Your Hornsby Shire Council Bushcare Newsletter for volunteers.
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Welcome to the first enews in 2016 for Hornsby Shire Bushcare. This issue will have something for everyone: reports from events, industrial updates, news from bushcarers past and present and loads of events for the next couple of months. We hope you enjoy the publication.

Table of Contents:

  1. Hellos and goodbyes
  2. Promoting my Bushcare site
  3. Group Leaders Forum 2016
  4. Christmas Party 2015 wrap
  5. Farewell and thank you
  6. Christmas Party Competitions
  7. Signing the SWMS
  8. Bird Survey
  9. Bookbooks in Privet
  10. Swamp Wallaby in Dence Park
  11. National Schools Tree Day - Asquith Girls High School

Comings and Goings at the Office


Tim LeverWe have recently welcomed Tim Lever within our ranks. Tim officially started his duties as a Bushcare Trainer in January 2016. Tim will be involved with weekend Bushcare groups at Binya Close (Hornsby Heights), Parrish Place (Mount Colah), and Old Man’s Valley and Alan Avenue (Hornsby).

Here is a bit more about Tim in his own words:
“Hello to all Bushcare Volunteers. I'm very excited to be joining the Bushcare team at Hornsby Council as a new Bushcare Trainer. Having grown up in Berowra, I spent a lot of time as a kid in the bush and gained a strong appreciation of the beautiful area that we live in. I was particularly drawn to the plants of the region which led me to studying horticulture and working in a nursery that specialised in growing native tubestock.

"Later, I completed a degree in Natural Resource Management at Charles Sturt University in Albury. Since then, I have worked in a number of different roles in Conservation and Land Management including as a ranger for the Department of Conservation in New Zealand. For the past three years, I have been employed as a Bush Regenerator Supervisor here in Sydney.

"I am looking forward to working with the wonderful volunteers that make such a difference to the bushland of the Hornsby Shire.”

Tanya MeinTanya Mein
Hi Bushcare Volunteers, I’m lucky enough to be working in the nursery two days per week. I have always loved plants, gardens and the bush. I do find something special in being able to grow from seed, watching a tiny speck on the tip of your finger grow into a towering broccoli or a beautiful native flowering shrub. Some of you may know me as the Eco Garden Officer (also with Council) where I assist community gardens, run workshops, kids’ activities and working bees. I’ve completed Bushland Regeneration at TAFE, have a Diploma in Community Facilitation and Co-ordination and recently undertook my Permaculture Design Course. Look forward to seeing you around the nursery or out in the bush!

… and Goodbyes:
Danielle SuttonAs you all must be aware now, Danielle Sutton, our Bushland Community Programs Coordinator, resigned in November 2015 after 9 years in the role. Leanne Johnston, Environmental Scientist – Bushcare, has agreed to act in the role until the team gets a new Coordinator.

Di CampbellWe also farewelled Diane Campbell in January 2016. Di resigned from her position as Natural Resources Manager and now works as an environmental consultant. Peter Coad, Natural Resources Strategy Manager, is Acting Manager.

The Natural Resources Branch and the Bushcare team are extremely grateful for the accomplishments of Danielle and Diane and we wish them both all the best in their new ventures.

Sonny ArmstrongAnd most recently our man on the ground, Field Officer Sonny Armstrong, announced he is retiring after twenty five and a half years with Hornsby Council, mostly in Bushcare. He writes:

"I have genuinely enjoyed working with the wonderful army of Bushcare and Nursery Volunteers. You make such a difference to the quality of our local environment with your ongoing selfless dedication. We have made great progress and the continuing improvements are a credit to you all. I have lots of good memories of my time here and many good friends who I will miss.

"For my new life I will be moving to my property at Spencer on the beautiful Hawkesbury River where I can finally get around to the projects that I never had the time for while working. That would include restoring several vintage motorcycles, building a house, practicing my music, going fishing, learning lawn bowls, joining the men’s shed and getting involved in local community activities - including Bushcare. Certainly I won’t have time to be bored. You are welcome to come for a visit or even stay over."

Promoting my Bushcare site

At the 2014 Group Leaders Forum there was some discussion about how to promote individual bushcare sites. While it is a given that the best advertising for a site comes from volunteers, there were a few things Council could do to help. Council undertook to signpost all sites at their public entrance with correct contact information. Corflute signboards are now provided for advertising meeting days and times. Redesigned flyers, posters and banners are distributed to accompany any special event at a site.

The sites are also listed on the NSW Landcare website gateway:
The link on the Hornsby Bushcare webpage is tucked under the Bushcare Volunteer Resources page:

When you click on to your site you might find a photo or a bit of information has been added. John Perrott from the Department of Primary Industries has been hard at work sourcing and adding snippets for the general public to get to know your site. Over forty sites have been lucky so far.

On top of this we are about to add a Google map layer to the Bushcare web page with information about when your group meets if you want more members to join. To make this more attractive we are asking for a photo of the group leader or site, and a sentence about what makes it special. Trainers will be asking for your input.

Group Leaders Forum May 2016

Two years ago we held a forum for group leaders to give input into three aspects of the Hornsby Bushcare program. There was plenty of discussion and when it was over we had a long list of recommendations and suggestions to work through. Some of the outcomes of the 2014 Forum have been:

Site Safety
  • Introduced Safe Working Method Statements for volunteers
  • Traffic Control measures for sites near roads with moving traffic
  • Hazard assessment practised at every on-site session.
  • Application process simplified and made available on line
  • Increased early contact with new volunteers
  • Bushcare re-branded and promoted by Council
Site Plans
  • All recommended features incorporated into plan contents
  • All sites have plans either approved or pending approval
  • Monitoring progress features designed for volunteer input
This year we invite the leaders to meet again to discuss three more topics: volunteer involvement in the Bushcare Action Plan; how to recognise Super volunteers; and looking after Bushcare neighbours (this topic was recommended by you last time but there wasn’t time to include it).

Discussion papers will be distributed ahead of the day (another recommendation).
Bushcare group leaders forum

Christmas Party 2015

On Saturday 28 November 2015 we celebrated 26 years of the Hornsby Bushcare program at Berowra Community Hall. More than 110 Bushcare volunteers and staff made the most of this festive occasion.

Bushcare Site Tours
The venue was located next to the long established Berowra Oval Bushcare site. Once registered, guests could join Bushcare volunteers Mick and Janelle Marr and Noel and Rae Rosten in a guided tour of the site. Fifty five volunteers took part in the tours, which were led with great enthusiasm and expertise.

No doubt the stories told of long sessions pulling out the usual weed suspects, planting tubestocks and dealing with the aftermath of inconsiderate visitors found sympathetic ears. The Berowra Oval Bushcare site is a prime example of how natural sites can be changed for the better through hard work and persistence. It is also the proof that Bushcare sites not only improve ecological values but also improve the aesthetics of an area and provide a sense of well-being for the broader community.
Bushcare Site Tours
Talks and Presentations
Natural Resources Branch Manager Di Campbell delivered a review of the past year’s achievements of the Branch. Di’s presentation underlined the importance of volunteers' commitment at the local reserve level as well as at a broader scale. Natural Resources Operations Manager David Beharrell talked about Council installing and maintaining devices to improve stormwater quality in the Shire’s major catchment areas.

Golden Trowel
This year the Golden Trowel award was given a ‘Quiet Achievers’ theme, in acknowledgement of all of you who quietly press on in the face of all sorts of challenges, ready to do that little bit more when it gets that little bit harder. A warm and sincere thank you to all our quiet achievers, especially Bushcare groups: Hunt Reserve (Mount Colah) – Denison Street, Lisgar Road (Hornsby) – Cherrybrook High Tech (Cherrybrook) – Burnt Bridge (Epping) – Pembroke Street and Bambara (Beecroft).

Fifteen Years' Service
Bushcare groups who have been active for fifteen years and still going: Hopeville Park, Reddy Park, Tim Brownscombe Reserve, Meluca Crescent, Gleneagles Crescent, Hull Road and Murray Road. Glenorie Park and Summers Road which have been going for seventeen years were also acknowledged. All awards were presented by Mayor Steve Russell. Congratulations to all of you!

Community Nursery
Community Nursery Co-ordinator Ross Rapmund announced this year’s recipients of the Community Nursery Quiet Achievers award. Congratulations Di Redman and Graeme Ewing. Di has been a volunteer at the community nursery for over eight years, during which time she has contributed enormously through hard work and dedication. She also volunteers at the Wareemba Avenue Bushcare site in Thornleigh. Graeme has shown a passionate approach to propagation since joining the Nursery as a volunteer three years ago, and has helped produce over 10,000 cuttings.

Special mentions
The Christmas Party was the perfect opportunity to acknowledge three of our most treasured volunteers who have made a special contribution to Bushcare and beyond over decades and are now "retiring": Pat Pike, Esme Wood and Joanne Thompson. The farewell awards were presented by Councillor Robert Browne.

Farewell and thank you

The Bushcare program would not be the success is has been without the dedication of these volunteers. We have much to be thankful for in Pat, Esme and Joan.

Pat PikePat Pike, alongside Tein McDonald and Sheila Woods, was one of Council’s original Bushcare trainers. Her expert guidance, advice and careful eye have allowed a lot of Bushcare sites across Hornsby Shire to flourish. Pat was a biology teacher at Pennant Hills High School. She also taught bush regeneration at Ryde TAFE and is still involved with the Friends of Berowra Valley National Park. Pat remains a keen conservationist with a particular interest in native grasses. Many of you will have fond memories of being on site with Pat. The Bushcare community is indebted to Pat and her extraordinary knowledge and appreciation of our local natural areas.

Esme WoodEsme Wood has been a resident of Hornsby Shire since 1935. Her love for the local natural environment and its protection has very few (if any) equals. Esme has persistently volunteered at three Bushcare sites over many years. Esme has been an inspiring volunteer and a driving force in rehabilitating nearby Bushcare sites including Tim Brownscombe Reserve and Carrs Bush in Galston and also Berowra Waters Ferry. More than a decade ago, Esme became the recipient of a grant through Council’s Rural Lands Incentive Program to enhance and preserve the biodiversity on her block of land which holds a large remnant of Turpentine Ironbark Forest, listed as an Endangered Ecological Community. Soon after, Esme finalised a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with National Parks and Wildlife Services.

Christmas Party competitions

Christmas Hats
Flair and creativity to recreate the natural, beckoning habitats for our native insects, birds and animals were the essential attributes required to enter the Christmas Hat competition. All our participants displayed such qualities with brio. Through the dedicated efforts of our Bush Regenerators, the magical, stunning world of the Australian Bush is returning!
Christmas hats
Let’s hear some of our participants talk about their creations:

Winner Pam Chambers
Case of the Coffee Soaked Echidna. My hat is based on the Bushcare Logo. I knitted a small brown and white crown cover on thick needles for speed. He looked anaemic so soaked him in strong coffee. Due to loose knitting it grew twice the size when I wrung him out. So I spun him in the washing machine and clothes dryer…he grew BIGGER Luckily the hairdryer came to the rescue. Hours later he looked like a pancake. I added Christmas decorations to bring him back to life.

Finalist Margaret Cruikshank
This hat represents the common themes of Our Beautiful Bushland. The Kookaburra is a cheeky charismatic resident of our reserves who greets every morning with a family chorus to celebrate every day. In addition the gold leaves were chosen to bring a festive feel and relate to the Christmas decoration in the Kookaburra’s bill.

2nd Runner up Anita Wynne
The Easter Bilby has been recruited as “Santa” to spread Christmas cheer to all the native animals who have returned to the regenerated bushland!

We would also like to acknowledge the tremendous creativity displayed by Helen Smith (Hunt Reserve), Denise Hooper (Alan Avenue), Marie Kobler (Cherrybrook Tech High), Herta Watts (Bedford Road), , Barry Lees (Carrs Bush) and Joe Vandermeer (Berowra Oval) in crafting their Christmas hats. Some of the hats were on display at Hornsby Library for two months and attracted interest and positive comments from library visitors.
Christmas hat winners

The high standards of the photographs we received this year were truly outstanding, which made it too difficult to select a winner. The burden and responsibility of choosing a winner were far too great for us to bear, so we decided to go democratic and let the general public decide. Congratulations to Janelle Marr (Berowra Oval) for her stunning vista of Berowra Creek and the surrounding bush. Winning photos will be on display at Pennant Hills library from 5 - 26 April.
Winning photo

Bush poetry
Three of our talented volunteers took up to the stage to share with everyone their brilliant and entertaining wordsmith skills during bush poetry readings. Thank you Ann Brown from Wareemba Avenue (Thornleigh) and Rae Litting and David Swain from Bambara Roselea (Beecroft) for your contributions.
The poems can be read on the Bushcare website for a limited time.


That isn’t a spelling mistake. Nor is it a new swimming style. It stands for Safety Work Method Statement and there is one especially designed for Bushcare volunteers. You know all about it because you have already read and signed one.

However, as more information comes to light, treatments get upgraded or modified. In this new SWMS you will find additional information on how to minimise the risk of snake and insect bites. Also, treatment of tick and leach bites are covered in some detail.

Your trainer will go over the SWMS with you and ask you to sign twice. One copy stays with the document in the site folder. The second page of signatures is collected by the trainer and returned to the office for filing. If you cannot be on site the day the trainer goes over the document with the group and collects signatures, please take time to read the document in the site folder - or on line - and sign beforehand.

Safe Work Method Statement - 461kb

Bushcare Bird Survey: Citizen Science in Action

The inaugural Bushcare bird survey held in November 2015 was a resounding success.

Bird survey - Pacific Black Duck - Rae RostenThree of the survey locations were near established bushcare sites; the fourth near a catchment remediation basin where extensive revegetation and bush regeneration had taken place. All four sites were directly connected to larger areas of bushland; namely Berowra Valley National Park and Lane Cove National Park.

Bird survey - Eastern Spinebilll - David CookObservers were a mix of experienced amateur bird watchers and Bushcare volunteers who were encouraged to participate for their own learning experience. Observations were recorded for both visual and call only records. The morning ended with the partaking of a gourmet breakfast hamper.

A grand total of fifty eight species were recorded across the four sites, with an average of thirty three species per site. Grouped by diet, insectivores were clearly the most common, followed by an even spread of seed/fruit, honeyeaters and parrots. Least represented for this survey was the daytime raptor group, possibly due to the early time of day before air thermals suitable for soaring had begun.

The 2016 Bushcare Bird Survey will take place on Saturday 8 October. Look for more details and booking information in the June newsletter.

Food for Thought: the Case of the Southern Boobooks

Despite being the most common owl species in Australia, it is always a treat to spot and to photograph the Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae) in local bushland. This mostly nocturnal bird of prey feeds mainly on insects, invertebrates and small mammals. Epping area bird expert Julie Styles sent through a beautiful shot of two juvenile Southern Boobooks.
Boobooks in Privet
In typical fashion during daylight, the two Boobooks are seen roosting in dense foliage made of leathery, glossy dark green leaves and smooth, greyish smooth stems - in fact, Broad-leaf Privet. But isn’t Privet a noxious weed, and a serial offender in bushland reserves and along roads and railway corridors? Shouldn’t it therefore be removed?

The general answer is yes. But Julie’s photograph illustrates the fact that weed control and management in disturbed areas does not follow black and white rules. Each site has its own specificities and dynamics and will respond differently to each weed control method.

The decline of native bird diversity in urban environments is well documented. It is particularly true for small native bird species. Red-browed Finch and Superb Fairy-wren are becoming less common whereas more territorial and aggressive species like Noisy Miners, Pied Currawongs and Rainbow Lorikeets are more prevalent. These more aggressive species thrive in the open environments that our gardens and public spaces have become. The combination of large lawn areas and tall canopy species with no connecting dense midstorey are detrimental to smaller bird species as they do not offer adequate habitat, protection and foraging opportunities.

Boobooks roosting in Privet is not an uncommon sight and highlights the importance of considering several factors before embarking on a mass removal of weeds:
  • monitor your site over a period of time for bird and other fauna activity (amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates) through the presence of possum dreys, scats, birds’ nests presence and activity
  • assess your site for signs of resilience and recruitment: look for the presence of native seedlings or juveniles
  • assess your site for the weed species present on site: their structure (canopy, mid-layer, groundcover), their function (habitat, food source, erosion control) and the length of their establishment. Weeds species that are established tend to form monocultures. Their quick removal is likely to increase the species vulnerability and will eventually result in their disappearance. This would also most likely encourage the growth of herbaceous weeds that may end up being more difficult to control.
Should we not bother about weeds anymore, then? Quite the opposite! When considering treating established weed plumes that are used by local fauna, slowly remove the weeds, one small section at a time, revegetate and/or encourage natural regeneration. Remove the next patch of weed only when the original patch has reached maturity.

The case of the Southern Boobooks raises a few questions and definitely challenges some ideas on weed control and ecological restoration. There are a few but essential processes that we need to be reminded of to avoid pitfalls when rehabilitating degraded ecosystems: have an achievable plan towards a desired goal, think long term and do not expect ‘Backyard Blitz’ type miracles, and be adaptable in the way you manage weeds on your site: there is not one easy solution but many exciting possibilities. And monitor by taking notes of what works and what doesn’t.

On the same topic but looking at the bigger picture, some of you will be interested in reading the national restoration standards published by the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia. The document outlines the key principles of ecological restoration in plain and accessible terms. Worth a look! Happy (responsible) weeding and stay safe on site!

Swamp Wallaby in Terrys Creek

Swamp wallabyIrene Timmins emailed us with "Fantastic news. A resident adjoining the bushland has spotted a wallaby in Dence Park area. From the information so far, it made its way south as far as the bowling green near the Creative Centre!". If you are on Facebook you can watch the video:
Video of Wallaby in Dence Park

The most recent recorded sighting, in November 2014, was much further north, between Epping Road and the M2. Friends of Lane Cove National Park also recorded various sightings in 2014.
Friends of Lane Cove National Park sighting

So they are around, just not very often. It is thrilling to see evidence that our combined efforts are creating healthy habitat

National Schools Tree Day: Asquith Girls High

By Mr Borri

AGHS plantingAsquith Girls High School participated in National Schools Tree Day for the first time in 2015. The Environment Team invited Mr Ross Rapmund from the Hornsby Council Community Nursery to come and walk around the school to suggest possible planting areas. After considering a number of areas the Team decided to start with a planting on the far side of the front lawn. Mr Rapmund visited the school again and showed the Team how to plant a tree and how to use the weed mats and plant protectors. The Community Nursery provided thirty plants of various types, free of charge.

On the Day, Environment Team members spent all of lunch time planting the various trees and shrubs. In following weeks the plants have been watered and maintained. It is hoped to extend the planting next year.

The Environment Team would like to extend their great thanks to Mr Rapmund for all his assistance in making the Tree Day a success.

The Environment Team has also had two meetings with the Environment Team from Asquith Boys High School to plan a combined activity for Term 4.

Hornsby Shire Council supports National Tree Day for Schools. Look out for our entry on the NTD website


Copyright © 2016 Hornsby Shire Council, All rights reserved.

Hornsby Shire Council Bushcare
Phone: (02) 9847 6362

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