Photos and text courtesy of Marie Hollingworth, Coordinator Nosworthy Park Bushcare Group

The environment of Nosworthy Park has come a long way since the first working bee of the Nosworthy Park Bushcare Group (NPBG) in October 2004. Before then, the park area was used for the grazing animals of a local farm. Once this wound up the expanse of what became grassland was mown by a tractor and slasher in a couple of hours spinning around the only trees – the now about 100 year old Melaleuca bracteata endemic to the area. Wedding photos were taken beneath these trees and generations of the neighbourhood’s children tobogganed down the grassy slopes on strips of cardboard.

The initial clearing and planting of trees occurred in the early 1990s inspired by the desire to restore the scrub that had covered much of this area before the population expanded and areas were cleared for housing. But any such project needs maintenance and 10 years later it took the first members of OCCA’a CreekCare team to tackle the festooned Climbing Asparagus vine and tall introduced (for cattle food) Guinea Grass that had inhabited the area. As well much of the area was boggy and weedy due to springs and a storm water outlet. No one would want to venture in.

This is what the Bushcare Group took on. Initial tasks were to plant native trees to provide shade and retard weed growth. A successful Commonwealth Water Grant application in 2006 enabled significant erosion to be managed. With assistance from Council rock shutes and pools were built which slowed and managed water flow following heavy rain.

In the intervening 15 years the NPBG has completed many projects to develop the park environment and remove some problem structures, significantly 3 large weedy Camphor laurel trees and huge stands of bamboo. Because of the disturbed history of the park it was very encouraging to find how resilient the area is with much natural regeneration of both tree species and native ground covers continually occurring – which makes bushcare stewardship much easier.

The main ‘U’-shaped track was constructed under the LEAP employment Scheme in the 1990s. However because there are so many different vegetation areas in the park, a number of other paths

were enthusiastically created by a local Scouts group to draw walkers into these rather special areas – cathedral like fern gully, ephemeral wetland of huge Melaleucas moving on to dry woodland open forest containing probably the largest specimen around of the threatened Gossia gonoclada species, the path along the varied riparian vegetation with the velcro-like leaves of Leersia grass returning each year to the same spot, a section of remnant Flindersia trees with the distinctive 5-fingered spiky seed cones and at the end of the ridge an old Angophora with tree hollows that was home for a family of 5 Southern Boobook Owls last year. Other large Spotted gums with hollows or trees with Termite mound homes adopted by Kookaburras, Kingfishers and even possums have survived lightening and fierce winds.

This is all a far call from the grassland that was once maintained with a couple of hours mowing. However, the park now provides so much more for the local community – an escape from city noise into a peaceful natural area of bird’s flitting about, butterflies and other insects going about their business, the soft quiet play of sunlight streaming between trees which may be flowering or fruiting depending on the season. One observes how this may improve spectacularly if a certain season (wet/dry) suits them better.

With many new residents now in our suburbs, involvement in a bushcare group offers many benefits. It is a way to become involved in the local community, to overcome isolation by getting to know people, make new friends, a way to learn about the environment. Importantly it is a way to contribute to our health and the health of our environment and provides support for the wildlife living and feeding on the vegetation communities planted through bushcare working bees. New members are always welcome to come as they are able. NPBG meets on the first Saturday of the month from 7.30am for 2 hours followed by smoko and a chat.

So, when visiting Nosworthy Park it is well worth venturing ‘off the beaten track’ to discover those delightful environments that have been rescued from weeds and ones being created through the planting efforts of community members who come to work in the park. For more information contact Marie Hollingworth – marie.hollingworth@bigpond.com

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