Sometimes it seems as though the world’s environmental problems are so large it’s overwhelming, we feel like “am I doing enough?” or “what is the point?” It seems that no matter how many reusable shopping bags we use it pales by comparison to the impact of global issues like climate change.
However, the world has come together before to solve global environmental problems, like the hole in the ozone layer. We tackled that issue globally, by coming together to develop a set of rules that eliminated the source of the problem.
You may not feel like it, but the choices you make day in and day out do add up and make a difference. You live in the Blue Mountains because you want to live near nature, go for bushwalks, be with likeminded people and enjoy a sense of community. You probably already go to the op shop instead of buying new, buy only what you need and reduce reliance on packaging. Use resuable bags or boomerang bags, you compost and you join in environmental causes and volunteer your time.
Volunteering with Bushcare brings all of those elements together. We make huge changes on the ground, over time eliminating weeds that would one day overtake our native bush reducing biodiversity and resilience. We discuss world problems (sometimes solving them), get our hands dirty and go home with a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
We are not alone in our individual efforts, thinking we are only making a small indent – we are a community of over 400 people turning up each month, equating to 1,200 hours of environmental benefit to our future. We are also part of a much larger community with over 6000 Bushcare/Landcare groups Australia wide. All of us turning up to make a difference!
SNAKEBITES by Rob Timmings– RN BHSc MEmNsg Cert IV – TAE
Managing Director/Principle Educator (Clinical) of ECT4Health Pty Ltd(Education, consultancy and training for healthcare professionals). Full medical qualifications, experience and biography via https://www.ect4health.com.au/about-us/
3,000 snakebites are reported annually
2-3 deaths annually
Average time to death is 12 hours. The urban myth that you are bitten in the yard and die before you can walk from your chook pen back to the house is a load of rubbish.
While not new, the management of snakebite
(like a flood/fire evacuation plan or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) should be
refreshed each season.
Let’s start with a basic overview:
There are five genus of snakes that will harm us (seriously) – Browns, Blacks, Adders, Tigers and Taipans.
All snake venom is made up of huge proteins (like egg white). When bitten, a snake injects some venom into the meat of your limb (NOT into your blood).
This venom cannot be absorbed into the blood stream from the bite site.
It travels in a fluid transport system in your body called the lymphatic system (not the blood stream).
Now this fluid (lymph) is moved differently to blood.
Your heart pumps blood around, so even when you are lying dead still, your blood still circulates around the body. Lymph fluid is different. It moves around with physical muscle movement like bending your arm, bending knees, wriggling fingers and toes, walking/exercise, etc.
Now here is the thing, lymph fluid becomes blood after these lymph vessels converge to form one of two large vessels (lymphatic trunks), which are connected to veins at the base of the neck.
Back to the snakebite site. When bitten, the venom has been injected into this lymph fluid (which makes up the bulk of the water in your tissues).
The only way that the venom can get into your blood stream is to be moved from the bite site in the lymphatic vessels. The only way to do this is to physically move the limbs that were bitten.
Stay still!! Venom can’t move if the victim doesn’t move. Stay still!!
Remember, people are not bitten into their blood stream. In the 1980’S, a technique called pressure immobilisation bandaging was developed to further retard venom movement. It completely stops venom/lymph transport toward the blood stream.
A firm roll bandage is applied directly over the bite site (don’t wash the area).
Three steps – keep
Step 1 – Apply a bandage over the bite site, to an area about 10cm
above and below the bite.
Step 2 – Then using another elastic roller bandage, apply a firm wrap from fingers/toes all the way to the armpit/groin. The bandage needs to be firm, but not so tight that it causes fingers or toes to turn purple or white. About the tension of a sprain bandage.
Step 3 – Splint the limb so the patient can’t walk or bend the limb.
Then go directly to the hospital. Do not remove the bandage, medical staff will take the bandage off.
DO NOT cut, incise or suck the venom.
DON’T EVER use a tourniquet.
DO NOT remove the shirt or pants – just bandage over the top of clothing.
Remember movement (like wriggling out of a shirt or pants) causes venom movement.
DO NOT try to catch, kill or identify the snake!!! This is important.
In hospital, we NO LONGER NEED to know the type of snake – it doesn’t change treatment.
Five years ago, we would do a test on the
bite, blood or urine to identify the snake so the correct antivenom could be
We don’t do this. Our new antivenom neutralises the venoms of all the five listed snake genus, so it doesn’t matter what snake bit the patient.
Read that again- one injection for all snakes!
Polyvalent is our one-shot wonder, stocked in all hospitals, so most hospitals no longer stock specific antivenins.
Australian snakes tend to have three main effects in
Bleeding – internally and bruising.
Muscles paralysed, causing
difficulty talking, moving and breathing.
Pain – in some snakes, severe muscle
pain in the limb and days later, the bite site can break down, forming a nasty
Allergy to snakes
is rarer than winning lotto twice.
Not all bitten people are envenomated and only those
starting to show symptoms above are given antivenom.
On Threatened Species Day (Saturday 7th September) we had a series of talks about fauna in the Blue Mountains. The day started with Anne Carey from the Blue Mountains Fauna Project presenting the findings of the year long study.
Throughout the day there was a stall with weed and threatened species information. The eco cinema was playing a series of short films about threatened species and where they occur.
Next was the amazing Akos Lumitzer from amatterofflight.com.au who talked passionately about the powerful owl and how he came to spend so much time capturing the images.
Last but not least was Dr Beth Mott from Birdlife Australia. She presented the Powerful Owl project that is a citizen science project.
Come along and hear about the Blue Mountains Fauna Project at the Threatened Species Day (7th September) at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
Anne is one of the speakers and will reveal the fantastic fauna results collected during the Blue Mountains fauna surveys and other data sent in by the public over the past year.
It’s all about the data! Over a year ago the Blue Mountains Fauna Project kicked off collecting fauna records from the community and other databases including ebird and the NSW Wildlife Atlas. The process of collecting records is ongoing so keep your records coming! For a first “look” at the data we needed to pick a month and draw a line in the sand which we did in July. If you are interested in what the data shows and what we are doing with all the records there is a presentation at the Cultural Centre in Katoomba as part of Threatened Species Day activities at 10am on the 7th of September. Come along and have a look at the “first cut” report. We are happy to answer your questions. Anne Carey, Applied Ecology
THREATENED SPECIES DAY – FREE EVENT BLUE MOUNTAINS CULTURAL CENTRE 10AM – 2PM SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2019
The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre will host Threatened Species Day, a free community environment market and series of talks on Saturday 7 September. This will be an opportunity to learn from local environment and bush care groups about conservation efforts in the region. The day will also showcase this year’s Waste to Art Sculpture, a Powerful-Owl’s Nest, created by the community from discarded fabrics and plastics.
TALK PROGRAM 10am – 2pm 10am Anne Carey – Blue Mountains Fauna Project 11am Akos Lumnitzer – The Powerful Owl 12pm Break 1pm Dr Beth Mott – Powerful Owl Program, Birdlife Australia
There are limited numbers and we have reserved a number of seats. To book please RSVP to the talk sessions by calling Blue Mountains Cultural Centre reception on 4780 5410 or emailing email@example.com. and mention “held Bushcare” spot.
Sunday, 25 August @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (PUBLIC EVENT)
Blue Mountains City Council’s Healthy Waterways team invite the public to join them to learn about protecting the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, threatened Endangered Ecological Communities, species and local waterways in the Jamison Creek catchments.
There will be walks and talks with information stalls run by BMCC, Bushcare, schools, catchment group, BMCC Youth Council and various arts and crafts activities.
There will be a Rotary BBQ with vegetarian option and coffee cart on site. Located at Wentworth Falls Lake, western end of park, off Sinclair Crescent and ten minutes walk from Wentworth Falls shops and train station. No bookings needed.
Another wonderful remote bushcare day in the lower mountains. Work in Sassafras Gully has been ongoing for several years in a relationship between Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Services carried out on the border of Council and Parks land near where Wiggins Track meets Victory Track at Sassafras Creek.
A cool temperate rainforest in a gully bounded by drier woodland uphill, the area has Ginger Lily, Small and Large leaf Privet as well as large and mature Japanese Honeysuckle that have climbed up into the canopy. Invading from properties uphill and coming down the creek they threaten the understorey diversity of the mature Sassafras and Coachwood forest. Some of the honeysuckle were so tall they were only identifiable by their distinctive peeling bark and mottled skin because the leaves were too high in the canopy.
On the morning of 25 May three volunteers – Ian, John and Roland and myself braved fine weather (and traffic delaying truck accidents) to tool up and walk the 45 minutes into the work area. On remote days we carry a lot more gear in the form of emergency management communications gear, all the tools we will need, a larger than normal first aid kit, plenty of water, food for the day, warm clothing and, of course, morning tea in a protective container because, let’s face it, no one wants squashed cake.
Once at the work site we dropped our heavy packs, put on our tool belts then had a look around to determine who was going to work where to get maximum effect from our small team. Despite many years of high quality work, there are still patches of Ginger Lily, canopy height Privet and Japanese Honeysuckle as well lots of Privet seedlings that the team decided to focus on.
The larger Ginger Lilies were poisoned and the smaller seedlings removed to be composted while the honeysuckles and privets were also treated with herbicide. Over the course of the day we worked on an area approximately 500m2.
On the walk out we noticed several interesting things. A local spring outlet known as the leaf spring, where a groove had been carved underneath a spring seep point to allow a leaf to be placed into it so a water bottle could be filled.
The remote area bushcare days are fantastic events where we get to enjoy undertaking bushcare activities much deeper in the bush. Future events will be held in Popes Glen and Katoomba Creek in spring.
The Greater Sydney Landcare Network (GSLN) has taken responsibility for development and delivery of the Streamwatch programme from the Australian Museum as of July 1, 2019.
Background: Streamwatch is a citizen science water monitoring program that enables community groups to monitor the quality and health of local waterways. Established in 1990 this water monitoring program initiated by Sydney Water and the Sydney Catchment Authority originally had a focus on curriculum implementation in secondary schools, but quickly extended beyond schools into a citizen science program. To date over 1,100 Streamwatch groups have monitored water quality at over 1,060 sites, and have contributed almost 31,000 data sets to the online database. These groups have been spread across greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions.
Data collected by these groups helps inform the wider public, landowners, land managers, local councils, universities, research organisations, catchment and water management authorities on the health status of local waterways.
Where to from here?.. To move forward GSLN in consultation with 40 Streamwatch volunteers ran two workshops in June and July. The workshops sought feedback on ‘where to from here’, record participants concerns, ambitions for the programme and potential ways to improve it and fund it. With recommendations on the future of Streamwatch and summary of challenges the report makes for a valuable insight into the Streamwatch community.
GORILLAS IN THE SWAMP (G.I.T.S.) are a dedicated group of Swamp-carers whom have been heroically spending their own time to fight back the weeds and take care of the invaluable and endangered ecological area that is Valley View Swamp in Blackheath.
There have been numerous Swampcare events at Valley View Swamp in the past which have made marked improvements in the health and condition of the site. Even with these accomplishments, we have recognised that the challenges facing us require a bolstered approach and a monthly meet-up in order to revamp the regeneration of the natural environment here.
WHY ARE SWAMPS SO IMPORTANT? – Blue Mountains Swamps are biologically diverse plant communities that occur nowhere else in the world. The swamps provide crucial habitat to a number of Threatened Species including the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea). These swamps also play a vital role in maintaining the water flows in the area’s creeks, waterfalls and ground-water by capturing and storing rainwater and then slowly releasing it over time. Swamps act as filters, purifying water prior to its release into the natural environment downstream. Blue Mountains Swamps are coming under ever increasing pressure and are very susceptible due to the edge effects of urbanization and urban runoff.
PLANNED NEW MANAGEMENT STRATEGY – Big plans are in store for Valley View Swamp with a new management strategy nearing completion. The stormwater issues will be addressed with the construction of sandstone water-retention basins, sediment settling ponds, bio-filtration systems and rock lined channel. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, these storm-water control structures provide the benefits of improving water quality, reducing sedimentation in the swamp, rehydrating ground water and creating habitat. We are looking forward to observe and document the progress throughout the works of this project. Of course, we will continue to remove and control the invasive species on the site and encourage native revegetation too.
GORILLA IN THE SWAMPS (G.I.T.S.) – Valley View Swamp, Blackheath
When: 2nd Thursday of the month 9:30am -12:30pm
Where: Meeting on the corner of Valley View Rd and Hargraves St, Blackheath
What to bring: Please wear weather appropriate clothing which you don’t mind getting dirty, sturdy footwear and gumboots if it’s wet. A hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and something for morning tea. Tools and gloves are provided.
Garguree Swampcare and Fairmont Resort crew working together.
Council always encourages community and corporate participation in our bushcare days. This June, in recognition of NAIDOC 2019, the Fairmont Resort & Spa’s General Manager, Scott O’Neile, team members and their families joined in the monthly Garguree Swampcare Group. This group is collaboratively driven by Garguree Traditional owners and BMCC to regenerate The Gully, Katoomba. The Gully is a sacred Aboriginal Place that holds both happy and sad memories for our local indigenous community.
Jane, Bushcare Officer for Garguree, rallied the 40 plus combined volunteer group. With introductory words of encouragement and warm up exercises everyone was in the mood for hand weeding Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major) along the swamp edge and mulching adjacent to Middle Swamp. Many hands certainly made great inroads reducing the Vinca.
The group was moved by the smoking ceremony and listening to Aunty Sharyn’s vision for the future, all whilst sharing wholesome Kingy Chai, refreshing Lemon Myrtle Tea and the scrumptious Lilly Pilly jam with damper. The Fairmont team found it a true honour to be present in the Gully with the Local Gully Traditional Owners, Aunty Sharyn and David King. A member of the team expressed it as “a truly priceless and spiritual cultural exchange”.