Car-rang-gel | North Head

Fire in the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub on Car-rand-gel | North Head

The Black Summer Bushfires in NSW caused significant loss of wildlife and burnt over 5.4 million hectares of habitat. within Sydney’s iconic North Head scrubland. However, this fire had devastating consequences.

Common Brush-tailed Possum – Trichosurus vulpecula -nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of Australia.

Although this controlled burn by NSW National Parks was planned to reduce the risk of habitat loss from an unplanned fire, it achieved the exact opposite. It is estimated that more than 62 hectares of the endangered Eastern Suburb Banksia Scrub was destroyed when the fire jumped containment lines. Prior to this fire, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy had only just released numerous native Bush Rats, Brown Antechinus and Eastern Pygmy Possums in an effort to increase the animal populations that would have improved the biodiversity within this fragile ecosystem. Sadly, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy reported a large decline in the populations of these native animals after the fire.

Fires are an important part of rejuvenating many Australian habitats. Fires assist with transferring energy across and through different ecosystems and many of the native flora found in the Eastern Suburb Banksia Scrub rely on slow and cool burns to regenerate. Plants such as the genus Banksia are reliant on cool burns to open the follicles to then release the seeds after a fire has passed by. The B. serrata, B. ericifolia and the B. integrifolia are excellent examples of plants within this sensitive ecosystem that rely on fires to do exactly this. But the North Head fire was extremely hot and it has caused many Banksia seed pods to remain closed and we may have lost them for good.

 Banksia serrata Banksia ericifoliaBanksia integrifolia

There is a bright side to this fire though. The Orange Bracket Fungi (Pycnoporus coccineus) and other decomposers like it are flourishing and busy breaking down organic matter like this Banksia branch. Also, the Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare) seedlings have laid dormant beneath the thick layers of scrub and were last seen here in 2018. But recently, due to the burning of the scrub the Kangaroo Apple has rejuvenated and can be easily spotted again. Similarly, the Native Sundew (Drosera binata) hasn’t been spotted for a number of years and since the recent fire, this precious little flower is now growing out of the ashes throughout the scrubland of North Head.

Orange Bracket FungiKangaroo AppleNative Sundew

Remember though, seedlings are very small and can be easily walked on. So, avoid walking in these areas while they are regenerating and if you must go, use designated footpaths and an accredited tour guide.

Ever Wondered What Plant is That?

Native flora of Sydney Harbour with EcoWalks Tours. 

What are some of the plants found in Sydney Harbour National ParkWe just love showing our visitors the unique flora on our walks. Lately it has been during our virtual tours but we are now super excited to be back hosting our face to face guided walking tours.

Here are some of our favourites that you’ll be able to spot on our walks.

Eggs and Bacon Pea

Eggs and Bacon (Dillynia retorta). This plant is a dense twiggy shrub with small needle-like leaves. The Eggs and Bacon Pea thrives in shrub lands on sandy soil. Although there are other yellow peas about, this one has yellow ear-like flowers bloom in clusters that have a scarlet centre.

Prickly Moses

The Prickly Moses (Acacia ulicifolia) is a wattle that grows in open forest, woodlands and heath on sandy soils with low fertility. Flowers are pale cream sphere-like heads on long stems beyond the reach of the prickly needle-like leaves that defies the touch. Watch a video about Prickly Moses here

Correa

This is the Correa reflexa which is a small shrub and is found in sheltered, wet sandstone gullies. Kids usually see it first as it’s only about 1 meter in height. The leaves are opposite, and may be heart-shaped with drooping flowers that vary in colour from red with yellow or green tips.

Have you seen the Correa reflexa before?

Happy Wanderer

The Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) is a climbing vine with small bright purple flowers that are typically shaped like others of the pea family. With alternating leathery leaves that are dark green and oval shaped it is easily identifiable to others.

Nielsen Park She-oak

The Nielsen Park She-oak (Allocasuarina portuensis) and it was only discovered by botanists in 1986. That’s right, these sticky little plants are only found in Sydney Harbour’s and were just went unnoticed. With extensive efforts from NSW Parks personnel, scientists and conservationists alike, the Nielsen Park She-oak was saved from extinction. Although still listed as endangered, there is still hope for recovery. Now, there are six individuals at Middle Head thanks to the Rangers.

Red Five Corners

Red Five Corners (Styphelia tubiflora) has vibrant red flowers that have rolled back petals revealing their fluffy inside. In bloom between May to October and are just an absolute delight to see when walking our new wildlife meandering walking tour

Come see the Red Five Corners with us by booking a Wildlife Meanders Tour at Q Station.

Black Wattle

The Black Wattle (Callicoma serratifolia) is not a true wattle at all. A wonder full leafed large shrub to a medium size tree. These flowers are delightful puffy balls of cream colour that resemble some Acacia flowers. The leaves are bright green with serrated edges with a woody texture. Unmistakable the Black Wattle is and one of our favourites that’s for sure.

Pink Kunzea

The Pink Kunzea (Kunzea capitata) is a beautiful flower among the heath flora of North Headland, Car-rang-gal. Closely related to the genus Callistemon or bottlebrush. Just gorgeous!

Native Flora of Sydney Harbour and Conservation

Mosman Parks and Bushland Association (MPBA) are the guardians of Sydney Harbour’s bushland of Mosman. In particular, Kate Eccles OAM leads the wonderful volunteers of MPBA are currently working on removing invasive plant species found in Sydney Harbour National Park at Chowder Head, Mosman. The crew of EcoWalks Tours sure are looking forward to improving the local bushland at Middle Head and assist MPBA whenever we can. So, why not help where you can and join MPBA and improve the natural environment of Sydney Harbour. Visit MPBA here.

Celebrating the natural, historical and traditional heritage of Sydney Harbour whilst in lockdown.

Sydney Harbour Tourism Walks

Photo Credit: Destination NSW

Staying connected and celebrating the natural, historical and traditional heritage of Sydney Harbour whilst in lockdown, I decided to post a picture a day on our Instagram for seven days.

Using the #7daysofsydneyharbour, I invited our followers to post their favourite photos of Sydney Harbour and use this tag too. So, in case you missed it, I’ll catch you up on our recent campaign to stay connected on our Instagram.

Day 1 Athol Bay

Boat docked in Athol Bay with views of Sydney Harbour, Mosman.There was no better place to start our virtual tour of Sydney Harbour then here in Athol Bay. Our Georges Head Walking Tour and our Picturesque Mosman Heritage Walking Tour start here in Athol Bay. It is here where our visitors experience the walk along the sandy shoreline of this magical place. Photo credit:Destination NSW.


Day 2 Obelisk Bay

Obelisk Bay is an ideal place for bird watching and snorkelling as there is amazing fish life thriving here in the shallows. This attracts the local ospreys, sea eagles, falcons and a variety of cormorants here to fish. But think twice about bringing your camera or binoculars as Obelisk Bay is one of the few beaches in Sydney Harbour that allow clothing as an option.

 

Day 3 Collins Beach

Recently, the wonderful Susan Moylan-Coombs and Caroline Glass-Pattison of the Gaimaragal Group perform a ‘Welcome to Country’ with their families and friends. They often conduct smoking ceremonies and ochre blessings to bring people together and connect to heal country. Photo Credit:Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW.

 

Day 4 Quarantine Station

Quarantine Station Walk

This is a place where thousands of passengers aboard ships and would endure the 4 month journey to Sydney only to arrive in Spring Cove to endure a quarantine. Yes, just like our lockdown. Recently, we have opened our new ‘Wildlife Meanders Tour’ for bookings and we super excited to be guiding you on this one!

 

Day 5 Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach SunriseThis place has a special place in everyone’s heart. For those of you who walk, run, swim, picnic, sail, bike or occasionally surf here, you’ll know what I mean. After last year’s lockdown, I had the pleasure of coordinating the local Heart Foundation Mosman Walking Group where we would walk along Balmoral Beach every Wednesday afternoon. Photo credit:Chris Meredith.

 

Day 6 Booraghee

Two Kookaburras

In 1788 Booraghee was renamed Bradleys Head after First Fleet Lieutenant, William Bradley. However, it was the home of the Borogegal Clan who were the original custodians of this area and occupied parts of Middle Head Peninsula foreshore for thousands of years before White European settlers arriving.

 

Day 7 Golden Grove

Golden Grove Sydney FerrY

One of the mightiest Sydney Ferries on the Harbour is the Golden Grove of the First Fleet Class. Since 1985, this workhorse has operated countless trips to Taronga Zoo Wharf from Circular Quay but still this is one of the best ways to see Sydney Harbour other then our walking tours. Photo credit: Quest North Sydney.

 

Stay connected during our lockdown in Sydney and support local

I hope you have enjoyed our #7daysofsydneyharbour celebrating the natural, historical and traditional heritage of Sydney Harbour.

Remember, stay connected during this lockdown and support our local tour business through these three simply ways: Share this blog, follow our social media and purchase a gift voucher to use once you get our of lockdown.

Sydney Harbour EcoWalks Tours

Photo Credit: Destination NSW

Psst….Have You Heard Yet?

Sydney’s own EcoWalks Tours completed the ECO Certificate program.  

Here at EcoWalks Tours we have once again proven our sustainable business practices surpass industry standards. Recently, we successfully passed Ecotourism Australia’s internationally recognised audit program.

Photo Credit: Destination NSW

So, why did we undergo an audit?

We wanted to show the WORLD that we promote and uphold the highest standards of sustainability. So we went ahead and shifted our focus on excelling in the internationally accredited ECO Certification program which Ecotourism Australia endorses.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman says that by

“Having an auditor is essential in ensuring transparency and the authenticity of a business’ claims to sustainability.”

So, we conducted our evaluations, adjustments and refinements over several months along our sustainable journey.

But, what does this mean?

Well, we provide excellence in sustainable tourism and the audit was essential for identifying and enhancing our tour business. It provided opportunities for reflection as well as useful resources for improving and adapting our business operations.

Community and Consultation with Gaimaragal Group

Also along our sustainable journey, we reached out to enhance community partnerships with the Gaimaragal Group. This was for us to learn more about and promote local Aboriginal histories and cultural practices within Sydney Harbour National Park. Auditor Fiona Sleight says that she was particularly impressed with

“our consulting and working with Indigenous organisations to enhance the understanding of Sydney’s cultural heritage.”  

As a result of our community consultation and connection with our local Aboriginal representatives, we have been invited to host a walking tour celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Gai-mariagal Festival.

So, we are proud to be hosting a cultural experience later in this year to enhance community connections and learning of Aboriginal heritage.

Discussing community activities for the future

Lee De Gail, Matthew Springall and Susan Moylan-Coombs at Caba Caba looking over Borogegal land along the shores of Sydney Harbour National Park.