltered hillsides, Turpentines, Blueberry Ash and Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) are common with softer shrubs like Grevilleas, bracken (Pteridium esculentum) and bracken-like Culcita dubia. Small trees and shrubs including Tristaniopos laurina, Lomatia myricoides and Austromyrtus tenufolia, and ferns including Gleichenia dicarpa, Sticherus flabellatus and Maidenhair (Adiantum aethiopicum) are common besides creeks.

A strip of Hawkesbury Sandstone country between Long Reef and Barrenjoey, and the lower slopes of Pittwater, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury as far as Wiseman's Ferry, once featured forests of Spotted Gum (Eucalyptus maculata), Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus paninculata), Cabbage Palm (Livistona australis) and Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda).

Original location: North of Sydney Harbour - an area south of the Hawkesbury River from Cattai Creek to the coast, to the Hornsby Plateau and the ridge of high country south of it along which Pacific Highway now runs.

South of Sydney Harbour - a narrow strip from Silverwater to the eastern suburbs ocean beaches on the harbour's southern shoreline (excluding the south head peninsula), with Parramatta Road roughly following its southern extremity. A further area existed south of the Turpentine-Ironbark forests which stretched from Bankstown to Hurstville, skirting pockets of Turpentine-Ironbark on the Sutherland to Cronulla ridge, and encompassing Royal National Park and beyond.


Heathcote National Park

Surviving examples:

Picnic Point - small remnants and larger stretches of forest exist alongside Henry Lawson Drive between East Hills and Padstow Heights.

Earlwood - light woodland with Blackbutt, Sydney Peppermint, Turpentine and Red Bloodwood alongside Wolli Creek at Girraween Park.v Undercliffe - shrubby heath at Highcliff Road.

Oatley - 45ha of bushland in Oatley Park is the largest surviving example in St. George district. Also at Oatley Pleasure Grounds, at southern end of Hurstville Golf Course, Oatley Point Reserve and Yarran Road Reserve.

Lugarno - rainforest species abound at HV Evatt Park, Boggywell Creek, Edith Bay and Georges River shoreline near old punt crossing.

Blakehurst - light woodlands and Blackbutt forest at Carrs Bush Park, Shipwrights Bay, Bald Face Point Reserve.

Holsworthy - sandstone woodland and forest in their natural state extend from Holsworthy Firing Range to Woronora Catchment.

Illawong/Menai/Bangor - extensive woodlands and light forests abound between the pockets of urban recent development.

Bents Basin State Recreation Area - pocket of Hawkesbury Sandstone Woodland in an area surrounded by alluvium flats. Vegetation in sandstone gorge includes Water Gum, Deane's Gum, Blackbutt, Grey Gum, Stringybark, Smooth-barked Apple, Narrow-leaved Ironbark and Forest Oak.

Castlereagh - small remnant of characteristic Banksia woodland at Agnes Banks Nature Reserve, an area that was once an isolated pocket of white sand dunes. Nearby is Castlereagh State Forest, the best remaining area of natural Castlereagh Woodlands, which contains Scribbly Gums, Broad-leaved Ironbark, Banksia, Grevillea and Acacia.

Turramurra - dense scrub occurs on ridge tops behind Turramurra High School, in Davidson Park and Lane Cove River State Recreational Areas (West Pymble) and Turramurra's Rofe Park.

Artarmon - extensive forest stands of Scribby Gum, Red Bloodwood and Blackbutt remain on the steep slopes throughout the lower north shore between the foreshores and the high blue gum forest that existed on the plateau. Most accessible examples are at Lane Cove Bushland Park, Warraroon Road Reserve and Hodgson Park (Riverview).

Lane Cove - remnants of sandstone and wetland communities remain at Stringybark Creek Reserve with Sydney Peppermints, Stringybarks, Black Wattle, Coachwoods and Lillypillies. Downstream are Scribbly Gums, Turpentine and Boronia.

Wollstonecraft - Berry Island Reserve.

Waverton - Balls Head Reserve.

Mosman - open forest of Scribby Gum, Bangalay, Sydney Peppermint, Red Bloodwood and Banksia survives on the wooded slopes of Mosman Bay and at Bradley's Head. Georges Heights - heath and lightly wooded bushland at Clifton Gardens, Chowder Head and Middle Head.

Balgowlah Heights - heath and lightly wooded bushland at Dobroyd Head and Grotto Point Reserve.

Bantry Bay - extensive scrub and lightly wooded areas in southern section of Garigal National Park.

Willoughby - Blackbutt, Grey Ironbark and Paperbark survive on the rocky hillsides surrounding the area's creeks with Port Jackson figs in the more sheltered areas.

Castle Cove / Castlecrag / Middle Cove / Roseville Chase - pockets of light woodland and sandstone scrub survive around the foreshores of Middle Harbour. HC Press Park, Willis Park (Castle Cove) and Harold Reid Reserve (Middle Cove) are the easiest accessible examples.

Dee Why / Mona Vale - large areas of woodland survive throughout the Warringah area, including pockets at Katandra Bushland Sanctuary (Mona Vale), Dee Why Head and Hudson Park. Coastal heath around Dee Why Head and lagoons of the area. (Avalon).

Forestville / Allambie Heights / Frenchs Forest - extensive forest stands of Scribby Gum, Red Bloodwood and Blackbutt remain on the steep slopes surrounding the plateau once covered by high blue gum forest. Easily accessible forests at Garigal National Park, Allenby Park and Manly-Warringah Memorial Park.

St. Ives / Belrose / Terrey Hills - extensive forests abound beyond the northern suburban fringe areas in Ku-ring-gai Chase and Garigal National Parks. Barrenjoey Peninsular - numberous pockets of rainforest survive throughout the peninsula, with low scrub prevailing on the coastal strip.

Manly - North Head contains Sydney's best examples of heath and scrub vegetation. A small remnant of the dune vegetation which stretched from Manly to Dee Why survives at Cabbage Tree Bay.

EASTERN SUBURBS BANKSIA SCRUB


North Head, Manly

An area of Hawkesbury Sandstone covered by wind-blown sand dunes in the east and estuarine silts and clays along watercourses such as Cooks River and Sheas Creek. Sclerophyllous heath, scrub and low forest once grew on the sand dunes. Common shrubs were Banksia aemula, small Mallees (Angophora costata) Monotoca elliptica, Eriostermon australasius, Ricinocarpos pinifolius and Grass Trees (Zanthorrhoea resinosa).

Original location: Areas of the Eastern Suburbs south of Oxford Street from Centennial Park to the coast. A strip also existed along the western shore of Botany Bay from where the airport now stands to the mouth of the Georges River.

Surviving examples:

Vaucluse - one of the few remaining examples of Banksia scrubland is near the waterfront at Nielsen Park.

Kurnell - the heath, scrub and light woodland surrounding Captain Cooks landing place is typical of the natural bushland of this area.

La Perouse - headland is well preserved area of scrub.

Sutherland - examples of the various vegetations of Hawkesbury Sandstone regions, including woodlands, forests, heath and scrub are found throughout Royal National Park.

FRESHWATER WETLANDS


Wolli Creek

Vegetation of the Wetlands of the Nepean-Hawkesbury floodplain includes the Tall Spike Rush (Eleo-charis sphaceata), Triglochin procera and Ludwiga peploides. The wetlands were surrounded by shrublands containing small paperbarks (Melaleuca linariifolia and Melaleuca styphelioides), Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta), though almost all of these areas have been cleared.

Surviving examples:

Eastern Creek/Doonside - Kareela Reserve and Nurragingy Recreational Area along Eastern Creek.

Menangle - Barragal, Menangle and Belgenny Lagoons are natural freshwater swamps still in their natural state.

Moorebank - numerous estuarine and swamp areas exist along the Georges River between Liverpool and East Hills. Vegetation at these locations includes Grey Mangroves, Swamp Oak.

Chipping Norton - the largest undisturbed freshwater swamp on the Georges River, which has a rich complex of plant communities, is at Voyager Point.

Wolli Creek - Wolli and Bardwell Creeks flow alongside the East Hills/Macarthur Railway line before enters Cooks River..

Castlereagh - swampy open woodland south of Agnes Banks Nature reserve.

Lower Portland - extensive undisturbed wetland, one of the few remaining on the Nepean-Hawkesbury floodplain.

Eastlakes - the remnants of an extensive chain of swamps, mangroves and saltmarsh which lay between Mascot Airport and Pagewood. Patches of natural vegetation including Grass Trees exist around the golf courses in the area.

Rose Bay - groups of paperbarks at the Royal Sydney Golf Club are remnants of a swampy woodland forest which once covered the area.

Cattai - remnants of extensive swamps and freshwater wetlands exist in the National Park around Wheeney Lagoon and Little Cattai Creeek.

Wahroonga / Pennant Hills - many wetland communities exist around the various tributaries of the upper Lane Cove River within the Pennant Hills Recreation Park and northern section of the Lane Cover National Park.

ESTUARINE WETLANDS


Mangove swamp, Homebush Bay

Estuarine wetlands once existed at the head of most bays and coves around Sydney Harbour. Majors Bay, Iron Cove, Rozelle Bay, Blackwattle Bay, Darling Harbour, Rushcutters Bay, Rose Bay, Primrose Park, Tunks Park, Balmoral Park, Kogarah Bay and Botany Bay near Sydney Airport were all once marsh and swamplands which have had their natural environment destroyed by landfill tipping. Most have been now coverted to parklands or playing fields.

Mangroves are still prolific around the bays, rivers and estuaries of the Sydney area, particularly those away from built up areas. The most dominant species is the Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina), a tree up to 5 metres in height which is very hardy and fast growing on intertidal mud flats. Less common is the River Mangrove (Avegiceras corniculatum) which grows 2 metres high.

Saltmarsh areas are populated by Samphire or Glasswort (Sarcocornia quinqueflora), and the taller growing Seablite (Suaeda australis). Also found are Juncus Meadow, Swamp Oak (Casuarina glauca) and occasional scrubby paperbarks (Melaleuca Juncus kraussii) around the fringes of the swamp areas. These are particularly prolific on the Georges River near East Hills.

Original location: Sections of the coastal strip north from Manly Lagoon to Pittwater; all bays and inlets of Sydney Harbour, the Parramatta, lower Hawkesbury, Lane Cove, Georges and Woronora Rivers and their tributaries; Southern shores of Botany Bay from Sylvania Waters to Kurnell; Northern shores of Botany Bay inland as far as Centennial Park, Waterloo and east in the valleys of Cooks River and Wolli Creek.

Surviving examples:

East Hills - mangroves and strips of lightly wooded alluvial flats along the Georges River.


Salt Pan Creek

Padstow - mangroves alongside Salt Pan Creek.

Como - extensive communities, including large tracts of mangroves, exist along the Georges River and Salt Pan Creek from Como to East Hills and Padstow.

South Hurstville - Moore Reserve and Poulton Park.

Kurnell - Towra Point Nature Reserve.

Blakehurst - only stand of Swamp Mahogany in St. George area is at Carrs Bush Park.

Ramsgate - small stand of original wetland forest at Leo Smith Reserve with Casuarina, Swamp Oak and Swamp Mahjogany.

Rockdale - small wetland near Barton Park.v Turella - small patches of saltmarsh and mangroves near weir.

Silverwater - the best example of a saltmarsh in Port Jackson.

Homebush Bay - saltmarsh and good examples of mangrove Avicennia marina within Bicentennial Park.

Canada Bay - fringes of mangroves remain at Brays, Yaralla, Majors, Kendall and Exile Bays and Uhrs Point.

Concord - rare surviving example of mangrove, saltmarsh, mudflat and Swamp Oak remain at Lovedale Place Park.

Strathfield - a small patch of mangroves survive in Mason Park.

Hunters Hill - Boronia Park has a diversity of habitats, one of which is an estuarine fringe of mangroves along the Lane Cove River. Others fringe Gladesville Reserve (above), Tarban Creek and Buffalo Creek. Ferdinand Street has a small area of saltmarsh.

Lane Cove West / North Ryde - extensive saltmarsh and Grey Mangroves on banks of the Lane Cove River upstream from Figtree bridge. Buffalo Creek reserve and Blackman Park feature Grey Mangroves, Swampy Oaks, Salt Couch encircling the saltmarsh, with paperbarks, Wild Spinach, Red Bloodwoods and Red Mahoganies on the surrounding rocky hillside.

Riverview - mangroves at Hodgson Park and Tambourine Bay Reserve.

Geeenwich - tidal flats with saltmarsh at Gore Creek Reserve.

Chatswood West - many wetland communities exist around the varous tributaries of the Lane Cove River within the Lane Cover National Park.

Willoughby - various estuarine communities including mangroves exist along the mudflats and riverflats surrounding Willoughby, Long and Sailors Bays, with Swamp Oak fringe forests.

Dee Why - estuarine communities survive around Dee Why Lagoon, Curl Curl Lagoon (North Curl Curl), Manly Lagoon (Queenscliff) and Narabeen Lakes (Narabeen).

Warriewood - estuarine communities exist in the wetlands of lower Mullet Creek containing some of the best local examples of Swamp Mahogany.

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