Come to Broken Hill this coming August to see where it all started, learn about and celebrate the beginnings of Natural Regeneration in Australia.
In 1937 Albert Morris, his wife Margaret Morris, the Barrier Field Naturalists and 3 Mining Companies made history by starting the first professional scale natural regeneration project in Australia and possibly the world. This was inspired by Albert’s long held dream to fence an area ‘1/2 a mile wide around the town of Broken Hill’ to counter extreme dust storms and sand drift caused by overgrazing.
The Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR) along with local community members is planning a few days of tours, field work and an awards dinner to celebrate this remarkable 80 years.
The idea is similar to other ‘regen holidays’ where visitors can contribute some regen work for two mornings (optional) and locals will run special tours of the reserves explaining the history and current management of this amazing project. After lunch we will be able to visit a range of activities including historical & art exhibitions, movies and a heritage tour.
There are many places of natural beauty to appreciate near Broken Hill as well as its rich union and mining history to explore.
Options for travel will include train, minibus or private cars. The train can be caught from Katoomba. Those travelling on minibuses will be on an organised tour – price details coming later – including an extra field trip on the way (Nyngan waterponding), and van park accommodation and transport within Broken Hill.
It is never a surprise that so many of our Bushcare volunteers are stand-out community members, not only for their commitment to caring for the bush but also for caring about their community, and 2017 is no exception. Four of our long-term volunteers received Senior Citizens Awards this year.
- Popes Glen Bushcare Group
- Centenary Reserve Bushcare Group
- Upper Kedumba Creek Bushcare Group
- Garguree Swampcare.
In addition, he’s involved in Swampcare and participates in many Bushcare events and workshops, usually generously acting as photographer. He is also the current Convenor of the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network, represents the Network on the Popes Glen Remediation Committee, is the Bushcare Officer for the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Conservation Officer of Blue Mountains Bird Observers, the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network Representative and a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Sydney Landcare Network. And somewhere in all that, he finds time for ongoing care of Blackheath Memorial Park.
ROGER WALKER is a hardworking and dedicated volunteer with the Leura Cascades Bushcare Group. He is also a long-standing and active member of the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Group. Roger has also been the Secretary for the Leura Home Garden Club for about five years. He has been volunteering in the gardens at Everglades since 2008. At Everglades, he also volunteers as a garden guide for tour groups and helps with front-of-house operations during festivals and events.
ERST CARMICHAEL is a very kind, generous and community-minded person, always willing to assist anyone where she can. She founded and was very involved with Friends of Lawson Action Group (FLAG) in the mid-nineties until approximately 2002 (a sub-group of CORE – Coalition of Residents for the Environment). Erst also helped establish the Association of Concerned Mid-Mountains Residents (ACMMR) and was very active in that organisation from approximately 2007 until just recently.
Erst founded the South Lawson Park Bushcare Group in 1995 and has been the convenor from that time. She has regularly participated in Streamwatch at South Lawson since 2005.
RAE DRUITT was a founding member of the Wentworth Falls Lake Bushcare Group in 1988, and has been its Coordinator since its inception, ie 19 years. The WFLBG meets twice a month, on the second Tuesday for two hours in the afternoon, and on the fourth Saturday for three hours in the afternoon. She has been awarded a BMCC Bushcare Hard Yakka Award and was also a founder member of Sublime Point Bushcare Group back in 1996. She was a volunteer at the Native Plant Nurseries (one in Blackheath, 1995-2005, and one in Lawson, 1998-2005) of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, during which time the Society grossed over $270,000.
Rae was one of the first Volunteers at the Cultural Centre when it opened in November 2012, and still works there on Tuesday mornings at the Front Desk. Rae also put in several years of volunteering at the Zig Zag Railway looking after the gardens and building a bush track (with information about native plants) for visitors.
Dear Bushcare, Swampcare, Landcare and others interested in caring for our bushland. This issue of Gecko is being prepared in the midst of incredibly wet days so it is only fitting that it be full of swamp-related news! We’re celebrating ten years of Swampcare this year, and so a big thank you to Lyndal for the articles and for the immense amount she has contributed to developing our Swampcare volunteer program. Lyndal’s passion, skills and experience are a large reason for the success of the volunteer program and her ongoing commitment to making sure the Blue Mountains Swamps get the protection they so rightly deserve is to be congratulated.
Also to be congratulated are our BMCC Senior Citizen award winners— Erst Carmichael, Paul Vale, Roger Walker and Rae Druitt. Those of you who know them will not be surprised that they have been recognised in this year’s Senior Citizens Awards, and those who don’t can find out more inside.
And while we’re on the subject of awards, this year’s Bushcare awards will be announced at our annual “Thank You Bushcare” picnic in the Megalong Valley on Saturday 29 April. The bus will be available for those requiring transport, there’ll be food, good company, congratulations and for the first time this year we are adding on a Biodiversity Camp and Survey. I hope to catch up with you there, or at Bushcare!
– Monica, for the Bushcare Team
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.
– Monica, for the Bushcare Team.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
Vale Neil. by Les Petö