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.
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.
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.
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!