Bankstown Council has a total of 524.2 hectares of bushland, which they are committed to save for the benefit of future generations. They also have the intention to create more areas of habitat for wildlife. Commendable.
Bankstown Council has created something amazing for the community & for Sydney as a whole with the Sylvan Grove Native Garden.
It all started in 1963 with a small native garden at Padstow Heights. In 1964 Bankstown Council negotiated with the Georges River Parkland Trust to choose the current site, which adjoins the Yeramba Lagoon.
Sylvan Grove Native Garden is spread over 1.5 hectares & managed by two council staff. We met one of the staff members – a lovely enthusiastic man who obviously adores native plants & wildlife & also loves his job. He was a wealth of information & a joy to talk with.
The entry is gorgeous & you know from the road that you are in for a treat. The entrance has gardens filled with shrubs, small trees & ground plants & a massive Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma) stands at the gate like a pale guardian. I would not be surprised if it was a remnant tree.
Once inside the gates you take a short walk down a gravel road with impressive gardens on either side to a building that houses information about Sylvan Grove Native Garden. The building also houses the toilets, which were clean & free of graffiti.
Complimentary insect repellent was available & the staff member suggested we take a bottle with us incase we might need to reapply. We did. There is a rainforest in Sylvan Grove Native Garden & a massive lagoon next door & the mosquitoes lie in wait. Don’t let this put you off though, as they are easily managed with mosquito repellent & you would not want to miss such a fantastic experience for fear of something so easily managed. I only mention the mosquitoes for the people that think they will be okay without repellent. You wont.
Native Rhododendrons lined the path with their spectacular burnt orange-coloured flowers. Large birdbaths were visible & so were the many species of birds having a drink or a wash. I thought it was great that water was supplied for the wildlife. If birds have water, then they stay & birds make the environment better in my opinion.
From the building you start to walk the winding path through the 1.5 hectares of gardens. The signs give you a choice of a short walk or the longer walk & gives estimated times to complete this. We were there for more than three hours because there was so much to see. We came across a few locals who walk through the gardens as daily recreation.
The long walk travels through the following areas, which include bush food, rare, endangered & special interest plants & trees –
- Rain forest
- Moist Gully
It is a plant-lovers paradise. There are 2,500 native species gathered from all over Australia. Some have been gained by trips by Council’s Parks & Gardens staff & some donated by the public.
I was told that September is the best time to visit because so many of the plants are in flower, especially the orchids which grow on rocks, on dead wood & high in trees. We went in October & there were still lots of plants in flower. It was stupendous. There was so much variety.
Something else that impressed me was that most plants & trees were labeled, making it far more informative than a simple walk through a garden.
Apart from the numerous birdbaths throughout the gardens, there is a good-sized pond under the trees, which provides a great water source for wildlife. I saw my first King parrots & a host of other birds & insects. We saw a Bearded Dragon & I was told Echidnas live in the grounds. There is also a sign saying snakes live in the park, but we did not see any.
Regular birds include Cockatoos, King Parrots, Wattle birds, Eastern Spinebills, New Holland Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners, Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails Willie Wagtails, Pardalotes & Rose Robins. Across at the lagoon are even more species of birds.
There were so many visual surprises & so much to learn about garden design, natives & the use of natives.
The gardens smelt beautiful & many of the flowers were perfumed. The trees were incredible & so was the dead wood that has been allowed to stay. These have either been planted with ferns or orchids or are growing bracket fungus. I saw bracket fungus that was tray-sized. It was good to see trees in various stages of life.
I cannot remember seeing woodchip. The ground was lovely to walk on, a cushion of decades of natural mulch.
This is not a walk for people with mobility issues. Neither the ground nor the terrain is suitable for wheelchairs. There are park benches placed in places to take in a very nice view, so these offer a place to rest. The longer route does require you to walk some inclines. Trees have not been removed because of roots infringing across paths, which I think is great. Keep aware of where you step & you are not likely to trip. The beauty of the trees & plants are far more important than a level path.
There is a covered kiosk where you could eat lunch, but there are no wide expanses of lawn inside the gardens for people to picnic. The gardens are suitable for children, as long as they are supervised. Signs ask walkers to remain on the path, so as not to cause damage to the plants or the environment.
Sylvan Grove Native Garden is free entry to the public all year round during the week & on weekends in peak season.
Address: 7 Sylvan Grove, Picnic Point – about 30 minutes drive from Marrickville. Easy parking. Free entry. I’d recommend taking water to drink, mosquito repellent & wearing closed shoes & a hat.
If I were to give this garden a rating it would be 11/10. Bankstown Council should be very proud for they have created a native wonderland & a very important place of education & biodiversity.