KATOOMBA HOSPITAL PRECINCT The Eucalyptus oreades stand
Eucalyptus oreades (also known as Blue Mountains Ash) is found in scattered areas along the Great Dividing Range.It is along western parts of the Blue Mountains range, especially from Lawson to Bell, and on southern Newnes Plateau that it is most abundant.Stands of oreades, in various stages of maturity, flank major tourist asset areas including Leura Cascades and Radiata Plateau.Among the native trees found in the upper mountains, it is one of those with the most inspiring appearance.
In 1989, a stand of mature Eucalyptus oreades on railway land south of Katoomba Hospital was added to Blue Mountains Council’s Register of Significant Trees.Early this century, when the Great Western Highway was widened to four lanes, this stand of endemic trees was protected by separating the eastbound and westbound carriageways of the highway.In the final design, the westbound carriageway was effectively cantilevered in a section abutting the working lines of the railway.Nowhere else, in the four lane sections of the highway, has the design been so markedly modified to protect vegetation.
Eucalyptus oreades are described as especially vulnerable to large wildfires as trees lack a lignotuber and do not resprout from the trunk or higher branches. At around age 20 years the species develops a distinctive stocking of corky bark that provides some protection of the lower trunk during low intensity prescribed burns however.
In areas where construction and fire control activities will be widespread in future, stands of Eucalyptus oreades are among the more vulnerable natural assets. (Many thanks to Margaret Baker and Ian Brown for advice about Eucalyptus oreades.)
The residents of bushfire affected tourist regions should visit each other’s stamping grounds on recreational trips in 2020.
Here are some impressions of a February 2020 trip through a region with plenty of tourist accommodation intact.
Approaching the Eurobodalla Local Government Area from Nowra or Clyde Mountain, there are many burnt areas but there is epicormic growth on the gums and, in some places, green Burrawang cycads below.After recent rain, the cattle pastures look very lush.
The villages around Murramarang National Park have generally been saved.Bawley Point residents are still having their lawns mowed by Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
While the waves crash and foam around Kioloa Beach and Brush Island, the dune vegetation provides a dull green backdrop.Volunteers are planting new shrubs beside Durras Lake.
The tourist meccas of Central Tilba, Tilba Tilba and Bodalla are trading their usual attractive wares.So is Mogo, unashamed of its fire scars.
In Eurobodalla National Park, the pelicans float on Lake Corunna with multiple shades of green on the slopes behind.
From the Taralga to Wombeyan Caves Road, 2WDs or 4WDs can access a fascinating variety of landscapes. Near this trail junction, sunlight filters through the ribbon gums, reflecting into a Lilliputian world of spider webs, colourful fungi and pools.
For thousands of years the Gundungarra people inhabited areas of the southern Blue Mountains like this one. Important trading routes were described in legends that reinforced the geographical features by which generations of indigenous people navigated through densely vegetated bushland. The most significant surviving Gundungarra legend, the Gurangatch and Mirrigan story, describes a route from the Wollondilly River to Jenolan Caves and Duckmaloi Walls.
No doubt, stories about many other areas like this one were lost when the European invasion displaced the traditional Gundungarra lifestyle from the southern Blue Mountains. The Croker’s area is like an area north of Medlow Gap where part of the surviving legend is placed – Mirrigan creates a waterhole by forcing his snout upwards through the soil after tunnelling.
At atmosphere of peace exists here. But the abundance of termite mounds, the intricacy of the spider webs and the constant tumbling of dead or wind affected branches into the waterholes are testament to constant change.
The beautiful old Post Office at Hartley was constructed in the 1840s when this village was one of the most important settlements on the western road from Emu Plains to Bathurst. Its significance declined when bypassed by the first railway in 1869. Later the National Parks and Wildlife Service was able to take over the site and protect the 19th century features.
In the Greater Blue Mountains, well preserved natural landscapes based on sandstones, shales, limestones and marbles are prominent. Our granite landscapes have been mostly transformed by agriculture, Evans Crown Nature Reserve is a rare exception.
Much as it has been influenced by human activities, the granite zone around Old Hartley Post Office remains impressive. In 2013, NPWS opened the Kew-y-ahn Heritage Walk, a short trail giving access to a prominent granite outcrop above the village. The Post Office building itself is now a well patronised café, offering both snacks and lunches. Development of walking tracks to allow better appreciation of the overall site continues.