In search of wildflowers and Aboriginal rock art, I’m exploring the Perimeter Track and Cowan Trail, with a combination of trail-walking and some off-track “bush bashing”. Only 500m or so along the Perimeter Trail is the most spectacular display of waratahs I think I’ve ever seen… not one or two, but hundreds of them along the trail. The waratah (Telopea) is native to the southeastern parts of Australia (NSW, Victoria and Tasmania) with the most well-known species – and the NSW state emblem – being the Telopea speciosissima.
Another plant that is flowering prolifically along the trail (and is common throughout Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) is the Grevillea buxifolia, or grey spider flower.
Another grevillea is the pink Grevillea sericea, or silky Grevillea, which was first formally described in James Edward Smith’s 1793 A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland.
It’s impossible to miss the bright clusters of the Boronia ledifolia, which grows prolifically as a small shrub.
The colours of the Boronia ledifolia are geneally pink, but vary from light pink to red.
Another boronia, commonly known as native rose or rose boronia, is the Boronia serrulata. Unlike the previous one, it has quite small and thick leaves: its botanical name serrulata is derived from the diminutive form of the Latin word serra, meaning “saw”.
At the end of Cowan Trail is Spirits Rock, a signposted Aboriginal site which I visited a few months ago – the fairly well-preserved engravings include Baiame (the creator god and Sky Father in the dreaming of several language groups), a shield and a number of figures.
Branching off the Cowan Trail is what seems to be an old and service trail that heads down towards the water, becoming a faint bushwalking track after a few hundred metres. It leads to a broad ledge, which offers a glimpse of Cowan Creek and Apple Tree Bay.
I’ve been told about the newly discovered Cowan Track Bandicoot Aboriginal engraving site, although even knowing its rough location it was hard to find. Athough it looks like a number (from its stripes and stance), it’s most likely a bandicoot.
Exploring the area for more Aboriginal engravings, we see a few impressive caves and rock overhangs that have been sculpted by thousands of years of wind and water erosion.
There are a few more native plants that are flowering: Isopogon anemonifolius, or the broad-leaved drumstick, is a shrub in the Proteaceae family that is native only to eastern NSW. The flowers appear any time from July to January, and are most abundant in October.
The Gompholobium latifolium, also known as the golden glory pea or broad-leaved wedge-pea, flowers in Spring and has delicate yellow flowers, in contrast to its tough and almost prickly leaves.
Last but not least of the flowers I photograph today is a species of Dillwynia, possibly Dillwynia retorta (commonly known as eggs and bacon) – another delicate yellow and red flowe with slim but prickly leaves that mimise water loss.
More information on Cowan Trail
- Alan Fairley & Philip Moore – Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney
- Sydney Rock Art – Cowan Track web page
For more bushwalking suggestions in the area, have a look at the Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase, which lists all the official and informal routes in the park.