Skip to Content


Teaching Gardens

There are a number of gardens within the Macquarie University campus that have been developed in conjunction with the curriculum, to assist with undergraduate teaching.

Bush Tucker Garden

The Bush Tucker garden features plants native to the greater Sydney area, some of which were used in traditional food and medicine by the Darug and other Indigenous people. The garden is located at the eastern end of campus between Wally's Walk and building E7B, near the thermal storage tower.

Late in 2010 the Office of Facilities Management (now known as Property) donated space formerly used as a carpark to Sustainability for conversion into a new garden for the Arboretum. A plan for the garden was developed by David Harrington and Alison Downing, with input from other staff and students from the Department of Biological Sciences.

The garden is heavily shaded by building E7B, so the plants selected at the planning stage were chosen for their preference for shade. Many of the plants selected are native to the North Ryde area, but the garden also includes species from further afield, including northern NSW and Queensland. As a bush tucker garden many of the plants have strong connections with Indigenous cultural practices, either as food or medicine, although some species require extensive preparation to remove toxins.

Local species include Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus reiculatus), Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii), Plum Pine (Podocarpus elatus), Grey Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia), Pale Vanilla Lily (Arthropodium milleflorum) and Burrawang (Macrozamia communis). Other not so local species include Moreton Bay Chestnut or Black Bean (Castanospermum australe), Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium), Native Ginger (Alpinia caerulea) and Zig-zag Vine (Melodorum leichhardtii).

In coming months information will be posted about the bush tucker species in the garden and around campus. Signage will be installed and self-guided walks developed.

Warning: Many plants used for bush tucker require extensive preparation including pounding, soaking and roasting, before they are edible. We discourage people from harvesting food from the garden.

Frank Mercer Biological Sciences Garden

The Frank Mercer Garden, in the courtyard of the Department of Biological Sciences, is a key component of the Evolutionary History Walk as it features a number of garden beds specialising in different groups of plants and their characteristics. As an example, the monocot bed includes members of the grass and palm families, but also includes the Kangaroo Paw and an unusual species (Ruscus sp), from the northern hemisphere in which flowers are produced from the middle of their leaf-like structures. Other beds feature the plant groups; ferns, cycads, ericales and dicots. In the centre of the courtyard is a North American Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, a shapely tree with spectacular green and apricot coloured flowers in Spring.  A pond feature provides an additional teaching resource and aesthetic qualities to the courtyard.

Jim Rose Earth Sciences Garden

The Jim Rose Earth Sciences Garden showcases the biogeography of plants and is a key component of the Evolutionary History Walk, as well as a key teaching garden for Botany, Geology and Palaeobiology students. It is also a lovely place to sit in all seasons.

In 1982, inspired by the plantings in the Biology courtyard, palaeontologists John Talent and Ruth Mawson worked with Frank Mercer and Alison Downing from Biological Sciences, and with the support of and encouragement from Wally Abraham and university engineer Max Fairleigh, developed the gardens adjacent to the Earth Sciences buildings – E5A, E5B and E7B – as an evolutionary garden. The concept was to divide the courtyard into two sections, so that the gardens on the north and west were planted with Laurasian (predominantly) northern hemisphere species, such as Magnolia, Pecan Nut (Carya illinoiensis), Camellias, Prunus (Flowering Plums), Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). The gardens on the eastern and southern sides were planted with Gondwanan (predominantly) southern hemisphere species, such as Macadamia, Norfolk Island Pine(Araucaria heterophylla), Hoop Pine(Araucaria cunninghamii), She Oaks (Allocasuarina spp.), Ivory Curl Tree (Buckinghamia celsissima) and South African Proteas. The pathway through the central area of the courtyard was titled “Wallace’s Line”, a reference to the line drawn through south-east Asia, Separating Laurasia from Gondwana.  This project too received great support from staff and students who raised much of the funding required for landscaping and purchase of the plants. Professor Jim Rose, Head of the School of Earth Sciences at that time, provided a tremendous amount of support and encouragement. A wonderful additional feature of the courtyard has been the installation of some massive rocks, including Devonian limestones full of marine fossils, Permian tree trunks from Queensland coal mines and sandstone cores from Warragamba Dam. There is no doubt that the two courtyard gardens established by the Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences, have contributed significantly to the rich diversity of trees on campus and provide a valuable resource for teaching and research.