Category Archives: News

Temporary suspension of all Bushcare monthly groups and events

Council’s priority is always the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and community.

Due to Coronavirus COVID-19, Council has decided to place a temporary suspension on the Bushcare program. This will mean that no Bushcare groups, individual activity or events will take place. This is effective immediately (18 March 2020), until further notice.

Council will continue to take advice from the State and Federal health departments, which will inform our organisational position and response to this unprecedented risk.

Ongoing reviews will take place during this temporary suspension period and further advice will be provided as it comes to hand. Council thanks you for your continuing support of the Bushcare program.

Keeping in touch

How can you stay involved? We will be writing regularly with updates, news and stories. The Bushcare Team acknowledges staying connected during this unprecedented point in time plays an important part of our ‘social’ care for one another.

We will be posting on the Bushcare Website   https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/

The Team has put together some of the following ideas…and we would love to hear about your projects or ideas.

  • Post Bushfire Updates – weeds and making bird watering stations recommended by leading ecologists, creating habitat gardens in bushfire prone areas
  • Book reviews
  • Contribution to the Gecko Newsletter – always welcome!
  • Quizzes and Crosswords
  • Producing ‘interest’ and ‘how to’ videos 
  • Virtual Freestyle book club 
  • Photography competition 
  • Before and after photos – around home projects, bushfire recovery
  • What to plant in your veggie garden
  • Bushcare Picnic – Reuse, Recycle Fashion Show ideas
  • what are your ideas??? Send to bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Can you think of other ‘social distancing’ and safe activities

  • Listening to Frogs with the FrogID app www.frogid.net.au
  • Virtual Bushcare Group catch-up and morning tea (let’s learn about Zoom)
  • Training in citizen science projects

If you need any help with downloading and installing apps and Zoom (we hope to produce a guide to help) contact bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Environmental Citizen Award

Congratulations to Margaret Baker for winning the inaugural Environmental Citizen of the Year Award by the Blue Mountains City Council. Margaret has been a tireless, committed and passionate advocate for protecting the Blue Mountains environment for over four decades. Giving her time as both a professional and a volunteer, Margaret has shown outstanding commitment to, and excellence in, education, life-long learning and the promotion of the natural environment.

Margaret has contributed to environmental education and advocacy over many years which has made an invaluable contributuion to the Blue Mountains community.

To read the full award go tohttps://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/blue-mountains-citizens-celebrated-at-australia-day-awards

Margaret considers that her greatest contribution as an environmental citizen has been the education of many students in the TAFE system over a number of generations and courses.

When Margaret began at TAFE in late 1983, she was present at the launch of the Advanced Certificate in Outdoor Guiding and moved on to teach and manage Bush Regeneration, the Diploma in Natural Resource Management and Certificates in Conservation and Land Management. In just ten years employment in environmental areas in the Blue Mountains went from almost none to a new industry sector. Staff involved in training increased from legendary co-ordinator Jim Smith, with Margaret as a part-time staffer working out of a shoebox office, to a whole Environmental Studies Unit, with Margaret as its first Head Teacher.

Margaret said she “would want her Award to be dedicated to the many enthusiastic and visionary students who enriched her days and moved on to become paid and volunteer members of a now burgeoning environmental industry in the region and beyond.”

Bushcare Officer Monica Nugent, previous student and one of many participants in Margaret’s courses and field trips over the years reiterated these sentiments, stating “The legacy of Margaret’s meticulous, high standard of teaching and intellectual rigour is a generation of professional bush regenerators and Bushcare volunteers with the highest level plant identification skills, a deep understanding of the Blue Mountains landscape and appreciation for its value. By capably and willingly sharing her expert knowledge of the geology, botany, natural and human history of the Blue Mountains, Margaret has instilled a great joy for the flora and fauna and an enduring passion to care for it.”

Turtle Island launch at Glenbrook Lagoon

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.

Turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer (UWS) and Geoffrey Smith (Council’s Healthy Waterways Team) sharing interesting turtle facts with students from Glenbrook Primary School and St Finbars Primary. Photo: Council

Local primary students have been involved in environmental studies at Glenbrook Lagoon, including Council Bioblitz events, and Turtle studies.

Emma Kennedy (Council’s Environmental Education Officer) instructing primary school children how to prepare the Carex plants for transplanting onto the island.

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.

Nathan Summers – Bushcare Officer (second from the right) with the volunteers from Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare Group and Kodala Lane. Photo: Council

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.

Turtle Warriors – Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader), Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) doing their part to provide turtle refuges away from fox predation Photo: Council

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.

Finally, the Council’s Bushcare and Natural Area Operations Teams taking the island habitat to it’s permanent location in Glenbrook Lagoon – providing the turtles a refuge away from fox predation. Photo: Council

VEIW turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer talking about the Turtle Island Habitat on Blue Mountains City Council Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainscitycouncil/videos/vb.175066762601689/2734772646614369/?type=2&theater

Council’s Seniors Festival Program

NSW Seniors Festival (formerly Seniors Week) is the largest festival for seniors in the Southern Hemisphere. To acknowledge the remarkable contributions our local seniors make to our Blue Mountains community, a program of events for the month of February has been put together. The theme for 2020 focuses on ‘Love To Celebrate’.

The Seniors Festival Program for 2020 offers a range of activities from 3 February to 19 March.

Loads of activities are on offer among the vast program including health and exercise activites, bushwalking, art, music, puzzles and games, senior driving workshops, talks on various plants and animals or gatherings where perhaps you encourage a friend to come along.

Where to find the Seniors Festival Program

Bushcare Update – Making a Difference!!

By Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader)

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!

Blue Mountains Bushcare welcomes new Bushcare Officer Ed Bayliss

Integral to Bushcare is the strength of our community engagement and leadership and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer Ed Bayliss. Ed will be taking over Stephanie Chew’s Bushcare groups and the Swampcare Program.

Ed has hit the ground running and you may have already met him on site with our experienced Bushcare Officers. Having grown up in the Blue Mountains, Ed has a good understanding of the threats facing our local flora and the particular issues our local community is dealing with.

He has a keen mind for landscape restoration in particular creekline restoration and is currently working towards Environmental Management and Water Sensitive Design degree. You may well have seen or worked with Ed on creekline restoration or Bush regeneration projects throughout the Blue Mountains with the Bush Doctor.

Ed said he is very excited to work for the Blue Mountains City Council in Bushcare and with the local community.

Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare Team Leader Sandy Benson said that Ed’s enthusiasm for the conservation of the region’s natural assets and his friendly attitude was a brilliant addition to the Bushcare team.
Please welcome Ed to the Bushcare family.

Farewell to Bushcare Champion

Eric Mahony Bushland Operations Coordinator, long time supporter and previous Bushcare Team Leader will be resigning from Blue Mountains City Council to take up work with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) in Lithgow, working on biodiversity conservation projects.

Eric Mahony in the field discussing plans with volunteers

Eric worked for the BMCC in the 1990’s with community volunteers undertaking  Bushcare and Landcare programs in conserving and restoring our Blue Mountains bushland, which has been a point of great pride and satisfaction for him. Since then the program has shown what can happen when the community and Council work together, and the significant and lasting environmental outcomes, that are able to be achieved.

Eric said he will miss the support he has received from many of you both on a personal level, as well as at a program level and wishes everyone well. Hoping that Bushcare continues to have the same level of success into the future in protecting and restoring our precious Blue Mountains bushland as it has done for many years.

“For myself, looking forward, the opportunity to work with LLS staff in what has become my home landscape, Lithgow, having lived there for the last 18 years will present a new and exciting challenge. I will be working on various conservation projects with woodland birds, swamps, Copperwing Butterfly and others in the river systems surrounding Lithgow.

The position will provide an opportunity to reconnect with some of these projects and local community members from when I last worked in Lithgow.

For me, there remains significant  environmental challenges found west of the Blue Mountains in my home landscape of  Lithgow and look forward to the opportunity to be involved in projects with the central west communities to address these” he said.

Bushcare staff and volunteers are sad to see Eric leave as he is a well known figure in the environmental field across the Blue Mountains. Eric will be dearly missed, not just for his environmental knowledge and abilities, but also for his friendship, generosity with his time and commitment to public service.

All the best Eric!

Gully combined day 2018

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

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

Welcome back to another exciting year of Bushcare!

We hope you have had a wonderful holiday season!  Now, it is January and that time when many of us reassess our busy lives and think about what we want to accomplish or do to balance our lives during the next year. With that in mind, here’s to peaceful days on your Bushcare sites with friends.

Here’s hoping that time off over the holiday season has not had too much impact on your Bushcare site. It is inevitable that with the recent storms and heat across the Blue Mountains that your patch may have undergone significant changes while you were gone.

Bushcarers are doing people and would just love to get in there and get the site cleaned up straight away. Stay safe in the hot weather by taking a few precautions:

  • Schedule your workday by weeding in shaded areas
  • Take regular breaks
  • Drink lots of water
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing
  • Pace yourself and rest when you need to
  • Keep an eye on each other for signs of heat exhaustion

We have a fun filled program planned for Blue Mountains Bushcare this year. It is different to previous years with new training courses and workshops in that you will be taking part in to enhance your knowledge of your site and the surrounding catchment, so keep an eye out for these on the Bushcare Website, Gecko and Bulletin.

Looking forward to catching up with you all over the year ahead.

Sandy Benson
Bushcare Team Leader