Gymea Lily

One of the most delightful plants in the Sydney region is the Gymea Lily. It is flowering at the moment and if you keep your eyes out there are plenty to see on a drive through the Royal National Park.

The leaves are sword like and sprout from the ground. The flower is located on the top of a long narrow green shoot which can reach up to six metres.

When these plants are not in flower they are just your average plant in the bush. When they flower it is a whole different story.

Arising from the leaves below is a crimson red flower that will immediately catch your eye.

The Gymea Lily takes a while to flower, at least five or more years. They are a hardy native and a bush fire does not set the plants back for long.

The word Gymea originates from the local aboriginal people and is attributed to either the Dharug or Dharawal Language group. The word means ‘a small bird’.

When you look at the plant in flower the name makes sense.

The flower is a long way from the plant, many metres, and looks like it could be flying if you don’t take in the long narrow stork supporting it. It is roughly the size of a small bird.

Two nearby suburbs also go by this name, Gymea and Gymea Bay.

If you take the Royal National Park tour with Sydney Nimble Tours in Spring you will see the Gymea Lily and a number of other native plants in flower.

The flowers of the Gymea Lily are followed by oval shaped capsules and in late summer the capsules split and release seeds.

It is a great time to be out and about in a Sydney national park.

sword shaped green leaves and long green shoot

sword shaped green leaves and long green shoot

a striking Australian wildflower

a striking Australian wildflower

wild red

wild red

power of one plus Australian navy vessel and Sydney city

power of one plus Australian navy vessel and Sydney city

Rare King Koala spotted

A rare King Koala was spotted today in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. This super sized creature is bound to impress. The sheer bulk of the animal is amazing.

A normal adult koala can eat up to a kilogram of gum leaves in one day.

Scientists have estimated that the King Koala may be able to gorge up to 10 kg of gum leaves in a single sitting. This has serious implications for Australia’s gum forests.

Although Sydney Nimble Tours cannot guarantee it, there is a possibility that our in-house specialist tracker may be able to locate this fine specimen on our Sydney Bespoke Tour.

Don't be intimidated, despite the koala’s large black fangs there have been no reported injuries to park visitors.

show respect and do not stare at the creature’s nose

show respect and do not stare at the creature’s nose

Still rocking

Yesterday Sydney Nimble took a visitor on the Royal National Park Tour. The main game was to see Wedding Cake Rock.

The construction work at the site, which detracted from the ambience of the rock as construction work does, has finished and the new fence is in place.

The new fence is a significant improvement.

It is less clunky than the previous fence and allows visitors to get a much closer look at the rock. The rock still has the goods and the walk to the rock provides the chance to see some spectacular coastal scenery.

The naming of the rock came from its white appearance and cuboid shape, that can be compared to a piece of wedding cake.

Wedding Cake Rock is best seen on a sunny day and yesterday we had the sun. It is also preferable if rain doesn’t precede a visit as surface puddles form and these may detract from the rock’s appearance.

There are numerous interesting sandstone formations on the way to the rock if you take a few detours. Sandstone is found around the world and has many natural variations in colour, shade, tone and grain.

Variation in sandstone colours is on display in the images below, ranging from white, grey through to yellow, orange, brown and tan.

A Wedding Cake Rock Tour is one of the highlights of a visit to the Royal National Park. Join us and keep rocking.

the rock, there and fair

the rock, there and fair

and again in case you missed it

and again in case you missed it

between a rock and a hard face

between a rock and a hard face

watch your step

watch your step

layered for perfection

layered for perfection

avoiding a slippery slope

avoiding a slippery slope

Waverley Cemetary

Tours of Sydney are unlikely to have a cemetery on the list of must see locations.

Waverley Cemetery is one of those places that is overlooked by visitors to Sydney. We like it for two reasons. The first is its proximity to the Pacific Ocean - drop dead views!

The coastal walk way from Bondi to Coogee runs just below the eastern edge of the cemetery. A walk along this impressive scenic pathway offers the chance to make a detour into the cemetery.

The second reason we find it appealing relates to the history and attitudes that are captured in a cemetery. Many of Sydney’s well known people have been buried here and Waverley cemetery contains an expansive collection of death memorabilia, including sculptures, graves, vaults, mausoleums and memorials.

The cemetery opened in 1877 and an intact drinking trough for horses remains on the pavement near the cemetary entrance. There is a vast quantity of stonemasonry on display including sculptures of angels, neo classical symbols and tombstones.

The cemetery is well laid out and designed with many internal roads and retaining walls. Fatigued cortege members may choose to rest in a number of sandstone shelters interspersed throughout the grounds.

The stand out monument in Waverley Cemetery is the Martyr’s Monument which is dedicated to the 1798 uprising against British rule in Ireland. The remains of one of the leaders of the rebellion, Michael O’Dwyer and his wife, reside here.

The memorial includes a large Celtic cross and also commemorates the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Long Kesh Hunger Strikes in 1981.

It is estimated that around 100 000 people have taken up digs at the cemetery, ranging from poets (Henry Kendall and Henry Lawson) to well known business people, politicians and sporting stars.

A Sydney tour of Waverley Cemetery is easily accommodated in our Sydney Bespoke Tour. Get in touch and we can discuss.

Two Irish Wolfhounds guard the entrance to the Irish Memorial

Two Irish Wolfhounds guard the entrance to the Irish Memorial

Angelic embrace

Angelic embrace

something is alive in the cemetary

something is alive in the cemetary

a graceful sculpture remembering a woman who passed away in 1910

a graceful sculpture remembering a woman who passed away in 1910

Once a Gaol

Sydney Nimble recently had the pleasure of going on someone else’s tour. Our guide Tom took us around the National Art School, which was formerly the Darlinghurst Gaol.

The buildings in the National Art School represent one of the most formidable collections of sandstone colonial architecture in Australia.

For those of us who like colonial architecture they are right up there - well preserved and swirling with stories.

The Darlinghurst Gaol specialised in accommodating bushrangers, rapists and murderers. It operated from 1841 until 1914.

76 people were hanged in the Darlinghurst gaol, and Sydney’s most notorious 19th and early 20th century criminals were provided with either short or long term accommodation: Captain Moonlight; Jimmy Governor (aka Jimmy Blacksmith) and the Rennie boys.

Famous Australian poet, Henry Lawson, did some time for failing to pay alimony and child desertion. Henry used the time well writing a number of poems.

The tour focused on the history of the buildings when they were used as a gaol.

D Block housed women prisoners and in one corner of this building plug marks can be seen on the wall where a padded cell was kept for more difficult customers.

D Block was connected to the prison chapel by a walkway as those in charge were uncomfortable with the idea of female prisoners venturing onto the general grounds of the gaol.

Probably a good idea in view of a number of rapists residing in the vicinity.

D Block was used as a theatre and for other events from late 1950s through to the 1970s. Catherine Hepburn and Robert Helpmann visited D Block in 1955 to assist in promoting the theatre whilst it was being restored.

The prison’s chapel has a cupola, which is a small structure placed on the dome or roof of a building. Cupola’s are used to provide light and or ventilation. Two photographs below show the chapel’s cupola from inside as you look up from the floor and from the exterior.

The sandstone for the prison walls was cut and hewn by convicts working in a chain gang at nearby quarries. Each sandstone block was marked so that a tally could be kept and the first photo below shows these markings.

The sixth photo shows D Block, which was comprised of three levels when the gaol operated. If you look behind the projector the markings can be seen where the stairs used to be located.

We highly recommend Tom’s tour, which can be booked through the National Art School’s website.

The Darlinghurst Gaol was a cruel place and tormented those persons that were incarcerated here.

Nevertheless stories about the prisoners, jail conditions, executions, and the public’s reactions to the gaol are fascinating.

markings identified the prisoner who worked on the sandstone block

markings identified the prisoner who worked on the sandstone block

chapel and cupola topped with a weather vane

chapel and cupola topped with a weather vane

the dark side of the cupola

the dark side of the cupola

not a metaphor - real ball and chain

not a metaphor - real ball and chain

Tom with a display of local historic tools.

Tom with a display of local historic tools.

dreaded D Block

dreaded D Block

Ring the bell

Bells Line of Road

The majority of people visiting the Blue Mountains from Sydney will travel on the Great Western Highway. The road less travelled to the Blue Mountains is the Bells Line of Road. This name was derived from the efforts of Archibald Bell jnr, who in 1823, with the help of local Aboriginal guides marked out the route of this road.

The Bells Line of Road provides access to some great lookouts, walks and gardens.

The gardens

One of these gardens is the Royal Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah, which sits 1000 metres above sea level and features over 5000 species of cool climate plants. Cool climate vegetation from Africa, South America, Asia and Europe can be found here.

The Mt Tomah garden has one of the best collections of advanced Wollemi pines, which is not unexpected as these trees were found (1994) in the nearby Wollemi National Park.

Another much smaller garden, Windyridge Garden, is located further west in the historic village of Mt Wilson, and has many wonderful trees, shrubs, ponds, waterfalls and sculptures. Full credit to the owners, Wai and Rodger Davidson.

The amount of work maintaining a garden of this nature is not to be underestimated. The garden is not only beautiful but has a calming tranquillity. It is one of the highlights of the day.

The lookouts

There are many lookouts on the drive along Bells Line of Road. Some are marked, while some are not so well marked, or not marked at all. Walls lookout is very impressive and the walking time is around 30 minutes each way.

Our Sydney Blue Mountains Tour takes the Bells Line of Road and we visit the gardens and lookouts mentioned plus a fair bit more.

Scribbly Gum trees

On the way to a lookout you may come across a Scribbly Gum. Scribbly Gums are a variety of Australian Eucalyptus trees which play host to the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth.

Scribbly Gum Moths lay their eggs in Autumn and the larvae develop in the bark throughout winter. The scribble patterns are caused by the boring and eating process. Initially the larvae bore through the bark creating irregular loop tunnels, followed by zig zag loops.

Scar tissue forms and the tunnel is filled with highly nutritious thin walled cells. The larvae then eats its way back along the same path it created. When it leaves the bark cracks off leaving the scribble patterns underneath.

A fascinating process!

Protea perfection in Mt Tomah Botanical Garden

Protea perfection in Mt Tomah Botanical Garden

Oh great wall of sandstone

Oh great wall of sandstone

no key required for this Windyridge pond

no key required for this Windyridge pond

primary school vandals?

primary school vandals?

Would you like a lichen covered chair with your coffee?

Would you like a lichen covered chair with your coffee?

Antiquities and Lego

It is not every day that you come across a museum that has antiquities and a lego display. The Nicholson Museum at Sydney University however has just that.

The Museum came into being in 1865 when the second chancellor of Sydney University, Sir Charles Nicholson, donated his private collection of antiquities.

Hundreds of Greek, Roman, Southern Italian and Etruscan antiquities were acquired by the chancellor in the course of several trips to Europe in the late 1850s.

The museum has since grown in size and has the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere (approximately 30 000 artefacts).

It also has an ongoing exhibition of a reconstructed pre-catastrophe Pompeii, made out of Lego.

There is a dedicated room titled ‘Death Magic’ which includes the mummy of a six year old boy and two Egyptian coffins.

The museum is open on week days, and the first Saturday of the month. Entry is free!

Don’t expect to see a massive museum. It is a small museum that has an interesting collection, particularly if you like ancient history and or lego.

A visit to the Nicholson Museum complements a visit to Sydney University’s wonderful historic building, the Quadrangle. We recommend visiting both.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum is currently being constructed and is set to open in 2020. This new museum will include the contents of the Nicholson Museum along with two other museums located at Sydney University.

The Nicholson Museum can be inlcuded in our Sydney bespoke tour or we could adjust the itinerary of one of the other tours to include the museum.

not your average display title.

not your average display title.

where’s mummy

where’s mummy

Pompeii in Lego, before the big one

Pompeii in Lego, before the big one

needs some work on the teeth

needs some work on the teeth

It's all go at Symbio

Sydney Nimble visited the Symbio Wildlife Park (Symbio), with three clients yesterday. The name Symbio is a shortened version of the word symbiosis. Symbiosis is a relationship between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

Symbio is a well run wildlife park and has a good mix of native and non native animals. The native animals include: kangaroos and wallabies, dingoes, echidnas (including an albino echidna), koalas, cassowaries, emus, wombats, goannas, Tasmanian Devils, and a variety of birds and reptiles.

When we parked at Symbio’s outside car park sulphur crested cockatoos were flying overhead and screeching loudly.

At certain times during the day there are presentations where a representative of the zoo talks about a particular animal. Koalas sleep a lot so feeding the koalas at presentation time brings these marsupials out of their slumber. Zoo staff advise that they get quite active at night. Unfortunately the zoo is not open!

Our small group also enjoyed the kangaroos and wallabies, which are remarkably tame and had no trouble with our presence. These guys are very relaxed.

The red pandas are cute and the monkeys (Tamarin and Marmoset monkeys from Central and South America) were not what we expected as they are some of the smallest types found. They looked very different to your typical monkey.

We give Symbio a big thumbs up.

Symbio is an excellent addition to our Sydney Royal National Park Tour. The only problem is deciding which part of the itinerary has to be dropped off to fit in the visit to Symbio.

We recommend allocating at least 90 minutes for a visit to Symbio, but you could easily spend more time here if you wanted to see a few of the animal presentations. Get in touch and we can provide a draft itinerary for a Royal National Park Tour which includes Symbio.

you looking at me - Bush Thick-knee

you looking at me - Bush Thick-knee

I am the king

I am the king

prowling red panda

prowling red panda

I know I heard something

I know I heard something

shivered at vivid

A visit to Taronga Zoo Vivid last night was only for those who had already bought tickets and the ill advised. I’m not sure which group I fit into.

It was seriously cold with occasional drizzle. Still we braved the elements and enjoyed the show. As long as you kept moving and had warm clothing the unusually cold blast currently being experienced in Sydney wasn’t any bother.

The Vivid visual juggernaut is on until 15 June. It is amazing how much the face of a building can change when the Vivid moving animal and scenery show is projected onto the main entrance of Taronga Zoo. The first two photographs below are of the same building.

The range of colours and images are dazzling. The heritage building comes alive with flora and fauna in different coloured themes.

This year the story is about how humans are pressuring the animals on the planet.

One of the lanterns on display depicts a creature that is under serious pressure, the Southern Corroboree frog (last photo). Very few Australians have seen the delightful Corroboree frog in the wild as they exist only in a limited number of alpine locations and are endangered.

Vivid is currently on display at a number of locations in Sydney and the Taronga Zoo lanterns and multi-media projection lightshow is up there with the best of them.

The bilby is a shy nocturnal animal found in Australian deserts.

The bilby is a shy nocturnal animal found in Australian deserts.

see any critters?

see any critters?

damn bugs are everywhere

damn bugs are everywhere

Doesn’t have enough fur

Doesn’t have enough fur

A ribbiting lantern

A ribbiting lantern

Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo is a 22 hectare inner city suburb of Sydney located on the north west side of Sydney’s CBD.

The suburb is named after an aboriginal woman who had a significant influence in early contact between Aboriginal people and British authorities. She has been described as a powerful woman and was a respected provider of food (fisherwoman). Her second husband was Bennelong. Unfortunately Barangaroo passed away shortly after giving birth to her daughter in 1791.

The adoption of the word Barangaroo as the name of this newly created suburb is yet another example of a distinctive indigenous word adding to the richness of Australia’s vocabulary.

Many of Sydney’s place names are derived from Aboriginal words (eg , Bondi, Collaroy, Coogee, Cronulla, Curl Curl, Kirribilli, Maroubra, Narrabeen, Tamarama and Woolloomooloo).

The urban renewal of Barangaroo has been a landmark project in Sydney for well over ten years. The area was formerly docklands and known as the ‘hungry mile’. It was a tough, competitive and sometimes violent place. Workers from the 19th Century until the 1940s were known to walk from wharf to wharf searching for low paid work.

Barangaroo includes a 6 hectare headland park (Barangaroo Reserve) which was completed several years ago.

A significant part of the urban redevelopment in this new suburb has already occurred, however a six star resort and several residential buildings are still at the planning stage or under construction. A metro station is planned for Barangaroo.

The reserve is essentially an artificial hill, but it doesn’t look like one. Its contouring with the harbour, terraced plantings and dimensions generally make it fit in with its surrounds. Clever engineering and earthworks have given it the look of a hill whilst allowing a large void, known as the Cutaway, to exist underneath the parkland above.

The roof of the Cutaway required the fabrication, transportation and installation of massive concrete spans, which underpin thousands of cubic metres of rock, soil, grass and trees.

The Cutaway provides a unique area for events, exhibitions, television shoots, concerts and large gatherings. It is 120 metres long, 45 metres wide and the height of a six storey building. Natural light enters the space through a long vent on its east side.

A large scale planting of native plants, shrubs and trees (75 000 in total) has been undertaken at Barangaroo Reserve and the horticulturalists have largely chosen native flora that existed in the area prior to European settlement.

An incredible amount of sandstone has been used around the foreshore and throughout the reserve, showcasing the attractive look of this beautiful local material.

Barangaroo Reserve is a pleasant green addition to the City of Sydney which will improve over time as the trees increase in size whilst providing a unique multipurpose area that can be used by all Sydneysiders.

Sydney Nimble Tours includes a Barangaroo tour in our Eastern Suburbs, Woolloomooloo, Barangaroo day out. Alternatively we can include a tour of Barangaroo in our Sydney Bespoke Tour.

Barangaroo Reserve fits in well with the Rocks and Walsh Bay

Barangaroo Reserve fits in well with the Rocks and Walsh Bay

the three green towers that descend in height are known as the International Towers

the three green towers that descend in height are known as the International Towers

it came from the purple tent - opening night of Vivid at Barangaroo

it came from the purple tent - opening night of Vivid at Barangaroo

looking west from the Stargazer Lawn at Barangaroo Reserve

looking west from the Stargazer Lawn at Barangaroo Reserve