I love Sydney; for the harbour, the museums and theatres, but particularly for it’s amazing old fig trees.

Could there be a more iconic image of the city than in the photo below?  Sydney sandstone and fig roots inextricably  entwined. That section of  wall will certainly never collapse.

Sydey sandstone ad fig roots.
Locked together……forever.

Those ‘strangler’ roots can spell death to other, hapless plants. The bamboo in the photo below is not in a good situation!

Fig strangling bmboo.
Deadly embrace.

There are  Moreton  Bay figs from Queensland, and the local Port Jackson figs. The birds don’t really have a favourite and nor do I.

Feeding cockatoos make such a mess as they rip branchlets off to eat the fruits. Look  what one has done near the Corso at Manly.  Surely a littering fine is in order.

Fig tree brnces dropped by cockatoos
For the culprit, just look up!

My associate Editor Des makes a trip to the Sydney Botanical Gardens each year to picnic on ripe fruit….well the ones the birds and fruit bats don’t gobble up.

The best picnic…ripe figs and only me to eat them.

I had a bit of fun with Des and told him this giant gall was a piece of dinosaur poo. He was so impressed. 😎

The bats are discouraged from roosting in the trees at  the Gardens, but it’s hard to move them on. Sometimes the staff resort to  playing loud music and banging rubbish tin lids together.

Fruit bats love to hang out in the fig trees at Sydney's botanic gardens.
The fruit bats love to hand out in the fig trees at Sydney’s botanic gardens.

You can see some lovely specimens of fig on the harbour-side  walk from Mosman Bay to Cremorne Point;

You might spot brush turkeys foraging under the trees.

This  may be my favourite  fig tree,  and one of the oldest. It’s growing in Camperdown cemetery. I came upon it when researching the story of Australia’s Miss Havisham. Isn’t it a thing of wonder?

This ancient fig  is in Camperdown cemetery.

Those buttressed roots cannot be contained. Here is the result of placing a fence in the path of fig tree;

You cannot stop a fig with a fence.
Fig tree roots

In the lead-up to the 2000 Olympics at Homebush Bay, a huge number of mature figs were transported to Sydney  from Queensland and the New South Wales  border. It was quite a sight to see them being taken by barge up the Parramatta River to Olympic Park. They continue to provide much needed shade at sporting events and the Royal Easter Show, which moved to Homebush  from its original home at inner-city Randwick.

The arrival of the largest transplanted fig,

Fig trees can look a bit, well….creepy when the aerial roots start to grow. This one is down at Balmoral Beach in Mosman.

When Sydney hold its wonderful Vivid Festival each winter the trees become part of the show. The photos below were taken in the Botanic Gardens.

Magically lit!
Fig tree lit up for Vivid Sydney
A magic ‘faraway tree’.

Did you know that figs are among the easiest trees to bonsai?

Bonsai, fig tree
A wonderful example.

I must say  mine looks pathetic in comparison, but it  might improve with time….and if I could work out how to make the leaves smaller.  My moss is OK though, because I live in Bleakheath (sorry, Blackheath), where it rains a lot.

I think these trees are fantastic, in the true sense of the word.


  1. I also love trees, and your pictures shown some wonderful examples. They reminded me of some amazing banyan trees I’ve seen – one on the island of Maui which took up a one acre site; and as for those boabab trees I saw up in Broom in WA – well I could swear they used to move during the night and stand somewhere else by the time we saw them again. And where on earth had that transplanted tree come from, and where was it being taken to?
    I think I must try to grow a fig bonsai myself. I was rather impressed with your’s. It certainly has a sturdy looking lower bole.

    • Pauline

      Hi Marcia, the transplanted tree was from Northern NSW or Queensland. It was being taken to Olympic Park before the 2000 Games.
      Someone gave me some advice about the bonsai tree after reading this story, so hopefully it will improve. I have to keep removing the big leaves.

  2. Was it left at the Olympic Park permanently, or transported back? Hope it survived the trauma of the move.
    Official bonsai need their roots clipped too, as well as some of the leaves. There is a miniature village in Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. I recall seeing miniature laburnum trees on its streets, in full flower. The trees were small but the racemes of yellow flowers full size. I understand the flowers always remain full size and don’t miniaturise like the rest of the tree. Fascinating stuff.

    • Pauline

      All the transported figs….including the ones on the big barge, are happily growing at Olympic Park.
      Yes, have been to that miniature village…we took Rob’s mum years ago. Oh dear, can I be bothered trimming the fig’s roots??

  3. Hi

    You are absolutely right, these trees are wonderful.

    According to legend lord Buddha reached enlightenment under one.

    In Hinduism lord Vishnu was born under one and in the Hindu scriptures lord Krishna says he is the image of a fig tree.

    I also love mulberry trees, it takes time to grow them though

    Do you know where I can pick up a mature fig tree?

  4. I believe the largest MBF in Sydney is at Watsons Bay. Not the ones in Robertson Park but where few tourists visit.happy to share its location with you, but priv

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