- We wish all our Friends and your families a safe and happy holiday period – and all the best for 2016!
2015 Highlights and Thanks!
- Also, a big THANK YOU! to all our Friends who worked with us to make 2015 such a successful year in the park.
- The photo above shows our most unexpected sighting for the year – an Eastern Grey kangaroo. This is another photo that Friend Sid managed to take last month. Ours is a “bushland park” where we strive to create and maintain a natural, indigenous environment. Reflecting on the picture, don’t you think the kangaroo looks quite natural in our park?
- Over the past year, we’ve achieved excellent attendances at our working bees – particularly earlier in the year – which are transforming our park. Credit also goes to individuals Juliet (who weeds and mulches Furness Park along Heath Street), Peter and Helen (on the hill in Kalang Park), Mary and her Monday/Thursday team (Alan, Cathy, Graeme and John) as well as the Council and Melbourne Water staff and contractors.
- Sadly for us, though wonderful for her of course, Cathy has won a scholarship to do her PhD and will be moving closer to her university. We will miss her company and her contributions to the park. Nevertheless, she has promised to return for the odd Sunday community working bee next year.
Our highlights for the calendar year were:
- Completion of the billabong project (started in 2007) and rehabilitation of land adjacent to 60 Main Street (started in 2012). These projects were supported by a Melbourne Water grant.
- Restoration of several new areas – along the southern creek bank adjacent to the Kalang Oval, on the northern bank opposite and in the “northern corridor” in Kalang Park between Laurel Grove and Main Street. This project was supported by a DELWP Communities for Nature grant .
- Autumn and Spring 2015 bird surveys were the usual success.
- As an experiment, we have changed methods to use much more mulch (provided by Council).
- Co-production of our Blackburn Bushland Corridor brochure with the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Advisory Committee:
- The brochure has proved very popular with passers-by at the Noticeboard.
- The noticeboard has had a number of interesting displays from the current one on our butterflies, the Open-air School, wattle and other flowering plant identification and many others.
- STOP PRESS: we’ve received a grant offer today (22/12) for two new revegetation projects and further print runs of our corridor brochure! Full details will appear in next month’s news!
Other highlights were:
- The Whitehorse Housing and Neighbourhood Character Review, which has been in the news since 2013, finally reached its conclusion in November with most of the Creeklands and neighbouring parks in the corridor well protected.
- Melbourne Water performed extensive woody weed removal work on the northern side of the creek between Main Street and the Laurel Grove bridge in October/November. What’s a woody weed? – well, any weed is “a plant in the wrong place”. A woody weed is a weed that has some wood about it – typically a tree or a shrub.
- Council has been busy this year too – renovating paths, installing cricket nets and a new pavilion (see below) at Kalang Oval, promising action on the dog-off-lead problem, conducting Main Street bridge maintenance works and realigning paths near Sheehans Road and in Blacks Walk.
Kalang Pavilion – the Difference 50 Years Makes!
- Although not officially opened yet, the new pavilion is up and running well ahead of schedule and is already being used by the cricketers. Landscaping is well on the way too.
- Committee is considering moving our monthly committee meeting from the Bowls Club to a multi-purpose room in the pavilion – given that it’s IN our park.
Calendar for 2016
- Committee has decided to scale back the number of working bees from last year’s 9 (including the additional Billabong planting bee) to 6 in 2016. This does not preclude additional Committee-only working bees such as the bucket brigade described below – should emergencies arise.
- To re-test whether Saturday working bees facilitate others to attend, our first working bee for 2016 will be Saturday 14/5. For your diaries, here is the list of working bees:
- Community Working Bee dates for 2016 are planned to be:
- Saturday 14th May
- Sunday 5th June – World Environment Day
- Sunday 3rd July
- Sunday 31st July – National Tree Day
- Sunday 21st August
- Sunday 4th September (a bye in the footie before the finals)
- Bird Survey dates are proposed to be (Saturdays) 30/4 and 15/10/2016.
The Bucket Brigade
- Well – it’s not exactly been bucketing down lately – so our committee has been doing its own DIY bucketing (the green bottles contain a wetting agent to help the creek water soak in to our hydrophobic soil). We found we were in danger of losing new plantings in the northern corridor planted in the working bee in June. About half a dozen of Committee joined a hastily assembled team earlier this month to mount the rescue operation.
- Naturally, new plants in our park are intended to survive on their own – but these are babies, so a little TLC is permitted especially in that very dry area.
- Some Friends were surprised we did that watering even though it happened to rain persistently that day. There are two reasons for that – firstly, the rain had hardly penetrated the soil. Secondly, we are only permitted to take water out of the creek if there’s enough water available (we need to check measurements downstream at Melbourne Water’s Gardiner Gauging Station – we do that on-line).
- Every plant got a bucket of water for Christmas. Most plants have responded well – though there are still a few in dire straits.
60 Main Street – at VCAT 14/12/2015
- The latest VCAT hearing considering the proposed development adjacent to our park was conducted on the 14th December. Several Committee members made submissions to protect our park – as did representatives from the Blackburn and District Tree Society and the Blackburn Village Residents Group. Other Friends of the park attended as official objectors and/or in our support.
- The current design being considered is a terrible waste of such a well-positioned site. The proposal relies on so-called “transition” provisions which were introduced to protect applications commenced under the old or transitory zoning rules. In this case, it means the applicant can endeavour to squeeze 3 dwellings onto the block whereas any new development application could only have 2.
- For those interested in fuller details, the Applicant’s representative made much of the latest design being a considered response to the rejection of the first version. However, VCAT rejected the first appeal on the 5th December last year – yet the second application was submitted to Council months before (27/8/2014) and even the hearing on the first appeal wasn’t until the September! So another spin to put on this is that the second application was likely a cunning exploitation of the timing gap created by the Napthine government’s overreaching its ability to switch Councils over to the new planning system to the tight time-lines it imposed…
- The Applicant’s representative did say the old house will be demolished soon due to insurance issues. Even though weeds have been allowed to proliferate on the site, we do hope the remainder of the block isn’t “moonscaped” at the same time. There are definitely some regenerating shrubs and mid-storey plants there worthy of retention. Some trees on the block are protected.
- Bottom line: there’s no chance of an early VCAT decision ruining our coming Christmas.
Indigenous Gardening Guide
- Our friends at the local Bungalook and Greenlink nurseries were the first to tell us about Council’s new indigenous gardening guide. It’s very impressive – covering sustainable indigenous gardening from scratch – the benefits, planting and maintenance techniques, garden design tips, a full list of the indigenous plants in Whitehorse replete with glorious colour photographs and a list of weeds.
- You can download it here.
- Because there is no Committee meeting in December, nominations for Plant/Weed of the Month could not be received and judged. In any case, until the rain on Sunday, everything in the park looked sad due to the dryness – one even felt sorry for the weeds!
- WWW – We Wuz Wrong: While we described Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Broadleaf or greater plantain (Plantago major) , we nominated “Plantains” as a species as last month’s weeds of the month. Friend Trevor has since pointed out that there are actually indigenous plantains. We don’t know of any in our park, but Trevor was shown a patch by a botanist at the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Describing them, Trevor says “Could be easily mistaken for exotic species and removed“. We’ll pass on this news to our weeders who hopefully are not responsible for their absence in the Creeklands!
- We couldn’t resist showing you this picture of father-and-son Tawny Frogmouth bookends taken in Kalang Park:
- Actually, we know it’s the father because of the time of day (mothers and fathers take turns minding the little one -during the day, males incubate the egg(s)). But we don’t know the sex of the chick.
- Friend Geoffrey managed to capture the whole family on “film” about a fortnight later…
- The size difference is very noticeable – the fledging period is only 25 – 35 days during which they develop half their adult mass.
- Other sightings include Long-billed Corellas that are currently competing for grass seed with the Galahs in Furness Park and you may have noticed a White-faced Heron cruising the barrelled part of the creek near the Laurel Grove bridge:
See you next year!