Members of the Minnehaha Bushcare group were joined by about twenty of Ruth Ley’s friends on Saturday 1st April to celebrate Ruth’s birthday at the Minnehaha picnic area. Ruth was one of the founding members of the Minnehaha Bushcare group and was an active member for 25 years. She was also a founding member of the Katoomba Creek Group and active for 20 years, as well as being an active member of 3 other groups.
One of Ruth’s missions in Bushcare was to rid Yosemite and Katoomba creeks of Montbretia. Her many friends gathered to help continue her legacy in getting revenge against the Montbretia in Yosemite Creek. They also helped to install a plaque in her honour and planted a memorial garden adjoining the Bushcare site. The group would like to thank all of Ruth’s friends who made contributions towards the memorial plaque.
Following many weeks of miserable weather, we were very grateful to be treated to a glorious sunny day to work together and enjoyed morning tea, including date muffins and other goodies. We then shared some of our favourite memories of Ruth, who was a good friend and inspiration to us all. The group plans to continue this tradition on 1st April each year.
The view of the Megalong Escarpment provided a fabulous backdrop for the annual Bushcare Picnic
As always, the Bushcare Team had a very difficult time deciding which of our very many fabulous volunteers should be recognised with a Mayoral Award this year but after much deliberation (and next year’s short list already drawn up !) the following dedicated, hard working, committed and all round wonderful people were chosen:
Helen Rose and David Churches Leura Park
John Hill accepted the Hard Yakka Award on behalf of Helen Rose David Churches
Members of both Leura Park Bushcare and Prince Henry Cliff Walk (attending twice month). Since discovering Bushcare by attending a bird walk and talk organised by Gordon Falls Bushcare several years ago, David and Helen have regularly attended and actively participated in bushcare in the Leura Falls Creek catchment. David and Helen are also strong advocates for Bushcare involvement at Springwood Bushwalking Club and frequently contribute to submission writing and often plan their holidays around Bushcare commitments !
Alan Dean (left) with Mayor Mark Greenhill and Chris Watson (right)
Chris Watson & Alan Dean, Jackson Park Faulconbridge
Chris Watson– Chris is a long-term member of Jackson Park Bushcare Group, but he undertakes a lot of additional work and monitoring in his own time. His tenacity, stoic approach and excellent strategies keep this site looking fantastic!
Alan Dean – Alan is a founding and long-term member of Jackson Park Bushcare Group (almost 20 years). He is extremely dedicated, hard-working and has been pivotal in transforming this site over time.
Both Alan and Chris undertake any work required on site, despite most weather conditions and difficulties of the terrain or weed infestation challenge. They don’t even bother with an afternoon tea break!
JUNIOR BUSHCARE LEGEND
LiamBooyens 12 years old – Garguree Swampcare
Liam Booyens with Jasmine Payget and Mayor Mark Greenhill
Liam is a young and enthusiastic Bushcare member who has been involved with Garguree Swamp care for 7 years. He has spent these years connecting to country in many ways by watching and listening, playing and working to restore country.
He has a great sense of place at Garguree and his confidence is growing as he does.Liam has also spent 3 weekends wrangling sycamores at Jenolan
He has been involved in making Bee Homes and has attended a habitat workshop in Bilpin and the night before the Bushcare Picnic he spent the night camped out enjoying the bio blitz and spotting arboreal mammals.
All of these experiences enhance his natural ability and love of the natural world around him and we hope he is involved with Bush care for many years to come.
LANDCARE LEGEND: Karleen Waldron
Growing up in the lower Blue Mountains helped develop a love which has inspired this person to both advocate , volunteer and work for protection of our bushland and all the creatures that live in it. This passion has led to volunteering over many years with Bushcare, Landcare & WIRES.
Karleen started Long Angle Landcare group & is a core member of the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment group. She has strongly advocated for the protection of the Sun Valley / Fitzgeralds Creek catchment over the past two decades.
Karleen’s tireless advocacy has paid off over the years, with her work together with the Long Angle Group being instrumental in convincing Sydney Water not to proceed with plans to discharge sewage outfalls into Fitzgeralds Creek, and leveraging multiple grants to target weeds from their source points in Sun Valley all the way down the catchment to the confluence with the Nepean River.
Working in the bush regeneration industry for over 15 years, she has also extended herself to transfer her considerable skills to volunteer groups and to many Blue Mountains TAFE students, teaching Cert 3 Conservation & Land Management. She is well beloved and respected by many students & volunteers she has worked with over the past 10 years and through them has made a significant contribution to the local bush regeneration industry.
BUSHCARE LEGEND OF THE YEAR: Shirley Brown
Shirley Brown, Bushcare legend of the Year
Shirley first started Bushcare over 30 years ago with the National Trust at Middle Harbour (Roseville), in the early 1980s when living in Sydney. She then worked occasional days in the Blue Mountains with ACTV (Australian Conservation Trust Volunteers).
Shirley Brown is a true Bushcare legend … she is currently a consistent member of 5 Bushcare Groups as well as many swampcare events. Her commitment extends well beyond those individual sites through her contribution to catchment coordination and a myriad of other small but important tasks. Most importantly Shirley has introduced many people to bushcare, bringing them along to one of her many groups – she has been involved with 10 groups over the years (at one time it was 8 concurrently).
After moving to the mountains, Shirley joined up with the Friends of the Blue Mountains which began in 1989, to weed around Echo Point, Jamison Creek, Darks Common and the lantana in the Lapstone Tunnel area.
She became a regular member of 2 local groups from their beginnings in the mid 90s – Lindemann Rd in 1995 and Valley of the Waters in 1996.
After her family commitments reduced she became more involved from 2004, joining another 5 groups, (2 of which she was a founding member):
MINNE HA HA BUSHCARE
GOVETTS ST BUSHCARE
KATOOMBA CREEK BUSHCARE
BRAHMA KUMARIS, and
UPPER KATOOMBA CREEK BUSHCARE
Shirley is always keen to get stuck into the bush, and is always the first to head off and start work while the rest of us faff about getting ready and chatting in the morning. She keeps us Bushcare Officers in check, making sure we are aware of any significant weed or native species present in the work area, and letting us know if anyone in the group needs to get a lesson or reminder about plant id.
Whilst not keen on meetings, Shirley does recognise the importance of planning and coordinating and has contributed to the Govetts & Katoomba Creek Catchment Coordination Group since Sept 2006. Shirley has been untiring in promoting Bushcare and sustainable living. For many years she assisted with editing our newsletter and she has been an instrumental advocate for disseminating the Safe & SustaInable Gardening booklet she helped to develop.
Bushcare Legends Steve Barratt and Shirley Brown hand on the Golden Trowel
Everglades Landcare Group
Coates Park Bushcare Group
Woodford Glen Bushcare Group
Mount Irvine Landcare Group
Explorers Reserve Bushcare Group
Cross St and Rickard Rd Sports Common Bushcare Group
Bellata Court Bushcare Group
Katoomba Creek Bushcare Group
Sublime Point Bushcare Group
Centenary Reserve Bushcare Group
David Coleby and Rae Druitt with Councillor Chris van der Kley
The 10 year anniversary of Blue Mountains City Council’s Swampcare and Save our Swamps Program was celebrated at a Swamp Symposium recently that highlighted the significant and award-winning achievements of swamp restoration in the Blue Mountains.
The one-day conference, which attracted 65 attendees, highlighted dedicated Swampcare volunteers who have contributed over 10,000 hours towards protecting Blue Mountains swamps.
Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said the award-winning approach to swamp restoration is part of Council’s whole of catchment approach to environmental management.
“Swampcare is a vital part of Council’s highly effective volunteer program aimed at biodiversity conservation,” Cr Greenhill said. “We’re able to better protect and restore swamps across the city thanks to 75 dedicated Swampcare volunteers.
Blue Mountains Swamps are a biologically diverse plant community that occurs nowhere else in the world. The vegetation in these swamps range from low button grass clumps to large shrubs such as the Hakea and Grevillea species. The swamps provide essential habitat to several Threatened Species such as the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea).
Council’s Upland Swamp Rehabilitation Program started in 2006 after Blue Mountains swamps were listed as part of the Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone endangered ecological community.
In 2008 Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Councils formed a partnership to deliver the ‘Save our Swamps’ (S.O.S) project to restore the endangered ecological community across both local government areas. The project was supported by grant funding of $250,000 over 3 years from the Urban Sustainability program of the NSW Environmental Trust.
In 2009 the S.O.S. project received a $400,000 Federal Government ‘Caring for Country’ grant to expand the program to incorporate Wingecarribee Shire Council and Gosford City Council. The partnership resulted in the swamp remediation model being rolled out to over 95% of the endangered ecological community in the four local government areas.
The innovative integrated approach led to the project receiving four awards, including a special commendation in the United Nations World Environment Day Award for Excellence in Overall Environmental Management in 2011.
Speakers at the conference included Palaeoecologist, Dr Lennard Martin, who spoke on the ancient origins of swamps and Principal Scientist at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Martin Krogh, who discussed the health of Newnes and Woronora Plateau Swamps.
Eric Mahony and Amy St Lawrence from Council’s Environment and Culture Branch also gave presentations. The day finished up with a field trip to the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.
The Swamp Symposium was made possible by funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Save Our Species’ program, the new NSW Environmental Trust funded ‘Swamped by Threats’ project and Council.
Interested in Swampcare? Get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.
Scouts help out at Leura Falls Creek photo by Jenny Hill
The 27th May 2017 provided us with perfect weather for our annual get-together in the Leura Falls Creek Catchment. This year it was at Vale St and we were joined by students from Katoomba Primary School SQID Squad and children from the 1st Blackheath Scouts and Cubs. The children planted 434 plants along the creek line and Vale St. They were helped by Ed and Adrian from the Bush Doctors, Eric Mahony, scout leaders, Katoomba Primary teacher Sally Dare and parents. All up we had 42 volunteers come to the morning. Work also included removal of woody weeds , follow-up weeding and mulching.
The morning was organised by Council’s bushcare. Big thanks go to Karen Hising, Tracy Abbas and Eric Mahony and of course to everyone who came. At morning tea we had a presentation by the SQID Squad, and updates from the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Working Group and National Parks and Wildlife Service. We also had a small presentation to Frances Dutton who started the Vale St bushcare group and Lynne Carson who has worked with the Vale St and Cumberland Walkway groups for more than 10 years. Frances and Lynne are leaving the mountains and we wish them all the best.
The morning was highly enjoyable and productive. We can’t wait for next year’s get-together.
Little end note: If you didn’t know … SQID stands for Stormwater Quality Improvement Device and the Katoomba PS SQID Squad are an environmental group who are involved in a number of projects as part of their stewardship of the catchment.
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.
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!
A Blue Mountains Swamp near the airfield at Medlow Bath — in its flowering glory — attracted an enthusiastic group of Swampcare volunteers to a field day in January 2017. The field day was part of a 10 year project to protect swamps, called “Swamped By Threats” whose partners include Central West Local Land Services, Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The volunteers enjoyed a morning packed with information and good food topped off by a sighting of Blue Mountains Water Skinks – a well deserved reward for all their work during 2016! Unfortunately, the hoped for Giant Dragonfly did not make an appearance … this was not a good year for their emergence.
Two eminent swamp experts were on hand to generously share their knowledge deepen our understanding of swamp plants and animals and their dependence on groundwater. Doug Benson is a highly respected plant ecologist and Honorary Research Associate with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. He has studied swamps of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau for more than 40 years, satisfying his curiosity about how and when they developed. Ian Baird drew on more than 13 years of research on the threatened Giant Dragonfly and swamps generally, to share his extensive knowledge of the fauna that dwell in them.
Our current swamps formed up to 15,000 years ago as the land warmed up and became wetter after the last Ice Age. How the unique swamp plants formed and where they were during these cold and dry periods are particular questions of interest.
Flowering shrubs such as the rare Acacia ptychoclada and Grevillea acanthifolia were admired along with sedges such as Empodisma minus and Xyris ustulata. Two of the shrubs present in swamps, Banksia ericifolia and Hakea teretifolia, are killed by fire because they do not resprout from a lignotuber and do not store seed in the soil. Individual plants can take up to 8-10 years to flower and fruit and even more years are needed between fires to establish a seed bank to ensure the continuation of viable populations of this species in this location.
Plants adapted to sandstone areas only drop seeds close to the parent plant, which is in contrast with northern hemisphere plants where seed moves much greater distances due to reliance on wind dispersal. The presence of Mallee eucalypts in swamps may be understood in terms of opportunities to thrive without the competition of larger trees. Adapted to wetter conditions and fire, some of these Mallees have lignotubers at least 50-100 years old.
Using a 1.8m steel soil probe, Ian demonstrated the significant differences in the depth of soft peaty soil over the swamp and the patches of drier sandy loam. These soil differences are reflected in the plants, and determine where Giant Dragonflies can reproduce.
Ian identified patches suitable as breeding habitat and those which were not, and discussed the importance of damp or saturated peaty soil with a high water table for egg-laying and larval establishment. It is believed that they then spend at least 6 years in their larval burrow. The deepest larval burrow Ian has found, also the deepest recorded, was 75cm.
A very young Blue Mountains Water Skink, plus two adults were sighted. One adult water skink sat still on top of the grass watching the group for some time. Genetic studies indicate that this species has been in swamps in the Blue Mountains for at least 2 million years, but where were they during the ice ages which have occurred over that time? They are currently solely dependant on peat swamps in the mid-to upper Blue Mountains for their survival.
Blue Mountains Water Skink
Ian gave some insights into the range of less appreciated fauna found in swamps which also need groundwater for survival, from the small invertebrates and skinks which may survive fire under patches of wet litter, to the Common Eastern Froglets, burrowing crayfish and swamp rats. Blue Mountains Water Skinks can sometimes use these burrows, and those of Giant Dragonflies, for protection from fire and predators. Crayfish burrows are found in areas with groundwater seepage or a high water table which they can access in their burrows. Swamp rat tunnels may also be abundant; one of which was inspected (these are more horizontal).
Both Doug and Ian explained how Blue Mountains Swamps are important for holding and filtering water. The conservation of swamps is a key concern of those present and an interesting debate on fire, sedimentation and climate change followed. The predicted hotter, drier conditions and more frequent fires will threaten the swamps’ survival.
This event was organised by Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare and assisted by the New South Wales Government Environmental Trust Fund, NSW Local Land Services and NPWS
Our annual Thank You Bushcare picnic is on Saturday 29 April 2017 at
Megalong Valley Community Hall – Save the Date!
This year we are combining the usual lunch-time bar-b-q picnic with a camp-out on Friday 28th April, a night-time fauna survey and early morning birdwatching so – stay posted for more information coming soon!
Lunch will be at noon with our annual awards presentations at 2:00pm.
Greater Sydney Regional Weed Committee is very keen to hear from as many people as possible on the plan so we hope you can make one of the information sessions.
INVITATION TO A PUBLIC CONSULTATION FORUM on the Draft Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan
The draft Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plan (GSRSWMP) will be released for public consultation on 8 February 2017. The plan has been developed as part of the NSW Government’s Biosecurity reform process in response to the Natural Resources Commission’s review which identified the need for a more coordinated approach to managing weeds.
It is estimated weeds cost the NSW agricultural industry about $4.3 billion every year. Weeds also have serious implications on our lifestyles and the natural environment. Native biodiversity in particular has suffered declines in the distribution of many species as a result of invasive plants.
The GSRSWMP will provide the framework for improved management of weeds on both public and private lands by guiding investment to achieve the greatest outcomes in prevention, eradication and containment.
The draft plan was developed by the Greater Sydney Regional Weed Committee in partnership with Local Control Authorities (i.e. local governments), NSW Department of Primary Industries, National Parks and Wildlife Service, environmental interests (i.e. Nature Conservation Council), Landcare, NSW Farmers Association, Nursery and Garden Industry Association and Aboriginal and public land managers.
The Plan will now be made available for public consultation for feedback before being finalised. As part of the consultation process, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the four subregional weed committees will host five public forums across the region. The purpose of the forums is to explain the contents and impacts of the draft plan, respond to questions and assist anyone who is considering commenting on the draft plan.
A Forum will be held in Penrith at the Cambridge Park Community Hall 97 Oxford St Cambridge Park on Tuesday 7 February from 5pm -7pm.
Bee Hotel workshop – Upper Kedumba Bushcare Group November 2016
Birriban Katoomba High School Landcare, Upper Kedumba Bushcare, Central Park Bushcare and Leura Public School Swampcare all participated in activities to promote and encourage pollinator awareness and habitat.
Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted a pollinater habitat (Bee Hotel ) making workshop. Three types of habitats for different bee species were constructed and installed in appropriate places around the site. A simple hanging Bamboo home , an elegant bee box with asorted materials and entry sizes to enhance habitat variey and a sturdy mud home with besser blocks for ground dweling bees, such as our favorite, the Blue Banded Bee.
Some participants also made smaller versions to take home. The group reports that those installed on site already have evidence of happy occupants – within the month !! David Rae installed his “Bee Hilton” which he constructed prior to the day, and reported that he advanced his knowledge of the subject through the workshop. “The production of the clay infill for the blocks was a very useful exercise I think. I have since played around with this at home using a mix of Builders Clay, sand & soil” he said.
The final product!
Philip Nelson spent many hours preparing for the day and having materials ready so the group could simply construct and has written out a comprehensive “how to” information sheet. His advice to those planning a similar event is to construct some hotels first to work out what is best done prior to the day and what are the most suitable tools and materials to use.”
Central Parks Jo Goozeff found a lovely simple way to construct 4 bee hotels out of a hard wood log , these were quickly inhabited by resin bees , cuckoo and mud wasps all fantastic pollinators.
Making the clay bee hotel at Upper Kedumba Karen Reid, Hugh Todd, Judy Smith.
The Birriban Landcare students spent 3 months planning, preparing and making 5 very beautiful bee hotels. The day of installation was marked with a ribbon cutting by a group of school dignitaries and the planting of bee friendly plants in the Birriban habitat garden. Cheekily promoted as “the biggest hotel opening The Blue mountains has seen” the installation warranted an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette.
Leura Public School Swampcare Group celebrated Pollinator week by constructing a mixed material bee hotel in the bushland behind the school. Four students re-used an old wooden Antechinus nesting box as the hotel’s foundations and filled it with lengths of bamboo, various widths of holly stems (previously cut from the site) with holes of various widths drilled into them, tree fern stalks and eucalyptus bark. The hotel was then mounted on a cut stump of dead holly, making further good use of the weeds on site.
Leura Public School Bee Hotel. photo by Stephanie Chew
Pollinator week participants were surprised to learn that not only do native bees exist, but we have so many species (over 1500) in Australia. Like most people, the only bee species they were previously aware of was the European Honeybee and while honey is most appreciated, the role played by other pollinators is critical to a well-functioning ecosystem and crop production.