Progress of the Ourimbah Rainforest
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 south
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
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
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.
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.
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.