Eye-Spy A Brilliant Sight: The Waratah

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Warratah 16SQ

The Waratah inflorescence, described as ‘the most beautiful seen from afar’, is one of the surprise gems found in Sydney Outback – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Australia’s oldest conservation reserve and third most biodiverse regions (after The Daintree and Wet Tropics).

It’s common name, Waratah, comes from the Eora Aboriginal word ‘warada’ meaning ‘beautiful’ or ‘red-flowering tree’. The sentiment is consistent with the impressions of early European botonists who classified it in the proteaceae family and named it Telopea speciosissima (‘telopos’ means ‘seen from afar’ in Greek, ‘speciosus’ meansmost beautiful or splendid’ in Latin).

Popular for its striking red and crimson hues, the Waratah is essentially round, up to 20cm wide. It’s colour and height make it stand out among the surrounding greenery on tall woody stems reaching up to 3m high. It has a recognizable and distinctive, thick, dark green leaf up to 25cm long each with a coarsely serrated edge. The Waratah was proclaimed NSW’s floral emblem in 1962.

Hope to see a Waratah in the wild? Sydney OutBack is always on the lookout during Wildflower season while touring the National Park; it flowers from September – November in open forest in coarse sandy soil at any altitude within Ku-ring-gai Chase. Once bountiful in the region, the Waratah’s sweet, honey-like sap was favoured by the Guringai Aboriginal people, the land’s original custodians. Keep in mind, the species is protected in the Park: please do not pick when in bloom, as they are becoming increasingly rare in the bush and the wild seeds are vital to healthy regeneration of the species. Severe fines apply. To learn more about Sydney OutBack’s Wilderness and Aboriginal Explorer Tour and Cruise, just click here.

Our tours are also part of Tourism Australia’s Indigenous Tourism Champions Program (ITCP), recognizing that we offer a quality experience that that meets the needs and expectations of international visitors.

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