Park News – February, 2018

Green Light for  森林浴 (shinrinyoku )

  • 森林浴 (shinrinyoku = forest bathing) was described in our November web news – months ahead of the ABC which finally caught up during the month – see this recent article
  • Although there are subtle physical beneficial effects through walking, bathing in the green light (as shown in Ruth’s photo taken near the Waratah Crescent entrance) and inhaling helpful phytoncides, we should also point out that there are more direct physical benefits available at our park along with shinrinyoku .
  • What you can do is join our friendly Monday/Thursday maintenance team helping to maintain and improve our park.  The benefits are it’s free, you won’t have to take out a gym subscription and there’s no lock in!  Actually, shinrinyoku is also thrown in – something you can enjoy while you work!

Maintenance Team Report

  • Maintenance Team activities have been severely interrupted this month by a week of celebrations for our team leader Mary’s “significant birthday”.

  • Mary also contributes to efforts in other groups.  Our picture shows a “flash mob” who ambushed a Monday working bee to celebrate with a very impressive morning tea. Amanda and Anne (on the left) organised the event – Anne is shown congratulating Mary (in her fetching fluoros).
  • About 20 representatives from all over the municipality – Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, McCubbin Park, the Mitcham Esplanade group, Blackburn & District Environment Fund, Cootamundra Walk, Greenlink and Bungalook nurseries, Wurundjeri Walk, the Blackburn & District Tree Society, Bellbird Dell, the Healesville Freeway Reserve (several are double-ups), Blackburn locals and (no doubt) others all convened to congratulate Mary on achieving her significant milestone.
  • Aside from the celebrations, the team has been busy:
    • Clearing remnant weeds on the northern bank of the creek near Blackburn Road in very hot weather in preparation for planting out soon (once soil conditions permit).
    • Weeding in Furness Park further west near Furness Street and up to Gardenia Street.

Tree Losses

  • Although we have lost some significant canopy and stag trees over summer, we’ve been fortunate not to have lost major trees in recent high winds.  Strong north winds tend to blow over the top of the Creeklands due to the protective hilly terrain to the north.  There is also a measure of similar protection to the south.  In any event, tree limbs have the flexibility to bend in the wind in response to strong, steady winds – it tends to be twisting winds that really test their defences.
  • Because some of our trees take 100-120 years to reach full maturity, they cannot be easily replaced.  In practice, all we can do is regularly plant out seedlings and wait at least 50 years!
  • Because of the time-span needed, this should not be done on a replacement basis – but rather should be an essential part of regular park maintenance.   We need to remember that trees over their lifetime, may be overgrazed by animals such as possums, may be attacked by insects and suffer other causes of death such as prolonged drought / storm damage or problems in the landscape such as erosion.  So, for every single mature canopy tree we want to have in 100 years, we’ll need to plant many candidate seedlings…

Corridor News

Significant Landscape Overlay SLO9

  • In the diagram above adapted from a map sourced here, our park is shown shaded in lilac.  With the exception of Blacks Walk, the corridor around the remainder of the Creeklands (ie Kalang and Furness Parks) and its interface with the private domain have long been protected by the Significant Landscape Overlays SLO1 and SLO2.   Along with our zonings, these have helped protect the park’s corridor from the wholesale destruction of the treed environment in residential properties seen elsewhere.
  • The purpose of the the Significant Landscape Overlays includes conservation and enhancement of the character of significant landscapes:
    • SLO1 covers residential areas adjacent to the Blackburn and Gardiners Creeks and the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary which have special vegetation and landscape qualities.  A number of streets have been classified by the National Trust in recognition of their outstanding landscape significance.
    • SLO2 recognizes the quality of the environment, which includes vegetation notable for its height, density, maturity and high proportion of Australian native trees.  This in turn contributes to the significance of the area as a valuable bird and wildlife habitat.
  • In a significant recognition of our corridor,  the State Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, has approved an Interim Amendment C191 to the local planning scheme which implements a temporary overlay (SLO9) throughout the residential areas of the municipality not already covered by a SLO:
    • SLO9 recognises that the treed character of municipalities such as Whitehorse provides an important ‘green corridor’ between Melbourne, the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs and is a significant component of the subregion.
    • The description of the overlay employs these very welcome words:  “Trees are significant to the landscape character of Whitehorse and the tree cover simultaneously delivers multiple benefits to the community, including defining neighbourhood character, providing visual amenity, reducing the urban heat island effect in more urbanised areas, improving air quality and energy efficiency, providing habitat for fauna, increasing the wellbeing of people and liveability of neighbourhoods“.
    • In particular, SLO9 introduces new tree protections.  For example, a permit is required to remove, destroy or lop a tree 5 metres or higher in height and having a single trunk circumference greater than 1.0 metre measured at a height of one metre above ground level.
    • The overlay expires on December 31st, 2018.  Hopefully, permanent controls will follow.
  • Residents in affected areas may have received a letter from the Mayor, Cr Andrew Davenport describing the change.

Wedge-tailed Eagle visits Nunawading

  • In a timely validation of the importance of our corridor, Ruth managed to photograph a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring high to the east of Blackburn Lake in Nunawading mid-month.  We understand that there was a reliable report of a pair last year from Blackburn Lake.
  • An apex predator, the Wedge-tailed Eagle or Bunjil is Australia’s largest bird of prey.  Apex predators are at the top of a food chain ie no other creatures prey on them. Apex predators serve as keystone species, vital to their ecosystems.   Its local appearance suggests our corridor is functioning well.

The Acacia Street White-faced Heron Chicks

  • Ruth has been tracking the progress of the White-faced Heron Chicks in our corridor in Acacia Street.  We are pleased to report that two out of the three survived, have fledged and are flying independently.
  • However, perhaps like today’s young human offspring, they keep returning to the nest!


  • One interesting bird sighting this month has been a Nankeen Night Heron at the Waratah Wetlands possibly visiting from Blackburn Lake.

  • Several sightings were reported – including the one above from Ruth – our roving photographer.  Although “nankeen” might suggest oriental origins, it probably refers to its color – originally a type of yellow cotton originating in China.  Nevertheless, the species is also found in the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.
  • Interestingly, the long thin white head “plumes” at the back of the bird’s head are breeding plumage – breeding generally occurs September to February.
  • They have a taste for frogs as Clive’s photo from March, 2016 shows very graphically
  • Other sightings have been King-parrots, Gang-gang Cockatoos, a Grey Butcherbird (also in the Waratah Wetlands – apparently hunting the tiny Brown Thornbills there) as well as unwelcome foxes and cats!

Plant of the Month

  • This month, Plant of the Month has been awarded to Purslane (Portulaca leracea).

pacific black duck

Do Pacific Black Ducks eat Purslane?

  • Purslane aka “Pigweed” or “Water weed”  is widely known as a pesty weed – yet it is an indigenous plant.  It has succulent green leaves, red stems and yellow flowers.
  • Interestingly, it is world-wide (probably spread by man) and is used for culinary purposes in many cultures including the Greek.  Also, Aboriginals used its seed to make seed-cake and damper.  It’s one of the few and best plant sources of healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids and has other goodies built-in!
  • It is likely to be indigenous to the Creeklands – though is more prolific nowadays and is likely to be genetically polluted with introduced varieties.

Weed of the Month

  • Our Weed of the Month is Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – sometimes called Aniseed though, strictly speaking, the latter is a smaller plant also called Anise (Pimpinella anisum).
  • Fennel is a hardy,  perennial with yellow flowers and feathery light green leaves indigenous to Mediterranean shores.  It has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the coast and along the banks of waterways such as our creek.  It grows to 2-3 m, has a deep bulb (making it difficult to weed out) and seeds prolifically.

Off with Their Heads!

  • Just a reminder of last month’s message to please dead-head your Agapanthus plants to prevent seed entering our park via the storm-water system…
  • For those interested in removing their Agapanthus completely, here is a link to a very welcome and interesting article from the from the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group about removing the pests – without herbicides, machinery or hard labour.

Events and Notices for Your Diaries

Crested pigeons off to the Bird Count from Kalang Oval… (thanks Ruth!)

Sat 14th

  • Our Autumn Bird Survey is planned for Saturday, 14th April at 07:30.  Our usual group leaders have generously confirmed their availability.
  • Please see our Bird Survey page for more details.

The End

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