This week I am on vacation at the Cape Bryron Headland Reserve, near the town of Byron Bay. The reserve is located in the northern part of New South Wales, Australia and is famous for surfing, hippies, and resort for Australian families. The place is absolutely beautiful and is the idyllic sub-tropical paradise.
I am initially more interested in the forests behind the beaches than the water. There are several trails through this semi-preserved wilderness area on the cape. The main forest types are Coastal Banksia woodland and littoral (coastal) rainforest. The area used to be for livestock and agriculture (bananas) and through the work of the government, is being restored to its natural state. On a walk in the pouring rain yesterday, I identified many of the signature species of the littoral rainforest of eastern Australia
The forest has the most cycads I have ever seen together. Above is a photo of the burrawang (Macrozamia communis). I am not sure of the origin or meaning of the Aboriginal common name, burrawang. Cycads were the dominant tree during the Jurassic period, but today are a small portion of the world vegetation. There are 65 species of cycads divided into three families. Experts reckon there are more hundreds of more species to be identified. They are most found in Latin America, Asia, and Australia. The Aboriginal people ate the seeds after soaking them for days to get rid of the toxins.
The Coastal Banksia (Banksia integrifolia) shown above is found in abundance here. It was one of the 4 Banskia species collected by Joseph Banks in 1770 and is one of the most common Banksias on the east coast. As their name suggests, it grows mostly near the ocean and is the hardiest of the Banksias and so makes for a good tree for parks and gardens. There were very few of the distinctive Banksia flowers present.
I will explore more of the park this week and blog on my findings.