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.



Clean up Australia Day 2018

Another successful clean up Australia day was held on Sunday 4th March along the shores of Lime Kiln Bay. 27 people, including 6 Guides and their leaders, gave up some of their time to scour the mangrove edges for rubbish. Thanks to Alan Fairley for organising the day and manning the OFF marquee (before the wind blew it off!).

A dingy on the ponds allowed collection of rubbish otherwise inaccessible.

A total of 22 bags of rubbish was collected, plus car tyres, tube, bits of pipe, styrofoam and bits of wood. One OFF member even found a string of pearls !! (only costume jewellery)

A large amount of rubbish was found at the stormwater outlet that enters Lime Kiln Bay mangroves near the golf course leachate treatment plant. Loaves of bread in plastic bags with mushrooms growing out of the bags look like they may have been dumped. The large amount of rubbish collected highlighted the need for a GPT on the stormwater drain coming from the Peakhurst Industrial estate.


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




26th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

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


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.


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


28th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

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


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.


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


27th Monday Meeting – 7.30pm

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


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.


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


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.


3rd Christmas Picnic in Oatley Park



4th AGM – 7.30pm

Followed by members’ photos & supper



Graham Lalchere 9580 3107

Vice Presidents

Alan Fairley 9570 8332

Julian Sheen 9594 4888


Liz Cameron 9580 6621


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 General Meeting & 2018 Program

Presidential Address 2018 By Graham Lalchere

Graham thanked the outgoing committee, In particular Shaun Keays-Byrne who will not be standing for the committee this year and resigning from the position of Newsletter editor. He thanked Shaun for the great work he has done on the Newsletter, meeting posters and calendar this year as well our banners. He will be missed both as editor and from the committee.

We heard about an inspirational community campaigner from the Botany area of Sydney ; Nancy Hillier OAM. She was a truly outstanding campaigner for her local community, in development of services, championing the interests of residents, and protection of the environment in the Botany Bay region. A “Relentless rebel with many causes”.



……”Nancy began work at age 14 at Australian Paper Mills at Matraville, sorting paper for recycling into cardboard. She also took up her first issue. One of Nancy’s work companions said workers were not allowed to take toilet breaks in work time. Nancy thought this was wrong, and she told her fellow employees during their break that they should take off their underpants and wash them in the hand basin. She then took the wet garments and hung them on a line at the bottom of the stairs leading to the boss’s office. Naturally, the boss took offence, but Nancy said if employees were allowed to go to the toilet when they felt the urge, they would not wet themselves.”

Hillier was given many public roles, including a place on the Botany community consultation committee, the Botany industrial park environmental committee, the Port Botany expansion committee, the senior citizens’ advisory committee and the emergency management planning committee. In 2006, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. Still she did not sit back. In August, 2012, the 88-year-old called on residents to fight and stop the state government’s plan to remove the container cap at Port Botany. She did not win that fight, but she would never be silenced.

Graham reminded us that we must remain vigilant to the issue of tree cover in our area.   We must ensure that the council’s announced tree canopy policy is a sound one and implemented properly, particularly when it comes to developments which are denuding our area. See more on Community Tree Watch

Read OFF-Presidents AGM Address 2018



Our Secretary Liz Cameron gave a good synopsis of the year’s happenings.

Some highlights include:

  • Initiation of a Research Grants Program

  • Establishment Community tree Watch

  • Completion of the wheel-chair accessible pathway in Oatley Park

  • Photographic competition that resulted in  Oatley – Nature in the Suburbs Calendar 2018

  • Greening of the River Road Reserve near the railway underpass in Oatley with 850 native plants.

  • We fielded 6 stalls at community events , these enable us to promote OFF’s objectives to a wider audience.

  • We continued to lobby MPs, Georges River Council and other authorities about environmental matters

  • OFF involves itself in a wide range of issues and we have made submissions on draft plans and legislation.

 Read Secretary’s Annual Report for 2017













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.


Appeal to New Councillors to Save Bowling Club Site

The society has written to the new Georges River Councillors informing them of the history of the acquisition of the land on which the Oatley Bowling Club (OBC) was built and issues important to the community in retaining the site for recreational community use. 

Please write to your Councillors asking them to consider retaining the site for community recreational use.

OFF letter to Georges River Councillors on planning proposal for OBC

Click here for list of Councillors and email addresses


Three facsimiles below are of 1944 Hurstville Council minutes that relate to the original acquisition of the land on which the former Oatley Bowling Club is situated.

Council minute 680 on 16/11/44- The blocks of land that make up this reserve were acquired in 1944-45 by council for a park




Minute 680 states quite clearly that the land was purchased for a park, lists the blocks bought, and includes all of the blocks on which the Bowling Club was built.






Minute 884 – Grant for acquisition of the lands.




Plans of Management for Royal, Heathcote NPs & Garawarra SCA

Oatley Flora and Fauna Society submitted a discussion paper on the Plans of Management for Royal, Heathcote National Parks and the Garawarra State Conservation.  Read OFF submission.

  • The paramount consideration should be protection of the natural values of the reserves. Protection of these values is the reason the reserves were established and it is required under the National Parks and Wildlife Act requires. The two National Parks in particular, should be managed first and foremost for their natural values
  • The focus should be on protection of entire plant communities and overall biodiversity, not specific species.
  • Recreational activities in the reserves should primarily promote an understanding and appreciation of their natural values.
  • No new mountain bike tracks should be made in the reserves, and existing tracks that are causing erosion or damaging natural features, should be closed. Other venues and tenures of land can provide for these activities in the region.
    It is curious that the NSW Government should consider the necessity to provide extensive opportunities for mountain bike activities in natural reserves while reducing opportunities for commuter cycling in the city, where it poses no harm to the environment










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.


Georges River Council Elections

OFF survey results of candidates have been published to help make your decision on your vote. Please read individual responses we have received from candidates to make your vote count. You can follow links (highlighted in yellow) to view their comments




Coogee to Bondi Walk

Eight OFF members set out on Sunday, 30th July for a walk along the Coogee to Bondi cliff path. We picked a day with very disrupted transport arrangements but eventually arrived at Coogee desperate for a caffeine fix. Because it was such magnificent weather, we joined a cast of hundreds walking the path, although it was great to see so many people enjoying our beautiful coast. We passed the smaller beaches of Gordons Bay and Clovelly and looking southward the view along the coast was picture perfect.

After a little over an hour’s walk we arrived at the historic Waverley Cemetery. Here we visited the graves of many notables such as Lawrence Hargrave, Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar among others. Our hero must surely be Sir James Martin (three times Premier and later Chief Justice of NSW) who was a founder of the League for the Prevention of Pollution of Air and Water (later the Sanitary Reform League) in 1880, possibly Australia’s first conservation group.

After a short lunch at Bronte beach we continued onto Bondi where a combination of beautiful weather and a festival at Bondi beach resulted in long bus queues to take us back to Bondi Junction. Unfortunately the group was split while boarding the bus so Graham L and Trevor decided it was quicker to walk back to Bondi Junction while the rest of us were kind enough to wait for them by having an outdoor coffee.

See more photos in webgallery

For free downloadable books and maps on graves search for Waverley Public Library, then Local Studies.

Report by walk leader Sue de Beuzeville