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.
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.
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”.
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.
from left to right Sandy Benson, Lyndal Sullivan and Matthew Chambers
Lyndal Sullivan, our dedicated, long-time, loved Bushcare Officer, has retired explore a life of rest and relaxation. Those of you who know Lyndal know that isn’t exactly true; she has lots of plans, and I am sure that whoever she shares her time with will be happy to have such a wise and knowledgeable woman on hand.
Lyndal had been with Bushcare for March 2008 in 10 years and has achieved an enormous amount. Her involvement in implementing the Swampcare, Great Grose weed walk and the remote program, as well as completion of numerous grant projects, are a few of her major achievements.
Lyndal began as a dedicated and passionate Bushcare volunteer has also represented Katoomba Creek and was awarded legendary status in 2003. Those who know Lyndal would agree she is passionate about environmental management and conservation. She has been extremely dedicated and hardworking, and will be missed by the Bushcare team. We all wish her well in the next chapter of her life.
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.
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
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.