Natural Attractions - Native Flora and Fauna

A Natural Wonderland

The most extensive gardens of the Southern Highlands are those created by Nature herself.

Much of the Highlands - where towns and farms now stand - was originally covered in open forest and woodlands, and dense rainforest to the east around Robertson.

But many nature reserves remain close to settlement, giving much of the Highlands its character, and the whole area is surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of wilderness which reach right up to the towns and villages today.

There are many thousands of examples of native flora - much of it unique to the Highlands - which can be found in the bushland, forests and wilderness areas.

Thanks to an interest in preserving this heritage, many of these beautiful plants and flowers are also being propogated by local nurseries for reafforestation and so they can be planted in the grounds of local homes. (It is illegal to pick them in the wild.)

The area also abounds in colourful native birds and animals which even share closer settlement with human inhabitants.

Some examples are illustrated below.

Some examples of native flora.

acacia decurrens

Acacia decurrens

Also known as the Queen, Green, or Early Black Wattle. (The wattle tree is a floral symbol of Australia.) Found NSW, QLD and VIC. Grows extensively in the Highlands.

Evergreen, up to 15m. Perfumed flowers appearing in spring with beautiful yellow balls.

Bark is poisonous and once used by aborigines for fishing and as medicine.

acacia floribunda

Acacia floribunda

Also known as the Gossamer Wattle. Grows also E. VIC, NSW, and QLD.

Evergreen, up to 3m.

Pale yellow flowers appearing in prolific spikes in spring, giving a spectacular display of colour.

banksia spinulosa

Banksia spinulosa

Also known as the Honeysuckle Banksia.

Grows also elsewhere in NSW, QLD and VIC.

Evergreen to 3m, with dense foliage to 2m spread.

Flowers are up to 18cm. long and attract native birds for their nectar. Flowers appear spring through to autumn.


Bauera rubiodes

Also known as the River Rose or Dog Rose.

Grows throughout eastern Australia including Tasmania and S.A.

Evergreen to 2m.

The flowers are tiny and a delicate pink, growing on straggly stems; appear spring to summer.

Boronia floribunda

Boronia floribunda

Native to NSW, once widely spread the Southern Highlands.

Compact, evergreen shrub to 1m. Thin spiky leaves on long stems. Flowers are pale pink, star shaped, and perfumed; profuse in spring.

This variety used to grow profusely in Morton National Park near Bundanoon, for which a festival was once held. Not so common after devastating bushfires of 1960s.

Brachycome multifida

Brachycome multifida

Also known as the Cut Leaf or Rock Daisy. Perennial, grows to .3m as compact shrub.

Smooth, tufted stem, compact shape, with blue, pink or white flowers 2cm. across with daisy appearance.

Flowers spring to summer.

callistemon subulatus

Callistemon subulatus

Grows NSW and VIC. Evergreen to 3m.

Long rough bark stems. Flowers are bright red cylindrical brush-shaped, about 6cm. long.

Flowers appear spring to summer, leaving behind a small nut-shaped seed.


Hakea salicifolia

Also known as the willow-leaved Hakea. Grows NSW and QLD.

Evergreen to 3.5m. An upright shrub with long pale green leaves.

Flowers are pale yellow to white, and appear in small dense clusters among the leaves in spring and summer.

indigophera australis

Indigophera australis

Grows extensively in Australia. Evergreen shrub to 2.5m.

Light green, soft leaves with mauve to pink flowers in drooping heads in spring and summer.

Leptospermum flavescens

Leptospermum flavescens

Also known as the Tantoon Tea Tree.

Compact evergreen shrub to 3 metres with thin stiff light-green leaves.

Profuse and fragrant 5 petalled flowers in spring to summer.

Olearia Phlogopappa

Olearia phlogopappa

Erect shrub to 1.5 metres high and 1 metre across.

Has oblong, greyish leaves and daisy-like flowers (this example mauve) which cover the shrub in spring.

Found also in ACT, Victoria and Tasmania.


Westringia longifolia

Grows in NSW and QLD.

Compact evergreen shrub to 2m. with thin bright green leaves.

Profuse delicate white flowers in spring.


Epacris longiflora

Also known as the native Fuchsia.

Native to NSW, grows in open sunny position among low shrubs and grasses.

Evergreen to 2m.

Long thin stems with short broad leaves. The flowers are bright red with white tips, long and tubular in shape; appear winter to spring.


Pittosporum undulatum

Also known as Sweet Pittosporum.

Native to rainforests in E. Australia and TAS.

Evergreen to 14m.

Long bright green glossy leaves. Cream, 5 petalled bell shaped flowers with fragrant aroma appear in spring which later give orange berries.


Melaleuca squarrosa

Also known as the Scented Paperbark.

Native to south-eastern Australia.

Summer-flowering shrub growing to 5 - 12m in height, with papery bark.


Eucalyptus cypellocarpa

Also known as the Mountain Grey Gum.

Native of the Grampians in VIC and the Highlands and Tablelands of NSW.

Evergreen to 70m sometimes growing to 2m across the trunk.

Tall branching tree with long narrow dark green leaves, and small white flowers appearing in summer.


Eucalyptus aggregata

Also known as the Black Gum.

Found in marsh flats on the central and southern tablelands of NSW, regarded as a vulnerable species.

Grows to 18m.

The foliage is fine in texture with dark green leaves on arching branches. The bark is dark in color and curls and flakes from the trunk; white to cream flowers.

Eucalyptus quadrangulata

Eucalyptus quadrangulata

Also known as the White Topped Box.   Local to the Highlands from Bundanoon and Hill Top north along the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range as far as Queensland.

Grows to 50m. Specimens found up to 150 years old.

Leaves are 12 to 20cm long with unusual wavy edges and marginal oil glands. A favourite food of koalas. Has white or cream flowers, followed by small gumnuts; smaller branches have smooth white bark; sheds bark in long strips from the trunk.
©National Register of Big Trees

Acknowledgement is given to Wariapendi Nursery, Colo Vale, for assistance in preparing this page.


The first thing the visitor to the Highlands notices is the large number of colourful native birds - parrots, cockatoos, magpies, kookaburras and more, and if you are lucky, the wedge-tail eagle, bower bird, and lyre-bird.

A chorus of many and varied musical bird songs is likely to wake you in the morning, and keep you entertained all day. Most would recognise the cheerful call of the kookaburra.

Lyre birds can often be heard (but not easily seen) in the national parks, or along the roads going down towards the coast.

Occasionally large flocks of noisy white and black cockatoos, corellas and galahs swoop down from the bush.

There are water birds and waders to be seen along the Wingecarribee River, and east of the weir in the swamplands.

Of the famous Australian marsupials, the possum is the easiest to find as it is happy to live close to habitation (some would say too happy!).

Kangaroos and wallabies can often be seen on the edge of farmland and in the bush; wombats in burrows near creek beds, and unfortunately, on the roadsides (take care driving at night!)

Koalas are private creatures, and have been spotted recently in the Morton National Park near Bundanoon, but your best chance of seeing one would be to go to a zoo - as you should to see the monotremes, the Platypus and Echidna. (You may, however, see the platypus in the Wingecarribee River near Berrima if you are lucky enough to get one of the locals to show you.)

Emus can be seen close up at the ostrich and emu farm at Joadja, near Berrima.

Of the many colourful (but poisonous) snakes, you can rest assured that you are not likely to encounter these unless you wander carelessly through the bush during summer. You are more likely to see the friendly goanna (blue tongue lizard), even in people's gardens.

A few photos are shown below.



Red kangaroo

Red Kangaroo


Brush Tail Possum






©P. Scheunis, Wikipedia

Black_yellow cockatoo

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo



Black Cockatoos

Black Cockatoos

Wild ducks

Wild Ducks

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo







Last updated 2/5/16

- Open Gardens - Natural Attractions