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The Macquarie University Arboretum was officially launched on Tuesday 10 August by Dr Tim Entwisle, Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens Trust in Sydney. The launch was hosted by the Vice Chancellor, Steven Schwartz. Prof Lesley Hughes, Head of Department for Biology, MC'd the event. To commemorate the launch five native trees were be planted: four Sydney Peppermint (Eucalyptus piperita) and a Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera).

The arboretum is unique in that it is the only arboretum in Sydney located on a university campus. It is also unique in having remnant areas of Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and Shale Sandstone Transition Forest, two endangered ecological communities under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2001.

The arboretum includes gardens that were established by Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences specifically to enhance their curricula. The goal of the Arboretum is to build on, and unify, the existing plant, garden and sculpture elements on campus.  The aims of the arboretum are to:

  • provide a resource to enhance learning
  • provide a positive and enjoyable environment on campus
  • protect endangered ecological communities
  • enhance biodiversity on campus
  • promote the university as prestigious and progressive to the community.

For more information on those involved in the Arboretum project

Brief History

Macquarie University was established in the 1960’s on the site of market gardens and adjacent to Christie Park and Lane Cove National Park.  Native vegetation that was retained on site represents four recognised communities: Sydney Sandstone Gully Forest, Shale Sandstone Transition Forest, Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop Woodland and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest. Some remnant vegetation has continued to flourish on the grounds of the university. Extensive plantings since those early days have included many native trees and some interesting and exotic species from many other parts of the world.

Elements of the Arboretum

The Arboretum consists of a number of distinct elements. These are:

Native Vegetation

The main area of native vegetation, a remnant of Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest, can be found in the north-western corner of the campus on the western side of the lake.  A small area of remnant native vegetation can be found adjacent to the entrance to the railway station.  Elsewhere on campus, native trees have been planted in the vicinity of E11A and to the east of E8B (which includes many Australian rainforest species). There are also mature native trees and shrubs scattered across campus.
Close to the main campus grounds is the Ecology Reserve, a 3 hectare area of native bushland that is valuable to biology undergraduates and researchers. The Ecology Reserve is located between the M2 and lane Cove National Park.

For more information about native vegetation

Teaching Gardens

Teaching gardens were developed by the Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences (now Departments in the Faculty of Science) to provide resources for  undergraduate teaching, for research and for the enjoyment of students, staff and the community at large.  There are two gardens in all. 

For more information about teaching gardens


Many buildings on campus have small courtyards which improve light quality and air circulation and provide seating for breaks between lectures.  Two courtyards have been developed as teaching gardens (see above) but all feature attractive trees and pleasing landscaping.

The central courtyard (bordered by Buildings C7A, C8A, C10A and E7B) has nearly 100 Lemon Scented Gums (Corymbia citriodora).  Early in the morning or after rain, the air is filled with the lemon scent of the leaves. 

Other courtyards worth visiting include E3, C5C and W6.


The original landscaping plan was developed by Walter (Wally) Abraham, who was appointed as the principal architect-planner for Macquarie University in 1965.

There have been two major, formal plantings on campus. One hundred and twenty trees were planted in the central courtyard of the university in July 1968. The formation is said to represent a phalanx, a unit of a legion of the Roman army.

The second formal planting, the avenue of London Plane Trees (Platanus X hispanica, formerly known as Platanus X hybrida) that extends across campus from east to west, was planted over three years, beginning in July 1967, to September 1970.  In 2006 the avenue of Plane Trees was renamed “Wally’s Walk” in recognition of Dr Abraham’s contribution.

The very first plantings on campus appear to be a mixture of Jacaranda, Silver Birch and White Azalea on the southern side of E7A in April 1967.

Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus, previously Tristania conferta) was selected as the most suitable tree for the university car parks. This tree of rainforest margins of northern NSW and Queensland was chosen for its ability to survive in hot, dry conditions where it could provide both shade and screening.

From its history of being home to numerous market gardens, Macquarie University has retained a stand of European Olive Trees that are harvested by long-term staff members each year.

Other species that are well represented in the campus plantings include:
Liquidambar styraciflua, Triadica sebifera, formerly Sapium sebiferum (Chinese Tallowwood), Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm) and Pyrus calleryana (China Pear) (for autumn colour)
Flooded Gums (Eucalyptus grandis)
Tallowwoods (Eucalyptus microcorys)
Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera)
Water Gum (Tristaniopsis laurina)

For more information on the history of the area, the campus and landscape development (pdf, 76kb)