One of the traditions of the Annual Bushcare Picnic is the sounds of bush music drifting through the camp site. The music at the picnic is provided by the Blue Mountains Bushcare Trad Band. The band comprises of bushcare volunteers and bushcare officers who join together for a once a year bushcare picnic gig!
Playing music together is a great way for volunteers from different groups to connect and the band welcomes any bushcarer interested in joining in. The band has an inclusive philosophy and can cater for players of diverse abilities and musical backgrounds.
The Band is named after the introduced weed, Tradescantia fluminensis, commonly known as ‘Trad’. Trad is an invasive weed, which many bushcare volunteers are very familiar with, but it is also the shortened form for ‘Traditional’ music. Traditional music forms the basis of the musical style played by the Trad Band.
Players interested in the Trad Band should be competent with their instrument. Their instrument will also need to be acoustic for safety and logistical reasons. Sheet music can be provided for both concert pitch and transposing instruments. Chord charts and sound files can be provided to those players who prefer to play by ear.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday February 1 at the Mountains Community Resource Network meeting room, Lawson Library building, Lawson. All welcome, especially the co-ordinators of each Bushcare group. The main item on the agenda is the purpose and future direction of the Network. Please come and contribute to the development of your Bushcare Program!
Bushcare Picnic 2016: Catching up with old friends, presentations, childrens activities …
Sun Valley Reserve came alive on a sunny Saturday afternoon last July. The sounds of chattering, picnicking bushcare volunteers and council staff together with folk music provided by The Blue Mountains Bushcare Trad band, The Fannigans and The Plough while a sizzling barbeque filled the air. Mayor Mark Greenhill and Councillors Hollywood, van der Kley, Fells, McGregor and von Schulenberg were on hand to express Council’s appreciation for the hard work of our Community Conservation volunteers and present the annual awards.
This year The Golden Trowel trophy for the BMCC Bushcare Legend of the Year went to Steve Barratt of Warrimoo. Steve is a member of the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network, co-ordinates the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment Group and Streamwatch as well as being active in the Warrimoo Citizens Association and the local RFS. Certainly a deserved winner of the Legend title! Unfortunately he was unable to attend so the trophy was presented by Mayor Mark Greenhill to Tony Montgomery on Steve’s behalf. fellow member of Cross St Warrimoo Bushcare Group and Long Angle Gully Landcare Group.
Landcare Legend of the Year is Lisa Scott-Smith who was recognised for her ongoing, long-term commitment to Leura Public School Swampcare. Lisa has ensured that the whole student body has learnt about and visited the Endangered Ecological Community on the school’s doorstep, written grant applications, introduced new parents to the group and routinely monitors the groundwater levels in the swamp as well as co-ordinating the regular monthly Swampcare group.
Nick Franklin was presented with a Masters Award for his commitment to Birriban Katoomba High School Landcare for Sport, Banksia Park and Katoomba Creek Bushcare. Neil McGlashan also won a Masters for his dedicated attention to Glenbrook Lagoon and the Friends of Glenbrook Bushcare Group. A Hard Yakka award went to Ray Richardson for his long term involvement with Wilson Park North Lawson (now the Homeschoolers Bushcare site) and also assisting us in the Bushcare office with events display material and developing the weeds website.
And our Junior Legend of the Year is Meri Tinkler, a very engaged and committed member of the Garguree Swampcare Group.
weed bag races, honeysuckle tossing – fun for young and the young at heart
energy and enthusiasm wins the Montbretia on a trowel race!
A female Petalura gigantea – Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened Species Day is a national day held each year on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. On this date every year we reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can protect our threatened species in the future. It is also a day to celebrate our success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work.
With all this in mind Garguree Swampcare Group hosted a threatened species event on Sunday September 4.
30 fantastic volunteers joined in on the day which started with a restoration planting along the riparian corridor which connects the Blue Mountains Water Skink populations of the “McCrae’s Paddock” swamp and the “middle” swamp in The Gully Aboriginal Place, Katoomba.
Male Petalura gigantea Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened species biscuits cooked by Sandy Holmes.
At 11am Sandy Holmes greeted us with a most amazing brunch, including giant dragonfly cookies and water skink eclairs (they were definitely threatened species …)
This was followed by Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony by David King. He also spoke about Garguree Swampcare’s work and the ongoing support from the Environmental Trust and “Protecting our Places” grants.
Council’s Environmental Scientist Michael Hensen spoke about a new 10 year Environmental Trust – Saving our Species grant of $750,000 “Swamped by Threats” which will help protect the Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly at a number of priority sites across the Blue Mountains and the Newnes Plateau.
We finished the morning’s formal proceedings with Ian Baird presenting an exciting insight into the biology and identification of two iconic threatened species found in Blue Mountains Swamps: the Giant Dragonfly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.
After that it was back to more connecting to our place through our stomachs!
Eulamprus leurensis (Blue Mountains Water Skink). Photo by Ian Baird.
Neil Stuart organised many street-stalls for the Friends photo by Rosemary Brister
Neil Stuart was the founding member of The Friends of Katoomba Falls Creek Valley in 1989 in response to serious threats to the valley. He ran the Friends but he never dominated it, always listening to different viewpoints on the various issues, which confronted us. In 1990 we started doing a clean-up of tyres, dumped below Cascade Street just before Ian Kiernan launched “ Clean- Up Australia Day”, in which we then participated until 2015 after we found it hard to find rubbish!
In 1991 Neil introduced us to bush regen, which we then did intermittently until 1996, weeding and planting from stock Neil grew in his backyard. Neil held various positions in The Friends, settling for Secretary and Treasurer, a role he performed exceedingly well for many, many years, penning letters to various authorities at the drop of a hat.
In 1996 I assumed responsibility for the Friends’ Bushcare Group, when we began to work monthly for 11 months of the year. Neil attended regularly and enthusiastically on most of our rostered days and annual Clean-Up Australia days. Neil also enjoyed the camaraderie of our post work day lunches often leading the discussions which ensued.
We also needed to raise money for our activities, which we did by holding regular stalls in an often icy Katoomba Street. Indeed, Neil’s jams, which he produced prolifically and enthusiastically was always our biggest seller because they were very good. He even had regular clientele who routinely replenished their supplies.
Over the last few years of his life Neil battled with cancer, facing his end bravely and resolutely. In his last months he was supported with home care by over 30 of his friends looking after him, taking him shopping etc. He died on the 26th May, 2016. We will all miss him.
On May 2 the Leura Falls Creek and Jamison Creek Catchment Working groups came together along with Blue Mountains City Council Natural Areas and Healthy Waterways teams to do “catchment crawls” (minibus tours of the key work sites) in each other’s catchments. Residents of the Vale St end of the Leura Falls Creek catchment were also invited.
In the morning, the Leura Falls Creek tour showcased the recently constructed stormwater upgrades including the Vale St Baramy Trap and raingarden – shown below in full flow with the recent heavy rains in early June. The Jamison Creek Working Group had an opportunity to see what types of stormwater management systems will be installed in the Jamison Creek Catchment in the near future.
After lunch, a tour of Jamison Creek Catchment gave us a chance to learn about where the upgrades are planned and how they will be constructed.
The stormwater improvement projects in both catchments are an initiative between Water NSW and Blue Mountains City Council. The catchment crawl was filmed by KFM Media, Katoomba. Thanks to the tour guides, Eric Mahony and Geoffrey Smith from Blue Mountains City Council and Peter Bennet who designs the Baramy Traps. Thanks to Monica Nugent for driving the bus. And thank you to every one who came on the tour.
This edition of Gecko is flavoured by snow, wind and rain – together with a mixture of emotions:
Sadness – we have had to say goodbye to two of our local Bushcare pioneers: Ruth Ley and Neil Stuart. We celebrate them and thank them both for their great achievements in Bushcare and community welfare.
Pride – we all know that Bushcare volunteers make the best neighbours and the proof is in the Seniors Week Awards yet again this year – see p 3!
Excitement! The Leura Falls Creek Stormwater project won a prestigious NSW State Government Award in July.
And of course I’m pleased to bring you the typical array of informative articles highlighting the importance of clean waterways to frogs and turtles, interesting invasive plants and P & J Smiths’ documentation of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area’s fauna.
And from the Bushcare Office: Erin has announced with great excitement that another baby is joining her family so she will be on leave for the next few months, and Jill has reluctantly decided to retire. We wish them all the best! – Monica, for the Bushcare Team.