The Billabong – Latest Update
- The path: Council has done a great job finishing the path through the Billabong area – leveling it properly, standardizing its width and mulching the edges
- Planting: As reported in our special “thanks” e-mail a couple of weeks ago, our working bee to plant out The Billabong surroundings was very successful. It was the first time for many years that we needed two pages to record attendees for insurance purposes! We planted a mammoth 490 plants in near perfect winter weather. As you can see, some planting even required gumbies – planting Juncus in the northern pond to (eventually) disguise the “cheese grater” outlet to the creek.
- Pipe repairs: Underground pipe repairs adjacent the pit further up the hill towards Malcolm Street were completed last week – apparently the new system was not functioning correctly – despite appearances.
- New residents: We’ve had further reports that frogs have taken up residence around the northern pond!
This time of year is important for planting given the soil is moist and there should be plenty of rain to help the plants get established:
- 14/6/2015: We’ve already reported on the special June 14th Billabong working bee above.
- 31/5/2015: The May 31st working bee planting out the first stage of the Southern Corridor was also well attended by Friends – and it was great to see some first-timers come along too. Luckily, the threatened rain held off until almost exactly the finish of work at 12:00. We even had burst of sunshine earlier… and planted about 280 plants in total while doing some fairly light Fumitory and Angled-onion weeding as we went.
- 28/6/2015: last Sunday’s planting of the Northern Corridor on the north side of the creek between Laurel Grove and Main Street was also a great success with 330 plants going in – in an often more compromised environment than encountered in the Billabong and Southern Corridor working bees. Once again, several new faces, young and old, turned up to more than compensate for the reduced participation from Committee we knew we’d face. Thanks Friends!
- 26/7/2015: on July 26th, we will return to the Southern Corridor on the main path to the north of Kalang Oval and combine with a Joey’s event (see below).
We also participate in work with groups representing the younger generation:
- Laburnum PS Grade 4s: One committee member helped organize and run a successful weeding event for the combined Grade 4s weeding in Blacks Walk on May 28th. Thanks kids and teachers!
- Joeys: A Joeys group, with parents, will undertake a working bee in Kalang Park near the cricket nets on July 26th. This will be quite close to our Southern Corridor working bee running at the same time – so we will be able to share some resources between the groups.
Kalang Oval Pavilion Redevelopment
- Demolition of the old pavilion commenced last Tuesday. Thanks to a very alert Friend (Elizabeth), our web news photographer was quickly on hand to capture some of the action for you:
- The next stage is construction of the new pavilion which is planned to be completed in February next year.
- Main Street bridge: The bridge span repairs and resurfacing including the painted pedestrian refuge have been completed. Further works in the new financial year will include repairs under the bridge and the new railings. Nevertheless, we understand a new bridge will be needed in about ten years.
- Committee is currently working with Council on remediation of the parkland used for access to the creek for the bridge repairs. We are currently working on a planting plan for the area to the left of the path in the photo.
- Blacks Walk footbridge: Due to budget constraints, Council was unable to take our advice re the best materials to use for the bridge surface repairs. Chicken wire will be used instead!
- Tree down near Laurel Grove bridge: It took a bit too long to get to, but Council contractors removed the fallen tree dangling into the pond adjacent to the Laurel Grove bridge last week. Several Friends had noticed and reported this problem.
- Rubbish bin relocation: Council has moved the Blacks Walk rubbish bin back to where it started from – fairly close to the car park adjacent to the Laburnum Primary School and the Scout Hall. This is good news – especially for dog owners who “do the right thing”!
- Furness Street park entrance: Council has tidied up and mulched out around the end of Furness Street where the no-road barrier was recently replaced.
- Land adjacent 60 Main Street: Three eucalypts have been planted along the Main Street boundary along with some mulching. More work is needed in that area.
- Our park, not only provides a wonderful resource for recreation, but also provides a wildlife corridor linking Blackburn Lake with areas further west. One significant problem our park has, is that it is very narrow in places. To be effective, the park therefore relies on its neighbours – to buffer and extend the park a little for people, fauna and flora.
- Representatives from Committee have been working with colleagues from our sister park, the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, to jointly produce a brochure promoting the concept of the Blackburn Corridor.
- This is targeted at people such as new residents in the area to show what great parks we have, explain the corridor concept and present ideas on how locals can contribute to The Corridor.
Only one interesting bird sighting was reported this month:
- Eastern Spinebills further along the track towards Main Street from the Northern Corridor.
- However, Friends have noticed that the Wood Ducks are chattering together and a pair of White-faced Herons have been noticed nearby in Laurel Grove North. We are a little worried that the birds have interpreted the short burst of warmer weather we’ve enjoyed as the onset of Spring…
One Committee member is investigating a rumour that a Quoll (Native Cat) has recently been seen in the Blackburn area. Please let us know if you see one or know more about the rumour itself!
Plant of the Month – or The Great Melaleuca Mystery!
- Plant of the Month is the Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia).
- If you ever wondered why we don’t plant rows of roses in the park, the answer is that the Creeklands is intended to be a Bushland Park – where roses obviously have no place. What we do plant are “indigenous” plants – these are the plants that grew naturally in the area – eg before European settlement.
- Since the late 1800s, most of Blackburn had been cleared for housing, flower growing, orchards, poultry and other farming – though there are remnants of the original bushland in the area.
- Broadly speaking, we try to regenerate natural vegetation in the parks from plant stock whose provenance is local. There are some wonderful volunteers who collect seed locally and work in the local Bungalook and Greenlink
nurseries to propagate plant stock from local sources. This is where most of the plants we plant out in working bees come from.
- Indigenous vegetation attracts and supports indigenous wildlife such as the birds, butterflies, mammals and amphibians you may see and hear. All this makes for the wonderful, almost spiritual, bush environment we enjoy today in the middle of suburbia.
- One catch is that bushland parks were often planted in the early days with Australian native plants as opposed to local indigenous plants. Such plants may well have been growing in local parks for 35-50 years.
- This brings us back to the Melaleucas – known to many people as “Paperbarks”. There is only one species indigenous to the Creeklands – the Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia). The photo shows the slender “paperbark” trunks on the left and a close up of its foliage on the right. The plant produces creamy-white “brushes” in Spring.
- We’ve planted Melaleucas along the main billabong near the high water level. However, one expert from the Council believes they may be “wrong”. A significant problem is that they have a very different growth form. Their foliage seems to be stiffer, coarser and more inclined to cluster around the stem than the local indigenous species.
- Although the jury is still out, one possibility is that they may have descended from seed sourced from NSW in the 1980s… We are seeking further advice – and will let you know the outcome.
Weed of the Month
- Weed of the Month is Fumitory (Fumaria capreolata). Fumitory is an herbaceous annual in the poppy family and is native to Europe, west Asia and north Africa. You may have noticed it in your garden – it is coming up now. It is mainly a weed of riparian areas including creek banks and urban bushland – preferring partially shady, wetter habitats where it can form a dense ground cover and may also climb up over lower-growing vegetation smothering them.
- It has bright light green foliage and may have white or pink and claret flowers. It seems to seed well. The examples above (from near the Billabong) show Fumitory beginning to smother a Lomandra at left and the density of seedlings in this year’s crop coming up through the leaf litter. The good news is that it pulls out quite easily.