Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A holiday in 6 hours

Today I took a day off - as I felt I needed a holiday. It was just what I needed.

Kids playing on the beach in front of Bundeena House.
Such a different climate and habitat from Robertson.
Since moving to Robertson I have wanted to go to the Royal National Park, just south of Sydney (and north of Wollongong). It is not very far away, just a 75 minute drive away. But as I discovered today, it is a whole world apart.

A family fishing beside the jetty at Bundeena
- enjoying the unseasonally warm weather (24.7 C).
"The Royal", as it is known, is a remarkable area a sandstone plateau on the edge of Sydney, which remarkably was protected by decree as a National Park on 26 April 1879. It was the first National Park to be declared in Australia - and the second in the world, (after America's "Yellowstone National Park").
Google Map, with my notes. Click to enlarge.
It is a huge Park, (154 Sq. Kms) with roads leading in to it from Heathcote, Waterfall and also from Stanwell Tops (the southern end of the Park).

I had first seen the village of Bundeena from a point south of Cronulla several years ago when I went out to Kurnell, to see where Captain Cook (and Joseph Banks) first set foot on Australian soil. That led to the naming of Botany Bay, and the native plant "Banksia", (and the New Holland Honeyeater, which to this day, hang out in the large Banksia serrata ("Old Man Banksia") bushes where they landed).

Anyway, today I decided at about lunchtime to give myself the day off and drive to Bundeena, and to have a look at the Royal National Park. Events conspired against the "exploration" plan, as the main road through the Park was closed for roadworks. But we could get through to Bundeena (I went with Peter, who had been hacking Blackberries for me, until I invited him to take the day off too).

We went straight to the Jetty, where I took a photo of the Port Hacking "heads" - with the Pacific Ocean beyond.
Refer to the vista lines marked on the map, above.
Cronulla (part of suburban Sydney) is also seen across the bay.
Children playing beside a lovely Bronze statue
"Spring" by the late Judit Shead.
On the drive in to Bundeena I spotted many heathland plants in flower. On the way back out, we stopped several times to take a few photos, but the weather was changing and we could not stay long. I will show some more plants over the next few days. But there were several surprises for me.

A wonderfully tall Gymea Lily
flowering beside the road into the Park from Waterfall.
These plants are common near the large red dot
(on the map above) on the road into the Royal from Waterfall.
These plants normally flower later in the season.
I recall that they were in flower at the time of the
Sydney Olympics, in mid to late September 2000.And this plant is known as "Christmas Bells" (Blandfordia nobilis)
That tells you all you need to know about its unseasonal flowering.
This was growing beside the Bundeena Road.
Technical Notes:
Full-screen Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is a national park in New South Wales, Australia, 29 km south of Sydney. Founded by Sir John Robertson***, Acting Premier of New South Wales, and formally proclaimed on 26 April 1879, it is the world's second oldest purposed national park, the first usage of the term "national park" after Yellowstone in the United States. Its original name was The National Park, but it was renamed in 1955 after Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia passed through on the way to Wollongong during her 1954 tour . (It could be argued that the Royal is the oldest gazetted national park because Yellowstone's original gazetting was "recreation area.") The Royal was added to the list of the National Heritage in December, 2006.

*** This is the same guy after whom my village is named. He is regarded by left-wing Australian historians as almost a socialist, for he introduced the "Crown Lands Acts 1861" which allowed ordinary citizens (as distinct from the "squattocracy") to take up land-holdings. That legislation led to the clearing of the "Yarrawa Brush" and the settlement of this district, which was subsequently re-named in his honour.

Vegetation notes on the Royal National Park (from the NPWS website).


mick said...

Now that's my kind of day off. Beautiful sea! However I imagine that the water wasn't all that warm as there were more playing beside it than in it. Beautiful flowers too! The Gymea Lily looks amazing right beside the road. Its much larger than mine but I am told they grow bigger every time they flower. The Xmas bells are really early - haven't seen any up here yet.

Miss Eagle said...

Beautiful, Denis. A wonderful part of the world. So lovely to see that photo of Bundeena House. I did a day retreat there back in 2001. It is wonderful - right on the beach. I was living on the Upper North Shore at the time and trained it down to Cronulla and caught the ferry across. A lovely way to arrive. That whole southern area around the rivers is beautiful.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Brigid and Mick.
Brigid, it looks like the kind of place that people organise conferences at. Great way to share the beauty around.
Mick, I did hear that they water was about 17 C, but I am not a swimmer, myself. I just love watching the lakes and oceans. Something I picked up from my father, who is a headland specialist - he loved watching waves form up, and also looking out for Albatrosses. He is from Port Fairy, (west coast Victoria) cold water country, there - Southern Ocean. Brrr!