Nattai National Park – Bonnum Pic

A party of 18 club members assembled at Mittagong on Sunday morning 29 July to walk the Bonnum Pic track in the Nattai National Park. The Pic gained its striking name from the French engineer and explorer Francis Barrallier in 1802. For the most intrepid the goal would have been Bonnum Pic itself, a narrow promontory of broken rock, bound on three sides by sheer 150m cliffs with breathtaking views north the distant Blue Mountains and the Burragorang Valley.

We opted for a more relaxing itinerary than the full 16km out-and-back to the Pic, and after a 25km car pool drive along the Wombeyan Caves road and the Wanganderry farm access road, we had a pleasant 1.5 hour walk through grazing land, bush and heathland out to the wonderful Wanganderry Walls. The mallee on the rocky areas was the Narrow-leaved Mallee Ash Eucalyptus apiculata  which occurs at West Berrima, Wanganderry Tableland , Hilltop and Mt Keira. The hakea was Hakea constablei which occurs on Wanganderry Tableland and the Upper Blue Mountains.

We then spent a further hour navigating along the cliff line across friendly, undulating rock domes in brilliant sunshine, mild temperatures, but blustery winds, to our lunch spot, before retracing our steps to the cars. Thanks to Adrian Buzo for leading the walk and writing up the report.

Our  expert fauna guide Deb Andrew was able to spot and record some fauna sightings for the Atlas of NSW wildlife. A Lesueur’s Velvet Gecko (Oedura lesueurii), favoured food of the endangered Broad-headed Snake. She explained that moving the rocks (for cairn building ) was destroying gecko and snake habitat. We saw the v-shaped incisions on the trunks of Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata) which are the feeding incisions made by the endangered Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus austalis (feeds on sap nectar and insects),. We also saw an endangered Scarlet Robin, heard an endangered Gang Gang Cockatoo and heard a Red-browed Treecreeper. There were no previous records for those species in those locations in the Atlas.

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National Parks Document on Vegetation

North Head Sanctuary Walk

A dozen OFF members and friends enjoyed a brilliant day out on Sunday 1 July. The walk had something for everyone – spectacular views, flora and fauna, sculptures and history. Despite the ever shifting railway timetables we all made it on to the 10 o’clock ferry to Manly. Sydney harbour was sparkling on a glorious warm sunny mid-winter day.

We walked from Manly ferry terminal across to South Steyne Beach, along Marine Parade which was busy with people enjoying the unseasonably warm day. There were some interesting sculptures along the way highlighting the aquatic life in the Cabbage Tree Bay Reserve.

 

Coffee break at Shelly beach, where we encountered some very bold Brush Turkeys who were keen to sample our morning tea cakes. We pressed on up the hill to North Head.

 

The top of the hill gave us some spectacular views north. Cunningham’s skinks were spotted taking in the sun and view. The walk continued through the walled area with endangered Banksia Scrub. Some recent back burning has been done in this area to help with the regeneration of the bush. Enough flowering plants were spotted to keep our plant experts busy. On our walk through this area some Wattle Birds and Regent Honeyeaters were spotted feeding on the Banksia flowers.  Our stop at North Head sanctuary foundation information centre was productive with an enthusiastic volunteer and lots of information.

The nearby sculpture gallery offered some artistic flavour to the day. As we walked on towards the centre of the headland, history buffs were kept happy exploring fortifications and military buildings.

 

After our lunch break, we walked the Fairfax loop which offered some stunning views of headlands of Sydney harbour and the city. We also glimpsed a few large splashes as whales frolicked amongst the flotilla of whale watching boats. The walk officially finished at the aptly named Bella Vista cafe where some stopped off to a well earned afternoon tea and walk back; others opted for a quicker return on the bus.

Our return ferry trip provided some magnificent sunset views of the harbour and silhouettes of the bridge.

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Elizabeth Farm – Rosehill

On Sunday 3rd June, eight OFF members took part in Vicki Bolling’s walk around Parramatta which followed on from last year’s successful outing.  Initially, we called in at the Lancer Barracks near the station, the barracks were built in 1818 and now as well as being an operational army unit it also houses a museum, unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do a tour but perhaps next time? It’s greatest claim to fame is that the Australian Light Horse was initially based at this barracks.

The primary destination our walk was to visit Elizabeth Farm, the property of John and Elizabeth Macarthur. Their house was built in 1793 and is recognised as the oldest European building in Australia.

After a welcome coffee, a volunteer guide, Lyn, gave us a wonderful tour of the restored homestead complete with many historical stories of the Macarthur dynasty. We were surprised at the size of the house and complex of buildings. Being allowed allowed to explore all the different rooms and even sit on the furniture gave us the opportunity to experience what life was like in colonial times.

The tour lasted 2 hours and I don’t think any of us became bored in that time. We finished the tour with lunch in the grounds. After lunch we returned to Parramatta railway station via another historic Macarthur property, Hambledon Cottage but as it was about to close we decided that we might visit it next year on the 3rd walk around Parramatta.

Thanks to Vicki for a great day Report By Graham Fry – Field Officer

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Victoria Barracks

Excursion to Victoria Barracks 1st March
We were greeted with a lovely day as we gathered at Oatley station, then train to Central and bus down Flinders Street. In all, thirteen of us plus some extras entered the Barracks via the security check-point on Moore Park Road. It was largely a painless experience passing through the various barriers although several AFP officers were standing about portentously.

Once inside we were greeted by Sergeant Ryan and members of the Corps of Guides. We were divided into groups of four and headed off to explore the many historic sites that make up the barracks with our large Visitors cards dangling round our necks.

We learned that not only is Victoria Barracks a major historic site, built in the 1840’s, it is very much an active military base where the headquarters of Australia’s Land Army is found – ready to meet any emergency. We all admired the fine Georgian architecture of the original barracks buildings including soldiers’, NCOs’ and officers’ accommodations. We enjoyed hearing stories of the soldiers of the past and present from our excellent guides, all retired soldiers.

After coffee we visited the museum where Peter Ryan gave us an excellent account of life in the NSW colonial army, the battle of Vinegar Hill, the Soudan expedition and other exploits from Victorian times. He was really good.  SEE PHOTO GALLERY

One of our party Anne Cale was able to see her Great Aunt’s 1915 nursing war medals.

 

 

 

 

Our president Graham Lalchere was interested in the rats Tobrouk display, as his father served in Tobruk in WWII. The Rats of Tobruk was the name given to the soldiers of the garrison who held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps, during the Siege of Tobruk in World War II

Following what was a demanding but highly worthwhile four-hour tour most of us retired to the Captain Cook Hotel for a good lunch and a walk back down Albion Street to Central Station.
 

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New Program for 2018

OFF Field Officer, Graham Fry and Program Officer Matt Allison have put together the program of activities for 2018. There is a mixture of easy excursions and some more demanding walks. Our monthly Monday meetings will feature environmental research, travel and tips on living sustainably.  CHECK OFF NEWS FOR DETAILS OF ACTIVITIES

Take a look at our 2018 Program- pdf copy can be printed or get a card at one of our talks or walks

2018 Program

MEETINGS: Held at 7.30 pm in Oatley RSL & Community Club, 23 Letitia Street, Oatley

CHECK OFF NEWS FOR DETAILS OF ACTIVITIES

 

FEBRUARY

26th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

James Baxter-Gilbert examining eastern water dragons and their adaptability to urban habitat.

MARCH

1st Thursday – Field day

Victoria Barracks – tour of precinct with its early colonial architecture. Leader: Julian Sheen

21st Wednesday – Field day

Walk from Edgecliff to Circular Quay via Royal Botanic Garden. Leader: Keith McRorie

26th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Em Prof of Anthropology, Richard Wright OAM examines the Australian climate & environment of 10,000 years ago.

APRIL

23rd Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Julian Sheen on The Old Burma Road to Shangrila: travelling beyond expectations in Myanmar and China.

27/29th Weekend field trip

Stay in Capertee NP homestead surrounded by wildlife; explore the valley. Leader: Deb Andrew

MAY

28th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Ecologist Dr Rod Armistead from Eco Logical explains the Phytophthora Dieback in Myles D R.

JUNE

3rd Sunday – Field day

Parramatta – further exploration of its heritage sites and parks. Leader: Vicki Bolling

25th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Author Paul Irish revealing his recent book “Hidden in Plain View” exploring Aboriginal lives post 1788.

JULY

1st Sunday – Field Day

North Head – medium walk through rare heathland and wildflowers. Leader: Melina Amerasinghe

23rd Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Bev Debrincat shows how easy it is to establish small bird habitat corridors in our own yards.

29th Sunday – Field Day

Nattai NP – medium to hard walk to Bonnum Pic, spectacular views. Leader Adrian Buzo

AUGUST

27th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Movie screening of “Secrets at Sunrise”: Western Australia’s rarest bird: the western ground parrot.

SEPTEMBER

2nd Sunday – Field Day

Sydney Olympic Park – Heritage Railway tour, birds, wetlands. Leader: Liz Cameron

23rd Sunday – Field Day

Quarantine Station North Head – tour of heritage buildings, colonial history. Leader: Yvonne Penn

24th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Cliff Crane (The Banjo) reminisces on famous and little known Oatley Bushwalkers of Yesteryear.

OCTOBER

22nd Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

Prof Ross Jeffree shows it is possible with the “Conservation success stories of Bhutan”.

27th Saturday – Field day

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden – cool climate Spring flowers. Leader: Graham Fry

NOVEMBER

18th Sunday – Field Day

Stony Range Botanical Garden, an oasis of native plants in Dee Why. Leader: Graham Lalchere

26th Monday Meeting & Social Supper – 7.30pm

PhD candidate, Reannan Honey brings us up to speed on the results of her “Homes in Hollows” study which OFF is helping to finance.

DECEMBER

3rd Christmas Picnic in Oatley Park

PROGRAM 2019

FEBRUARY

4th AGM – 7.30pm

Followed by members’ photos & supper

COMMITTEE

President

Graham Lalchere 9580 3107

Vice Presidents

Alan Fairley 9570 8332

Julian Sheen 9594 4888

Secretary

Liz Cameron 9580 6621

Treasurer

Rodger Robertson 9570 7471

Program & Publicity Officer

Matt Allison 0408 605 923

Field Officer

Graham Fry 9580 6621

Membership Officer

Robin Dickson 9580 5663

Website Officer

Melina Amerasinghe 0400 300 662

Grants Officer

Kim Wagstaff 9580 7919

Additional Officers

Vicki Bolling 9580 3107

Peter de Beuzeville 8068 6149

Ben Hope 0402 358 348

Peter Mahoney 0435 990 965

James Deli 0434 441 800

Appointed Positions

Public Officer

Julian Sheen 9594 4888

Editorial Committee

Conservation Advisor

Deb Andrew 9570 2695

Hospitality and Welcome

Beverley Watters 9534 1096

Vicki Bolling 9580 3107

Sue de Beuzeville 8068 6149

Sue Howard 9579 1718

 

 

Annual Visit to Kosciuszko National Park

Nineteen OFF members and friends stayed at Charlotte Pass for 3 – 7 days in January 2018. It was our third year in Pygmy Possum Lodge, which has stunning views and is convenient for walks on the Main Range. Also resident were three couples from Berowra who were very convivial and even bought an OFF calendar.

Wildflowers were colourful and abundant (thanks to a late snowfall in October from which many snow drifts remained) and much photographed.

The usual walks were completed, even a trek to Blue Lake in rain, hail and mist.

The less energetic enjoyed watching Flame Robins visit their nest on the lodge verandah, and reading, chatting and doing embroidery, word games and a jigsaw. Tim repaired a cassette radio that became welcome entertainment for Melina’s mother who was nursing a fractured arm.

Weather was changeable and there was a light dusting of snow on the peaks on the final Sunday morning.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

Rivercat to Parramatta

Our last walk for 2017 was Sunday 26th November when 12 OFF members took the train to Circular Quay for a beautiful, relaxing morning ferry trip to Parramatta ( 1 1/2 hrs). You certainly see a different side of Sydney from the river.

From the Parramatta Ferry Terminal we walked alongside the Parramatta Rver in Queen’s Park stopping to read many markers providing information (including pictures) on the history of the area- wharves, mills, granary etc.

We also chanced upon a ceremony at the HMAS Parramatta Memorial being held to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking of The Parramatta II on 26th November 1941.

From there we proceded to the historical precinct of Hambden Cottage, Experimental Farm and Elizabeth Farm. We decided we must make a return visit in 2018 to do justice to these venues and see them properly.

We headed into the town centre via the Lancers’ Barracks which is still in operation and also contains a museum which is open on Sundays- well worth a visit.

 

Lunch was near the St Johns Cathedral which is on the site of the first church in Australia.

After our rest we headed to Parramatta Park to see Government House, a Boer War Memorial and a dairy house museum.

It was then a stroll back along the river and into the CBD to take the train back to Redfern Station.

We were all impressed by how much history there is to see in Parramatta and our day was really only a ‘taster’. So a return visit is definitely needed.

Walk Report by V Bolling

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

 

Thornleigh to Hornsby via the Benowie Track

This was an excellent walk, a little more strenuous than many OFF walks, but not too hard. The only downside is that many members missed out on some beautiful bush, resplendent with wildflowers, including an early flowering Waratah – a highlight of the day.

Just five lucky members made it, with some unable to make it due to illness, but where were the rest of our members? They missed a lovely day starting with a nice coffee at Thornleigh, following the train trip through the Chatswood to Epping tunnel (a first for us), then the walk past Zig-Zag Creek to Fishponds, and finishing with the stunning Blue Gum forest below Hornsby.

We lost count of the wildflowers on the way and spent much time admiring them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One area we passed had obviously been burnt a year or two ago and was covered in flowering spear trees, including one with two inter-twined spears. Very eye-catching!

It was obvious that summer is on its way when a group of walkers in front of us disturbed a Diamond Python basking on the track.

Thanks to Adrian Buzo for another great walk.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO GALLERY

Berowa Valley -Thornleigh to Hornsby 10 Sept

The Thornleigh to Hornsby section of the Great North Walk goes through a number of different bushland types, from heavy creek bush to elevated, open grassland as it meanders through the Berowra Valley.

Meet: Thornleigh Station, western side 10.30 (Oatley to Central 08.43 – 09.12; Central to Thornleigh 09.36 – 10.26.). You can also leave your car at the station and pick it up after the walk as we’ll be coming back down the Northern Line from Hornsby.

There are a couple of moderate climbs and one scrambly bit near the end, so it could be classified as moderately strenuous, especially with the final climb out up to Hornsby station. It should take about 3.0 hours, so we’ll take lunch on the trail. For a general idea of the walk’s attractions see the “wild walks” website, although we won’t be taking the exact route shown.

 

Sheldon Forest Walk – Turramurra

The Sheldon Forest walk started in cool damp weather so the six participants fortified themselves with a coffee in Turramurra before heading for the Reserve. On the upper North Shore deep shale soils support abundant plant growth and we passed tall blue gums and blackbutts growing in gardens and on the nature strip, demonstrating that shady native trees are valued in this part of Sydney.

Sheldon Forest contains one of the last remnants of Blue Gum High Forest community (BGHF) and Ku-ring-gai Council has undertaken weed removal, understorey revegetation and stream stabilisation to improve its biodiversity. These works were funded by a BioBanking Agreement with the NSW Government through the Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program. Several Bushcare groups work in the reserve and a fox-baiting program was in operation at the time of our visit.

The generally smooth blue-grey trunks of the blue gums were patterned with squiggles formed by native red triangle slugs grazing on a film of algae. By contrast adjacent blackbutts had fibrous bark trunks and creamy-white branches (we spent some time learning to distinguish them). As we descended the forested valley, BGHF gave way to STIF (Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest) which also occurs in small pockets in Oatley.

Beside the track was a perfectly formed bower of a Satin Bowerbird, decorated with many items of blue plastic and some sulphur-yellow feathers from a cockatoo’s crest. Lower down the valley we found a great mound of decaying leaf litter – one of three Brush Turkey nests seen on the walk.

Although only 5.5 ha in area, Sheldon Forest contains a great diversity of vegetation. As the shale layer gave way to sandstone outcrops, angophoras she-oaks and grass trees appeared on dry west-facing hillsides.

But down on the shaded banks of Avondale Creek were warm temperate species including ‘black wattle’ (Callicoma serratifolia) and its relative, coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum). Despite being surrounded by suburbia, the narrow forest reserve was quiet and peaceful and we felt immersed in bushland.

The track was well-signposted and although there were many stone steps and a few narrow creek crossings, it was an easy track to follow. A sewer line follows the creek and where we emerged at the lower end of the reserve amongst backyards and stormwater outlets, we noticed a great abundance of weeds – most of them familiar to Bushcarers in Oatley.

We returned to Turramurra station via steep streets on the Pymble side of Sheldon Forest, admiring azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and other spring blossoms in the gardens; then we crossed back through the reserve and followed the Pacific Highway for the last 500 metres – a rude return to city noise.

Thanks to Graham Lalchere for recording highlights of the walk in photos. See photo album