Wildflower Garden bush trails

Wildflower Garden bushwalk

There are a number of bush tracks to explore at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.  

Short walks 200m to 500m 

Brown Trail

Distance: 300m  Time: 10min
This is a short sealed walk. Look closely for small orange Sydney Spiny Crayfish in the creek beneath Donnelly’s Swamp. Listen for the loud ‘crack’ call of the Eastern Whipbird followed by the short return call by the female. Access to the start of the Mueller Track is from the Brown Trail.

Fitzgerald Track 

Distance: 300m  Time: 10min
Connecting Cunningham's Rest to Mueller Track, this sandy track slowly winds and turns into into a rocky bush trail with some uneven surfaces and a few level changes. A great feature are the towering bloodwoods where you can spot signs of sugar gliders in their slashed markings. The track opens out onto a beautiful vista with arguably one of the best outlooks onsite, a great spot to enjoy a sunset. 

Trail description

Fitzgerald Track (starting Cunningham’s Rest)

The track starts with a meander through open forest community. Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp) and mid-story species such as Banksia serrata and Banksia spinulosa will be on full display in the cooler months with yellow flowers. Banksia flowers are important food resources for native pollinators such as wattle birds and the Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercatetus nanus) which feeds on the nectar and carries pollen in its fur and whiskers.

In the spring, Red Spider Grevillea (Grevillea speciose) and Mountain Devils (Lambertia formosa) can be seen as flashes of red colour on small spikey bushes. Larger trees such as the Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma) thrive in the higher areas of this track relying on the deep sandy soils and sunny positions. Take a moment to have a closer look at the distinctive markings of a Scribbly Gum tree caused by a moth larva that burrows under the bark and leaves unique “scribbly” trails.

Halfway through the walk take a moment to rest on a large flat rock plateau.

Banks Track and Boardwalk

Distance: 300m  Time: 10min
Take a leisurely stroll along a boardwalk and sandstone track overlooking an area of Coastal Upland Swamp.  A wonderful walk to see and hear small birds. Listen for the chittering warble of the Variegated Wren and the sharp ‘bark’ of the Red Wattlebird. A favourite haunt of wallabies.

Trail description

Banks Track (starting Lambert’s clearing)

Banks Track starts with a boardwalk through dense shrubland. In this area Heath Banksia (Banksia ericifolia) is the dominant canopy species and produces wonderful large orange flowers during winter. The nectar from the Heath Banksia is a favoured food source of numerous pollinator species including the endangered Eastern Pygmy Possum which carries pollen from plant to plant in its dense fur and whiskers.

The track culminates in a series of ponds with a boardwalk around them. The ponds are lined with water loving species such as Broad-leaved paper bark trees (Melaleuca quinquenervia) which has copious amounts of papery bark that when stripped of was traditionally used in shelter, wrapping baked food and lining ground ovens.

The ponds provide habitat for a variety of fauna including several species of frog such as the Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera), the Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii), and the Dwarf Green Tree Frog (Litoria faflax). Note the surface of the water has numerous aquatic invertebrates such as Whirligig beetles, water boatmen, and water striders. 

Smith Track

Distance: 400m  Time: 15min
A short walk with steep sections linking Caley’s Pavilion with Cunningham’s Rest, passing through Scribbly Gum  and Bloodwood trees to an open heathland area.

Trail description

Smith Track (Starting Caley’s Pavillion)

This track starts in dry sclerophyll forest which winds gradually up to Banksia heathland before linking up with Cunningham’s Rest. Sydney Red Gum trees (Angophora costata) with their pink smooth bark and twisted branches cling to rocky outcrops. Take a moment to look at the way the roots thicken over the rock surface in search of water. Red Bloodwoods (Corymbia gummifera) also dominate the canopy. In line with its namesake, the bark exudes a sticky red sap which is a favourite food resource of the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

A common understory species in this area is Snow Wreath (Woollsia pungens) which flowers much of the year but particularly in winter producing white or pink flowers. These flowers attract insect pollinators in particular native stingless bees such as the Sugarbag Bee (Tetragonula carbonaria). Note a Sugarbag bee hive can be seen in a tree trunk hollow next to Caley’s Pavilion. Snow Wreath is an indicator of the transition between the dry sclerophyll at the start of the Smith Track with the open Banksia heath of the end of the track.

Note how the vegetation changes from open tall woodland to short and dense vegetation suited to the windier and drier conditions of the heathland ridgetop. Broadleaf grass-trees (Xanthorrhoea arborea) can be observed in this area made more obvious when in flower and producing a magnificent stalk of whitish flowers. The flower stalk was used by Aboriginal peoples for a multitude of purposes including as a spear handle, and the resin produced was used as an adhesive.

Bentham Track

Distance: 300m  Time: 15min
An enjoyable short walk through banksia heathland and rocky terrain, between Lambert’s Clearing and Cunningham’s Rest. Connects to the Smith and Caley Tracks.

Trail description

Bentham Track

The Bentham track is a short walk through a fantastic example of open banksia heathland. Note that the vegetation in this area is short and dry with minimised leaves and height in order to withstand ridgetop wind and the dry sandy soil beneath. The shallow sandy soil supports an array of flowering shrubs, herbs and sedges.

In the spring the Grey Spider Flower (Grevillea buxifolia) blooms with delicate spider like flowers. The purple and pink fluffy Kunzea capitata flowers can be seen on sharp leaved stems, and drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolius) with their bright yellow conical flowers put on a colourful display. In winter, the small Red Five-corners shrub (Styphelia tubiflora) with its tiny pink and white tubular flowers and the delicate trumpet shaped native fuschia (Epacris longifolia) can be seen flowering. These flowers provide nutrient rich nectar to nectivorous birds such as the Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) and the New Holland Honey Eater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).

Caley Track

Distance: 200m  Time: 5min
An alternative route between the Bentham Track and Lambert’s Clearing, with a pleasant westerly aspect. Dense trees along this track provide cover for small birds.

Trail description

Caley Track

The Caley track offers a walk-through dense vegetation. At the end of the track Heath Banksia (Banksia ericifolia) is the dominant canopy species and produces wonderful large orange flowers during winter. The nectar from the Heath Banksia is a favoured food source of numerous pollinator species including the endangered Eastern Pygmy Possum which carries pollen from plant to plant in its dense fur and whiskers. In spring, the towering Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) flower can be seen at the Lambert’s clearing entrance to the track. When flowering, the nectar produced is a favourite among insectivorous birds such as the Red Wattle bird (Anthochaera carunculate).

On this track, you may be lucky to see a short beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) searching for ants. Some species of ant serve an important purpose in ecosystems as a number of species have a mutualist relationship with some Acacia species known as Myrmecochory. For instance, the Hedgehog Wattle (Acacia echinula) that can be seen flowering in winter along the Caley Track with beautiful yellow flowers has seeds which are dispersed by ants. The ants take the seed to their nest to east the nutrient rich seed coat and in turn protect the seed and allow for it to germinate underground.

Senses Track

Distance: 500m  Time: 15min
This pleasant sealed track is suitable for strollers, wheelchairs, elderly and visually impaired. The track is located near the entrance to the garden and features self-guided signage. The shale soil sustains taller trees creating an area of open woodland habitat.

Trail description

Senses Track

The shale soil is moist and nutrient rich and supports an open woodland habitat comprising large canopy trees such as Red Bloodwoods (Corymbia gummifera), Brown Stingy Bark (Eucalptus capitellata) and understory grasses, sedges and vines. Mature canopy trees are important habitat for native fauna as hollows form in the trunk and bows which serve as perfect homes for possums, parrots and owls such as the threatened Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) known to occur in the Ku-ring-gai area.

Fallen logs serve as habitat for ground dwelling fauna such as the Long-nosed bandicoot (Perameles nasuta). Bandicoot diggings might be observed on the track as small round holes of about the size of a 50 cent piece. This animal plays an important role as a soil turnover species, as its diggings create water containing refuges for seedlings. Leaf litter and bark from the Stringbark trees also provide excellent habitat for invertebrates and lizards such as the Eastern blue tongue (Tiliqua scincoides).

In April-September, the Purple Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea) can be seen in flower along the track. These flowers attract insect pollinators, in particular native stingless bees such as the Sugarbag Bee (Tetragonula carbonaria). Note a Sugarbag Bee hive can be seen in a tree trunk hollow next to Caley’s Pavilion.

Longer walks 2km to 3km

Mueller Track

Distance: 3km  Time: 2hrs
The Mueller Track can be accessed from the Visitor Centre and from the Brown Trail near Lambert’s Clearing. The most rugged and remote of our walks, the track follows the creeklines of two valleys. Ku-ring-gai Creek flows through tall red gums and coachwoods before tumbling down Phantom Falls and converging with Tree Fern Gully Creek near a delightful stopping-place known as Whipbird Gully. Along Tree Fern Gully creek you will find a smaller set of falls and also Billy’s Bridge, a natural rock arch named after a local aboriginal character. Please ensure you are well-prepared for this bushwalk and take plenty of water. Please note that monitoring cameras are installed at sections of the track. These cameras are observing native animals and any incidents of roaming dogs.

Trail description

Mueller Track (starting at Dampiers clearing)

The track starts with a meander through an open forest community. Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp) and mid-story species such as Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) and Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) will be on full display in the cooler months with yellow flowers. Banksia flowers are important food resources for native pollinators such as wattle birds and the Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercatetus nanus) which feeds on the nectar and carries pollen in its fur and whiskers.

In the spring, Red Spider Grevillea (Grevillea speciosa) and Mountain Devils (Lambertia formosa) can be seen as flashes of red colour on small spikey bushes. Larger trees such as the Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma) thrive in the higher areas of this track relying on the deep sandy soils and sunny positions. Take a moment to have a closer look at the distinctive markings of a Scibbly Gum tree caused by a moth larva that burrows under the bark and leaves unique “scribbly” trails.

The track continues downhill winding through rocky outcrops which serve as perfect spots for lizards and snakes to bask in the sun. Hakea species can be seen either side of the track with their bulbous seed pods which open after fire.

Shortly after the turn off to Fitzgerald track to the right, a large burnt out Red Bloodwood can be seen emerging from a flat rock platform overlooking the valley below. These mature trees are important habitat for native fauna as hollows form in the trunk and bows which serve as perfect homes for possums and owls such as the threatened Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) known to occur in the Ku-ring-gai area.

Continuing the track goes through a gap between two large slabs of sandstone rock. This rock makes up much of the base layer for the soils in the area. Small crevices and caves in these rocks are important roosting habitat for microbat species and small marsupial mice such as the Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii). From the rock feature is an excellent vantage point to observe the changes in vegetation occurring as the track descends towards Ku-ring-gai Creek. Notice how the canopy species gradually changes to Sydney Red Gum trees (Angophora costata) with their pink smooth bark and twisted branches and the soil darkens as the track nears Ku-ring-gai Creek.

A stark change in the vegetation can be seen as the track begins to run parallel to the creek line with species that prefer moist and nutrient rich soil dominating. Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) produces sweet smelling flowers in the spring and bright orange berries which are a favourite food source of the Currawong and other birds. Black wattle (Callicoma serratifolia) can also be seen in this damper environment producing masses of white powder puff flowers in spring and summer. Their leaves have distinctive saw-toothed edges and a hairy silver underside.

As the track ambles next to the trickling creek, take a moment to look at the blankets of bracken that can be seen either side of the track which rely on the moist soils. Red Mahogany (Eucalyptus resinifera) can be seen with their rough, stringy bark and preference for damp, clay enriched soils. Fallen logs serve as perfect habitat for ground dwelling fauna such as the Long-nosed bandicoot (Perameles nasuta). Bandicoot diggings might be observed on the track as small round holes of about the size of a 50c piece. This animal plays an important role as a soil turnover species, as its diggings create water containing refuges for seedlings.

About halfway through the track is the spectacular Phantom Falls. A large outcrop overlooking the falls is a great spot for a rest or a picnic. Whipbirds distinctive calls can be heard in the distance as well as the water tumbling down the falls. In this area there is a dazzling spring display of drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolius) with their bright yellow conical flowers. Spring also will reveal flowering of the Pink Boronia (Boronia pinnata) with its strong smelling delicate pink flowers.

The track begins to ascend towards Whipbird Gully through an She-oak (Allocasuarina) forest. Notice how the canopy becomes closed and the ground is covered in the phyllodes (‘leaves’) of the trees which serve to prevent growth of competing species. The She-oak seeds serve as a high-quality food source for the endangered Black Glossy Cockatoo.

Continuing past Whipbird gully the track runs alongside Tree Fern Gully Creek and gradually ascends towards a large hanging rock. Note how water trickles off the rock and at least four species of fern including the dainty maidenhair fern and coral fern revel in the constant damp source. The track goes across Billy’s Bridge, a natural rock arch named after a local Aboriginal person. Here the creek crosses the path and an Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii) might be seen basking in the sun or cooling off in the small pools.

The track gradually winds back up towards Lambert’s clearing and the vegetation returns to the open forest seen at the start of the walk.

Solander Trail

Distance: 2km  Time: 45min
This sealed walk winds its way through typical Hawkesbury Sandstone habitat. During the winter and spring it comes alive with wildflowers. Listen for the calls of lyrebirds further down the valley. The track passes through Lambert’s Clearing, a pleasant place to pause and enjoy the wildlife and planted native gardens. The Solander Trail is suitable for strollers and bicycles but has some steep sections.

Trail description

Solander Trail (starting at Lamberts Clearing)

The Solander trail is a stunning example of dry sclerophyll forest with sandy soils. The trail begins with dense vegetation such as paper-bark tree (Leptospermum trinervium) which has delicate white flowers in the spring which attract native pollinators such as the New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae). Near the start of the walk you may see large mounds of leaf litter and sand piled by the male brush turkey (Alectura lathami) as he attempts to attract a female to use his nest. The brush turkey serves an important soil turnover role in this ecosystem by dispersing seeds and nutrients, as well as providing habitat for invertebrates.

Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp) and mid-story species such as Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) and Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) will be on full display in the cooler months with yellow inflorescence. Banksia flowers are important food resources for native pollinators such as wattle birds and the Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercatetus nanus) which feeds on the nectar and carries pollen in its fur and whiskers.

In the spring, Crimson bottle brush (Callistemon citrinus) can be seen as flashes of red colour on medium sized scrubs. Larger trees such as the Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma) thrive in the higher areas of this track relying on the deep sandy soils and sunny positions. Take a moment to have a closer look at the distinctive markings of a Scibbly Gum tree caused by a moth larva that burrows under the bark and leaves unique “scribbly” trails.

As the track reaches the halfway at Endlicher Point, a track heads down to meet the Mueller track. Here Waratah (Telopea speciosissima) may be seen in flower in September-October with their large dazzling red flower. Endlicher Point is a great place to stop in the shade of the She-Oak (Allocasuarina sp) trees. Notice how the canopy becomes closed and the ground is covered in the phyllodes (‘leaves’) of the trees which serve to prevent growth of competing species. The She-oak seeds serve as a high-quality food source for the endangered Black Glossy Cockatoo.

Returning on the track towards Cunninghams Rest, take a moment to look at the array of spring flowers that blanket the understory, especially the lesser flannel flower (Actinotus minor) with its soft delicate petals, and Pink Boronia (Boronia pinnata) with its strong smelling delicate pink flowers.