Garden inspiration: Ken Ausburn Track

The recent rain was pretty inspiring at the time, but it's also done amazing things for the plants in Illawarra's bushland areas, and I couldn't help sharing a bit more inspiration after a bushwalk on the weekend. 

The Ken Ausburn Track, which is one of the tracks that heads up Mount Keira from the Wollongong suburbs, is full of interesting and inspiring plants, as well as having much-feted ocean views, art works and industrial heritage. It's a good place to spot some plants that are regionally or even nationally rare, and to see some more common species at their finest. 

The track starts from the corner of Northfields Avenue and Robsons Road in Keiraville, just near the University. It's pretty steep in parts, but from here you can ascend all the way to the summit of Mount Keira if you have the time and inclination. Even sticking to the the lower slopes, there's plenty to see if you spend an hour or two wandering around.

Lots of colourful fruit on the Red-fruited Olive Plum,and complemented by the bright yellow flowers
of the (introduced) Senna shrub growing behind it.There's a native Senna (S. acclinis) that will grow and
 flower just as well. Image by Emma Rooksby.
This is Native Cascarilla (Croton verreauxii), a shrubby small tree with distinctive orange or red old foliage. It's tough, easy to maintain and attracts many species of bird. Image by Emma Rooksby.

Another distinctive small tree of the region is Bonewood (Streblus brunonianus). It is extremely hardy and, like Native Cascarilla,it attracts a range of bird species. Image by Emma Rooksby.
The above species are all relatively common and easy to see along the track. Rarer, and at least as garden-worthy are plants like Brush Wilga (Geijera salicifolia), Ribbonwood (Euroschinus falcatus) and the Red Kamala (Mallotus philippensis) that I featured in an earlier post. In fact, this whole area is really special, and deserves a lot more protection than it is currently receiving. 

Brush Wilga is a handsome small tree with a fairly dense, dark green canopy.  It will bring in a wide range of birds and insects to gardens. Image by Elena Martinez.
The Elephant Weevil (Orthorhinus cilindrirostrus) is one of the many species of insect that can be found on Brush Wilga. Look closely at almost any tree and you'll find at least one insect or bird hanging out!
 Image by Lisa Mulqueeney.
And of course there's much more on the walk than trees. 

The occasional views are spectacular. Image by Emma Rooksby.
The paths are interesting. Image by Emma Rooksby. 
And the understorey is always full of unexpected features! Image by Emma Rooksby. 
But if you want to get an idea of some of how Illawarra's rarer trees look at their best, this is one of the top spots to see them. 

A few other takes on the Ken Ausburn Track are out there, including this one from Bushwalk The Gong, which includes a shot of the route. 

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