Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mt Tomah and How to Snipe Your Dicky Knee

Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens with Bushfires in the distance! Ah, this is Australia!

I was still in my pj's and tempted to have a day of couch-hugging but opted for a day of tree hugging instead. Adam and Amy accompanied me due to their new desire for exercise . . and let's face it, he and I need a little. I wasn't quite so prepared for the reality that my knee is really stuffed and serious weight loss needs to be addressed.

Anyhoo . . We headed half way up the Blue Mountains along the Bells Line of Road to
Bilpin, famous for it's apple orchards and what is now arguably one of the most gorgeous Botanic Gardens around but located on a steep hillside and catering for plants who enjoy a cooler climate than their tropical city cousins.

Unfortunately, we were just a couple of weeks early to witness the explosion of Waratahs, Azaleas and
Rhododendrons which were laden with buds but . . after hundreds of steps (ok I might be exagerating just a little), steep climbs up and down, ventures into rock gardens, eucalypt forests and rain forests we all agreed the hour's drive was well worth it even if my Barramundi on caper and dill mash and the kid's enormous club sandwiches were grossly overpriced.

The Gardens take their name from the mountain on which it is located. The original owners of the land were the Darug Aboriginal people. 'Tomah' is an Aboriginal word meaning tree fern. Tree ferns for the uninitiated are those bracken style things that in our climate grow literally into trees but in Europe tend to barely pierce the forest floor.

In 1804 the naturalist and explorer George Caley was the first European to visit Fern Tree Hill, now Mt Tomah. In 1823 Archibald Bell, with Aboriginal guides, found the route across the northern Blue Mountains now known as Bells Line of Road. (I'm glad I researched that because I always thought it a weird name for a road). Even driving up there today, you wonder how these explorers managed to forge a way through the eucalypt forests and sandstone outcrops but it's an incredibly pretty drive and one I indulge all visitors so . . .wanna see it? Get on over here!

The first land grant in the area was made in 1830 to Susannah Bowen. She too had a mountain named after her . Three sawmills also operated in the area milling Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras) and Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata). These species still dominate the rainforest sections of the mountain. The fastigata are similar to the Californian redwoods. Some over 500 years old, huge, tall and magestic.

In the early 1960s the 'then' owners of the land stipulated that they would donate it to become an annex to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and presented the land in 1972. It opened to the public on 1 November 1987. It wasn't long after that I first visited it. Rather barren, full of saplings and new plantings and only a glimmer of it's full potential. It's now 186 hectares of sandstone woodland and gullies, beautifully maintained as a conservation area.

Today was the first time I'd been back for about 15 years and it's come on a treat . . .enjoy!

Black Boys . .not very politically correct but slow growing, black stumps charred by years of bushfires and green spikey hair. . .much prized by minimalist gardeners.

This little fellow was loving the bluebells. (DBM I'm so proud of this shot. Hand held and the little bugger was flitting like a hummingbird!). Bluebells are not native to Australia but obviously delicious. I have no idea what type of bird he is other than there were heaps of them all tiny and chirping and chipping and very difficult to photograph due to their speed and enthusiasm for bluebell nectar. So, so, pretty.

Eucalypt Fastigata, not long for this world I fear but I think there might be faeries in there. Adam crudely nicknamed it the 'vagina' tree . . strange how young men's minds work!

Waratah, a native to Australia and NSW emblematic flower, I'll be honest, I've never seen one before other than in florist's shops.

Wollomi Pine . . discovered a few years back as the oldest conifer in Australia and now propogated by the Botanic Gardens. Apparently dinosaurs ate them. One this size will set you back about $150 . . but make sure you have a big garden, this one's only 2 years old!

Even the South Africans love it here. These King Proteas were huge!

As were the
Koi who followed us along the path hoping for a feed.

Beautiful in blue with an amazing view and buzzing with bees . . I tried a macro shot but there were too many and they weren't happy about being photographed.

Bloody tree hugging yuppies!

If you're into things like this. Click on the Flickr Slideshow . .I'll have them up in a jiffy!


Unknown said...

spent about 9 hours out today lighting fires. Watch out, it's gonna be a bad summer.

Pam said...

Interesting post and beautiful photos Baino. All the best for your first day in the new job tomorrow!

Miles McClagan said...

I didn't get off the couch, so I feel shamed...

Mindyou, it is Kingston, there's not much to get up for. Some 1/2 closed shops and a suicidal petrol attendant!

Mike said...

That is so beautiful! I like when I see pictures of other countries. When you have never been to a place, you try to visualize it, and it is interesting when your visualization is really off base!

hokgardner said...

I think it's really neat that you do so much playing tourist in your own town. Most people don't do as much exploring as you do. And you allow us to live vicariously through your adventures.


Jean said...

i just love the greenery! great shots!

ps you're invited to comment on my post too =)

Susan at Stony River said...

I love those photos; what a great day out. But mention club sandwiches and I'm hungry, oh no.
And the couch is so sofffft...

You're convincing me to get out there and get some exercise in; I know I should!

Brian Miller said...

i see you found your excursion. thanks for taking us along. the pics are have a wonderful eye for the beauty. looks like a place i would love to walk...

laughingwolf said...

thx for the tour, baino... would be a nice day trip, camera in hand, just like you did it :)

cat said...

I loved the pics, especially the little bird in the bluebells.

kj said...

just stopping by quickly to tell you that comment you just left on my blog touched my heart and made my day. i feel the same way. xoxox

nick said...

Great gardens and some great sights. How wonderful that someone had the generosity to present the land to the people of Sydney instead of keeping it to themselves.

Darlene said...

Thanks for the beautiful photos of strange (to me) plants and lovely scenes from your Botanical Gardens.

I would love to visit, but know that is never going to happen so I am grateful for seeing the land through the lens of your camera.

Best of luck on your new job.

e said...

Lovely snaps, Baino! I especially like the trees and the bluebells and birds.

Have a wonderful "first" official day at work.

Jay said...

Aaah, that looks lovely! But what's this about the knee? Stuffed, you say? Have you done a ligament? :(

I was a bit confused about the blue spiky flowers not being happy about being photographed, but then I realised you meant the bees! LOL!

xxx said...

What an awesome day out.
Wish I was there. I love a bit of tree hugging.
Buggar about your knee.

take care
Ribbon :)

Alan Burnett said...

Absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed the post and got an insight into your part of the world that I wouldn't have done had it not been for the descriptions and the photographs.

Ces Adorio said...

Ah, thse are beautiful. Seeing these wonderful specimen makes my heart sing! Thank you for sharing. They are lovely photographs Baino.

kj said...

okay, i'm back now to have a look. first off, i can't believe you are into spring. so funny we're on opposite ends, hells!

my favorite of all these wonderful shots is the tree, looking up. that is a great photo, reminds me what a beautiful planet we live on. i love trees and birds more and more since i've been blogging.

it's good to see adam's smiling face. keep up the exercise baino. i should talk....


Grow Up said...

Nice. I do love trees.

River said...

Gorgeous photos. I had a quick look through my animal and bird encyclopaedia, but couldn't find that pretty little bird.
I have a tree-hugger in my family too. years ago i asked my son, "have you hugged a tree today?" and he immediately ran into the lounge and hugged the christmas tree....

Baino said...

Yeh Ryan, there was a lot of backburning happening. Was that you making my washing smelly on Saturday! It was so smokey the sun went red! Still, it has to be done, the warm weather's coming early this year!

Thanks Pam, although it's not hard to take beautiful pictures of beautiful things. I still need more practice with shutter speeds etc. These were pretty straight forward.

Miley! Well frankly I was doing a lot of couch spudding but decided that Sunday is excursion day. Perhaps being suicidal and working with a flamable or inhalable substance lacks a little wisdom.

Thanks Otin. I am very biased and only post beautiful stuff. I should expose the ugly side some time I guess. Sadly no kangaroos bouncing down Sydney streets.

Heather, I have to make myself do it otherwise the weekend's all maintenance and washing and I feel like I haven't had any time off.

Thanks SJ. I did pop over last week.

Haha . . the kids had them but I swear the toast was an inch thick!

A pleasure Brian. . I'm pleased to show of where I live but like I say, I give you the rose coloured view!

Yep Wuffa I'm up for day trips, no problem! Even nicer when someone else drives and I can take in the scenery.

They were just gorgeous Cat but very fast and difficult to catch on camera. I still don't know what they were.

It was a nice gesture I guess . . then they nicked it from the Aborigines in the first place!

Actually Darlene apart from the Wolomi pine, the eucalypt and the waratah, they were foreign. The proteas are South African and do very well here. Bluebells of course are European. I remember them when I was a kid. Although I don't think they're actually bluebells that little bird is munching. Happy to aid your vicarious travel, I do a lot of that myself!

e we don't get many little bird where I live because I haven't got small bushes, these seemed to be hedgerow birds. There were tiny blue finches as well. So cute. And thanks so much. Work was fine, I'm very busy which I like but the girl who's job I'm supposed to be learning didn't come in today!

Hey Ribbon, you all in and sorted? Ah the knee's been a problem for a while, I just hurt it on the steps. It's fine today. Less mash and I'll be fine!

Hey Cesicle, been a while . thanks . . I try to entertain!

I know and it's a lovely spring so far except for the wind. September is always windy. The photo doesn't really show it's size but it's apparently over 300 years old, possibly up to 700 and in great condition, no signs of disease. Yes, my knee constantly reminds me that I'm carrying too much weight.

Tree's we got! Although I was very upset last week to find out that Australia has the highest carbon out put per capita . . .we should be planting more I guess.

I've got a What Bird is That book actually River, I should have a look, it's my trusty reference and has most Aussie birds in it. Maybe Bimbimbie will know?

Thanks for your kind wishes on Friday to folks. Work was fine today, I'm very busy with tenders and policy and processes and have been introduced to more people, it's like all of a sudden, I'm 'in the fold'. Best of all, my day flew today and I was in at 7:30, left at 4:30 and didn't even think about lunch! Have a great week. I'll visit but not sure the posts will be too frequent.

tony said...

It Looks Like Its The Trees wot do the huggin in your parts!
Bloody big Ferns!
Amazing Photos (as usual)

Tom said...

This is all so wonderful (i cannot resist real Botanical Gardens)...thanks for the invitation, now don't be surprised when i show up on your doorstep!

Don't Bug Me! said...

Excellent work Baino! That is one beautiful botanical garden. And I know what you mean about the bees - I spent a whole afternoon trying to photograph one a couple of weeks ago and most shots were all fuzzy. Yes, yes, I know bees are fuzzy, but these were fuzzy because they were out of focus! I think that I finally sussed it though - a flash so that you can reduce your aperture and get a higher shutter speed. Trouble is, the photo never looks as natural if you need a flash. Oh well, I am going to buy a new lens so that I can go off and get some birdy shots soon.

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) said...

Tree huggers! - you'd need big arm to hug them trees - I see you have word verification on - I got hit by the spammers recently and have turned it on for posts older than 7 days

Mike said...

A spoof might be in order one day! But you are safe for now! :)

Megan said...

Hope the day at work went well. Couldn't have been as beautiful as this, though!

Thanks for always sharing your wonderful photos with us.

Mim said...

It's like another world to me - like land of the lost ...imagine dinosaur snacks just growing around. Wow. Amazing pictures and I really like the VaJayJay tree.

Baino said...

Pretty awesome aren't they Tony . . I wonder if preserving and propagating Wollomi pines is going to have a Jurassic park effect.

Tom I have a couch with your name on it! You'll have to doodle for your supper.

Debs I was so pleased with the birdie shots. The little buggers were flitting and squeaking I didn't think I'd caught any on camera and managed three. At least cockatoos are gregarious and love having their photos taken. Bees remain elusive because they get stuck in the frizz . . it's the only time I've been stung, when a bee was caught in my hair!

Yeh, had a Japanese porn spammer attaching to my older emails. Pain in the neck. Not quite the great wall tho Quickie and certainly no bugs on a stick. Go look folks and go 'squeee'

Aww thanks crushboy! I was gently spoofed by VE

Thanks Meg, I'm flat out. Nine hour days that go so quick it's amazing. We had BLT for dinner I was home so late.

Haha you said vajayjay!

Kurt said...

We have an unusual bush that spills out onto our sidewalk and has red cone-shaped flowers on it. The other day, I overheard a elderly woman tell her son that the flowers are called "Dead Man's Faces."

Baino said...

Haha now you're getting it! Comment and they will come!
Your plant is also known as: Fringed Polygate, Fringe tree, Mitre Wort and my favourite, a Fringed Bogbean. Yeah I Googled.

Catnapping said...

Baino, could it be a honeyeater?

I googled images, and found this...kinda sorta similar in appearance.

The birds in your neck of the woods are so much more exotic than ours are.

California Girl said...

I am continually in thrall with your country and your descriptions. Some day I am visiting!

Baino said...

Catnapping, thank you so much that is indeed the little bird we saw. There were other's with little red caps but I couldn't get them to stay still enough for a photo. They are exotic but I don't get little birds in my garden. Lack of hedgerow. These guys loved the shrubs. Plus it's a little cooler up there. I get mainly parrots and Noisy Miners, Magpies, Crows but no small birds.

Cali, any time! Just don't clash with Tom or you'll have to share the sofa bed!

Anonymous said...

Superb photographs.

Bimbimbie said...

How did I miss your Sunday outing post. Looks like a beautiful spot Baino.
Good to see someone getting a hug :) And the birdie is a New Holland Honeyeater I think*!*