Spring in the mountains – Saturday 5 September 2020
Visit to Blue Mountains Botanic Garden - Mount Tomah and then optional visits to surrounding gardens and reserves
This one-day excursion focuses on the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens, Mt Tomah, and then provides opportunities to explore the gardens for the rest of the day or visit nearby locations such as Wildwood, Mt Wilson and Mt Banks. Numbers limited to 20.
See the attached document below for a full description of the outing with more details, pictures and maps.
Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens
Located on Bells Line of Rd, Mount Tomah NSW 2758 this 28 HA garden is a showcase of local and imported cool climate plants and alpine rainforest.
It takes about 1.5 hours to get there from Lindfield, with the M2/M7being generally the quickest. Use the Richmond Road exit from the M7.
Saturday morning traffic can be annoying, so the earlier you leave is likely to be better.
Greg Bourke, the manager/curator of the garden, will give us a 30 minute talk, starting at 10.30am, on photography and specifically macro, and then we will go into the garden to ramble and experiment with Greg’s guidance.
Social distancing and Covid-19 requirements will be in place (see separate NCP Covid-19 Safety Plan). These include:
- Do not come if unwell
- Bring and wear a mask when in a group
- Bring your own food and drink if possible – there are a range of cafes are open along the route and a kiosk, The Ugly Mug, open in the Botanic Gardens
- Bring your own hand sanitiser
- Record the name, mobile and email of all those attending
To meet the 10.30am time frame and have time for coffee and apple pie on the way, we recommend leaving home about 8.30am or so. On the way, there are a couple of places to stop for coffee or get lunch.
As you travel towards Mt Tomah, you will see lots of recovering forest and there are a few places to pull over to the side of the road to check out the regrowth. Note that beyond the Botanic Gardens, and traveling onto Mt Banks and beyond, the damage (as at July) is far more extreme and the recovery far less progressed. Be careful not to tread on new shoots, if you stop to take photos.
- Bilpin Fruit Bowl - open at 8am.
- Across the road is the Pines Orchard with café with similar food and a very amenable owner!
- Further along the road towards Mt Tomah is a new bakery called The Grumpy Baker - open at 6.30am.
15 – 20 mins from Bilpin is the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens with a turnoff to the left. The gardens are open 9am to 5pm.
The café is not open (as at 27 Aug) and the Visitors Centre is due to open 28 Aug. If you arrive early, you’ll have time to wander the gardens or you can do that after lunch. There are many paths and rock walls, rock pools, and an array of colourful plants and trees. A map of the gardens is at the end of this document.
Arriving at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden – Mount Tomah
10.30am Presentation by Greg Bourke, Manager/Curator, in Waratah Room
A highlight will be a 30-minute presentation by Greg Bourke, the Curator/Manager of the garden, an expert on carnivorous plants and photographing them. He will show us his macro (and landscape) images, along with his tips on macro, cameras, photographing plants and gardens. Then we will explore and photograph in the garden with his advice and tips.
Remember to bring your tripod. Bring lenses that allow close-ups of flowers (macro or zoom are good). If you want to experiment with lighting, also bring your flash.
You can see more of Greg’s images on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/greg.bourke/?hl=en.
Either bring your own lunch and eat in the garden or get it at the kiosk (allow plenty of time). Other options: Wildwood – pre-order.
Lunch: 12.30 or so…
After lunch – stay at the gardens or take some additional trips
There are some wonderful places to visit close by, you may decide to make a weekend of it.
Places include Mt Wilson, Wildwood Garden and Mt Banks – a few details on each are provided here.
1. Wildwood Gardens
Wildwood is a garden 20 mins east of Mt Tomah and so may be worth a visit on the way home. It is located at: 29 Powell’s Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758. Wildwood is full of camellias and in spring should have a lovely spring display with cherry blossoms.
Food is available at Wildwood but should be booked in advance. Menus for lunch range from $25 to $35 (including entry fee of $10) and afternoon tea is $18 including entry. Call 0417 042 460 to order food (This is Wayne, one of the owners. He advised if not booking ahead to order food as soon as you arrive, to avoid queues).
Entry is $10 (or is included with the price for food, if purchased).
2. Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson is 20 mins west from the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens and spring is a lovely season there with many open gardens. https://www.mtwilson.com.au/accommodation-gardens-properties-for-sale/gardens
Continue along the Bells Line of Road and turn right after about 10 mins at Mount Wilson Road (see map at end of this document).
There are many picnic spots where you can enjoy your (BYO) picnic lunch including Cathedral Reserve and Happy Valley, 1km further towards Mt Irvine.
There are NO shops, cafes, permanent coffee shops, petrol stations, ATMs or medical services. The nearest are in Lithgow or Mt Victoria. Please remember to bring your own water. Mobile reception can be dodgy. There are public toilets at Silva Plana (just as you enter Mt Wilson), the Fire Station, Founders Corner, Waterfall Reserve and Cathedral Reserve.
Two lovely gardens well worth a visit are:
This is a small garden, just under five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with cool climate plants, water features and sculpture. It also has an extensive nursery. (https://www.facebook.com/windyridgegarden/)
The fee for the garden is $10 which also gets you tea/coffee and biscuits as well. You pay on arrival or when getting your afternoon tea. Roger, the owner, also says that we are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to have in the gardens. Toilets are available at the garden.
Located at: 60 The Avenue, Mount Wilson NSW 2786. Fees are $10 for entry. This second garden sprawls over 5 HA with the precise geometry of tightly clipped hedges of azaleas, camellias and box.
Bebeah is one of the original large garden estates of Mt Wilson, having been built by Edward Cox in 1880. The garden has been rejuvenated by the current owner, Barry Byrne, into a rare Australian example of a formal country garden estate of imposing scale and a grand sense of design. There are 120 year old trees, a large lake, and a wide variety of plantings. The main house is late Victorian Gothic and blends into the landscape.
Another garden to consider visiting in Nooroo, a beautiful garden over 11 acres which showcases both exotic and native plants. Cost is $10, and opening hours are 10am to 4pm. Built and planted in 1880 it includes English oaks, chestnuts, ash and cedars, along with many flowering plants to create a riot of colour.
What else to do in Mount Wilson?
Wynnes Rocks Lookout
40 Wynnes Lookout Rd, Mount Wilson NSW 2786. There is a lovely lookout, albeit recovering from fire, called Wynnes Rocks Lookout which gives you outstanding views over the mountains. You’ll be able to see close up the regeneration of the native bush.
3. Mount Banks
For the nature lovers, it’s well worth of visit to Mt Banks Picnic Area, part of the Blue Mountains National Park. This is located on your way to Mt Wilson or on your way home. Its roughly 10 mins west of Mt Tomah on the south side of the road (left hand side) if you are travelling towards Mt Wilson. There is a dirt road leading down to the Picnic area but just half way there are some wonderful views and beautiful rocks and recovering heathlands.
What to bring
- Money for entry fees to Mt Wilson gardens
- Hand sanitiser
- Thermos/tea/coffee in case
- Camera gear – with macro/zoom and also wide angle for broad views of daffodil fields
- Tripod, remote trigger if used
- Flash if you want
- Wet weather gear/hat/sunscreen/umbrella
- Good shoes for walking
- Maybe mozzie spray