To an ordinary person, the idea of founding five Bushcare groups, and keeping them sustained, year after year, with chocolate cakes and chai, through rain, hail and shine, while also juggling the demands of full time work and family, would seem like a crazy task.
But David King, son of Aunty Mary King, Gundungurra Aboriginal elder, and member of The Gully Traditional Owners, is no ordinary person.
David is this year’s Bushcare Legend of the Year, an award presented by Council each year for outstanding achievements in the field of Bushcare.
The award is the highest level of recognition we can give anyone within the Bushcare Program. It recognises sustained efforts over many years.
David was nominated by the Bushcare staff because he is an inspirational leader and working companion. He has the sort of enthusiasm that makes everyone around him feel great. We truly don’t know where he gets his energy from.
Over the past 15 years, Mr King has enthused many local volunteers in the task of restoring and caring for the Country he holds dear.
He has established and nurtured several Bushcare and Landcare groups, including Gulunga Bushcare at Horseshoe Falls, Gibbergunyah Bushcare Group at Gloria Park, Hazelbrook, and Garang Landcare Group at Faulconbridge Lily Pond.
Mr King is also the driving force behind the creation and success of Garguree Swampcare. With support from Council’s Environment Levy and multiple grants from the NSW Environmental Trust, Garguree Swampcare volunteers – under David King’s leadership – are restoring the degraded swamp systems within ‘The Gully’, an Aboriginal Place (adjacent to the Katoomba Sports & Aquatic Centre), managed in partnership between The Gully Traditional Owners and Council.
Thanks to years of hard work controlling weeds, planting and restoring creeklines and swamp areas, the Gully swamp systems are starting to come back to life. As the swamp recovers, the group is sharing the significance of The Gully and the cultural importance of swamps through cultural awareness workshops, walks and talks.
And as the country heals, personal connections are also thriving. Through Garguree Swampcare, people from across the Aboriginal, local and broader community have formed personal, enduring relationships as they work together Caring for Country.
Now, Mr King is looking to inspire the custodians of the future. Most recently, he has started the Birriban Landcare group at Katoomba High School, where a whole new generation of young people are being captivated with this enthusiasm for caring for Country.
It has been a deeply personal journey for both David and his family, who are reconnecting to Country through restoring the lands that have been a part of their family for thousands of years.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said “Many people don’t realise it, but it’s often dedicated locals like these, working quietly and tirelessly in the background, that we can thank for healthy local creeks and bushland, including the birds and animals that depend on them.”
“Because year in, year out, they are helping to tackle weeds, replant native habitats, reduce stormwater pollution and restore creek lines across the City.”
“People like David King are true local legends – they’re helping to look after our local bushland, waterways and wildlife, so we can all enjoy them into the future,” said Mr Greenhill.
Council supports more than 500 community conservation volunteers across the City each year, through Council’s Environment Levy.
Jenny Hill, last year’s Bushcare Legend, presented Mr King with the Golden Trowel of Recognition at the Bushcare Picnic, held annually by Council to thank local community conservation volunteers. View the Garguree Swampcare story on youtube at