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.

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.

Site inspection 17-11-2019

A quick look over of the site in order to prioritize some projects to work on over the next few weeks. It is good to see those spots where weed removal has paid off and natives are coming back but unfortunately the weeds still dominate this site.

First stop was the creek just above the First waterfall. Cassia/Senna stumpts still need to be removed and maybe even a little more difficult than that is the privet stump I left behind about six months ago. I have had a few half-hearted attempts at this stump but have never actually got it out to date. Unfortunately it has shown itself to be a true stayer, as expected. It’s time is coming to an end…

It’s back again. As expected unfortunately.

Broad leaved privet – for reference

Broad leaved privet – for reference

It was nice to see some ferns holding their ground against the fishbone fern.

I noticed this Prickly Rasp Fern (?) trying to take on the Fishbone Fern about a month ago. I gave it some space and it now appears to be going strong…

West side of the bank still clear from invasives with Bracken Fern going well.

The spot at the top of First Falls is always a target for Mist Flower and Fishbone Fern so I am happy this Bracken Fern now seems to be holding its own

It is a shame that some of the larger trees in the middle of the gully are invasives. There are some large privet trees which will need to go at some point. I intend on confirming they are indeed privet trees before hitting them with herbicide.

Privet tree in center, behind the Tree Fern

White flowers make Privet identification much easier at present

Similar image at different orientation

There was a few other visible weeds I could see from the top of First Fall which will be dealt with soon. A ‘tree of heaven’ that I tried to remove last year has bounced back and there are privet trees and Camphor Laurels that are coming up at present. Best to get to them before they get bigger and tougher. Balloon vine is also showing up more at present unfortunately.

Balloon vine is appearing in more spots

I have failed to accurately identify this one. I thought camphor laurel at first but not so according to google

This tree of heaven is in quite an awkward spot. I had thought I had already dealt with it last year but here it is again…

Tree of heaven – for reference

Same tree at different angle…

Lots of work to be done…

Fighting Fishbone Fern – 3hrs – 09.11.2019

Spring is here and the weather has been perfect to get some bush regeneration sorted.
My object was clear, remove the remaining lantana on the East bank that overhangs 2nd fall. I was doing this a few days back when I decided a final effort of at least a few hours. The object was not met. I never actually got to 2nd fall. Walking down the creek I came across infestation after infestation. Stuff that I just could not walk past.

Firstly, this sucker…

Privet stump had to go

I had cut down this privet tree quite a while ago as other choices were limited and it was getting too large to ignore. However, as expected, it was doing its best to make a comeback. I couldn’t ignore it so I got in and finally dug it out. It was harder than usual due to the fact it had wedged itself between some bolders and rocks. Still, out it came so yay for that.

With my focus brought to privet, I decided I need to scope the size of the job to tack the privet between 1st and 2nd falls. I started walking along the East bank of the creek to look for any smaller privet I could pull out directly and determine how many larger privet trees needed to be dealt with. Privet is probably now the worst invasive tree in the creek as the other offenders have been beaten down. The most notable plant on the East bank though is Fishbone fern. Fishbone Fern is native to Australia but not to this region. It is clearly identified here as a weed by how strongly it dominates the area.

It is so numerous and prolific it has always been put off for another day. However, I stumbled onto a small outbreak of Bracken fern. I was most impressed that this Bracken Fern had somehow been able to take on the Fishbone fern. The Bracken Fern was still struggling though as it could barely be seen amongst the Fishbone so I got in and gave the Bracken Fern a bit of space and hopefully a bit more light.

Hopefully this will give it a chance to start spreading and push back the Fishbone fern somewhat.

As well as coming across a few new outbreaks of Bracken Fern, I was quite happy to see some Rasp Fern taking root further along the creek. Unfortuately it too was battling various weeds. I chopped down some privet as a temporary measure but it was need to be addressed.  Small Rasp fern can be seen in the images below. It appears to have only come through after a weed was pushed back some by the landcare green team. I am uncertain about the name of that weed but I remember it was identified as originating from the african continent.

I was also a bit disturbed to find some fully grown privet trees which dominated certain sections of the upper canopy. A ‘privet attack’ is very much so needed. It will need to be a more permanant solution as well. That’ll either be pulling them out of the ground or using herbicide of some sort.

I didn’t get to my objective but it was a productive bush bash with some positive results coming through.

Potential candidates for front of Dick’s Creek site

After removing the outgrowth of cassia/senna from the bank of Dick’s Creek it has left an area of grass which needs restoration. It also removed a screening service which was being performed by the Cassia so a replacement species was required that would tick a few boxes

  • It needed to be a smaller tree that would not interfere with nearby powerlines or produce obsticles or debrey for the adjacent road and driveway.
  • It needed to be able to work as a screening bush and preferably had to be quick growing so it could fulfil this role as quickly as possible.
  • It was preferable that it would be a food source for the native birdlife
  • Obviously, a nicer looking plant would be appreciated as well being just off the street

I attended the Lake Macquarie Landcare Resource centre and spoke to an onsite expert who pointed out which suitable plants were available from the LC nursery.

They were:

I believe the best ‘fit’ to the requirements is Acacia longifolia.

Apparently the birds love the flowers, it is quick growing and a great screening tree. Hopefully it is not too late in the season to get them bedded in.