2013 DIARY - Parkcarers of Southern Murrumbidgee

Diary of POSM activities for 2013

November: For our November activity we had a great group and managed to plant around 150 seedlings in and around a severely eroded section of Barney's Gully. Great effort everyone! We hope to gradually reduce then stop any water flowing across the area, so it can begin to repair itself. The plants will use water, slow the flow of water and trap sediments, and slowly change the soil so it is less erodable. Along with the interventions we've already put in place, such as leaky weirs, haybales and our previous plantings, we hope to turn the tide and stop the erosion over time.

Thanks to ranger James for the plants (and for dropping off gear near the site): Red-stem Wattle (Acacia rubida), Early Black Wattle (Acacia decurrens), Blackthorn (Bursaria lasiophylla), and Apple Box (Eucalyptus bridgesiana).

Half the happy team of POSM planters after a good morning's work, Point Hut Crossing carpark, November 2013. Thanks to John, Rachel and Jonno too, who aren't shown here (photo: Deb)

October: For our October activity we had a amall group and concentrated on woody weed control on Point Hut Hill, as well as recording and photographing the various plants we saw. The spring flowers were really beautiful. And it's fantastic to see the special groups of plants that grow in particular places, like around the Kurrajong tree, and around the rocky outcrops on Point Hut Hill. The plant list and photos can be seen here.

View of the Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut Crossing, taken from Point Hut Hill, October 2013 (photo: Lauren)

September: For our September activity we had a bigger group than we often do, and we made light work of planting 130 plants along the river, and on the rocky slopes above the river. We planted mostly understorey species, including River Bottlebrush, River Tea-tree, Black Wattle, and Red-stemmed Wattle, mostly in gaps between stands of trees planted earlier in the riparian zone along the river. We also planted Black Cyprus-pine on the rocky slopes where they like to grow. We look forward to seeing them flourish. (Species planted were: Callistemon sieberi, Leptospermum obovatum, Acacia decurrens, Acacia rubida, Callitris endlicheri)

That afternoon, whilst walking through the paddock above Barney's Gully to get to my Waterwatch site, I saw many more flowering plants than in August. The plants and photos can be seen here.

POSM, surrounded by empty seedling pots, September 2013 (photo: Paul)

August: For our August activity we walked along the river track recording what was flowering or moving, and removing tree guards from older plantings. That prevents the trees (mostly Eucalyptus viminalis or Ribbon gums) from being strangled by the tree guards as they grow. Some of the trees were planted as much as 12 years ago and were over 3 metres tall so they were sorely in need. In all, we removed something like 40 guards. We hope to re-use some of the sturdier guards on future plantings. It was great to see how well the successive plantings along the river are growing.

Some years we've seen more species flowering so we expect to see more flowering in September. John saw an unidentified wallaby, we also saw lizards (only their tails disappearing), brown thornbills, and heard many other small birds. There were so many guards to remove though that we didn't have as much time to observe.

July: For our July activity we did more work on a badly eroded gully we've been working on. We know we won't get instant results, and anything we do is part of a longer process, but we can really see the difference we've made in slowing or stopping erosion in other places. We can see that banks have stabilised, plantings are getting well established, and we're capturing sediments and slowing the runoff of water so plants in the surrounding area can use the water before it drains away.

We were a bit sad to discover some damage to the area. We know it's hard for local kids to find somewhere they can play and ride, so we hope they find somewhere else that is suitable and don't cause any more damage. We repaired what we could and got on with fixing in the new bales of straw the rangers bought us.

June: For our June activity the lovely ranger brought us lots of straw bales and star pickets, and we fixed them in to a badly eroded gully we have started working on. The bales will slow down any water flowing down the gully, as well as catching soil and sediment, and give plant seeds more chance to germinate and grow. Plants help to hold the soil in place, so that muddy water and plant nutrients don't flow out into the Murrumbidgee River and cause various problems. Eventually we hope to repair the gully enough that it will slowly fill in, water will move more slowly downhill and soak into the surrounding landscape, and the trees and shrubs in the area will get to use more water before it flows away.

The plants we planted around the gully last year are growing well and have a great survival rate, especially the 2 Grevillia species, the tea-trees and the wattles. We watered plants, checked to make sure plant guards were well in place, and pulled up weeds and grasses that were threatening to overrun them before they grow tall enough to cope. We also removed stakes and guards from bigger plants that were planted in previous years so we can use them in future.

May: For our May activity we planted several dozen Red box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), Ribbon gums (E. viminalis), Black wattles (Acacia decurrens), Prickly tea-tree (Leptospermum continentale), Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa sp.) and something else I've forgotten. Lauren was the star planter! We looked for sites that would suit each species, with the shrubs being planted amongst some older gum trees away from the frost hollows. There were beautiful Sticky Everlastings (Xerochrysum viscosum) growing there, large yellow paper daisies, and plenty of Lomandra (native mat rush), so we're hoping to establish a bit more varied habitat in that area.

Paul worked hard pulling out star pickets from some of our leaky weirs that are established enough now to not need so many stakes. Deb fell down a wombat hole, which was pretty funny just after Paul had reminded her to watch out for them. We all had a good workout and it reminded us that you don't need to have a gym membership to get a workout when you're a parkcarer! Of course, there are also gentle jobs available if you don't want to push yourself that hard.

April: For our April activity we finished planting seedlings left over from the previous month (we had eucalypts and wattles to put in), did erosion control using hay bales, and monitored our previous plantings.

March: In early March, Lauren organised a Clean Up Australia activity around our POSM area, mostly concentrating on Point Hut Crossing and the ponds above it. Thanks to everyone who participated, including someone who cleaned up around the dog walking area and brought back 3 bags.

Clean Up Day - POSM collected 13 bags of rubbish (photo: Lauren)