Well, another year has passed and another begun since the last issue of Gecko and we have had some changes here at the Bushland Operations Team. Peter Chrismas has left us to pursue a career as a photographer and a recruitment process is underway to replace him as well as Jill Rattray who retired a little while ago.
In the rest of the Bushland operations Team we have welcomed Justine Vella as the new Bush Regeneration Team Leader. Justine replaces Andrew Rhodes who is now Bushland Management Officer while Matthew Rudge has been appointed Bush Regeneration Project Officer. Both Justine and Matt have a wealth of experience and we look forward to working with them and the other members of the Bushland Operations Team to ensure our reserves get the best possible care!
So, with lots of new energy in our teams we are looking forward to working again with you all to keep caring for the natural areas of the Blue Mountains.
Hello Blue Mountains Bushcarers! Spring and early Summer (Sprummer?) is upon us and has brought its usual frenzy of activity both of weeds and people doing something about them.
Most of you will know by now that a very long-term member of the Bushcare Team – Jill Rattray – has now officially retired. Jill’s horticultural expertise combined with her Natural Area Management knowledge were a valuable asset to our team and she is missed by her colleagues as well as her volunteers. Her quiet strength and steady head have helped steer many of our current groups from their inception, in particular many of our Landcare Groups. Jill also did great work educating retail nurseries in the mountains with the result that the majority no longer stock environmental weeds. Jane Anderson is currently in Jill’s position until it is filled on a permanent basis.
I hope you have a very happy and safe festive season and look forward to seeing at Bushcare soon – Monica, for the Bushcare team.
by Dan Marshall, Coordinator Three Gullies Landcare Group
Three Gullies Landcare (3GLC), as its name implies, consists of three gullies in an area of land bordered by the railway line and Bruce Rd Glenbrook, south of Eureka Rd to number 39 Bruce Rd. The three gullies are fed by watercourses from the east and ultimately deliver the water to Glenbrook Creek via culverts under the railway corridor.
The three gullies are the intermediary from the much higher eastern side residential dwellings, road and water drainage systems and in heavy rain carry significant water flows. Over time, this water flow has caused significant erosion, particularly in Gully One.
During my time with 3GLC, we have used traditional log retaining walls to help slow down the flow. The logs were sourced on site from fallen trees and from removal of weeds. These log walls are situated at various locations along the creek and are of varying heights and widths (depending on the logs available at the time). Although these log walls worked well, retaining silt during low water flows, they were no match for the rate of flow during periods of high rain fall and more importantly didn’t stop erosion of the creek beds.
I discussed this with Tracy Williams and Eric Mahony from Blue Mountains City Council’s Bushcare program for their input. As a result, the plan for an onsite practical workshop was proposed. Timing is everything in life and presently funding is available for assistance and the main material (flat sandstone rock) is cheaply available from expanded pits at the local Blaxland tip.
So on Thursday 9th June, 2016, after initial discussions and a briefing session, and with a workforce headed by Eric Mahony and contractors from “The Bush Doctor” under Shane Grundy, Tracy Williams, the 3GLC and neighbouring Landcare groups (Bush Place, Raymond Rd and Cox Reserve), the work began. Well, mainly the “Bush Doctor” group (about 9 fit young men!) did the heavy lifting of moving the sandstone from the roadside down the gully to appropriate locations along the creek.
Of course, the starting point was at the lowest spot in the gully at the Railway built culvert and then using a step of 300mm (ruler length) the first step was installed using a bed of Bidim (Geotextile fabric). The Bidim was laid and dug in along the leading (upstream) edge, and covered by flat rock at the spill over point and underneath the water fall. The sides were lined by sandstone pieces wedged into the side of the creek wall to reinforce the wall and to direct the water over the flat rock.
Other materials were used such as skinny coir logs held in place by wooden stakes to fill undercut sections of the creek. Existing native plants in the creek bed were protected by hessian mat with appropriate cut outs for the coming plantings. Ultimately further 300mm (ruler) steps continued up the creek until a flat stretch of the creek was reached where future planting of natives will further aid in slowing the flow. Ultimately approximately half the creek was upgraded and plans were made for another day later this year. It is hoped this allows more plants to be laid and the new work to be settled in.
Log retaining walls are fine provided the wall is lower in the centre, otherwise the water will flow around the outside creating more paths;
Drops should only be 300mm or less to prevent “boiling” causing undercutting;
The base of drops must be solid impermeable material;
Natural bends in the creek can be reinforced on the sides but its best to keep drop offs some distance away to minimise the rate of water flow entering the bends;
Deep pools can be used or encouraged as spots for aquatic creatures (platypus would be great but unlikely)
Silt gathered before walls needs to be monitored and removed where necessary.
Finally it was a pleasure to have a break from weeding for 3GLC and to meet the members of the nearby Landcare groups as well as to have the input from Eric Mahony and the Bush Doctor workforce. Of course the excellent morning tea supplied by Tracy Williams fully replenished us all so we could carry on working until knock off time.
The members of 3GLC look forward to the next instalment.
UNSW Chinese Students Association helping out with planting at Katoomba Falls
Our fabulous Blue Mountains put on a text-book Winter’s day for a small group of students from the University of New South Wales on July 14 – bright sunshine and crisp (cold) air – perfect for planting ferns along the newly refurbished walking track at Katoomba Falls.
The group may have been small but the amount they got done was not! Working with contractors engaged by Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) who prepared the holes ready for planting, 120 Blechnum nudum, Gahnia sieberiana and Lomandra longifolia were very quickly in the ground, watered and protected from frost and wind with tree fern fronds.
The students were so enthusiastic and energetic that once the plants were in, we had plenty of time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and some delicious, locally produced biscuits before walking to the lookout, guided by Monica from the Bushcare Team.
Hopefully this was just the first of many more days such as this one, which not only showcased one of our local icons but also the wonderful work that BMCC is doing to protect the World Heritage on our doorstep
Vincent shows us how its done
Edol, Mindy, and Vincent wasted no time getting in amongst it
1st Blaxland Scouts in Action at Bush Place, Glenbrook
The newly formed Bushcare group at Bush Place, Glenbrook welcomed the assistance of local cub scouts and their parents from the 1st Blaxland Scout group at their recent meetup.
Ten year old Otto Timmins elected to assist a community group as part of his work towards the “gold boomerang” badge and, with the assistance of his father, made contact with the coordinator of the group to arrange the visit.
Otto Timmins doing Bushcare to work towards his “Gold Boomerang” badge – and he worked hard all morning!
Having the scouts on-board proved to be a fabulous help to the group, achieving much more than could ever have been achieved in a normal 3 hr Saturday session. The boys were a happy addition to the team being keen learners and helpers with a real passion for the natural environment. They truly added to the enthusiasm to our already passionate bush-carers.
We welcome the assistance of other Scouts whenever they can spare the time and are happy to assist Scouts in achieving badge competencies in the future.
A Win-Win for all parties! Many thanks 1st Blaxland Scout Group!
Helen McFadden, Bush Place, Glenbrook, Bushcare Group
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.
Beautiful creeks and waterways are a wonderful part of our City – but how healthy are they?
From July this year, it will be easier to find out, with the release of Council’s Blue Mountains Waterway Health Report – a user-friendly brochure showing the results of Council’s Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Since 1998, Council has regularly tested waterway health at up to 50 waterways across the City. As a result, we now have one of the richest water quality data sets in Australia, and Council uses this data to inform its catchment improvement programs.
Council regularly tests the health of our waterways at over 40 sites across the city. the diversity of waterbugs such as crayfish is an indicator of creek health.
While detailed water quality reports have been published on Council’s website since 2006, the new brochure aims to make this information readily accessible to everyone in the community. It is hoped people will be prompted to think about local waterway health and what they can do to help.
The report card shows each sample waterway in the Blue Mountains, the catchment within which it flows, and its state of ecological health (rated Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor). In the 2016 report, 53% of tested waterways are in good condition or better.
Our city is lucky to have some of Australia’s best waterways, but they are also vulnerable to pollution – especially due to stormwater runoff from urban areas.
Urban runoff is consistently identified as the number one environmental threat to our World Heritage listing and presents challenges for local drinking water catchments, Endangered Ecological Communities, threatened species and the City’s tourism reputation.
Everything that goes into our gutters and streets ends up in our creeks
Try these few simple actions to help protect our waterways from urban runoff:
Keep pollutants out of drains (litter, soil and sand, fertilisers and pesticides, detergents, oil, animal droppings and garden waste).
Install a rainwater tank to capture rainwater from your roof and use it regularly.
Design your garden to allow stormwater to soak into the ground.
Control invasive weeds on your property.
Don’t dump fish or plants in waterways.
The Report Card will be sent to all ratepayers with Council’s newsletter from July.
Music and nature were Ruth’s lifelines during her early years – they nurtured her and she wanted to give something back.
Ruth loved to get her hands dirty to help the bush. She proudly proclaimed her obsession with Bushcare, and backed that up with an impressive 25 years of volunteer work.
Ruth was a founding member of both Katoomba Creek and Minnehaha Falls Bushcare Groups and also worked with the Brahma Kumaris, Leura Park and Upper Katoomba Creek groups for many years.
Bushcare was never limited to monthly workdays, there was always something to check. She was the first to raise the alarm about the forest of broom seedlings emerging in early 2003 after the fires that roared through Govetts, Katoomba & Yosemite Creeks. This then flourished into catchment coordination. She played a big part in driving the massive effort to ensure that these creeks were not overrun by weeds. Ruth knew that tea and muffins were the key to success, ensuring a good supply of both as well as keeping everything ticking over in the background.
The Grose Valley and Bushcare will miss her – always there facilitating others if she couldn’t be there herself, or contributing to the bigger picture with planning.
Ruth loved to get her gum boots on and rid the creeks of Montbretia. She was acutely aware of the small window of opportunity for treating it and often rallied support to join her for a bit of extra “guerrilla weeding”.
The Minnehaha Falls Bushcare Group is planning to run “Ruth’s Revenge” on her birthday next year to target Montbretia – Saturday 1st April, and would love Ruth’s friends to join them on the day.
At a special awards dinner on Wednesday 6 April, the Leura Falls Creek Improvement project was announced as joint winner of the 2016 NSW Award for Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design. Congratulations to all the Blue Mountains City Council staff and contractors involved in the project and the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Working Group.
There are currently five active Streamwatch groups in the Blue Mountains: Fitzgerald Creek, Gordon Falls Creek, Leura Falls Creek, Popes Glen and South Lawson Bushcare Group.
Streamwatch is coordinated by the Australian Museum. Members of Streamwatch register with the Museum and are provided with training, water testing kits and support. The Museum also does a visit to a newly proposed site. Streamwatch groups commit to doing water testing at a regular time once a month and uploading the data onto the Streamwatch website. Groups are also encouraged to take part in the Autumn Waterbugs Watch and Spring Waterbugs Watch run by the Museum.
BMCC Bushcare Officers have done the Streamwatch training.
If your Bushcare group is keen to get involved in setting up streamwatch at or near your site please let us know. You can contact your Bushcare officer or Jenny Hill email: email@example.com