Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award 2017

Robin Cropped 2Congratulations to Robin Dickson on her Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award 2017!

OFF nominated Robin Dickson, our Membership Secretary and Welfare Officer, for the GRC Volunteer of the Year Awards 2016 but those awards became incorporated in the Australia Day Awards 2017, so finally on Monday 23rd January, Robin was presented with her Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award by the General Manager Gail Connolly and Administrator John Rayner, and Federal MP David Coleman. OFF representatives Graham Lalchere, Peter de Beuzeville and Liz Cameron were there to congratulate Robin.

Our nomination read:

Mrs Robin Dickson joined Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Inc (OFF) in 1990 and for the past 23 years has been a very active member of the OFF committee. Initially she was Honorary Secretary (11 years) then, for the last 12 years, Membership Officer, and for 8 years, Welfare Officer; she continues to carry out both these roles. As Secretary she was energetic in pursuing OFF’s objectives and has efficiently resumed that extra role when the current Secretary is absent.

Robin devotes considerable time to OFF business and activities. She processes new memberships, maintains an up-to-date register of members and their contact details, and each month presents a report on membership statistics and changes to the register; she also arranges printing and postage of OFF’s monthly newsletter. She is particularly busy at the end of the year, preparing and posting membership renewal forms to about 300 members.

As Welfare Officer, Robin looks after the wellbeing of our members, some of whom are quite elderly (our Society has been active for 62 years); she visits and phones those who are housebound or unwell, and sends condolences on behalf of OFF.

We have nominated Mrs Robin Dickson because she does far more than simply fulfil her nominated duties. She is a cheerful, warm and caring woman who fosters goodwill in our community and makes everyone feel welcome and valued. These qualities in Robin, along with her gentle persistence, have contributed greatly to the very high retention rate of members in OFF. She knows, and is probably known to, every member of our Society and communicates very easily with children as well as adults. Robin is generous in acknowledging the achievements of other members of OFF – in 2004 she documented the contribution of some of our prominent members and presented it to the Oatley Heritage Group, creating a record for future reference. But she is self-effacing regarding her own contributions.

Robin attends most of the numerous OFF events and outings and is always ready to provide practical assistance – helping on stalls, welcoming newcomers and providing delicious food for catered events. Her excellent handicraft skills were called upon this year when OFF members made 50 artificial nests for a research project on the endangered Regent Honeyeater.

Kosciuszko National Park January 2017

2017 Snowy Porritt(272)This is the second year we have stayed in Pygmy Possum Lodge at Charlotte Pass and again it was very satisfactory; fourteen OFF members spent three to seven days there during the week of 8-15th January. It was also a pleasure to have the company of some of the ski club’s members who were welcoming, helpful and knowledgeable.

2017 Snowy Porritt(154)The bedrooms, all with en-suites, were comfortable and warm, and the kitchen very well-equipped (but it called for some complex choreography when everyone was preparing dinner at the same time). The lounge afforded spectacular views of jagged granite tors, snow gums and olive-green shrubs, all occasionally blotted out by sweeping curtains of rain that briefly dampened our enthusiasm for the outdoors.

2017 Snowy Porritt(196)During inclement weather we occupied ourselves with reading, needlework, jigsaws, crosswords and identification of plants and animals we’d photographed. There was a happy hour each evening which sometimes developed into serious wine-tasting, and one night to admiration of the full moon as it rose in a crystal clear sky flushed by the sun’s afterglow.

2017 Snowy Porritt(278)This year was particularly good for wildflowers – daisies everywhere, mintbush and eyebright on the upper slopes, clusters of magenta trigger plants, cream candle heath and glossy buttercups in low-lying areas. Photographers found it difficult to capture the depth of colour in bluebells, flax lilies, violets, fan flowers and others in the blue – mauve spectrum.

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2017 Snowy Sharyn Cullis (7)

2017 Snowy Porritt(239)Fauna was not conspicuous but there were grey kangaroos on the Waterfall Track and we saw two large echidnas. Piles of dung, scratchings and big burrows were the closest we got to wombats. Around Charlotte Pass were Flame Robins, Brown Thornbills, Australasian Pipits, Crimson Rosellas, Little Ravens, Striated Pardalotes and Welcome Swallows.

2017 Snowy Porritt(228)There were some introduced animals including hares, a black rabbit, a feral cat (which we reported) and Common Starlings. A variety of sleek high country skinks was seen, and several “large dark snakes” (probably copperheads). There was a dead alpine funnel-web on Porcupine Track and colourful live grasshoppers and beetles were photographed on leaves and flowers; a few Bogong Moths secreted themselves in the Lodge at night.

2017 Snowy Sharyn Cullis (5)The legacy of snowfalls late in the season was evident in the high water level in Lake Jindabyne and good flows in the alpine streams. The countryside was green and snow gums were regenerating well, although the rate of regrowth is noticeably slower at higher altitudes. March and bush flies seemed more than usually abundant and persistent, perhaps another consequence of the recent rain and snow.

2017 Snowy Porritt(197)Weather conditions were generally mild and conducive to walking. Our first walk was to Porcupine Rocks, an OFF tradition that prepares us for more demanding tracks. Many small patches of snow were visible on the Main Range and we admired “Jan’s tree”, a magnificent old Snow Gum beside the track that escaped the ferocious alpine fires of 2003. On our return to the Kosciuszko Road, we indulged in hot drinks and burgers at the Alpine Eyre café at Perisher Gap; it was a popular meeting spot for the rest of the week.

2017 Snowy Sharyn Cullis (3)Other walks completed by members of our party included Dead Horse Gap via the Thredbo chairlift, Blue Lake, Mt Kosciuszko via the Summit Road, Rainbow Lake, Guthega to Illawong, Waterfall, Mt Stilwell and Charlotte Pass Village to Alpine Eyre café. On the windiest day, while some were battling gales around Mt Stilwell, one couple enjoyed a peaceful riverside picnic in the sheltered woodland of Island Bend. At the end of the week the remaining ten people lunched together at Parc Café in Jindabyne and spent time in the displays and shop in the NPWS Centre.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

Cruising the Scenic Port Hacking River

dscn1561-2-groupThe last OFF outing for the year was a three-hour return cruise on Wednesday 30 November from Gunnamatta Bay at Cronulla, along the Hacking River to Royal National Park. Thirty-six members and friends embarked at 10.30 am on a fine mild day and enjoyed a smooth and comfortable ride (mid-week there was very little water traffic). Unlimited morning tea was available throughout the cruise and at the conclusion of the trip some of us lunched in Cronulla. It was unfortunate that Maureen, who had recommended the cruise for our 2016 program, was unable to join us on the day.

We travelled on the M.V. Tom Thumb III, named after the 2.5 metre rowing boat in which Bass and Flinders and ‘the boy Martin’ explored the area in 1796. Their voyage is also commemorated by a monument at Bass and Flinders Point in Cronulla but over the intervening 220 years much of the landscape they saw has been drastically altered.

 

p1010150On the southern side of Port Hacking, after we passed the settlements of Bundeena and Maianbar that border the Royal National Park, it was not difficult to envisage what the first Tom Thumb’s crew would have seen. The shores remain covered in typical Sydney sandstone flora dominated by flowering angophoras with their summertime deep orange trunks and an understorey of native shrubs and grass trees. Silver Gulls, Crested Terns, Pied Cormorants and a solitary Pied Oystercatcher were resting on a sandbar, and we were surprised and delighted to see a dolphin in the river. Graham spotted an adult and an immature White-bellied Sea Eagle.

p1010155The tide was high so our boat could motor as far as the weir at Audley; some passengers recalled Sunday School outings there. A kayaker was fishing in the shallows and picnickers on the bank waved to us. The commentator on board said it was planned, in the event of a Japanese landing during World War II, to bring all navigable craft in Port Hacking up the river to this point and burn them.

dscn1540-middenThe commentator also spoke about the original inhabitants – the Tharawal or Dharwal people, their place names and culture; some of their middens were destroyed when shells were gathered as a source of lime for buildings in Sydney. There were anecdotes about the European settlers and early industries including a fish hatchery and deer-farming. Many landmarks and significant dwellings and boathouses were pointed out, and free maps on board allowed us to trace our route. Also on board were albums of early photos and newspaper cuttings relating to life on Port Hacking.

 

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The return journey took us into some of the bays on the northern shores of Port Hacking, a completely different landscape featuring palatial homes, private jetties and big boats. But there were also some swimming baths for the general public and one passenger said she had spent her youthful summers there.

p1010136Shiprock Aquatic Reserve at the entrance to Burraneer Bay was pointed out. The biodiversity in this 2 hectare reserve so close to Cronulla is extraordinary and was illustrated by Gary Dunnet at an OFF meeting in February 2010. He explained the adaptations that allowed animals and algae to crowd onto the sandy substrates and rocky cliffs of what is essentially a flooded sandstone valley, and he listed some of the land and water-based human activities that can threaten that biodiversity. It was ironic that our tour guide also pointed out the former Fisheries Research Centre at the entrance to Gunnamatta Bay; scientists at the Centre which was closed down by the NSW Government in 2011, would doubtless have contributed to knowledge of Shiprock’s rich biodiversity.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

Footnote:

For those interested in reading an evocative account of the original Tom Thumb’s exploration of Port Hacking, I recommend the following book. It has been described as juvenile historical fiction and I borrowed from Kogarah Library some years ago.

Joan Phipson, 1972. Bass and Billy Martin. Macmillan of Australia. 240 pages.

Minnamurra Rainforest Walk

A simply beautiful day was spent in the calm ambience of the Minnamurra Rainforest on Sunday 30th October. Sixteen expectant walkers gathered at the Visitors Centre of the Budderoo National Park ready to face the climb up to the Falls. Because of trackwork the walk was in two parts: the steep walk to the waterfall followed by the lovely Minnamurra River walk.

The first part of the walk was a challenge made esasier by the regular path and rewarded by views of the deep chasm and distant views of the higher falls. After rain the water flow gushed down into the deep canyon. The bush was damp and fertile and the birdlife kept us company.

We returned to the picnic area near the Visitors Centre for lunch then set out on the shorter walk along the river.

The walk was glorious with added excitement provided by the two suspension bridges. The views up and down the waterways and down into the deep limpid pools were memorable.

And there were monsters too – a monster strangler fig and two delightful dragons on rocks by the water (somewhat smaller in size).  Along the walk there were information signs to help us understand our surroundings.

All in all it was a top day with the drive down the coast being no obstacle to our fun.

Report by walk leader Julian Sheen       CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

Lions Festival 2016

img_0974This year’s festival was superb, sunny with a light breeze, and well attended. OFF’s stand, was adjacent to the Bush Care and Oatley Heritage sites, and we all benefited from the locations with the public going to each of our stalls. img_1045

OFF had a good range of materials, both free and for sale. Our Oatley Park brochures were popular, particularly the bird brochure, and Shaun Keys-Burn produced a nice set of greeting cards using the brilliant photos of Peter Mercer. These sold well and raised over $100.

img_0972We had a good range of plants for sale, courtesy of the East Hills Aust Plant Society and Menai Wildflower Group. We sold about 75% of the stock and were very happy to share the proceeds with the suppliers.

img_1037 This is OFF’s best opportunity for public exposure. We benefited by gaining 5 new memberships on the day, and distributing many membership packages. It was a good day; many thanks to the volunteer staff, and to those who arranged our stall

Capertee National Park Field Trip

capertee-crossingFifteen OFF members and friends enjoyed our annual weekend field trip on 24 & 25th September to Capertee National Park. Heavy rain overnight presented the visitors to the national park with a swollen river crossing. It was a challenge to smaller cars, but all crossed it.

dscn8713The highlight was seeing gorgeous gold and black Regent Honeyeaters at close quarters. It was a fitting reward for those who had made artificial nests for a predation experiment run by ANU postgraduate student Ross Crates. One night Ross showed photos of predators, including Brush-tailed Possums, Sugar Gliders and Grey Shrike-thrushes, that had raided the artificial nests.

capertee-np-24-26_09_2016-042There were ambles along trails through different habitats that offered plentiful subjects for the photographers in the group. On the upland Airstrip Trail four different orchids were flowering and there was a sweeping vista of distant peaks that included Mt Marsden and Tayan Peak in Wollemi NP. By contrast the shaded grassy banks of crystal clear Ullumbra Creek sheltered maidenhair ferns and native violets, and supported massive river sheoaks on which fine-leafed mistletoes were flowering.

 

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walarooDriving back to the homestead after a late afternoon visit to the Valley Lookout, we were treated to a magnificent rainbow and encountered Wallaroos and Common Wombats venturing onto the river flats for their evening meal. Recent rains had put a fresh in the Capertee River and encouraged a chorus of frogs and crickets at night.

Many thanks to Deb Andrew who shared her intimate knowledge of the park and its rich flora and fauna.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

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What Next for Oatley Bowling Club Site?

p1000594It is disappointing that the Georges River Council is pursuing action to alienate public land.

A development application to consolidate the lots at the former Oatley Bowling Club (OBC) site was approved (9/9/16) by the Independent Hearing Assessment Panel (IHAP). Whilst this DA does not include any construction and operational works, community members addressing the panel stated that it is integral to the rezoning planning proposal submitted in conjunction with this DA. 

p1000351Despite the consolidation, the OBC site is STILL in Myles Dunphy Reserve, given the following statements in the IHAP report…. ” The lots will remain in one ownership and still form part of the public reserve and community land. ” See Friends of Oatley Website for more on the campaign to keep public land public

In September 2010 the former Hurstville Council decided to rezone the former Oatley Bowling Club site in Myles Dunphy Reserve from Open Space to Residential. Georges River Council is now proposing to rezone the site to SP2 Infrastructure (Seniors housing) as per 2014 council resolutions.  There are no height limits in SP2 zones whereas residential zones are limited to three (3) storeys. Documents from two closed door meetings in 2014 have been finally made public (3/8/16). It appears council resolved to build more than 80 seniors residences including tower potentially up to 9 storeys  for it to be financially viable. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

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p1000362A Planning Proposal Should be in the next few months – This should include traffic and access, contamination, train noise and vibration, hydraulic services, as well as bushfire, ecological and planning studies.

As part of this stage there will be opportunities for the community to provide their feedback to Council via community information sessions.

 

The community can to keep up to date on this issue

pop-up-picinic-group-21-aug-2016by following Friends of Oatley website ; and Facebook sites  Myles Dunphy Reserve ;

Myles Dunphy Reserve Backyard ;

Oatley and Surrounds

Georges River Councilmail@georgesriver.nsw.gov.au
State Member Mark CoureOatley@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Federal Member David Coleman  - david.coleman.mp@aph.gov.au
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird on the Brink – Regent Honeyeater

P1000348Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society (OFF) volunteers have been helping ANU PhD candidate Ross Crates with his research into the ecology of the Regent Honeyeater, one of the most endangered birds in the country.Capertee NP Regent HE  12-18_10_2015 174There may be as few as 600 individuals remaining in the wild. 

25 Flora and Fauna Society members and friends helped to make 80 Regent Honeyeater and Friar Bird nests over a two week period in August. Ross will use these artificial nests (with false eggs) in Capertee National Park to ascertain which birds and mammals predate on the Regent Honeyeater eggs and young. The nests are now in place with cameras to track predators.

P1000286Ross’s research is aiming to identify the major threats to the survival of the Regent Honeyeater in its woodland habitats. Reducing threats such as nest predation and loss of woodland habitat can contribute to the Regent Honeyeater’s long term survival in the wild.

 This work follows on from his fieldwork into their habitat when he used motion sensor cameras, including one donated by Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society. Ross will present his findings at one of OFF’s regular monthly talks in 2017.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

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New proposed legislation threat to Biodiversity

The NSW Government has drafted legislation that will weaken protection for biodiversity in our state. The titles of the legislation – Biodiversity Conservation Bill and Local Land Services Amendment Bill are misleading and obscure their true purpose.

The bills will actually allow increased damage to the natural environment through less-regulated land-clearing. The bills will remove a legal requirement that  land clearing should “maintain or improve” biodiversity and will facilitate widespread destruction of native vegetation in both country and urban areas. Nature will pay the bill for this ill-conceived legislation.

In 2014 the 10/50 Clearing Code of Practice was introduced to allow residents to remove vegetation to protect their homes from bushfires. It was so widely abused by landholders clearing vegetation for other purposes that the code had to be modified only two months later. Government data shows the state’s farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further.

One of the key changes in the draft bills is the expansion of the use of self-assesable codes – these will allow land-holders to clear trees more freely, with less supervision. Often these paddock trees will include old trees with hollows that provide shelter and nest sites essential to birds such as owls and parrots, and many other animals. They are nature’s boarding houses. “The Offset” plantings proposed in the bills won’t provide hollows for many, many years.

Our Society does not want to see another vegetation-clearing fiasco in our leafy neighbourhood, or in the rest of the state. We have taken a symbolic slice of wood (salvaged from a tree removed under the 10/50 Code) to Oatley MP Mark Coure’s office to express our concern. Written on the wood (pictured) was the message. “We ask that you urgently withdraw the draft  NSW Biodiversity legislation & act to ensure strong laws to protect our wildlife, amenity, soils & climate. Gymea Biodiversity Review Community”

Concerned residents throughout Sydney have been have been contacting their local Members of Parliament. OFF members also attended attended a protest on 24 June outside Premier Mike Baird’s office in Manly.

For more information, sign petition or help to make submission see Stand Up For Nature Website Submissions are due 28 June 2016.

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Longwall Coal Mining is Jeopardising Water Supply

cordeaux 239 people participated on our Picnic at Cordeaux dam on 1/5/16 to protest about environmentally damaging longwall coal mining projects in the Metropolitan Drinking Water catchments.  Most of those were members of Oatley Flora and Fauna who sponsored the day, but there were also  some present from The Georges River Environmental Alliance and National Parks Assn, Macarthur.

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Our particular focus was to oppose the proposal to extend the Dendrobium mining operations in the Cordeaux and Avon Dam catchments, as that was our location for the day. This project has done the most harm yet seen in terms of both draining  precious water yielding swamps and tributary streams, and yet the state government is on the verge of a further approval.

Attached is a report that some participants urged me to compile. It summarizes the current dam threatening proposals; The Metropolitan Mine in the Woronora, The Russell Vale Project in the Cataract as well as the aforementioned Dendrobium project. Included is some scathing evidence against the continuation of damaging longwall coal mining beneath our precious drinking water assets, from the governments’ own agencies and instrumentalities including the NSW Dam Safety Committee, the PAC Commission of Inquiry and Water NSW. It is therefore not surprising, that some of the comments included from participants on the fieldtrip, reveal a level of incredulity, appalling surprise,  that our state government not only permits, but even encourages coal mining that threatens drinking water supplies, and that it applies a third world standard of environmental regulation, in what is  supposedly our first world country. Apart from objecting to the appalling damage that is occurring, a discussion of the financial fragility of some of the proponents, and their poor record in terms of ethical governance added extra concerns.

Report by Picnic organiser Sharyn Cullis (1May 2016)

Please take the time to read paper by Sharyn Cullis which details why coal projects in drinking water catchments is wrong. 

Coal projects in the drinking water catchments 

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