Photo : Darren Rickett

Ourimbah Landcare Since the year 2000, these landcarers have been restoring the original forest along a 2-km length of creek. They've turned abandoned farmland into a mosaic of rainforest and wetland, with corridors of vegetation that connect to the forested ranges. Current Reports document progress. 
This site is edited by Brian Patterson

Large tracts of Ourimbah Creek's subtropical rainforest were cleared before 1940, although remnants can be seen on the 1941 air photograph.  In the backswamps of the floodplain, the sclerophyll forest of paperbarks and swamp mahogany also suffered by being drained and grazed by cattle. Clearing slowed during World War II, as farm workers were mobilised. After the war, increasing demand for town water resulted in a weir and pumping station being built in 1977. Also, the value of creek vegetation started to be more appreciated, reflected in our Landcare group being formed in 1998. By 2000, we had found this site that was left over from that acquired for freeway construction. Given a licence to care for it, we expanded from fragments of the original rainforest along the creek and isolated trees along field boundaries. Then we planted pioneer species in the open areas, controlled weeds and protected naturally regenerating seedlings. State and federal grants helped us to 

extend the rainforest into the former farmland. By 2018, more than 350 species of native biota were living here, making it a hotspot of local biodiversity.

The Wyong paperbark, Melaleuca biconvexa is a myrtaceous tree of the backswamps, where it often grows with its feet in water. Its characteristic canopy stands out in air photographs. It burns readily and, in the past, fire probably aided its spread by getting rid of rainforest competition. If cut to the ground by fire it sprouts again from suckers that form on the roots.

The magenta lilly pilly, Syzigium paniculatum is another myrtaceous tree with fluffy flowers. It's common along Ourimbah Creek, although rare elsewhere. As one of the least inflammable of trees, it's suitable to plant near your house if you are in a bushfire-prone area. Possums like to sit in its crown to browse on the leaves. This exposes them to being swooped on by powerful owls, so this could be a case where an endangered tree helps to keep an endangered owl well nourished.