Prepared by Anne Welsh, Secretary 2009 - 2016
The Macclesfield Bushcare Group can celebrate two decades of working in the reserves around Macclesfield. The purpose of the group is to protect, conserve and restore indigenous vegetation and fauna habitat in the Macclesfield area and encourage community involvement in these activities.
Macclesfield is fortunate to have retained patches of existing bush in an area where over 90% of the pre-European vegetation has been cleared. However the extent of clearance means that remnant vegetation is invaded with exotic weeds and many of our bird and fauna species are in decline.
The Bushcare group is involved in caring for the areas of the remnant vegetation in the Council reserves in Macclesfield. This involves careful weed control using minimal disturbance weed control methods in areas of high biodiversity, and in planting local indigenous species in areas that are more highly degraded. It is pleasing to see these areas improving over time and providing improved habitat for local fauna.
by Sue Bradstreet, founding member, past Secretary/Treasurer, and Chairperson 2006 - 2016
The Group formed when on the 24 April 1996 a group of people met to consider a Macclesfield Bushcare Project. Those present were Jeff Whittaker, Glenn and Vicki Williams, Sharron Harkin, Liz Bromilow, Betty White, Dave Mack, Lesley Guster, Dan Burt, Rod McBeath, Mark Bradstreet, Nigel Kirby, Tim Kerby, and Ken Barrett.
Many options were considered and the fact that only 3% of native vegetation remained in the Macclesfield area was good reason for residents to undertake actions to care for what we do have – whether it be on private property, public land in reserves such as Stone Reserve, the Cemetery Reserve and the school parklands, or closed road reserves such as the Gummy Track or on roadsides such as Magins Rd. There were possibilities of individuals taking on the care of roadsides near their homes, or groups undertaking work in one or many of the reserves.
After an informal walk around Macclesfield looking at the various areas of native vegetation, the Macclesfield Bushcare Group was formed on 6 June 1996 with a committee consisting of Liz Bromilow, Dave Mack, Sharron Harkin, Sue and Mark Bradstreet. The Macclesfield Community Association gave support for the group’s activities at a meeting on 20 June. A constitution was agreed on July 11.
Andrew Crompton ran a Bushcare Workshop on 21 July with information about the Bradley method of bushcare, principles and techniques required for minimal disturbance weed removal and management of native vegetation and information on indigenous plants that might be mistaken for native species. Various Department of Environment and Natural Resources officers visited the site which has become known as the Day Paddock, acknowledged its significance and created a species list.
The first working bee was held in this reserve after stock had been removed from the area on 26 October 1996. Equipment and herbicide were supplied by the Mt Barker Council and a donation was received from the Macclesfield Community Association. On the 6 April 1997 mapping of the Day Paddock began (without the assistance of a GPS unit) by walking the area, dividing it into quadrats ( typically one square metre), and determining the quality of the vegetation in each quadrat - ie. rating it as good vegetation or weed infested on a scale of 1 to 5.
Although the group became incorporated as a sub-committee of the Central Hills Soil Conservation Board this ceased on 31 July 1997. The group then became a Landcare Group, and was covered under Landcare insurance and given seed funding to establish the group. At this time the Friends of Macclesfield Cemetery and a group who were looking after Magins Road became sub-groups of the main Macclesfield Bushcare Group. At the AGM it was reported that the Group had started the year with $50 and finished with $20.90!!
Discussions were held with the Mt Barker Fire Prevention Officer who agreed not to continue slashing through the centre of the Day Paddock but a contractor would slash the perimeter. It became known that the Day Paddock land was zoned Deferred Urban, and so moves were made to get better protection for the area.
Over the next few years the Group wrote a basic management plan for the Day Paddock, opened bank accounts, became incorporated and held field days for public education, erected signs and grew local indigenous plants. As well as working to remove gorse in the Day Paddock, we removed weeds in the Gummy Track and the cemetery and began to work on projects to improve the health of the Angas River as it passed though the town including in Davenport Square and by the Sturt Street bridge. The assistance of Greencorps, Green Army and Australian Conservation Volunteer teams helped enormously. In 2006 a portion of the eastern side of Crystal Lake park was fenced and horse agistment removed enabling work to start to restore and enhance the native vegetation along the Angas River.
Work has continued consistently since then especially in the Day Paddock, which has the highest biodiversity of the reserves, where the group holds a working bee on the first Sunday of the month. Each year we patrol the cemetery for small pine trees - (the local Girl Guides who used to do it disbanded), and Monadenia, the South African weed orchid. We have been fortunate to gain funding to allow contractors to undertake some of the work and we have been able to have blackberries sprayed on the Gummy Track walking trail; broom and other woody weeds removed from the Cemetery Reserve; willow and ash trees, ivy and periwinkle removed or controlled in Lord Robinson/ Crystal Lake Park and gorse removed from the Day Paddock and the Stone Reserve.
It is very exciting that in 2012 Liz Schofield, the Angas River Catchment Group Project Officer gained a $19,910 Federal government Caring for Our Country Grant and again in 2015 gained a Federal 25 Anniversary of Landcare Grant for work to be undertaken in the six reserves around Macclesfield. This enabled the group to build on the work undertaken over past years and make significant reduction in key weeds enabling enhanced regeneration.
The Group was involved in consultation with the Mt Barker Council and designers for name signs for the reserves and walking trails in Macclesfield which were installed in 2013, and Council has assisted with support from Council staff and periodic grant funding for weed control in the reserves. We are also lucky to have support with equipment and herbicide and more importantly new, interested volunteers through the Trees For Life Bush For Life programme – some who don’t even live in Macclesfield, and have also had the continued support of Angela Cullen, the Regional Co-ordinator. The Group encourages community involvement through displays at local events, newsletter articles and periodic talks on topics of interest.
Thank you to all who have been involved over the past decades and we look forward to success in the future. Thank you to the Federal and State governments for their grant assistance, the Angas River Catchment Group, Trees for Life, Bush for Life Program, the District Council of Mt Barker for their on-going support and the Goolwa to Wellington LAP for their technical support.
Hugh Possingham has stated that to decrease further extinction of species we need to manage bushland, and re-vegetate strategically to increase effective habitat. This is our aim. I also believe that native vegetation and animals and birds have a right to exist for themselves, not just for our pleasure.
The Day Paddock Park 8 ha
The Day Paddock Park contains high quality native vegetation in a region where this has been extensively cleared. It consists of a Blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon), Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis spp. cygnetensis), Pink gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa) open woodland over acacias, leptospermum, native sedge, lily and native grass understorey. Until about 1990 the area was grazed. The Buschare group started work in the park in 1996 controlling gorse and other weeds and assisting restoration of the indigenous vegetation.
Although there is still plenty of gorse in the reserve over 50 percent of the gorse has been carefully removed, pushing back the gorse weed fronts and making sure that all new seedlings are removed in the recovering areas which has enabled the native species to regenerate. The group is also attempting to control and remove the very invasive Pentaschistis grass and carefully remove the Freesias from the best vegetation. This is a daunting task throughout the rest of the reserve.
Each visit to the reserve reveals new changes – large trees die and new ones replace them, acacia seedlings reach a mature height, different plants come into flower at different times and always the weeds are getting less and the native plants are recovering to thrive again. The Macclesfield School is involved in patrolling for Monadenia, and breeding Bridal Creeper leaf hoppers and Gorse spider-mite for biological control of these weeds.
The Night Paddock 5.5 ha
The Night Paddock Park is managed by the Macclesfield Community Association and used for agistment. The river section was fenced in 2005 by the Macclesfield Community Association, the agistment removed, and a walking trail established.
The river section is now managed by the Bushcare Group. It contains a Blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon), Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis spp. Cygnetensis), and Red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) open woodland with a native grass understorey. The Bushcare Group planted native species to control erosion and enhance habitat along the creek and assists in controlling the weeds. The trees and shrubs that were planted in 2007 are now mature providing habitat for local birds and other fauna. The Macclesfield Primary School has also undertaken planting in the reserve. Weeds are less and are being monitored and controlled. The established walking track is well used with benches and a picnic table to rest at.
Lord Robinson/ Crystal Lake Park 18 ha
The park contains Red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis ), Blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) and Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis spp. cygnetensis) woodland over an understorey of native grasses. The river section was fenced by the Macclesfield Community Association in 2006, the agistment removed, and a walking trail and interpretative signage established.
Since 2005 an on-going control program has been undertaken to remove the willow and ash trees along the Angas River in the park with a grant through the Angas River Catchment Group in 2005, a Commonwealth Envirofund Grant through the Macclesfield Community Association in 2007, and a Caring for Country Grant in 2013.
The Bushcare Group, community volunteers and GreenCorps and Green Army teams have undertaken planting and establishment watering of over 3000 native trees, shrubs and groundcovers and weed control of 2 hectares of gorse and a hectare of broom as well as other weeds. Riparian species including Carex tereticaulis , Cladium procerum, Carex fasicularis, and Leptosperumum lanigerum have been planted along the river and the rare species Montia australicia grows in the swamp area. In 2014 dense riparian planting was undertaken above the weir by Anne and Dave Welsh, with the assistance of other volunteers, to continue to control weeds and slash grasses to encourage regeneration of native plants in the park.
Picnic tables have been installed and monitoring of water quality was undertaken for a number of years. It is pleasing to see the park providing habitat for a wide range of bird species, the native fish mountain galaxias, the native water rat, echidnas and kangaroos, and that the native swamp rat has now made its home by the river.
The Gummy Track
The Gummy Track contains remnant native vegetation consisting of Pink gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa) open woodland over dense Xanthorrhoea semiplana. It provides a linking wildlife corridor and walking track between larger areas of native vegetation. Occasional grant funding is obtained to assist with weed control in this area including blackberry, wild rose, gorse, bridal creeper and watsonia.
The Cemetery Reserve
This area of highly diverse native vegetation is surviving without much attention. In 2012 money contributed as off-sets from the Targa Car Rally enabled the Trees For Life Works team to return to the northern fence line to remove broom which had grown to mature plants again after the Bushcare Group had removed them almost 2 decades ago. Time was also spent patrolling the northern section for other woody weeds. Very few were found but the diversity of native plants is prolific. Contract funding in recent years has enabled further woody weed removal. The Bushcare Group undertakes an annual patrol for monadenia in the reserve.
Portion of the park was originally a stone quarry which was then used as a rubbish dump and is now an open grassed area. The park contains Blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) and Messmate stringybark (Eucalyptus obliqua) over a diverse understory of sedges, herbaceous groundcovers, lilies and orchids which are thriving in some parts of the reserve. This reserve contains the only Acacia spinescens in the Macclesfield area. It will be an exciting challenge to return other parts of the reserve to this diversity.
Until 2012 the significance of the vegetation in Stone Reserve on Davis Road was underestimated and with limited volunteer resources it was not a priority, but with a Federal grant, support from the Council, the Trees For Life Bush For Life programme and neighbours willing to start looking after the area, funds could be committed to begin weed removal there. It is cared for by local volunteers.
The Macclesfield Bushcare Group thanks the following for their support:
• Mount Barker District Council
• State and Federal governments for grant funding
• Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Assoc.
• Angas River Catchment Group
• Trees for Life
and all the volunteers who have contributed to the group and enhancement of the parklands over the years.
Contact details: Chairperson, Sue Bradstreet email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Macclesfield Bushcare Group 1996 to present.
Bush regeneration and enhancement of native flora and fauna in Macclesfield's reserves
Day Paddock Park, Macclesfield
Cattle grazing stopped in 1990 and bushcare started in 1996. On-going bushcare and bush regeneration in monthly working bees. Key weeds controlled - gorse, sparaxis, pentachistus, exotic grasses and monadenia.
Early management - cut and swab then burn off of gorse by the dam 1998
Gorse control 2005 - photopoint before, and after in 2007
Monthly working bees 2009, and 2012
Lord Robinson/Crystal Lake Park, Macclesfield
Enhancing remnant vegetation and improving riparian habitat. Angas River section fenced and stock removed 2006. Willows and ash trees removed with assistance of grant funding in 2005 and Federal Government grant 2008 and 2014. Key weeds controlled, gorse, broom, willow and ash trees.
Downstream end - willows and ash removed 2008, and the Angas River in 2008
Planting and direct seeding May 2007, then the Angas River in 2013
Above location in 2011. Right: Planting in 2007
April/May 2007 plantings, and later in January 2013
2008 plantings, and later in January 2013
Planting by car park April 2007, and later in January 2013
Below the weir in 2008, and later in 2013
June 2010, and later in January 2013
Interpretative signs installed 2009, and picnic tables were installed in 2011
Water quality monitoring training and native fish survey in Angas River
SA Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management - August 2008
Mountain galaxias in Angas River
Davenport Square – woody weed removal and revegetating Battunga Creek 2002
Revegetation along Angas River at Sturt Street Bridge
2003, then later in 2007
Night Paddock Park:
River section fenced and stock removed 2006
Weed control – gorse, broom, blackberry, bridal creeper, salvation jane
Erosion control plantings in 2000, then later in 2007
Trees for Life, Bush for Life site, cared for by local volunteers, control of gorse and broom
Rattus Swamp Rat Hydromos Water-rat
(Picture from Scientific Expedition Group website) (Picture from Science Blogs website)
The park is home to the native swamp rat and the native water rat along the Angas River
Yellow tailed black cockatoo (J Gitsham)