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.
It is with a very sad heart that we say goodbye to John. He was dearly loved by his family, cherished by his many friends and his dedication to the community is a loss that will be felt by everyone who had the privilege to know him. I can only imagine part of the loss that his family is feeling and pass on our sincere condolences and support.
I met John many years ago when we teamed up to walk our dogs. I say “our dogs” but really, John was walking his neighbour’s dog as the neighbour did not have time and the dog needed exercise. It was a classic example of the help that John gave without fuss or any strings attached. During these daily walks I not only marvelled at his fitness but also his pride in his family and commitment to the community.
He was a long standing and well regarded member of the Warrimoo Bushfire Brigade. He held many positons in the Brigade and at all times provided non-judgemental support and wise counsel to all members. Many of the members referred to John as “father” as a mark of their respect. The Brigade recognised him as a life member, an award that must be earnt by at least 10 years of meritorious service. John was a more than worthy recipient of this award.
John was an inaugural member of the Cross Street Bushcare and the Long Angle Landcare groups. He regularly attended work days for many years while he was physically able. His dedication and concern for us and the protection of the bushland was appreciated by all. He had a sense of humour that lifted our spirits and we enjoyed his contributions to our conversations at the afternoon tea. We have missed him at the volunteer BBQs held in recent years but still remember his joyous company of past times. I am sure we will continue to contemplate the “good old days” of John’s company of past times for many more years.
There were many other groups that John generously gave his time to. These included the Warrimoo Citizens Association and Warrimoo Tennis Court and Hall Committees. John was also a proud volunteer for the Sydney Olympics. It gave him great satisfaction to reflect on the time that he was the driver for the Israeli athletes and officials. This was a demonstration of John’s character as he enjoyed helping others in need without any expectation of personal reward; the opportunity to help was reward enough.
John and one of his many friends
Many probably do not know that John was also a skilful negotiator. On two occasions, as a result of John’s manoeuvring, I ended up owning dogs that I had not bargained for. On the first occasion after waiting for his chance (it was a well-timed manoeuvre) , John suggested that I take a rescue dog home to see if it would fit into the household. Of course the rest of the story was predictable. On the second, we were at a BBQ and were trying to convince John and Doreen to take on a dog that a family reluctantly had to give up. John was too wily a negotiator for us and when my wife Joan, in frustration said that if no one else wanted the dog we would take it on, he made his move. Before we could change our minds John arranged for the dog to be delivered to us. Of course he knew we were dog lovers and that they would be well looked after. He also knew we were in need of the dogs and so, while he was quick to strike, he also knew that both the dogs and us would benefit from his match making. These ordinary examples of John’s insightful and compassionate nature are a tribute to his character and my fond memories of him.
I have treasured memories of the afternoons that Joan, Doreen, John and I spent relaxing on his porch in pleasant conversation while watching the happenings in the street. John would occasionally greet passers-by and some would call in to catch up. John loved Warrimoo and was surrounded by many dear friends who have had the good fortune to have a shared the life of a modest, genuine, caring man.
To respect John’s legacy, we should strive to continue with his high standards of commitment, compassion, practical help and loyalty that was at all times willingly volunteered. This is the very least that we can do to honour a very dear mate.
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 email@example.com or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.
Active volunteer with Links view Landcare and Bush Place Bushcare, Beth has been involved in Bushcare for 2 years starting initially with Links view Landcare then joining Bush place Bushcare group at its inception. Beth spends the second Saturday of the month out in the field with these 2 groups and whilst studying Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management online Beth has found these Bushcare days a valuable source of knowledge, inspiration and bush comradery.
Garnering different perspectives visions and practical experience enables a broad base for Beth’s studies. She has also been involved with the Bushcare Boosters program and grass seed collecting and sorting workshops. She has a passion for botany and seems to find an interesting plant every work day which she will enthusiastically share with the groups.
Once her children are all in school Beth will find work in the conservation and land management field, so she can feel fulfilled in her work and give back to the community she calls home.
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.
It is never a surprise that so many of our Bushcare volunteers are stand-out community members, not only for their commitment to caring for the bush but also for caring about their community, and 2017 is no exception. Four of our long-term volunteers received Senior Citizens Awards this year.
PAUL VALE is a very dedicated volunteer. He is an active member of the following Bushcare groups:
Popes Glen Bushcare Group
Centenary Reserve Bushcare Group
Upper Kedumba Creek Bushcare Group
In addition, he’s involved in Swampcare and participates in many Bushcare events and workshops, usually generously acting as photographer. He is also the current Convenor of the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network, represents the Network on the Popes Glen Remediation Committee, is the Bushcare Officer for the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Conservation Officer of Blue Mountains Bird Observers, the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network Representative and a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Sydney Landcare Network. And somewhere in all that, he finds time for ongoing care of Blackheath Memorial Park.
ROGER WALKER is a hardworking and dedicated volunteer with the Leura Cascades Bushcare Group. He is also a long-standing and active member of the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Group. Roger has also been the Secretary for the Leura Home Garden Club for about five years. He has been volunteering in the gardens at Everglades since 2008. At Everglades, he also volunteers as a garden guide for tour groups and helps with front-of-house operations during festivals and events.
ERST CARMICHAEL is a very kind, generous and community-minded person, always willing to assist anyone where she can. She founded and was very involved with Friends of Lawson Action Group (FLAG) in the mid-nineties until approximately 2002 (a sub-group of CORE – Coalition of Residents for the Environment). Erst also helped establish the Association of Concerned Mid-Mountains Residents (ACMMR) and was very active in that organisation from approximately 2007 until just recently.
Erst founded the South Lawson Park Bushcare Group in 1995 and has been the convenor from that time. She has regularly participated in Streamwatch at South Lawson since 2005.
RAE DRUITT was a founding member of the Wentworth Falls Lake Bushcare Group in 1988, and has been its Coordinator since its inception, ie 19 years. The WFLBG meets twice a month, on the second Tuesday for two hours in the afternoon, and on the fourth Saturday for three hours in the afternoon. She has been awarded a BMCC Bushcare Hard Yakka Award and was also a founder member of Sublime Point Bushcare Group back in 1996. She was a volunteer at the Native Plant Nurseries (one in Blackheath, 1995-2005, and one in Lawson, 1998-2005) of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, during which time the Society grossed over $270,000.
Rae was one of the first Volunteers at the Cultural Centre when it opened in November 2012, and still works there on Tuesday mornings at the Front Desk. Rae also put in several years of volunteering at the Zig Zag Railway looking after the gardens and building a bush track (with information about native plants) for visitors.
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!