About Dick’s Creek Bush Restoration

Dick’s creek landcare group is working to restore the creek and surrounding bush to it’s natural state.

Dick’s creek is located in Lake Macquarie, NSW. It begins before Hallam St, in Charlestown and ends when it joins Johnson creek near Oakdale Rd, near Gateshead. However, Dick’s creek landcare group is current focused on the small reserve off Green Valley Rd.

Within this section of the creek, it runs through two small falls of approximately 4 or 5 metres height and flows through a moist gully with relatively steep embankments.

Lake Macquarie Landcare has assessed the vegetation community within the reserve to be Hunter Valley Moist Valley. That vegetation profile description can be found here.

Site inspection – 18.07.2021

Life has been getting in the way of Dick’s creek landcare lately but I should be able to get back into it soon.

First thing though is to have a look and reassess where I am at and what has priority. To do that I did a site inspection which I videoed as I went along…

There is a mixture of good and bad. Some natives are going strong, some weeds are still dominating various areas. Most notably for me is the creek edge after second fall towards the back of the reserve. I need to go along and remove the young privet and lantana before it can get established. I am keen to get into it.

Working bee – 18.04.2021

It was a late start for Sunday’s working bee but it still turned out to be a productive day.

Mist flower is popping up again in numbers. Grrrr. I am not sure if that one will ever completely disappear.  It seems fairly well established in the seedbank. Some of the plants grow in very difficult to access locations so they do not get removed as quickly as I would prefer.

One win I noticed on the weekend is the false bracken fern on the East bank after first fall. I had noticed a few struggling bracken ferns amongst the fishbone fern about twelve months ago. I cleared around those and they expanded and I cleared around that and it has expanded again. It appears the false bracken fern is very capable at taking on the fishbone fern. when it gets a chance.

Another win was a dead camphor laurel tree which the green team had dealt with in their last visit. A bunch of privet was also killed via glyphosate. I typically avoid using herbicides but then, I tend to end up with situations as seen at ‘Glen’s alley’ which has a troubling number of privet saplings and trees springing up.

Many privet saplings can be seen in the foreground

Cabbage tree palm and poison peach seen here will be crowded out by next year if privet is not held in check

In the adjacent areas, not yet cleared, privet and lantana dominate.

My original intention was to start on the area in the photo above but instead, I learned a large, dead, rotting tree had finally fallen. I had noticed it a long time ago and was amazed it was still standing given the amount of rot at the base. Finally it has come down.

Looking at the base of the tree, it boggles the mind how it was standing at all.

There was a lot of burnt pieces lying around. Hopefully from a fire long ago and not from someone doing anything silly.

It was once a very large tree. A substantial portion of it landed on the other side of the creek. Very lucky that it did not take out anything notable.

 

Rather than let the lantana close in on the vacated space, I thought I would open up the area for the nearby sandpaper fig trees which are sure to appreciate the extra light.

The privet tree holding my bag was previously scaffolding for lantana. I will still need to remove more from that tree.

Sandpaper fig on the left should now get much more light. I will be surprised if I don’t see some natives popping up here within the next 12 months.

This lantana pile looks larger than it is. I use the sea of lantana to keep the cleared lantana off the ground.

I have a long list of areas that need attention so I will need to get to work a bit earlier next week. That privet beckons me…

Working bee – 10.03.21

It was a productive day. After working on a small amount of palm grass before first fall, I decided to finally help out the gardia growing between the first and second falls. Gardia has been growing well but it is still having to compete with a lot of fishbone fern and some ginger lilly.

Here it is before trying to thin out the fishbone fern…

You can see in the image that the gardia (the tall grass seen in the center of the image), is getting above the fishbone fern but it is not very numerous. As I started weeding the fishbone fern I found a lot more gardia that was just too small to get to the light and hence were not looking very healthy.

After spending half an hour or so removing fishbone fern, the gardia now has a lot more space to expand and young shoots should now be able to grow above the fern. The image below shows the spot after weeding. I tried to use some judgement as to how much I should remove. I would not want to allow erosion to take place. Fast flowing water can cover the area if there is heavy rain.

A hairy clarodendrum I walk past when going to site A is being attached by these guys…

It was a straight forward lantana and privet removal after this point. No photos to show because I was too tired afterwards. I starting an area requiring maintenance but then expanded on that to clear a good section under ‘Site A’.

One concern is a lot of plants showing a brown discolouration. I am hoping it has to do with the extra light coming through after a large gum was removed in a nearby residence but that does not seem to match. I noticed it on some bleeding hearts and most notably, on the giant tree fern along the creek after second falls. Hopefully it is not a big deal but it is a concern at present. Might need to ask the experts at lakemac landcare.

 

Working bee – 06.03.21

Last week’s successful attack on lantana motivated me to do the same thing again this time. However, as is often the way, walking to the desired location is full of distractions that were too hard to ignore.

Just off the road, at the entrance of the reserve, buffalo grass dominates the area. Scurvy weed seems to give it a run for its money but it has a long way to go before it could ever take this nasty grass on. Here is an example of what I am referring to…

So before descending to the gully after first falls, I did some minor maintenance. I pushed back the grass and removed the mist flower that was bothering any of the blue flax lilly or scurvy weed. Unfortunately, some spots are quite risky to reach. They will have to wait until I determine a safer way to continue.

This was before doing some weeding. See if you can spot the blue flax lilly.

One positive I noticed on the way to my selected target was a section of scurvy weed doing battle with wandering jew and swedish ivy. I gave it a helping hand by clearing a square metre or so around it. Hopefully it takes the opportunity to expand.

On the left, the undesirable swedish ivy. On the right, the almighty scurvy weed (and probably some wandering willy as well unfortunately).

Higher up is dominated by wandering willy. I intend to see how a rake goes with it.

I moved along the west bank between the first and second falls. Anywhere I saw a native being crowded out, I cleared around it. It still all looks very messy but I have to accept, it is a gradual process.

Still, looking back, upto the first falls, it is a pretty sight, even with all the weeds still dominating the area.

Another win…I believe it is a birdnest fern just above second falls.

After taking this photo I found another half a dozen on the other side. Looking good!

Finally, I got to the site I intended on in the first place. After a good couple of hours, I had cleared another good section of lantana that was crowding out various natives (Sandpaper fig in particular).

One other native I am seeing more of is the wombat berry vine. After asking for an id, I have discovered the narrow leaved vine in this picture is Geitonoplesium Cymosum, otherwise known as scrambling lilly. Good to see more natives springing up.

Next week I intend on doing the same. Attacking the lantana under site A (behind No.14 Grn Val Rd). Anywhere I find some natives gets priority and it does seem there are many natives struggling to stay alive.

 

Working bee – 27.02.21

Dick’s Creek had a visit from the green team from the lake macquarie landcare resource center during the week. Many hands make light work and that was definitely the case on the day. Some good progress was made on the day despite delays due to rain. While there on the day I noticed some sections done previously had sprung back. Namely lantana and privet as usual. I have been quite  taken back by the speed that everything is growing at present. Rain is great for all the plants, weeds included unfortunately.

Yesterday, I had a chance to get some guards around the Cheese saplings I planted a month or so ago.

Everything is looking super green at present. Maiden hair along the cliff face next to the first falls has never been so abundant.

Palm grass is looking a bit too healthy at various places along the creek. At placed, I need to consider erosion control. When the water flows fast, it takes anything that is loose down stream so sometimes it is just better to leave some weeds in place for this reason. Here is what I am describing…

Further along, I am pushing back the swedish Ivy as various ferns show up. Hopefully it is a case of slowly does it. Things are looking much better but it can all go backwards quickly if I don’t keep an eye on it.

A trail that I often used that leads from the second falls around to site A was enveloped by fishbone fern. Impressive. Annoying but still impressive. I cleared the trail. This video shows the area and also one of the areas done by the green team.

Also done by the the green team and I last Tuesday…

Continuing on from that section I cleared lantana and privet back down the creeks edge (which still needs some serious privet treatment).

Here is the summary of the day which I try to do for each working bee. It was a good day…

 

Weed puller try out – 03.02.21

In an example of ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask’, I discovered that Lake Macquarie Landcare had recently purchased a ‘tree popper’.

I had been eying off different versions of these tools for a while so it was good to finally get to give one a go. For those who have not heard of these tools, they work by allowing the user to apply leverage to the base of woody stemmed weeds like privet, cassia and laurel camphor.

Here it is with some of the privet it took on:

It is definitely a tool worth having in bush regeneration even if it does not cover all situations. I’ll give a quick run down of what I thought were the pros and cons of this particular tool.

Firstly, its HEAVY. It is not something you can just throw in your backpack or over your shoulder on a whim. You are only going to take it when you know you are going to use it. On the flip side, it is solid. I’m over a hundred kilos and I felt no ‘give’ while using it.

It does require some space near the base to operate it effectively. It is not insignificant but I was always able to find a spot near the weed to use without squashing any plants I wanted to save.

There are different sizes. I believe this was the medium size. It’s ‘mouth’ would not open greater than around 4cm which was a limiting factor. I was working on privet and so I found I was only using it on a subset of what was there. For anything under 1cm, it was not worth putting in place. Those are easy enough to pull out by hand. However, anything I larger than that that I could get the mouth around, it was definitely worth using. The amount of force required by the user becomes trivial.

Unfortunately, it is expensive. I personally could not justify the cost for the small site I typically work on. It is great to know there is one available when required (thanks lakemac landcare!).

I recommend giving it a go if you do this type of weeding regularly. I believe these will become a must have tool for bush regeneration in the future.

 

 

 

 

Working bee – 10.01.21

A great day to get some maintenance done today. Accompanied with my eight year old daughter, Ella, we pushed back the lantana which is unfortunately loving the recent rain as much as the natives.

Ella found a relatively mature bleeding heart tree today.

 

It had clearly had a hard time not too long ago as the main trunk was broken off but a side branch was thriving and the tree was bearing fruit. A great find by Ella.

Hunter Valley Moist Forest – Landcare classification

Landcare assessors classified Dick’s Creek reserve as Hunter Valley Moist Forest (MU12). This classification can be found online in:

Volume 2: Vegetation Community Profiles, Lake Macquarie Local Government Area Working Draft v2

This classification can be seen below:

Hunter Valley Moist Forest

Unit 12

A flying Scrub Turkey at Dick’s Creek

Scrub turkeys (otherwise known as Brush or Bush Turkeys) always seem to show up when we visit natural areas frequented by people. However, at the Dick’s creek Landcare site they are a rare sight, so we were very excited to see one flying up through the trees a few days ago. Normally they tend to walk rather than fly but it occurs to me that is probably because National Parks and the like do not allow dogs. This turkey could not rely on the absence of dogs and other nasty predators so it obviously decided the trees were the place to be.

I was able to take some photos of it while it did some calls (which I had never heard before). Here is a snippet of the video I took:

I imagine it was driven to explore up the creek for the sake of finding a partner. I hope it does find a partner and we get to see little scrub turkeys in the future.