Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Did you know that some bower birds collect different pieces of poo to decorate their nest and try and woo their lady-loves?
My father and sister gleefully told me this bower bird tid-bit after watching a David Attenborough documentary on these fascinating birds one day.
There’s a bower bird that comes to my family’s property every year, scattering his blue pieces around his nest to entice a potential girlfriend. We always check out his little spread and marvel at how creative he is. And we get excited when he brings a girl home!
With this in mind, we had no idea that some bower birds thought poo would be better than blue rubbish. I asked my father how this particular bower bird did in the ladies department, and he laughed heartily saying he had trouble finding a partner.
Every time we talk about bower birds, I remind North Nomad of the poo bower bird anecdote. I don’t think I’ll ever stop finding it funny!
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (or Mt Tomah, as we call it in our family) has created a human-sized bower at its entrance; an ode to the satin bowerbirds that are prolific across the Upper Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains.
In this instance, the enormous bower has been constructed out of willow, an environmental weed that Lithgow Council allowed Mt Tomah to collects from alongside creeks. Apple tree prunings were also woven into the bower.
After the spectacular bower, we check out some of the Garden Walks and Feature Gardens. It’s a large property – over 28 hectares! We save many sections of the gardens for another day.
One unusual section we are determined to check out is the bridgeway over Bells Line of Road. Bells Line is a regular drive for us, and countless times we’ve wondered what it was.
We check the map and walk across a beautifully manicured lawn to reach the bridge. I feel a bit naughty walking across the grass. “Don’t step on to the holy grass!” was a phrase we routinely heard going to Catholic school with a beautiful lawn outside the church!
Over the bridge is a viewing platform. I’m a little foiled by the tall eucalypts, but when I stand on my tippy-toes, I can see Mount Haystack and Haystack Ridge. Rainforest patches of bright green can be seen in the Haystack gullies. Patches of rainforest cling to the south-eastern sides of the mountains in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. They extend down to creeks and canyons, protected from the heat and fires in these parts.
Rainforest trees in Mt Tomah include Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Sassafrass (Doryphora sassafras), and the Lillypilly (Acmena smithii).
On the other side is Bells Line of Road, and the signposts give a brief history of it, alongside a vivid painting by Darug artist, Robyn Caughlan. We’re told that the Bells Line of Road should have been named after the two Aboriginal guides, Cogy and Emery, who guided Archibald Bell through the bush, and created a route over the Blue Mountains in 1823.
Back in the gardens, we have a nostalgic walk through the North American woodland section. It’s cool and green here, on a hot summer’s day in the mountains.
My personal favourites are the African plants, with their luxurious colours and textures. They even have fantastic names, like the Zwartkop (Aeonium arboreium).
I also love the koi pond, but sadly on this occasion, the koi are either being coy, or aren’t in the pond. I had promised North Nomad a lot of koi action, so fingers crossed for next time!
Our visit was close to closing time, so we wander through the Formal Gardens, checking out some lizards sunning themselves, and head home for the afternoon.
The Botanic Gardens also has guided tours you can do, free electric BBQs for picnics, lodging and accommodation, and a one hatted restaurant.
NB: Mt Tomah also has limited disability access. The following is taken from their website:
Free wheelchairs and mobility scooters are available at the Visitor Centre (refundable deposit required).
Toilets at the Gardens are wheelchair accessible.
Accessible paths: Some areas of the Garden are wheelchair accessible, however there are several steep paths and stairs. Accessible routes and toilets are sign-posted.
Disabled parking bays are provided in the car park.
The Garden Shuttle runs four tours a day. $5pp, free for Disability Card holders and Foundation and Friend members.
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 9am-5.30pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 9.30am-5.30pm
Contact Details: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone No: 02 4567 3000 Tomah Gardens Restaurant: 0421 552 746
Location: The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah NSW
Getting There: From Sydney, head down any of the motorways and drive towards Windsor, then Richmond. Up through Richmond, take the Bells Line of Road for about 40 kms until you see the very obvious entrance to the gardens on your left. You honestly can’t miss it.