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Report for 15 February 2018 Meeting

Eucalyptus robusta regrowth
Our Landcare group cares for two endangered ecological communities. The first is lowland rainforest of the North Coast and Sydney basin, whose southern limit is the Hawkesbury River. This has survived on the fertile soils of the southern half of our site and is actively colonising the rest, wherever soils are suitable. Before European settlement, rainforest occupied the rich flood plains of Ourimbah, Wyong and Dora creeks. It was some of the first forest to be cleared, because it provided the best agricultural land of the area.

The other community is swamp sclerophyll forest of the Sydney basin. We have this regenerating in swampy areas that are less fertile. Saplings of the key tree species, swamp mahogany Eucalyptus robusta and the paperbark Melaleuca biconvexa are shown side by side in the photo. Once, this swamp forest occupied much of the coastal plain of the Central Coast. It wasn't cleared wholesale as the rainforest was, but it was progressively eaten into by years of grazing, drainage works, ringbarking, and annual burning. Then it was hit by urbanisation.

On our site, volunteer efforts to protect these two communities received new impetus when the M1 freeway was built. The site reverted to public ownership, and the freeway became a barrier to urban expansion. It effectively fenced in the surviving rainforest and swamp forest. Our work to expand both forest types allows fungi, frogs, birds and mammals to come back to this protected area. That's why we have to keep removing weeds that prevent regeneration, protect native seedlings that appear naturally, collect material for direct seeding, and grow key species up for planting. And we need ongoing grant support. Grants allow us to pay for contracted bush regeneration and the many additional helps that make the regeneration strategies more efficient. Then, these two endangered communities will become self-sustaining on our Landcare site.

Diary 20 Nov Acacia irrorata seed collection. 22 Nov Contestable Grants Team visited:Geoff Hudson, Chris Dickson, Michael Dine, Karen Wakely, Des Madden, Tami Partridge, introduced by Stephen Hardy. 24 Nov Rainforest Identification Workshop with Gwen Harden. 7 Dec Risk assessment by Penny Pinkess (CCC). Direct seeded A. irrorata on Birdsnest track. 14 Dec Christmas Landcare lunch at the Vollers house. 11 Jan Cumberland Bird Observers visit. Bushland Management planted 50 swamp mahogany. 15 Jan welcome to new member Mary-Anne Millington. 20 Jan Mystery planter Jason Shaver on site, may join group. 22 Jan Funeral of Landcarer Alan Browne. 30 Jan 60 tubes swamp mahogany sown. 2 Feb Birdsnest Track planted.

Report for 16 November 2017 Meeting

Homes for mites. If an animal is threatened by something coming to eat it, it can run away. Plants can't do that, so they have evolved all kinds of protective devices. One of our trees makes tiny homes that help protect it. The photo below shows them magnified on the underside of the tree Endiandra discolor
They are so characteristic that many people call this the domatia tree, a kind of botanical Latin for "homes tree". They've been found to house mites, tiny eight-legged creatures that are closer to ticks than to insects. They are predatory mites, benefitting the tree by eating other kinds of mites that suck sap from the leaves. Greenhouse tomato growers suffer from these sap-sucking mites because they become resistant to pesticides. So some growers routinely introduce populations of predatory mites that eat the sap-sucking ones. By producing domatia, our tree does something similar.

Diary. 16 Sep Mystery planters Jason & Shelley visited. 24 Sep Swamp mahoganies(53) potted in tubes. 28 Sep Anne Craig visited to see trees planted by Don Craig (see last report). Nikki Bennetts (CCC) to discuss biconvexa work. 12 Oct Ken Brookes visited to discuss nest box placement. 19 Oct New volunteer Nora Salter welcomed. 26 Oct Storm brings trees down over road. 7 Nov Another tree down. 10 Nov Anna Deegan (CCC) to discuss biconvexa work.

Report for 14 September 2017 Meeting 

Trees may produce millions of seeds over their lives. However, the number of seedlings that eventually mature must average out close to one. Less than one, that species becomes extinct. If it achieves more than one for a limited period, it becomes a serious weed. Over the short term, we can exploit this to increase the number of any one of the species on our site, by sowing just a few of the astronomical numbers of seeds or spores that the plant produces. But to do it successfully, you must give different species different treatments. 

Group 1 Dry seeds.  For example, native frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) and red cedar (Toona ciliata) seeds develop inside fleshy green pods. But to become useful seeds, they have to dry out. Once dried, they can be sown in moist soil and they will germinate within a couple of weeks or so. But... there are other dry seeds that will stubbornly refuse to germinate. They will just sit in the ground doing nothing, often for many years. Most wattle seeds behave like this. Each seed has a hard shell that doesn't let water in. But a quick douse with boiling water, followed by cold, fixes the problem. It makes the seed coat permeable to water, so that the seed germinates normally.

Group 2 Seeds in Fleshy Fruits. These have to be extracted from the flesh and washed. The fruit prevents germination.  The plant has to produce chemicals that stop their seeds germinating in the fruit.  This is the reason why it’s recommended that you scrape the flesh off fruits and wash the seeds that you've extracted. A short cut is to gather the seeds that have been eaten by birds. After they’ve passed through their gizzards and guts the seed has been washed clean of any germination inhibitors. This works very well for bangalow palms as well as for cryptocarias, both of which have flesh that’s difficult to remove.

Group 3 Short-lived Seeds.  Some trees produce green seeds that never dry out. If they do, they die. For instance, lilly pillies, brush cherry, guioas and cryptocaria seeds have to be extracted from their fruit and sown straight away. The lilly pillies also take a month or so to develop shoots above ground. One way of adapting to this is to mix their extracted seeds with moist compost, put the mixture in a big pot and keep it moist until little shoots appear from the seeds near the surface. For lilly pilly, this may be as much as three months. Then the germinated seeds and soil can be tipped out and the seedlings potted up before their roots get too intertwined.

Group 4 Spores. These are produced on the underside of fern fronds, released from the brown patches called sori. If you put the fern frond on a piece of white paper and leave it overnight, the brown spores will fall onto the paper and make a pretty pattern. Then, if you dust the spores over moist soil, they will germinate. This is really easy to do but, for best results, you need to attend to two details. First, it's important to use sterilised soil or compost. Put the compost in a take-away-food container and heat to boiling in the microwave oven with the lid just lightly on. After cooling the soil, dust the spores lightly over the surface. The sterilisation ensures that they won't be crowded out by the thousands of other spores that drift in on the breeze. Keep the containers in filtered light, with the lid on. The next point is that the plants that germinate won't look like the fern you got the spores from! They will look more like little liverworts, as in the photo. However, if you spray this green growth lightly from time to time, some microscopic sex will go on. Sperms will swim from a male to a female part. This is the activity that engenders fern plants shown emerging from the liverwort-like bits. Usually a great many of them.

Here they are - in this case stagshorn (elkhorn to some) ferns Platycerium bifurcatum 

Diary 17 July New member Brenda Haynes welcome! New secretary Robyn Nutley welcome! 27 July Botanical author Gwen Harden visited with Dan Keating (LLS). 3 August Jon Pike injured back inspecting nestbox. 10 August Student Kahla Butler welcome! 16 August Dan Keating (LLS) inspected Freeway shoulder work. 28 August Dead bandicoot identified as long-nosed, the commonest local species. 29 August Contractor Damien photographed sugar glider family in nestbox (Pine Tree Corridor). 1 September Discovered illegal clearing of Council land at Big Bend - photographed damage. 4 September Letter to Council General Manager re land clearing. 13 September Contractor Damien donated Acacia prominens for potting and logs for nest boxes. 

Report for 13 July 2017 Meeting 

Don’s heritage  A key initiator and energiser of our Landcare project, Don Craig, died on 28 June. Back in the year 2000, after having managed the Laycock Theatre in Gosford for several years, Don turned his immense drive and imagination to this Landcare group. He found that the RTA had land that stretched for about a kilometre along Ourimbah Creek, with patches of remnant rainforest, and he negotiated for the group to take over its care. Many of the trees he planted are now forest specimens.

The photo shows him on a return visit in 2011 from another of his successful projects, creating wetland habitat at the Pioneer Dairy. 

Don Craig

Paperbarks and swamp mahogany stands  Like Winston Churchill, Don would urge "action this day", and never mind the weather. Some hundred or so wattles (Acacia maidenii) donated by Sydney Rainforest Nursery were planted in pouring rain, trees that soon were protecting self-sown rainforest seedlings from damage by frost and sun. Hundreds more seedlings of our endangered paperbark Melaleuca biconvexa went in wherever water persisted after floods. His plantings of swamp mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) are now providing us with seed for a new generation of trees, a growing reminder that, without Don, our project would never have started.

Diary 18 May Stephen Hardy (Env Trust) requested photo record. 23 May Brian attended Swift Parrot workshop. 29 May Direct seeded (spored?) tree fern in Palm Creek. 19 June Adam Castles (CCC) discussed road herbicide. 23 June News that RMS considering using site as offset for M. biconvexa loss at Lisarow. 24 June Adam Castles sprayed road. 27 June Jeremy Durward (RMS) with environmental consultants on site to assess M. biconvexa areas for offset. 13 July Annual General Meeting.

Report for 11 May 2017 Meeting
Moth vine was once an exotic plant that grew harmlessly in the forests of southern Brazil.  But, around 1811, a Portuguese administrator in Brazil started a botanical garden. He collected local plants and sent seeds of them to botanical gardens around the world. He distributed pretty things like lantana and moth vine, which are now so familiar to us. Moth vine seeds and plants are still offered for sale to gardeners - a plant will cost you £5 in England or $3.95 in the US. Selling it in NSW and Queensland is banned, however. 
The parasol mushroom pictured here was from Pine Tree Corridor, growing in the track from where Tony removed the barbed wire and privet. Fungi like this one break down plant debris. They set free the nutrients in the dead plant material. If it weren't for them, green plants would find it harder to grow. Some fungi have more intimate relationships with green plants. The hyacinth orchids that grow here depend on one such association.
Trees and orchids that feed on fungi  This site's hyacinth orchids only grow under the big blue gums. They interact with the roots of these trees and, more directly, with the fungus that grows around the tree roots. The gum tree helps the fungus grow by giving it some of the carbohydrate that it makes by photosynthesis. In return, the fungus feeds the tree with minerals that it needs. It acts as a kind of extended root system.  

The hyacinth orchid exploits this eucalyptus/fungus relationship by joining up with the fungus. It feeds on the carbohydrate that the eucalypt has transferred to it, in a three-way relationship. While the tree and the fungus are helping each other to grow, the hyacinth orchid seems to be just a free loader. It's a parasite on the fungus and, indirectly, on the eucalyptus. That's why the only place it can grow is within the root zone of eucalyptus trees. It doesn't need to have leaves that photosynthesise, because the gum tree does the job for it. The web article The strange and wonderful mycoheterotrophs gives many more examples of plants that have adopted this form of parasitism.

Diary 20 Feb storm blew down branches of swamp mahogany, yielding many seeds. 27 Feb rescued birdsnest ferns and stagshorns from fallen wattle. 12 Mar 14 visitors from Aust Plant Soc. 16 Mar working bee cancelled because of flood. 21 Mar Samantha Willis with 8 schoolchildren for Waterwatch. 30 Mar torrential rain stopped work at 11.30 am. 4 Apr black bittern photographed at Palm Creek crossing. 6 Apr barred frog spawn in veg above billabong photographed. 12 Apr Tony and Brian attended Chem Certification course. 13 Apr Penny (CCC) delivered knee pads, arm sleeves and spray. 4 May Dan Keating (LLS) and Damien Moey (Bangalow) visited to inspect and plan future work. 6 May 2 birdwatchers showed photo of noisy pitta, a new resident species.

Report for 9 February 2017 Meeting

Nurturing new forest

Pencil cedar, red ash, white cedar, kangaroo vine, euodia, treefern, bleeding heart and sandpaper fig in our nursery                                                    

Assisting natural regeneration 
From 2000 to 2005 we planted thousands of tiny wattles and other pioneer trees from tubes. They grew up and gave shelter for seedling trees to come up naturally. Their seeds were brought in by birds that eat the fruits of rainforest trees. Birds and the native forest depend on each other - as the forest thickens, so the birds are able to spread it further and make even more habitat for themselves. 

Drought and microclimate Back in the year 2000, our strategy was to turn the fields at the south end of the site into forest as quickly as we could. It worked out in the end but, at the time, we had a few knock backs. The biggest problem was the record drought that began in 2003, with dry summers and clear, frosty winters. Just keeping new plants alive was very labour-intensive. All the same, every passing year saw more and more native trees coming up. The plantings protected the natural regeneration against frost and sun and they hosted more birds. The birds did their job of spreading seed ever more efficiently.  

Why we're still planting Around the original patches of rainforest that survive along Ourimbah Creek, there's a big selection of species spreading outwards. However, further from the creek, you see smaller numbers and fewer species. New plantings help to diversify these areas. Easily said, but then we have to water them through dry spells and fence them off from hungry wallabies.

 10 Nov Penny (CCC) delivered 12 star posts, insect repellent, 5 handsaws + spare blades, gloves. 4 Dec met fisherman Daniel in car, with key. 7 Dec Dan Keating (LLS) shown over site with John Hogan, Gen Manager & Nikki McGrath, Communications. 8 Dec Nikki Bennetts (CCC) & David Bain (LLS) inspected M. biconvexa stands. 12 Dec Christmas get-together at Tony & Kay's place. 13 Dec shared Xmas cake with our contractors on site. 5 Jan First workday. 26 Jan Former Greencorps worker Luke visited, worked with Gecko, currently Groundsman at Palmdale Crematorium. 8 Feb Golden-crowned snake seen by Annie today.

Report for 10 November 2016 Meeting

Red-bellied blacks and other snakes 

Ideal home The red bellied black is one of our commoner snakes. We often find one basking in the sun. Our site is ideal habitat, because there are plenty of frogs to feed on. It will also eat baby black snakes, and Wikipedia has a photo of it eating the eggs of the green tree snake. Have a look at Tony's video, taken 1 Nov 2016.

How dangerous is it? Black snake venom has some components that have nasty effects if they get into your bloodstream. One of them attacks red blood cells, bursting them and liberating their haemoglobin. Others attack nerves and muscles, causing paralysis, while another causes blood to curdle. Fortunately, black snakes are rather timid. They will strike if sufficiently provoked, but they don't inject much venom when they do.

What to do if you are bitten It can help treatment if you identify the snake. This is why most advice recommends not washing or cleaning the bite of venom, because that can help with identification. Black snake bites haven't been recorded as killing anyone. However, the effects are unpleasant and symptoms can be reduced by an injection of antivenom. First, it's best to bind the limb firmly over the bite with a roller bandage from the first-aid kit, but not so tightly as to obstruct blood flow. One source recommends it to be about the tightness you would use to support a sprained ankle. Then you need to have someone get you to the nearest public hospital, where you will most likely be injected with tiger snake antivenom. Apparently this is more effective than the specific antivenom to black snake at reducing symptoms.

Small-eyed snake This is a little slate-grey snake which is only active at night. We've found it a couple of times on our site in winter, hibernating under thick cardboard put down as a mulch. Although it's very retiring and not nearly so big and impressive as a black snake, it has bitten snake handlers and caused unpleasant symptoms.

Other poisonous snakes Although they haven't yet been recorded on our site, there are three other snakes that could well be here. These are potentially more dangerous than either the black or small-eyed kinds. They are brown snake, king browntiger snake and death adder. Collectively, they provide good reason for wearing substantial footwear and leg covering in the bush.

Innocuous snakes We also have at least three other snakes: diamond python, green tree snake and blind snake. The last one is possibly the commonest although it stays mostly underground. It has such a small mouth that it's difficult to see how it could bite. But the bigger non-venomous snakes can bite, and you hear scary stories of pythons not letting go.

Some statistics Over the whole of Australia, some 3,000 or so people get bitten by a snake in a given year. Of these, about 500 get antivenom. Out of the 3,000, there are one or two deaths, which is about the same as the death rate from bee stings. Horses, cattle and dogs each cause many more deaths in Australia than do snakes.

 12 Sep, Brett Sherah, Manager Open Space, Nikki Bennetts and Penny Pinkess (CCC) visit. 13 Sep, Dan Keating brought two visitors from NSW Dept of Environment. 10 Oct Daniel Keaughran-Graus (former Green Corps worker on site) brought material to repair signage. 14 Oct, Penny Pinkess delivered 700 nets, 500 stakes. 17 Oct, Damien Moey took photo of bee comb in nest box. 31 Oct, Penny Pinkess delivered 3 bundles atakes, 2 bundles nets. Dan Keating (LLS) inspected completed Year 1 of 3 work on freeway shoulder. Tony recorded black snake video

Report for 8 September 2016 Meeting
Fauna Survey
Ourimbah nightlife In June our site was surveyed for fauna over several days and nights. The photo shows one of our wombats captured on automatic camera. The glowing eyes to the rear of the wombat were identified as belonging to a black rat by the survey team, which was under the direction of Garon Staines and paid for by the Central Coast Council.
Wombat at Palm Grove Ourimbah Creek LandcareHair tubes These are lengths of PVC pipe that are baited with peanut butter, fish sauce, vanilla essence, honey and rolled oats. This yummy mixture is designed to attract as wide a variety of animals as possible. In getting to the food, the animal leaves a few hairs on double-sided sticky tape. From our site, hairs of echidna, antechinus, house mouse, and swamp rat were identified. 
Three new frogs  We already had ten species of frog previously recorded for our site. By making sound recordings through the night, Garon was able able to identify three additional species - Verraux's tree frog, the whirring tree frog and the dusky toadlet. This brings the total frog numbers on our site to 13, making us something of a biological hotspot for amphibians.
Bat calls recorded Another technique was used for bats. Their high-frequency calls are beyond the range of human hearing but, by electronically recording them through the night, they can be compared as an audiogram with known species. As a result, we now have records for the chocolate wattle bat, the eastern bentwing bat and the little bentwing bat - the last two are endangered species.
Diary 21 July Penny Pinkess (CCC) delivered Roundup. 28 July Penny Pinkess came with extra tree guards and daily diary. 29 July funding submission to Central Coast Council. 2 August Robyn Urquhart (TAFE) with 4 students, 3h. 3 August Brian gave talk about site to Ourimbah Region Residents Assn. 11 August Ken Brookes visited to inspect eroded road section. 22 August road repaired by Council. 29 August Fauna Survey Report received from CCC. 1 September separate visits from Nikki Bennetts with plant guards (CCC) Ken Brookes (CCC) and Christy Woolcock (Tentacle Inc).

Report for 14 July 2016 Meeting

Frost controls survival. Freezing temperatures are only a problem in cleared areas. Under trees, temperatures stay higher, because the trees store heat from the day in their trunks, while their leafy canopy stops infrared radiation taking heat from the ground. Without that canopy, the ground is free to radiate into the cold of outer space. Rainforest seedlings are cut back by frost, so they can only regenerate after frost-resistant trees have established a protective canopy. One such hardy tree is water gum, Tristaniopsis laurina. The photo shows its leaves outlined by frost crystals on a cold morning - when they melt in the sun, the leaves don't show any damage. In contrast, frost cuts seedlings of red ash and cheese tree to the ground. Only years later, when the water gum has grown into a tree, those more delicate seedlings will be able to survive, because by then they will have a protective canopy

In fertile areas, rainforest species grow quicker than water gum, making it relatively rare. But, when there's a frost, it gains an advantage over frost-sensitive species.  Only the fittest survive on those still, cloudless nights, when cold air streams down the valley sides, making open areas white with frost. The sensitive rainforest seedlings are killed, but not water gum. Other hardy species are advantaged in the same way, including several kinds of wattle, brush myrtle, swamp mahogany, the two blue gums and turpentine. As they grow, these hardy trees slowly change the climate at ground level, making it warmer in winter and cooler in summer. And, for many subsequent years, the mix of species in the former open areas will continue to reflect the influence of those cold nights.
Diary. 12 May - Dan Keating (LLS) delivered agreement for initiating 3-year grant to manage M1 shoulder land. 16 May - Wyong Mayor, Doug Eaton and Landcare Coordinator Nikki Bennetts visited for morning tea and to inspect work. 23 May -Kariong School visited for Waterwatch work - 10 students, 2 staff. 31 May to 10 June - Garon Staines (ecologist contracted by Central Coast Council) started monitoring fauna boxes and surrounds with photos, bat recordings & hair traps. 22 June - arranged for Council to pick up garbage dumped near southern entrance.

Report for 9 May 2016 Meeting

Controlling “difficult” weeds. Sixteen years ago, we committed to keep all our weeds on site. We did this although some bushcare groups routinely “bagged” weeds such as trad and put them in the garbage collection. Back then, landfill sites could scarcely cope with the increasing amounts of Central Coast garbage. This led us to tell our grant providers that we would recycle plant nutrients on site and not put our weeds into landfill. Since then, the garbage problem hasn’t got any better. Meanwhile, we went on to integrate nutrient recycling with on-site disposal, as explained below.

Making weeds safe. The theory was to find the weakest point of each weed and then devise an effective disposal strategy. For instance, our trad doesn’t set seed, but tiny fragments can sprout and re-infest a cleared area. And so, by putting weeded bits into a corral and spraying them now and again, even trad rots down to a nutritious compost. Roots of native trees then happily grow into it. Trad piles were found useful in other ways. Research on seed development shows that wind-blown seeds, such as those of milk vine, must dry out before they can germinate. Again, theory leads to a strategy: put the unopened fruits under trad in a corral, where they never dry out and where they rot down harmlessly.

Conserving nutrient. As weeds rot, their nutrients return to the soil. This is important, because rainforest needs more nutrient than sclerophyll forest. Experimentally, a red cedar is known to use more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and the like in getting to a given size than a gum tree. Weeds are rich sources of these nutrients, and they’re in precisely the right balance. The photo shows where former weeds have disappeared within the root zone of rainforest trees. The trees had direct access to the nutrients that were released and so they starved the weeds out. 

Diary 11 Mar: group of five Sydney (Lane Cove & Kuringai) bushwalkers shown site. 16 Mar: Wyong paperbark area weeded (in-kind contribution WSC). 31Mar: Member Ian’s 80th birthday celebrated with cake. Nikki & Penny (WSC) delivered 1000 nets, 2000 stakes. 7 Apr: Penny Pinkess (WSC) delivered leather gloves. 11 April: deed of agreement with RMS signed by public officer (Ian) and secretary (Eileen). Lyrebird wrecked species for planting. 12 Apr: delivered deed to RMS, signed by John Francis. 14 Apr: marked RMS border, posts 1 to 10. 21 Apr: new insurance cover copied to John Francis (RMS). 26 Apr: Dan Keating (LLS), Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland Management) & Brian Patterson (Landcare) on site reviewing M1 shoulder work. 2 May: Penny delivered nets & stakes.

Report for 19 March 2016 Meeting

Mounting nestboxes Three members who attended  the "Hollows for Habitat" meeting in February learned a few hints on the best ways to mount nestboxes. This was timely, because the 14 power poles that served the Council water bores have just had the wires taken away and Council had given us 28 nestboxes to mount on them. Bangalow Bushland Management did the necessary ladder work. The boxes were mounted as advised by the experts: around 3 m from ground level and, where possible, facing the evening rather than the morning sun. An owl box was mounted in a swamp mahogany rather than on a pole, so that any owl wouldn't be frightening away smaller creatures. The boxes for ducks were put near water, and the ones for sugar gliders put on poles near tall trees so that gliders had somewhere to zoom down from. 

Wyong Paperbark work The Wyong Paperbark (Melaleuca biconvexa) used to be a common tree on the Central Coast, with our site in the middle of its range. Much of this tree's habitat has been taken over for housing and industrial land, making our stands particularly valuable. Here, Nikki, Ray and Damien are planning the best way to use Wyong Council funds for the conservation of this species. Some of our trees are being crowded out by privet, so Council's offer of helping with that is very welcome. 

Diary 28 Nov frog workshop with 44 people attending. 5 Dec trail bike riders cautioned. 7 Dec two visitors told us they call our site "The Enchanted Forest" 26 Dec a neighbour alerted that the trail bikes back; we warned father/supervisor of 3 children. 6 Jan site flooded. 7 Jan mysterious sulfide smell at North End pipe reported. 12 Jan cake to thank our contractors delivered. 14 Jan Rebecca Dugan brought diaries, net guards, hats. 17 Jan member Al Wagaener's 80th birthday. 22 & 29 Jan overhead wires removed from poles. 9 Feb hollows workshop at Ourimbah Campus attended by Ray, Robyn and Eileen. 13 Feb visiting birdwatcher pointed out crested shrike tit. 15 Feb Nikki (WSC) inspected Wyong Paperbark for work. 16 Feb birdwatcher visiting from Goulburn. Kariong School (12 pupils). 19 Feb nestboxes secured on poles. 25 Feb Penny (WSC) brought nets and stakes - work stopped at 10.30am because of heat. 5 Mar Eileen & Brian attended Landcare Forum at Budgewoi.                                                                     

Report for 12 November 2015 Meeting

Shade lovers  Some woody plants like wattles and turpentine flourish in the sun and fade away in heavy shade. But others shun the sun. Three shrubs that love the shade are white bolly gum, wilkiea and yellow pittosporum.

White bolly gum (Neolitsea dealbata) looks almost like a camphor laurel as a seedling, but it has a different smell and soon develops bigger leaves. It has periodic flushes of growth, producing lovely pink shoots with hanging leaves. Then it rests for a month or so, before producing another flush. Most rainforest trees have specialised insects and they prefer to chew on new, tender shoots. Having a spurt of growth (good for the insects) then a period of no growth (starvation) gives the insects a boom-and-bust time. It stops them from becoming a plague. 

Wilkiea (Wilkiea huegeliana) is another shade lover. In mature forest, it grows below the upper canopy together with white bolly gum. Both have fleshy fruits. These trees and fruit-eating birds like catbirds, bowerbirds and Lewin's honeyeaters depend on each other. The birds disperse the seed to new areas and the trees that result make them more suitable for the birds. Likewise, yellow pittosporum (Pittosporum revolutum) has bright red sticky seeds that birds disperse. All these shade-lovers need larger trees to shelter them.

Where the shade trees come from  Why would birds spread seeds to a new area if it doesn't yet have their food trees? The answer may lie with kangaroo apple. Kangaroo apple is not a shade lover - it needs to be exposed to bright light and that's why it's so important. Clearing the weeds and exposing the soil stimulates kangaroo apple seeds to germinate. The seedlings grow rapidly, because they're fertilised by rotting weeds. By the second year after clearing they are providing a shrubby, fruiting cover. Birds love the fruits of kangaroo apple. They are attracted to them after feeding on the many rainforest fruits along the creek and that's why they come to poop rainforest seeds in the new area.

Shade management plan Clearing weeds works over a three-year management plan.  Year 1 clearing exposes the soil in order to stimulate the germination of kangaroo apples. Year 2 brings in the birds to feed on the kangaroo apple fruits. Year 3 sees the kangaroo apples ageing, while lilly pillies, red ash and all kinds of vines are coming up, brought in by birds. And, as they grow, the saplings create a shady home for white bolly gum, wilkiea and yellow pittosporum.

Diary  21 Sep lyrebird seen on main track, Ray photographed wallaby and joey, echidna wandered by table at morning tea. 22 Sep Dan Keating (LLS) rang to report that RMS agreed to bush regen on border. 1 Oct Nikki Bennetts brought 500 nets and 1000 stakes. 7 Oct Christmas orchid flower spikes coming up. 8 Oct Kate Tuckson (Uni NSW) arranged student project (2 students). 13 Oct BDP interviewed by Kate Tuckson re attitudes of farmers and conservationists. 21 Oct webpage "see the forest grow" updated to include 2015 air photo. 23 Oct Andrew Robinson (Bushland Technical Officer, Kuringgai Council) visited to see progress. 30 Oct Paula Goodwin (legal agreement with RMS) phoned to report that agreement document had been passed to the legal department.

Report for 10 September 2015 Meeting

Just as pumpkins need more fertiliser than lettuces, so different native trees vary in their requirements for nutrients. They can be divided roughly into three groups - 

Most greedy trees. These are all quick-growing rainforest trees that thrive when some disaster causes a gap in the forest. They have to grow fast before the gap closes up. Our best example is pencil cedar (right). On deep, fertile soil, it can grow at a prodigious rate. Other examples are red cedar and white cedar. All of them can survive as scrawny seedlings in mature forest.  Then, should the neighbouring trees die, they quickly shoot up to fill the space.

Moderately greedy trees. These include most of the rainforest trees. Some are pioneers, like red ash, and these are eventually replaced by slower-growing species such as cryptocarias and cabbage palms. They also include the big blue gums and turpentines that regenerate best after a severe bushfire. These trees depend on many kinds of fungi that grow as a sheath around their roots. These fungi pop up now and again as toadstools. The fungi are more efficient than the tree at extracting the fertilising element phosphorus from the soil and they transfer it to the tree. In return, the tree supplies the fungi with sugars to grow on. We have a few places with hyacinth orchids. They steal the carbohydrate that's being supplied by the gum trees to the fungi. They're parasites, so they don't need any extra fertiliser or even leaves!

Least greedy trees. This group is a big one in Australia. They can grow on soils so poor as to be useless for agricultural crops unless fertiliser is added. The different species vary in their ability to grow on infertile sites. At the higher end, wattles transform nitrogen gas from the atmosphere to make their own nitrogenous fertiliser, although they do need small amounts of phosphorus. At the other end of the scale are the various banksia species. They are exceptionally efficient at extracting whatever tiny amounts of phosphorus can be got out of the soil. They live with microorganisms on their roots to help them do this. The level of phosphorus that is needed just to keep a pencil cedar growing is far too much for a banksia - it will choke on it and die.

These differences are important for rainforest regenerators, because weeds, whether privet, tobacco bush or black nightshade, are an invaluable resource, full of plant nutrients. Wattles don't need them, because soil and the air already supply wattles with more than they need. But greedy trees like the pencil, red and white cedars love to be mulched with weeds. As these rot, they liberate nutrients that will make the trees accelerate their growth, just as they do in mature rainforests where the surrounding trees have died.

Diary 9 July AGM and photo. 16 July 4 tonnes Bluemetal delivered by WSC. 20 July Vanessa Keyser visited (LLS) re grant proposal on RMS border. 27 July New member Robyn Nutley. 29 July Visit by Paula Goodwin (RMS Property Management), John Francis (RMS Roadside Maintenance), David Green (LLS) and Dan Keating (LLS) re grant proposal on RMS border. 6 August Group risk assessment with Penny Pinkess (WSC). 20 August Nikki Bennetts (WSC) delivered 500 plant guards & 1,000 stakes. 22 August Conducted 8 Joeys from Ourimbah Scouts around site with 2 supervisors. 3 Sep Samantha Willis (Water Watch) inspected creek bank for Year 10-12 students. 7 Sep ANSTO scientists checking tritium levels in well water to determine its age.

Report for 9 April 2015 Meeting

At the northern end of our site large-leaf privet is still producing seedlings. They are difficult to distinguish from seedlings of canthium (Cyclophyllum longipetalum), a native species that grows as a shrub or small tree in the understorey of the rainforest. 

Canthium has a distinctive node, where the leaves join the stem. The opposite leaves are all in the same plane. In addition there are two tiny leaflets between the big ones. In fact canthium has four leaves at each node, although two them are very small, as the magnified image shows.

 Privet, on the other hand, has opposite leaves with each whorl at right angles to its neighbours. And, as the magnified image shows, there is no tiny leaflet between the two large opposite ones.

Fortunately, you don't have to carry a microscope around to tell privet from canthium. If you tear a privet leaf into two halves, the upper skin of the leaf detaches readily from its lower skin. In contrast, the canthium leaf tears equally across both upper and lower skins.

Canthium has been christened "sweet Susie" presumably because of the strong perfume that the white flowers give off. The flowers develop orange fruits at this time of the year - reputed to be edible.

Diary 13 Feb Bird photos from Colette Livermore. 2 Mar Nicole Worrall and Liz More (Ourimbah School Landcare) visited. 3 Mar Robyn Urquhart (TAFE) with 6 students for plant ID. 4 Mar surveyed Transect 2. Penny Pinkess delivered 400 net guards and 500 stakes. EOI for freeway border work submitted to Vanessa Keyser (LLS).

Report for 12 February 2015 Meeting

Controlling trad  We have been given some bins that are very convenient when strategically placed in places we need to weed. Here is Ian making sure that light doesn’t get in through the lid to allow the trad to grow. On a larger scale, Penny from Wyong Council has given us some sediment-control cloth. This is to make corrals where trad is deposited. Here it can be sprayed with herbicide without fear of inadvertently spraying native seedlings.
Weed germination While trad fortunately doesn’t set seed, weeds like nightshade and Brazilian fireweed have seeds that stay in the soil for years. They are “asleep”, but can germinate when conditions suit them, that is, when a dense canopy of privet is killed. Botanists have spent years in finding out three of the conditions that tell the seed when to wake up.

1: The seeds sleep as long as the day and night temperatures of the soil stay nearly the same. That's the case under dense privet. When the night temperature of the soil is different to the day, it's a signal for the seed to germinate. That corresponds to the canopy being opened up.

2: Seeds need light to make them wake up. Red light wakes them and near infra-red light sends them back to sleep. Opening up the forest gets more of the wake-up light mixture to the ground.

3: The fertiliser nitrate works too. When privet is killed, fungi and bacteria release nitrate, which stimulates germination.
The overall result is that soil can be full of seeds of these short-lived weeds and, as long as a forest canopy is there, they stay asleep. That helps to explain why many of the weeds that grow up while the native forest is establishing itself become less of a problem later, when a canopy has grown over.

Diary.  13 Nov Ken Brookes (WSC) brought printouts of historic air photographs showing progress since 1998. 15 Nov group of 8 birdwatchers from Sydney visited. 17 Nov member Ken Frazer's funeral. Penny Pinkess (WSC) delivered 20l Roundup. 21 Nov David Green (LLS) phoned to report on his attempts to contact RMS re privet on freeway shoulder, but no meeting arranged yet. 3 Dec contacted Penny Pinkess re defective lock on Rest Area access gate. 2 members Attended Wycare Christmas party. 10 Dec lock reported to be fixed. 18 Dec Penny Pinkess delivered cloth for weed corral construction. 20 Dec David Green (LLS) reported that a meeting with John Francis (RMS Mardi Depot) will be arranged for January 2015. 5 Jan Latham's snipe sighted near Black Rock Pond. 23 Jan 4 members attended Australia Day award nominees dinner at WSC.

Report for 13 November 2014 Meeting 

Our oldest member, Ken Frazer (1930-2014) died suddenly on Monday 10 November. Active to the last, he was at the Ourimbah Creek cricket match the day before.

Wattle Corner and the Duck Pond Ken had told us how the field north of the tea table on the Landcare site used to grow beans in the 1940s. He earned some useful cash in his teenage years helping with their harvest. What we call the Duck Pond came in useful as a source of water to wash the beans before they were sent to market. The left-hand photo shows Ken aged 23, the right hand one as we knew him, photographed at our AGM.

Diary  11 Sep Penny Pinkess delivered 28 nestboxes for the power poles and, on 15 Sep, 50 plant guards.  25 Sep Paul Watson (WSC) visited to say bore wires to be removed. Ausgrid employee met using site for lunchtime exercise. 9 Oct 3 Newcastle Uni students using us for their degree projects. Penny Pinkess delivered 1500 bamboo stakes, 150 nets, 12 plastic star posts and tools.

Report for 11 September 2014 Meeting 

Coral fungus This brilliant splash of orange grew out of a pile of privet sticks, encouraged by our damp autumn. Coral fungi are a diverse group that can be white, pink or purple as well as orange. These are the fruiting bodies that liberate dust-like spores which the wind disperses.  Presumably the fungus continues to grow, feeding on the wood that its rotting and long after the fruiting body has disappeared.

Spring flowers are really here now, with Gosford wattle, golden wattle, sassafras and clematis all out.

Diary  21 July stray German shepherd dog found on site. 29 July Robyn Urquart came with 12 TAFE students. 5 August sent request for $2,500 funding from Wyong Council. 11 Aug Ken Brookes (WSC) brought historic air photos 1998 and April 2014. New board members of Local Land Services inspected site and met members in the evening. 21 Aug Ian rang owner of German shepherd and black dog that are found hunting on site. Left message. Generator and fuel container removed by WSC. 4 Sep Photographers Hilda and Kelly-Anne (WSC) came to photograph the group at work. The photos will be posted on a new Council website illustrating the work of volunteers in the shire.

Report for 10 July 2014 Meeting

Native spiderworts  Trad is a weed because native insects don't feed on it. Here are its four native relatives, which are eaten by insects. They are sometimes mistaken for trad.

Ourimbah Landcare Aneilema, Tradescantia, Pollia species

Little Annie (Aneilema biflorum) is common in our forest, although rarer elsewhere in the region. While it looks quite like trad, its leaves are both shorter and narrower. Its white flowers are also smaller and they come in pairs, as would be expected from the name biflorum.

Narrow-leafed Annie (Aneilema acuminatum) is one of the rarer spiderworts (family Commelinaceae). It doesn't spread as a groundcover. You come across it as isolated plants in shady places but it only makes itself obvious in summer when it produces pretty sprays of white flowers.

Scurvy weed (Commelina cyanea) is more beautiful than its name would suggest, with flowers of an intense blue. It tolerates sun better than other spiderworts and, while common to the point of weediness in some places, dies out in heavy shade.

Pollia (Pollia crispata) is a rare native in our forest. It looks like a giant version of the introduced trad, and likes to grow in much the same conditions of half shade and moisture.

Diary 15 April Obtained 67 water gum plants from Council nursery. 24 April Ken Brookes (Wyong Council) visited to discuss future of Council infrastructure and zoning of our site. 30 April collected a further 44 water gums from Council nursery. 6 May Jennifer Tyson-Davies (Ourimbah Girl Guides) sought advice on planting native trees at Guide Hall. 8 May Jennifer Tyson-Davies visited. 16 May Two members (BDP & EMP) to Macquarie Uni to give presentation on our history (Local Land Services workshop on bush regeneration techniques). 22 May Transect 2 prepared. 26 May Richard Cassels, Joan Cassels (Narara Ecovillage), Robert Payne (ecologist) and Diane Warman (Uni Newcastle) visited to see techniques of weed control. 12 June New member John Pike. 3 July Contractor Damien Moey visited to discuss this year's work plan. 7 July New member Jo Allen. 

Report for 10 April 2014 Meeting

History in air photographs  The two photos show the changes in our Landcare site from 1941 (upper photo) to the latest Google Earth in 2010. Footes Road is outlined in red, with the later addition of the connection to Palmdale dotted. 

Changes in infrastructure have been:

the Council Weir over Ourimbah Creek (extreme right) that provides town water pumped to Mardi Dam 

the M1 Freeway with the Rest Area connected to the Ourimbah turnoff 

several water bores providing additional town water from a deep aquifer under the Ourimbah Creek floodplain.  

We have helped:

restore rainforest remnants (dark patches along the creek in the 1941 photo) expand back onto the floodplain and Wyong paperbark forest, endangered in the area, to expand into wetlands;

biodiversity to increase, with more than 350 native species now recorded in the area.

Diary  17 Feb Ian attended all-day first aid refresher course. 26 Feb 10 TAFE students on study visit. Visit & inspection by Wyong Council staff Maxine Kenyon (Director, Community Services), Nikki Bennetts (Landcare Coordinator), Penny Pinkus (Support Officer). 11 Mar Peter Murray (WSC Roads & Drainage) contacted re entrance access. 15 Mar Terry Downley of Penrose Landcare visited site. 20 Mar Carolyn Jenkinson & Dan Keating (LLS) inspected site progress. 29 Mar 24 members of CC Birding Group visit. 7 Apr Penny Pinkus (WSC) conducted risk assessment.

            Report for 13 February 2014 Meeting 

Rare tree now fruiting The photo shows a seedling tree of the yellow ash, Emmenosperma alphitonioides
. This is a rare tree in our catchment, with only a few original trees surviving along Ourimbah Creek and its tributary Rocky Creek. Every so often, it has a boom year for fruit production. It’s mysterious how different trees somehow coordinate their fruiting in this way. The advantage to the tree is that seed-eating insects aren’t able to build up their numbers year by year, and a smaller proportion is destroyed by them in a boom year. Perhaps it’s a specific weather event that triggers this mass fruiting.

This year was also a boom year for the fruiting of guioa, Guioa semiglauca. The fruit is small, but tastes pleasantly acid, rather like tamarind. Unlike the yellow ash, the seeds die if they are dried, so we sow them immediately after sweeping them up from beneath the tree.

Road as a natural habitat  We have a dirt road running right through our site that we keep clear of fallen trees, but which is progressively developing into a tunnel that is bridged by a rainforest canopy. Blue metal (basalt chippings) keep it from becoming too muddy in wet weather. Brown cuckoo doves and other species of native pigeon often can be seen on the road, eating grit. Under the rainforest canopy the pigeons won’t be so easily seen by hawks, while the basalt grit is rich in many minerals as well as being tough enough to help grind up seeds. Another user of the road is the bassian (or scaly) thrush. Some reports refer to it as “secretive”. On our site it doesn’t seem to avoid people walking along the road, and just runs along a few metres ahead of them. However, it blends in with the leaf litter so effectively that it seems to disappear as soon as it stops between runs. And then, particularly this year, brush turkey chicks like to use the road as they fossick for insects. 

First aid box now animal habitat  When our first aid box was vandalised, we changed it to hold our daily record of working hours. Now, a brown antechinus has taken the box over and will presumably keep it free of any creepy crawlies that might bite us when we take out the record book. It is yet another example of how wildlife can coexist comfortably with infrastructure, as long as suitable native vegetation can be maintained around it.
Diary  11 Dec visit by 29 members of Cumberland Bird Observer’s Club. 17 Dec Wycare Christmas Party. 15 Jan Council slashed around bores, except No 8. 16 Jan gathered and sowed seeds of Guioa semiglauca . 23 Jan Ken Brookes (WSC) visited to discuss maintenance under power lines. 25 Jan Group of 12 from “Follow that Bird”. 4 Feb Council re-graded road to bores. 5 Feb Council lowered water level behind weir for repairs to fish ladder. 

                                                          Report for 14 November 2013 Meeting 

Drought breaks  The drought of the past four months was only relieved by odd showers that never saturated the soil. That’s no bother to larger trees, because they have deep roots that suck up water stored in the floodplain soil. Small seedlings have a harder time, however. We can’t plant seedling trees during dry spells, because we don’t have the time and energy to keep them watered when they are scattered over our large site. But now we suddenly have frontal rain from the so
uth meeting a monsoonal trough from the north dumping thundery showers, and that’s interspersed with more light rain. It’s ideal weather to plant the seedlings like the cedar shown below. It too is at an ideal planting stage, with plenty of roots, but not potbound.

What rainforest and wetland plants like  Since we started planting trees way back in the year 2000, we have been able to learn what is most successful – that each species thrives best if we satisfy its individual requirements. For instance, we have had pencil cedar saplings die where floodwaters have waterlogged their roots, while bangalow palms have grown on unaffected. On the other hand, seedling bangalow palms have suffered far more in periodic droughts and, every winter, we lose some because wombats and wallabies like to eat their succulent hearts. Wyong paperbarks are not harmed by floods, but they don’t like being shaded. This means that they die if they are crowded out by rainforest trees and vines. Paperbarks can grow on poorer soil than rainforest species. And so, paperbarks are good for planting in those low-lying areas where the poor growth of weeds indicates an infertile soil. You wouldn’t put red cedar in places like that. It needs a really fertile soil, is best above flood level and needs to be protected from hard frosts.  Also, it grows best where it does not have to compete with other red cedars. This means that it is an ideal species for scattered planting within thick stands of privet that keep the frost off. As the seedlings grow, the privet can be killed in ever-widening circles around each tree. As the privets die, their roots and shoots are converted into nutrients. In this way, the growing cedar tree gets the fertiliser that it needs to grow way above the dying canopy of privet.

Diary 20 Sep Ken Brookes (WSC) visited to discuss road maintenance. 2 Oct Entrance slip rail lock faulty. Nikki Bennetts and Penny Pinkess (WSC) brought 1500 nets and 1000 stakes for plant protection. 7 Nov Penny came again, this time with 20 litres herbicide and more stakes. 

                                            Report for 11 September 2013 Meeting 

Weed transformed to native habitat  When we first made our shelter and table for morning tea,it was shaded by a large camphor
laurel. Rather than killing it suddenly, we arranged for it to die slowly. As a result, the surrounding trees of euodia (
Melicope micrococca) and lilly pilly (Syzigium smithii) progressively grew into its canopy. The photo shows what it looks like now. The base of the camphor laurel has become a home to both native species and heritage items. At bottom left is a small birdsnest fern (Asplenium australasicum) in a hollow log, with a rasp fern (Doodia aspera) above it. Above the ring bark the bracket fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) has taken hold. Not shown is the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) that amused us during morning tea by seeking out insects in the bark. The fence post that is embedded in the trunk looks as if it might have been split way back, when this was the border of a field that grew beans during the 1940s. The other piece of wood is a part of a bluegum that was cleaved by a lightning strike in 2010.

Border track Weeds along our border with the freeway have now been cleared so that it’s possible to walk along the boundary fence. Beyond the fence there are valuable areas of wetland that we know are home to at least 10 frog species.  It is an important corridor for other animals and plants, as well as being home to vulnerable species such as the Wyong paperbark (Melaleuca biconvexa). The whole system helps to purify the water as it drains from the M1 freeway to Ourimbah Creek. However, it is being invaded by weeds. It would seem to be an area that would respond to joint management as a roadside corridor by the two public authorities, Wyong Council and Roads & Maritime Services (see Diary below).  

Diary  18 July Annual Financial Report sent to Dept Fair Trading. 30 July 12 TAFE students visited for 3 h with Robyn Urquhart. 1 Aug 2 m-long strangler fig established on wattle opposite Bore 9. 8 Aug Uni students Holly and Kate for 2 h. 30 Aug Regional Natl Resource Coordinator Eva Twarkowsky contacted re roadside corridor maintenance. 2 Sep Nikki Bennetts contacted re roadside corridor.                                                                                                  

                                            Report for 11 July 2013 Meeting 

Progress of this years's grant work  Our contractors recently sent in a team to deal with privet near Bore 9. This year they are leaving as much privet as possible standing and killing it by stem injection with Roundup. This makes for slower work than cutting at ground level, but has the advantage that there isn’t so much debris to impede our follow-up weeding. They are still cutting and painting the thinner privet. We volunteers then deal with the mat of privet seedlings and a multitude of other weeds.

Regeneration after privet removal In the areas cleared of privet last year native seedlings have appeared, including red ash, lilly pilly, euodia and palms. There seems to be an increase in swamp wallabies too. Beautiful creatures they are, but they do like to browse on these tender new seedlings. Wyong Council has come to our aid with stakes and mesh guards to protect the young plants, so they should survive through the winter.  

Iron bacteria  The photo shows the bright orange deposit along  of the waterways through our site. This is not pollution, but rather a
deposit of iron oxides – it’s similar to rust. As the ground water feeds into the streams it has iron (together with a bit of manganese) dissolved in it. Specialised bacteria get their energy from oxidising the iron, which then becomes
insoluble, as well as more brightly coloured. This deposit is harmless to drink. However, it would not be welcomed by the people of Gosford and Wyong if it came out of their water taps. For this reason, water engineers add alum salts up at the reservoir to precipitate the iron. As long as they get it nicely balanced, the resulting water should be free of iron and aluminium.

Diary  17 April Steve Lewer (Dept Environment) came to repeat vegetation transects. 19 and 22 April Carolyn Donnelly (Roads & Maritime Services) contacted re possibility of weed control on the freeway side of our site. 2 May Penny Pinkus (Wyong Council) brought stakes, folding saws and bowsaw blades. 7 May students Brooke Gallagher, Holly Woodward, Kate Cato-Symonds, Kate Higgon joined us for volunteer work. Final report of 3-year grant 2010-13 sent to Environmental Trust. Penny Pinkus delivered 3 trowels, 3 folding saws, 3 secateurs, 3 tool belts and 4 kneelers from Wyong Council. 30 May Robyn Urqhhart with 13 students visited for plant identification and spotlighting. 6 June visited Tuggerah Lakes work on north bank of creek. 18 June Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland Management) visited to plan this year’s grant-funded work. 27 June Student Andrew Sargent joined us for work between semesters. Penny Pinkus delivered nets and stakes from Wyong Council.                                                                                                  

 Report for the 11th April 2013 meeting

More new species The recent Frog Workshop (see diary) turned up three new species, the rocket frog Litoria freycineti, the golden crowned snake Cacophis squamulosis and the emperor gum moth Opodiphthera eucalypti. Then Ray found the dead animal in the
photo, which Nikki Bennetts identified as a new species of antechinus for us: Antechinus swainsonii (Dusky antechinus). This is a good deal bigger than the little Antechinus stuartii that we often see. Males of both species rarely last past the spring breeding season and the male in the photo was lucky to have made it into autumn.   


Diary  19 Feb Council sprayer came to spray weeds on road to Council bores. He will return in a few weeks to review progress. Robyn Urquart came with TAFE students. 23 & 24 Feb double flood with site under water. 25 Feb cleaning up after flooding. 5 Mar Carla Whelan (Wyong Council Estuary Management) arranging filmed interview. 7 Mar Kate Cato-Symonds visited to do project on our Landcare group. 11 Mar CMA Creek Meander group visit our site. 12 Mar Phone to Chris Kennedy (Env Trust) – OK to pass over $1,400 of 6 yr grant to next year. 12 Mar New species antechinus found.13 Mar Regent Bower bird bathing at lean-to water tub. Jenny & Joe Ekman (Horticultural Research Newsletter) visit in regard to article on our site. 18 Mar Samantha Willis visit to discuss frog survey. Central Coast Woodturners took block of fallen wattle. 21 Mar Rebecca Dugan (Wyong Council) visit to do Risk Assessment. Brought 150 short nets. 23 Mar Frog Workshop on site 4.30 – 9.00 pm. Three new species discovered.      

Report for 14 February 2013 Meeting 

Wattles to fertiliser  One of the oldest wattle trees on our site has finally collapsed at Deb’s 

Ditch. This was already a gnarled old tree when we started work in 2000. Wattles fix atmospheric 

nitrogen, just as other legumes like clover and peas do. This is released when a fallen wattle 

starts to rot, so that all the nearby trees benefit from a dose of fertiliser and put on a spurt of 

growth. The fallen tree was a Maiden’s wattle, Acacia maidenii. It was named after the Director of 

the Sydney Botanic Gardens (1896-1924). He was one of the first people to champion the use of 

Australian trees in lessening the effects of floods, among many other achievements. 

Another new species
Until the fallen wattle was cleared from the road, we didn’t realise that its 

upper branches supported a thriving community of an epiphyte - the rock felt fern, Pyrrosia 

rupestris (see photo right).  This is the first record of this species on our site, although it probably grows somewhere high in the branches of other trees. 

Ferns from spores  The recent showery weather will also help the other two epiphytic ferns that 

we have. These are the birdsnest fern and the elkhorn. Of the two, the birdsnest is easier to spot, 

because its spores germinate in the more humid and shady areas and therefore closer to 

eyelevel. Most of our elkhorns are tens of metres above the ground on the big old trees that line 

Ourimbah Creek. 

Welcome our new member   Elana Turner, shown here getting stuck into weed control!

Diary  12 Nov Ken Brookes visited to discuss Council Infrastructure fire regulations. 

Environmental Trust approved M&E plan. 22 Nov Samantha Willis visited to plan Frog Survey; 

Margaret and Frank Turner and Tony Voller visited to discuss weed control along their boundary 

and Brian Patterson demonstrated technique for privet control. 

23 Nov Spotlighting night. 24 Nov Frog Workshop & Survey. Fireflies were seen along the creek 

opposite the containers. 25 Nov TAFE flora and fauna workshop. 5 Dec Chris Spence MP 

presented certificate of 6-yr grant. 6 Dec Louise Greenaway (Stepping Stones Landcare) visited; 

Paul Watson & Ken Brookes Wyong Council re fire regulations. 21 Dec shared Unice’s pineapple 

cake with bush contractors. 17 Jan Estuary Management bush regen started Footts Rd.  Ordered 

Roundup and nets from Council. 24 Jan Estuary Management workers to morning tea. 31 Jan 

Nat Parks staff Deb Holloman visit. 5 Feb Schedule C to Envirofund. 6 Feb Gate lock repaired.


Report for 8 November 2012 Meeting 

Treading the trad
The photo shows visitor Tom Clemmit helping to consolidate a pile of trad weed (Tradescantia albiflora). Now it will be left to sprout, and then given a spray of glyphosate (20 ml/l of the 360 concentrate). After that, it will be allowed to rot down over summer, with only isolated sprouts needing to be resprayed. Neighbouring trees can easily access the nutrients released from the pile, the base of which is in contact with the soil. 

The trad control is part of our in-kind contribution to the Environmental Trust grant for work on the Ourimbah Creek floodplain. The grant will pay for the control of privet shown in the background (left photo), while our volunteers do follow-up maintenance and monitoring. 

Photopoints and wombats

This photo (left) shows one of the monitoring points for a 360-deg panorama photo, to be taken over the course of the grant. A wombat has chosen to poop on it in order to mark it as its territory.

Diary  14 Sep Plant nursery & planting details established for floodplain grant. 21 Sep Funded work on floodplain started at north end of site. 27 Sep group had cake with bush regen contractors to celebrate start of work. 

1 Oct Set up 20-m transect and initial vegetation monitored. 4 Oct Samantha Willis & Lucy de Jong (CEN Waterwatch) visited to arrange frog survey/workshop. 16 Oct walked site with contractor Damien to plan work. Northern trad corral built. 22 Oct Penny Pinkess delivered net guards from Council. 23 Oct Member Henny Wagenaer gained ‘Hidden Treasure’ award. Tuggerah Lakes work plan sent to Nikki Bennetts (council). 28 Oct discussed M&E Plan  (Environmental Trust) with Tony Voller. 31 Oct Bore No 8 trad corral built.   


Report for 13 September 2012 Meeting 

Seed to cedar The photo (left) shows the winged seed of a red cedar. In a good year, thousands of of these float downwind from cedar trees around Christmas time. In moist soil they germinate within a few days to give a seedling whose two round leaves look remarkably like those of privet. The divided leaves of the next stage (centre) soon appear however. The pinnate leaves of the mature tree are only produced after about 6 months (right hand photo).  

Red cedar trees were once plentiful on the river flats of the Gosford/Wyong area and, in the early years, were logged by anyone who could fell them and transport them to wharves on Narara Creek and Tuggerah Lake. A law was then passed to forbid casual felling except by people who settled the land - they could sell their own trees, giving them an income before the cleared land was cropped. Clearing was eventually so complete that few original cedars now remain in the lower parts of Ourimbah Creek. You will see isolated specimens in paddocks from about 4 km up Ourimbah Creek Road and, further up the valley, they are regenerating prolifically. On our site, we have been planting seedlings from these Ourimbah Creek trees since 2001, and some of our trees will soon be producing seed of their own.

Diary  12 July Annual General Meeting. 18 July Brian Patterson attended Environmental Trust Webinar. 19 July Paul Malligan of Gecko visited. 23 July Financial Report sent to Registry of Associations. 25 July Presented with certificate for 6-year grant by State Member Chris Spence. 30 July Nikki Bennetts, Tony Voller & Brian Patterson met to choose the bush regen contractor for the Env Trust grant. 1 August Robynne Urquhart ran TAFE training class with 13 students. 2 August cattle from next but one neighbour in again. Monitoring & Evaluation Plan sent to Env Trust. 10 Aug Revised M&E plan sent. 13 Aug Samantha Willis visited to arrange site of Waterwatch session. 14 Aug Eileen attend CMA CAP plan meeting. 20 Aug Ken Brookes visited to discuss planting near Council boresites. 21 Aug Cows out again – herded by Turners along road. M&E version 3 sent to Env Trust.  23 Aug Maree Whelan (CMA) visited to interview Ray for article. 30 Aug Ian, Ray, Brian to Newcastle Permanent to give signatures for grant account. 3 Sep Vanessa McCann visited to photo group for article. 6 Sep Anne-Marie Poirrier & Chris Kennedy (Env Trust) & Tony Voller (CMA) visited to discuss 6-year Environmental Trust grant. 


Report for 12 July 2012 Meeting


Letter from the State Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker The Minister has sent us a letter to say

that our grant application has been successful! We shall have  $240,000 over the next six years to pay for the removal of weeds that prevent rainforest regeneration on our site. This project covers the parcel of land belonging to NSW Roads & Maritime Services, outlined in black on the map. It will improve native biodiversity and reduce sediment and nutrient flow to Tuggerah Lake by rehabilitating an endangered rainforest ecosystem and wetland on the floodplain of Ourimbah Creek. While protecting an important source of town water, it will provide improved habitat for 350 recorded species of native biota, including several listed as "vulnerable" (Melaleuca biconvexa, magenta lilly pilly, sooty owl and powerful owl). The survival of locally threatened rainforest trees such as white beech, yellow ash and strangler fig will be ensured. As a hub for biological corridors it will decrease the genetic isolation of frog and other species that have become rare and add to the habitat of the larger predators such as goanna and wedge tailed eagle.

Council Assistance   Our support this year for bush regeneration from Wyong Council has resulted in a significant removal of privet along the road to Bore No 8, exposing several regenerating rainforest trees under a canopy of tall wattles. Some dangerous trees (pines and wattles) have been marked and reported to Wyong Council for removal.

Diary  16 May Plant identification workshop (Wyong Council) hosted. 21 May Police helicopter search overhead. 24 May David Ryan, Nicole Dixon, Nikki Bennetts (Wyong Council) & Tony Voller (CMA) visited to discuss Estuary Management work. 30 May Damien Moey to arrange work at approach to Bore No 8.   5 June Letter from Minister (see above). 9 June Third incursion of stray cattle – Ian visited owner. 13 June Tony Voller (CMA) to visit owner of straying cattle to further voice our concern. Opened bank account with $44,000 for 6-year Envirofund grant. 19 June Informed our State Member Greg Piper of Envirofund Grant. 21 June Informed Chris Spence (State Member for The Entrance) of Envirofund grant. 25 June sent requests for Expressions of Interest in Year 1 of Envirofund grant to four local bush regeneration teams. 27 June Eileen attended Advisory Committee (Wyong Council). 2 July Rob Suesse (CEN Bush Regen) visited to inspect site. 12 July Annual General Meeting.  


Report for 10 May 2012 Meeting

Bumper season for some rainforest trees   Many rainforest trees do not fruit well every year. This is because weevils and other insects feed on the seeds and, if the trees supplied them with a plentiful supply of food every year, the populations of these insects would build up to the point where the trees couldn’t reproduce. This year has been an “off year” for brown beech (Cryptocaria glaucescens) and guioa (Guioa semiglauca) with scarcely a seed to be found. On the other hand, it has been a wonderful season for white beech (Gmelina leichhardtii), creek plum (Planchonella australis) and wilkia (Wilkiea huegeliana).  

New member   Welcome to new member Geoff Gaudry. Geoff has already been active in stopping lantana from taking over at the northern border of our site.
Natural Resources Commission and Catchment Management Executives of the NRC and the CMA are seen here talking to our members against a backdrop of luxuriant native vegetation,  all of which we have encouraged to grow since we started work in the year 2000. 

Tractor  Originally donated by former member John Smith, this has done sterling service over the years, but was becoming increasing difficult to maintain and has had to be sold. It realised  $2,000 (including the GST which we return to the tax office), and we have a boost to our finances.  

Diary  26 Mar Luke Sulkowski and Nikki Bennetts (Wyong Council) visited. 30 Mar CMA Weed Identification Workshop for 4 h (CMA, Caroline Jenkinson & Robin Urquhart) with 15 participants.  8 April sent quarterly GST claim. 12 April tractor sold. 27 April Tony Voller (CMA) visited. 7 May Susan Hooke (Chair CMA) Fiona Marshall (Gen. Manager CMA) David Green (CMA Coordinator), John Keniry (Natural Resources Commissioner) Bryce Wylde (Ass Commissioner NRC), Tony Voller (CMA) visited. 8 May Penny Pinkess visited to plan Rainforest Plant Identification Workshop.                           

Report for 8 March 2012 Meeting


Lantana  People love growing pretty flowers, and that’s how lantana has spread around the world. Originally, it only grew from the Rio Grande valley in Texas to Venezuela and the West Indies. It is such a bad pest in Australia that 17 different bugs and fungi that eat it have been introduced. We don’t seem to see many of these controls around here, but it is worth looking out for leaf miners. Many people find it difficult to tell the difference between seedlings of lantana and those of the native plant trema. Lantana is much rougher to the touch than trema though.

Goanna time And here on the right is one of our goannas, climbing up a wattle close to the tea table on 30 January. Goannas seem commoner this year, while another reptile, the land mullet, seems rarer than before. Does that mean that the goannas are eating them?


Noisy pitta  This bird was seen in February, presumably colonising us from its nearest breeding place in the Barrington Tops. It’s a new record for us and yet another sign of increasing biodiversity.


New home for the trailer  The photo on the left shows the new lean-to, built against the container to protect the trailer from the rain.

Diary  13 Jan sowed false rosewood seed from Henny’s place. Funding application for the next 6 years sent to Environmental Trust. Dug up and potted seedlings of water gum and euodias. 6 February Nikki Bennetts and Penny Pinkess came with surprise visit for Risk Assessment with OHS Officer.  22 Feb Eileen attended Nikki Bennetts’ advisory committee. 23 Feb Ken Brookes (Wyong Council) visited to show 2007 flood marks near weir, where a couple of platypus were swimming. 27 Feb a surprise visit from the Wyong Council blackberry sprayer.                                         

Report for 12 January 2012 Meeting

Blackberry  Blackberries are delicious but, outside their native range, give them an inch and they grow for a mile. In Europe, the plants are hosts to the caterpillars of more than 30 species of moth. These help to keep blackberries in check, but no native Australian caterpillars, whether of moth or butterfly, feed on these introduced plants. As a result, it grows almost unchecked, to the dismay of farmers who see their pastures disappearing under an impenetrable shrubbery. In spite of their and our efforts, the NSW Dept of Agriculture has estimated that it “infests 8.8 million hectares of land”. This equates to 88,000 square kilometres and as that is rather more than 10% of the area of NSW, someone has probably added a zero or two somewhere. All the same, it’s a difficult pest to control. They recommend glyphosate (Roundup) application by two methods. The plants can be sprayed between flowering and leaf fall (that is, now until April) using 10 to 13 ml of 360 concentrate per litre of water. Alternatively, stems can be cut or scraped and wet with 1 part 360 concentrate to 1.5 parts water. 

Fungi that glow in the dark  The fungus in the photo grows throughout the bush, including on our site, on rotting wood. Its name is Omphalotus nidiformis. If you happen to come across this or related species on a moonless night, it is an astonishing sight, because it gives off a beautiful green glow. Although it is fairly common along the east coast of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the fruiting bodies are short lived and, in my experience, are likely to have rotted to a black pulp after a day or so, that is, by the time you remember to get the children out of bed for a bushwalk in the middle of the night.

Diary  17 Oct Community Service came to pick up heavy rubbish collected on site. 18 Oct One of the few remaining camphor laurel trees, a big one behind the shipping containers, injected with herbicide. 20 Oct Robyn Urquhart went spotlighting with students this evening. 19 Nov Acacia irrorata seeds gathered. 21 Dec Draft grant proposal (Estuarine Management Plan) sent to Nikki Bennetts – forwarded to Dave Ryan.

Report for 13 October 2011 Meeting 

Tree tobacco Like lantana, this weed originated in the Americas, but is now a problem in many countries from Africa to New Zealand. All parts are poisonous to humans but not, apparently, to some birds. At least, they eat the ripe berries and spread the seed. On our site tree tobacco competes with our native kangaroo apple. Its big woolly leaves shade kangaroo apple seedlings and prevent them growing. You have to be careful not to allow any part of the plant to contact the eyes – I was once blinded for a few days when I rubbed my eyes after handling the plant.  Fortunately, it is easily controlled by cutting the trunk at ground level and painting the stump with a little neat Roundup (glyphosate).

Don’s visit
 Back in the year 2000, Landcare member Don Craig found that the RTA had about 1 km of spare land along Ourimbah Creek and he arranged for the group to take over its care. Many of the trees he planted are now forest specimens.  The photo shows him taking time out from the Pioneer Dairy Project to visit the result of his efforts (2nd from left).

University of Newcastle students You may meet students Dave Jones and Lachlan Campbell on site over the next few weeks. They are studying our site as part of their 3rd year requirements for Sustainable Resource Management.

Sun orchid time This ground orchid has spread year by year in the low-lying grassland that we call the Savannah. Its buds remain tightly closed on cloudy days, but it is a pretty sight when the sun shines strongly. Also, it is one of the few orchids in the world that are blue. 

National Landcare week Sep 5-11 Our work was publicised in the local paper Express Advocate, together with photographs showing the growth and development over 10 years, taken by Melanie Sutton (see diary below). 

Diary 25 August Nikki Bennetts visited with Council photographer Melanie Sutton. Melanie retook an earlier 2001 view to show the difference. 1 September Council delivered road base so that we can maintain the access track. 12 September Tony Voller (CMA) visited to discuss progress of Property Veg Plan for the site. 19 September fireweed enclosure moved to new site near containers. 24 September Eileen attended the Landcare Muster (Wyong Council) & took delivery of 20 l Roundup and Ninja gloves. 26 September Don Craig visited (see above). 10 October 2 uni students visited for study (see above).

Report for 11 August 2011 Meeting

Environmental Trust Grant   

The bush regeneration workers contracted under this grant are making good progress on some very thick patches of privet. They are concentrating on killing the older fruiting trees by stem injection. This reduces the number of future privet seedlings. Meanwhile,   wood-boring insects invade the dead wood and these are, in turn, food for native birds.  The leaves that fall from the dying privets stimulate the many different kinds of native seedlings underneath the canopy.

Rain and flood  We had huge amounts of rain in mid-June when a low pressure system off the coast funnelled rain onto the Central Coast. We had been mystified when plentiful rain earlier in the year had not filled the Duck Pond. However, this time the creek burst its banks and swept a flood into every depression on site. It should be a good year for frogs and ducks!

Trees falling along the creek  When rain saturates the creek banks, some of the oldest trees fall across the creek. As well as allowing native animals to migrate across the water barrier, the branches provide shelter for yabbies and fish. The network of branches also slows down floodwater, allowing for a moderate balance between erosion and deposition. Phosphate in the water increases at flood times. Most of it is bound to the suspended sediment that colours the water in the photo above. Wherever it is deposited, it adds to the rate of tree growth.   

Photo: Ray Galway

More work by TAFE students

We again hosted TAFE students under their lecturer Robyn Urquhart. They held a question and answer session before weeding privet seedlings from a section of regenerating forest. One of the students discovered a possum drey in a cheese tree.

Diary 13 June Site flooded and inaccessible for a few days. 30 June Ray transferred a seat from the North End to behind the Containers. 14 July Ray & Ian built blue metal store on the north side of Deb’s Ditch. 19 July Advertisement for lucerne hay nailed on gum tree at our entrance – removed by owner. 23 July Ray had appendix operation. 29 July Applied to Council for this year’s funding. 1 August Robyn Urquhart brought 9 TAFE students for practical work on site.

Report for 9 June 2011 Meeting

Bore 8 seedlings  

Tradescantia is a difficult weed to control, but it’s worth getting rid of (see here for a method). There’s  a  thick mat of trad around Bore 8, and last summer we sprayed some of it. Then we raked it  back. Since then, there have been hundreds of seedlings of red ash, wattles, euodia and kangaroo apple come up. Weeds came up too. However, the native seedlings were so prolific that we dug up 76 seedlings of them in April. So next spring, we should be able to plant out two kinds of wattle, the ferny-leaved Acacia irrorata (see photo of the canopy below) and Maiden’s wattle Acacia maidenii, some euodias Melicope micrococca and some red ash.


More shade 

When the F3 freeway was being constructed, topsoil was removed from the area between Deb’s Ditch and the Pine Tree Corridor. There aren’t many trees there now because the clay subsoil is so infertile.

However, wattles can grow on the better drained parts. With a mind to rehabilitate this area, we’ve mown into the whiskey grass areas and the blackberry canes have been eradicated. Some seedlings of wattles, water gums and lomandra have been located there. Next spring, this will be a good area to plant our seedlings from Bore 8.

Environmental Trust Grant   

We have a 3-year grant to pay for the work along the creek bank. This year’s instalment didn’t arrive until the end of May. However, our contracted bush regeneration team have already done one day’s work. They will be continuing upstream on the narrow strip of land that belongs to Wyong Council. Some stretches of bank were weeded a couple of years ago and are already in quite good condition.



We hosted TAFE students under their lecturer Robyn Urquart for a spotlighting evening on site. They spotted a ringtail possum, a striped marsh frog and heard the yellow scrub wren. When they complete their Certificate 2 technical training, these young people will, with luck, be able to work in bush regeneration teams. If we are able to attract grants to pay for these teams, we will be supporting youth employment as well as helping the creek banks.


Making our work sustainable   

Wyong Council have always been supportive of our work. They appreciate that we are important in protecting part of the water supply to the Central Coast. All the same, they seem to be reluctant to enter into a long-term commitment to maintain the banks of Ourimbah Creek. In May, the Council surveyed both the banks that belong to Council in order to estimate costs of future upkeep. It doesn’t seem to have led to further action, however. Council indicated that fencing might have to be provided to keep stock from straying on to the creek banks. The cost of this was deemed to be prohibitive. The new Water Authority is due to be activated this coming July.  What their role might be in protecting the vegetation along this part of Ourimbah Creek is uncertain at the moment.   



Report for 14 April 2011 Meeting



Powerful owl photographed 
This is the largest species of owl in Australia. Here it is in one of our wattles with a possum that it has killed. It also eats birds and insects. It nests (May - Sept) in hollow tree trunks high above the ground. Hollows of this size aren’t present on our site, but they are in the forested hills that we connect with. The crowns of magenta lilly pillies are heavily browsed by possums, so that we may see these trees grow better as a result of owl visits.


A local bird watcher took this photo and it is yet another sign that the growing forest is attracting wildlife, and not just birds. A recent study group of TAFE students followed a noisy flock of birds and found them mobbing a carpet python that was gliding through the branches of a tree. The same group of students plan on having a spotlighting expedition this coming May.

Photo Tony Dawe

Strangler figs  We have a few strangler figs (Ficus obliqua) growing naturally and have also planted some seedling in camphor laurel stumps. This year we also made a tower of old car tires that littered the site and filled the centre with a compost made from fireweed. The fig planted in the top should eventually cover the whole tower with its roots, with the car tires well hidden until the fig tree dies in a couple of hundred years from now.


Events diary  22 Feb Robyn Urquart with 14 TAFE students. 23 Feb Tony Voller & Dan Keating (CMA) did vegetation survey on three points Footts Rd side of creek. 28 Feb Rebecca Dugan visited prior to taking maternity leave. She now has twins Samantha and Lily. 3 Mar Powerful owl photographed in wattle tree. 7 Mar Bush regen at Debs Ditch financed by Council. 10 Mar Ourimbah Scout group (Robert Pilon + 10) hosted for dusk walk. 14 Mar Umwelt survey visited for morning tea. 22 Mar phoned EnvTrust re date of grant payment – should be 15 Apr. 4 Apr Nikki Bennetts (WyongCouncil) visited to see result of Env Trust work. 12 Apr bird photographer Laurie Smith visited.  



Report for 10 February 2011 Meeting 

Contractors finish first year  The first stage of the work under the Environmental Trust grant along the creek bank was due to be finished this month. Under the grant, our bush contractors under Damien Moey were contracted to do primary weeding along a 570 m length of creek bank. In fact, the photo showsthat they have done more than twice that, as the blue line measures 1,275 metres. This primary work was mainly to kill privet saplings, plants greater than 30 cm high. In the two years of grant left to us, they should be able to do follow-up weeding, removing smaller privet and regrowth of other weeds. We are on time to prepare the first year’s report to our grant providers, the NSW Environmental Trust. This is due at the end of this month.

Impact on biodiversity The techniques used by our contractors were designed to maximise the effect on native biodiversity. The dead weeds rot around the regenerating rainforest seedlings on the creek bank. These seedlings grow faster, because they are fertilised by the nutrients released from the weed biomass. Softer weeds like Brazilian fireweed and Tobacco bush will invade as well. This is why secondary weeding by the contractors over the next two years will be essential. With this follow-up, the result over the three years of the grant will be a rainforest with some of the greatest biodiversity in our region.

Airphoto: Nearmap.com, 26 Oct 2010

Cattle give us a run-around  Early in January, three bullocks from a property further along Ourimbah Creek Rd gave us some unwanted exercise. Directed by expert cattle-musterer Ian, we got them into a neighbouring field from where the owner recovered them. 

Events diary  23 Dec Christmas Lunch on site. 5 Jan Rob McCormack, crustacean expert, visited site. 6 Jan 3 bullocks removed from site. 2 Feb Lynette Fletcher visited site to find place for platypus study. 3 Feb Tony Voller, Dan Keating (CMA) and Ken Brookes (Wyong Council) visit to assess value of both creek banks for further funding and upkeep. 5 Feb Landcare Muster at Wyong Council attended by two members.

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