Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest

Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest
               Photo: Sydney Olympic Park

Thirteen hectares of this community occurs within the forest of Newington Nature Reserve, while the remainder adjoins the Reserve, within the Newington Armory and Narawang Wetland precincts.

Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest is an ‘ecological community’ – an integrated assemblage of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, fungi, mammals, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and micro-organisms.

Different remnants of Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest can have very different flora species compositions – Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) occurs throughout the community, but the associated tree, shrub and groundcover species vary with geographical location, local abiotic conditions and time since fire.

Over 170 native tree, shrub, grass and herb species have so far been recorded within Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest at the Park:

  • trees such as Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata), Broad-leaf Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa), Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma), and Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata)
  • shrubs such as Tick Bush (Kunzea ambigua) and Hopbush (Dodonaea triquetra)  
  • groundcover species such as Weeping Meadow Grass (Microlaena stipoides), Prickly Beard Heath (Leucopogon juniperinus) and Lepidosperma laterale
  • 42 species that are uncommon in the Sydney region

Download a flora species list for a full list of the species recorded within the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest of Newington Nature Reserve.

As well as high flora diversity, the Park's Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest supports many native fauna species. It contains many mature trees with hollows, which are scarce in urban areas and provide important roosting and breeding habitat for possums, microbats and birds such as the Red-rumped Parrot. The thick shrub layer also provides important habitat for bush birds such as the Eastern Shrike-tit and Eastern Yellow Robin.

The Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest remnants at the Park also forms part of a rare example of complete estuarine zonation, from eucalypt forest to casuarina forest, saltmarsh and mangroves.

Conservation significance

Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest is restricted to the Cumberland Plain in the Sydney Basin Bioregion and occurs primarily on clay soils derived from Wianamatta shale. The biodiversity of the Cumberland Plain is amongst the most threatened in NSW. Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest is one of 12 ecological communities of the Cumberland Plain that are listed as endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. The community is listed as ‘critically endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - a critically endangered ecological community is defined as one that is ‘facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future’.

Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest has been cleared and become fragmented across its range due to past and current management practices; many remnants now exist as isolated and highly modified patches within a developed urban environment. Only 0.5% or 1,182 hectares of the original pre-European extent of Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest remains intact and of this only 220 hectares is protected in conservation reserves (including the 13 hectares within Newington Nature Reserve).

The NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water considers remnant Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest within Newington Nature Reserve to be a good representative of the community, but it is highly isolated. Historical maps and aerial photographs suggest that the remnant became isolated from surrounding bushland in the 1850s. The nearest remnant in good condition is Wallumatta Nature Reserve at Ryde.


Historically, the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest at Sydney Olympic Park was located within a Department of Defence armaments depot. It was subject to disturbance including timber removal, grazing, mowing to reduce risk of wildfire and armaments explosion (until the 1980s), and construction of roads and clearings. Public access to the forest was restricted for over a hundred years due to security practices at the armaments depot. This was a significant factor in retention of the Forest’s ecological integrity. Access continues to be tightly restricted to prevent disturbance and the introduction of disease and pests, such as the pathogen Phytophthora which causes die-back. Access restrictions have also enabled regeneration of the forest community in previously disturbed areas.

Weed control using bush regeneration techniques has been ongoing within the forest since 1997, resulting in very low levels of weed infestation and increased native species diversity.

Induction training in ecologically-sensitive work practices is provided to all staff and contractors working in the forest. Works are undertaken mostly with hand tools, and there is minimal use of herbicides.

Seed collected from the forest is propagated for use in planting programs to assist the expansion of the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest community within the Park.
Monitoring programs provide information about the condition of the forest to guide ongoing management.

Where to see Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest

The Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest of Sydney Olympic Park can be seen at:

  • Louise Sauvage Pathway at Narawang Wetland

Help to protect and conserve the forest by staying on the paths and do not pick plants.