Article by Fiona Lumsden (Upper Katoomba Bushcare Group)
Our local Bushcare Group for Upper Katoomba Creek and our neighbours, the Community Gardeners, joined forces in mid-January for a Planting Event along our shared creek.
We were using leftover plants from our Spring plantings along our previously very weedy roadside remnant bushland and a cleared easement above the creek in Twynam unformed road reserve.
We had been worried that January would be tough for new plants – with all the extremely hot and dry weather we’ve had for months. Amazingly, the rain came in bucket-loads, just in time for the planting, and we celebrated. Our little band of bushcarers, mums and kids donned gumboots and sloshed around in the wet, putting in baby ferns and Tea Trees next to the roaring creek. No one complained. We were all so happy to have rain.
The plantings will help stabilize the creekbanks and keep moisture in the creek system.
Blue Mountains City Council is doing a big creek restoration project here in the park. The creek, which has been degraded by urban development and landscape modification, has become deeply incised into its little floodplain. It now bypasses the original Carex gaudichaudiana swamp on the flats beside it. The creek bed is being “bouldered” to slow erosion and a diversion has been cut at the side to revert some flows back into the swamp.
Swamps and creekside vegetation are really important. They absorb excess water in storm events and slowly release water back into the creek systems over time to maintain creek flows through the year. We have lost a lot of these natural sponges. Revitalizing them will help water security. We need water. We need plants. Lots of them!
A floating, eco habitat designed to provide a safe nesting place for turtles at Glenbrook Lagoon was launched on 10 March.
Turtle Island – a collaboration between Council, Western Sydney University and Blue Mountains volunteers – was a pilot project funded by the NSW Premiers Office and Council.
“This pilot project has already seen much success, with turtle eggs discovered recently,” Mayor Mark Greenhill said.
“Glenbrook Lagoon is home to a number of turtle species, including Eastern Long-neck and Sydney Basin turtles. Turtles have been facing an uncertain future, as foxes destroy 95 per cent of their nests, but the island is providing a refuge.”
Leading expert in turtles Western Sydney University’s Dr Ricky Spencer, whom inspired Geoffrey Smith (Healthy Waterways Program Leader) and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) to design and construct this project, attended the launch along with Council staff, Bushcare volunteers and school students from St Finbar’s Primary School and Glenbrook Primary School.
Local primary students have been involved in environmental studies at Glenbrook Lagoon, including Council Bioblitz events, and Turtle studies.
Glenbrook Lagoon is a haven for remnant bushland, it’s an active Bushcare site and a valued recreation point for the community.
The well-being of the Lagoon has always been important to the community. The Glenbrook Lagoon Society started in 1978 and Bushcare volunteers began working here around 1993, making it one of the earliest community driven Bushcare groups in the Blue Mountains.
Council has an ongoing commitment to restore the ecological condition of Glenbrook Lagoon and the lagoon is now free from major infestations of water weeds such as Salvinia and Cabomba which plagued it for many years.
Turtles play an important role in the ecosystem at the lagoon, acting like vacuum cleaners of the water body.
“The Lagoon is rich with wildlife – native fish, eels, frogs and a remarkable array of birdlife,” Mayor Greenhill said.
Water quality in the lagoon is closely monitored by Council and officers have put incredible effort into addressing all sources of pollution within the catchment.
Turtle habitats, a predesigned structure that includes plastic tubing, aquatic plants, sands and geotextile, are being installed at locations throughout NSW.
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.
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.
With the success of the Holly Walk, the Woody Weed Wander and Woody Weed Workout Events, the Woody Weed Wander Bushcare Group was recently established. This Group will operate similarly to other Bushcare Groups, but will “wander” to various sites, removing/treating stands of mature/semi-mature woody weeds of all species. We will initially work in the Upper Mountains, with some sites already confirmed or on offer, but there may be the option to work in various parts of the Mountains in the future.
We will be meeting on the first Friday of the month from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon, including morning tea. Our first work session will begin on Friday, 6 September at Blackheath.
If you are interested to be involved or have any queries, please contact Karen Hising at firstname.lastname@example.org or 4780 5623.
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”.
Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted 35 Volunteers from Garguree swampcare and Friends Of Katoomba falls groups and the broader BC community in our annual Kedumba Catchment Gully get-together.
David King welcoming the group onto country
It was a great success, with a wonderful community feel and a great boost to The Upper Kedumba Bushcare site, with so many enthusiastic and committed helping hands we also had 5 new volunteers join in.
After a full work morning we indulged in a wonderful shared feast and heard from Eric Mahony about works in the catchment and how our workdays positively impact on it and Jane about our Bushcare native bee metropolis and who we would likely see using the bee hotels.
We were working on 4 different site components, giving a variety of work options to the volunteers so they could join in with tasks to challenge them and also tasks where they would feel familiar and relaxed.
Our work day consisted of
1 – Continuing to create a wetland soak in the low lying section of Upper Kedumba, to change the environmental conditions currently present, trying to create a wetter area hoping to diminish annual grasses and create more habitat for aquatic critters, whilst slowing the flow of the water in big rain events capturing it on site , and stripping nutrients from it.
In Feb/March we hope to plant this area out with Juncus and other sedges
Installation of water detention devices
2 – Continuing on with a creation of a mulch path through the site – The long-term vision is to create a site where local community will feel inclined to walk through it and stop and find out about local native bees, fauna and habitat creation and why these things are needed and how important they are in our local environment.
3- Removal of small and large privets in bands across the slope – this work will be supported by a day of contracting works in the next 3 months and continued planting of endemic species.
4- Removal of Montbretia from a drainage line.
Thank you to all who came along and helped with our ongoing Bushcare works
By Jane Anderson
The Gecko is a newsletter produced by Blue Mountains City Council to keep volunteers up to date with current news, events and information. If you have any interesting environmental stories, Bushcare moments or successful how to’s that you would love to share and would like to contribute to this newsletter, please contact the Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare Team Leader on (02) 4780 5528, or email email@example.com
Bill Popes Glen legend Bill Webster (left Stephanie Chew Bushcare Officer, second from left Sandy Benson Bushcare Team Leader, second from right Bill Webster Popes Glen Volunteer, right Alan Lane Popes Glen Volunteer Coordinator)
Popes Glen Bushcare group had a special morning tea to say “Farewell, thank you and good luck” to Bill Webster, longtime bushcare volunteer with 24 years of service to the Popes Glen Bushcare site. Bill’s commitment to making a difference has helped transform the site from a weed infested swamp to the rehabilitated site it is today. Of course, there will always be weeds but with perseverance it is clear to see from the success in Popes Glen that it is all worth it.
We also remembered Jan, Bill’s wife and a long-time and hard-working supporter until 2011, as famous for her morning teas as for her willingness to get in amongst the willows and mud. Both Bill and Jan’s commitment to Bushcare and in particular to Popes Glen will leave an everlasting impact.
Bill will be dearly missed every month but we wish him all the best for the next chapter in his life.
Last year marked 20 years for this stalwart group of volunteers and they have successfully confronted just about every issue a Bushcare group can face – not just weeds but serious erosion and the ongoing impacts of urban development. To celebrate this achievement the film Blue Mountains Bushcare: South Lawson Park has been produced by Peter Ardill and Vera Hong. Directed by Vera Hong (Seconds Minutes Hours Productions) the film examines bushland values, the ongoing threats that urban bushland faces and how the bushcare group has managed these challenges. The film contains some beautifully filmed scenes of the Lawson Creek catchment and is available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/verahong/south-lawson-bushcare Thanks to Greater Sydney Local Land Services, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and Blue Mountains City Council for project support and funding.
The South Lawson Group first started in mid-1995 with the then only Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare officer, Virginia Bear. Our aim was to regenerate and maintain the health of the upper catchment of Lawson Creek, which flows into Bedford Creek and the Nepean River.
The early years were spent mostly at the top of the Waratah St/Honour Ave section of the reserve (see map below) where Japanese honeysuckle, Privet, Montbretia, Blackberry and Broom were major invasive weeds. Some seed collecting, planting and track work were done, the latter with help from TAFE students under the guidance of a Bushcare Officer/TAFE teacher.
We expanded our weeding to the creekline and over the years to the surrounds of the BMX track and soccer field. In more recent times we have been extending the riparian buffer zone along the creek and swamp of the former golf course area by planting and allowing the bush to regenerate naturally. Some of us are also actively involved in Streamwatch and this process has been both informative and complementary for our Bushcare work.
Extending the buffer to the riparian corridor by planting with local natives.
The main vegetation communities along the creek are Eucalyptus woodland, Blue Mountains Swamp and a riparian strip of assorted native plant species, including rainforest species. The threatened species Persoonia acerosa and the endemic species Acacia ptychoclada are also present.
Our group is very committed and we are fortunate to have a few bush regeneration practitioners amongst us. Our website is also worth a look at: http://southlawsonpark.bushcarebluemountains.org.au It has some interesting photos and excellent educational material.