“A magnificent flower long valued for its exceptional beauty”NPOS p. 104
Everyone knows the waratah, it’s big, voluminous and deep red in colour, it can’t be missed or mistaken for anything else. The Waratah is the state flower of NSW and narrowly missed out on being chosen as Australia’s national flower. Golden Wattle only became the official national flower in 1988!
The botanist R.T. Baker was a vocal advocate of the waratah arguing that it alone was unique to Australia, whereas, “in the wattle, Australia has not a monopoly like the waratah, for Africa has over one hundred native wattles, and it also occurs in America, East and West Indies and the Islands.”
The only Waratahs I’ve seen in the wild have been at Muogamarra. They are found dotted about the coast of southeast Australia, with a larger concentration centered on the sydney basin and surrounds. The Waratah grows in rocky places in woodland on sandstone. Flowering time is September to October.
I found out about Muogamarra nature reserve from a friend a few years ago and have been meaning to visit for a while. Muogamarra is located near Cowan just north of Sydney. Due to the sensitive nature of the local environment and cultural sites it’s only open to the public for 6 weekends every year during August – September.
I made it out there with the family last weekend. Even though it was pouring with rain we managed to have a good time.
To get there you take the old Pacific Highway and turn off a bit past Cowan, there’s a short drive on a fire trail and you’re there. Maybe the rain scared away the casual visitors, the place was a bush enthusiasts paradise, there was a photographic display of local plants and wildflowers, a small army of National Parks volunteers and a large supply of information sheets on what to see.
After talking to the volunteers we decided to do the 2km point loop trail, an easy flat walk along the ridge top. Chris, one of the volunteers offered to come on the walk with us. Chris provided commentary on what we were seeing and what to look out for, he was very knowledgeable and made the walk fun for the kids. Thanks Chris!
I learnt a few new plants, and the proper pronunciations of a few old ones ( It’s hard when you only ready the names in a book )
We only saw a very small section of the reserve, it was clear there was so much more, we will be back again.