Exceptional Contribution Award
Greening of Riddell has received an Exceptional Contribution Award from the River Health Incentives Program of Melbourne Water. It has been given in recognition of the group’s efforts to improve river health in Wybejong Park and Riddells Creek.
Greening of Riddell – Invitation to AGM
Dr Amy Coetsee, a Threatened Species Biologist at Zoos Victoria, will be the guest speaker at the Greening of Riddell AGM.
Amy’s work focuses on habitat requirements, threat mitigation and island releases for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Her work has contributed to this marsupial being well on its way to recovery.
They were once found across the Western Basalt Plains of Victoria but a loss of 99.9% of their habitat and the introduction of foxes have driven them close to extinction, with them now classified as extinct in the wild on the mainland. The recovery effort has spanned 30 years but fenced reserves, island releases, captive breeding and guardian dogs are all helping secure a future for this species for generations to come.
If you would like to hear more about Amy’s work recovering the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, you are invited to attend the Greening of Riddell AGM on 15th June at 3pm. It will be held at Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House. For catering purposes, please email your RSVP to greeningriddell(no spam)@gmail.com
Octopus saliva, Eastern Barred Bandicoots and a Koala?
At their last working bee at Wybejong Park, Greening of Riddell volunteers were very surprised and delighted to discover a mature koala looking down at them from the top of an oak tree. Not a koala’s usual habitat.
Talking to a French couple visiting the Park plus watering recent plantings, clearing dead branches, getting rid of noxious weeds and a delicious morning tea in a beautiful setting all added up to a productive and highly enjoyable morning for volunteers.
As well as looking forward to our next working bee the first Saturday of May, we are eager to hear our guest speaker from Zoos Victoria, Dr Amy Coetsee at our AGM in June.
As child in the UK, Dr Amy Coetsee dreamed of a career in conservation. But she never imagined she’d grow up to research octopus saliva.
After having studied this unlikely topic for her Bachelor of Zoology (Honours) at Aberdeen University, Amy travelled to Australia. Falling in love with the country, she decided to stay and undertake a PhD at the University of Melbourne on the reintroduction biology of the Eastern Bared Bandicoot, a species classified as extinct in the wild.
Today, Amy is a Threatened Species Biologist at Zoos Victoria, where she continues her work on the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Focussing on habitat requirements, threat mitigation and island releases, Amy’s work has contributed to this marsupial being well on its way to recovery.
In case you hadn’t guessed, Amy is passionate about conservation. She has published 13 scientific papers and actively engages communities to care for threatened species and fight their extinction.
She is a strong supporter of STEM which aims to deliver world-class teaching of science, technologies and engineering in every school. She works to inspire students to uphold Zoos Victoria’s commitment that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will go extinct.
If you would like to hear more about Amy’s work at the Greening of Riddell AGM on 15th June, 3pm at Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House, for catering purposes, please email your RSVP to greeningriddell(no spam)@gmail.com
• Eastern Barred Bandicoot being released photographer: Dr Amy Coetsee
• Dr Amy Coetsee handling an Eastern Barred Bandicoot
• Koala at Wybejong Park: photographer: Robin Godfrey
Protecting Our Biodiversity
At the Greening of Riddell AGM in mid August, our guest speaker was Krista Patterson-Majoor, Biodiversity Strategy Projects Officer at Macedon Ranges Shire Council.
Following the MRSC Environment Strategy, Krista was employed to develop a Biodiversity Strategy for the Macedon Ranges. The strategy is nearing draft stage and will be presented soon for further community consultation.
Krista will be presenting her research to FEHMR on Monday 8th October. Greening of Riddell is a member of FEHMR (Federation of Environment and Horticultural groups of the Macedon Ranges). We are also a member of JCEN, the Jacksons Creek EcoNetwork.
Both of these groups connect us up and down the creek and across the landscape to environmental volunteers sharing information, education and funding opportunities.
Krista’s talk reminded us that Greening of Riddell’s role in Wybejong Park honours the first tier in the hierarchy of biodiversity – protect what you’ve got. As we live where the plains meets the hills we have great biodiversity. Wybejong EVCs (bioregions) include – 128 Grassy Forest, 55 Plains Grassy Woodland and 641 Riparian Woodland.
Krista presented mapping data including the Functional Connectivity Model from the CSIRO, which shows a diagram of what birds and animals need to be able to move – 10 hectares of native vegetation and less than 100 metres apart. This is increasingly important in an era of Climate Change. Another map showed that there is good vegetation extension across the Divide but not so good in the grasslands area across the south of Riddells Creek. Grassland conservation plus connecting and linking public and private land are addressed in the strategy and need support on the ground and support in the planning scheme.
In our area the strategy has a biolinks focus on the Riddell Hills (including Conglomerate Gully, Mt Charlie, T Hill and Barrm Birrm) looking at connectivity, community environment groups and threatened species data.
Krista stressed that it is vital to keep up environmental works on private land as 85% of the shire is in private land. She showed a map of the council owned blocks in Barrm Birrm where the council offers a gift back scheme; there are 130 different owners of private land in Barrm Birrm. She advocates a State Government buy back of the area.
Krista praised the groups (including Riddell Landcare) which have an advocacy role in rail reserve restoration. She addressed the question of how to engage other land owners in biodiversity restoration through public programs or by waiting till the land owner subdivides. David Galloway from Melbourne Water talked about the Stream Frontage Program which has great incentives to begin a wildlife corridor project if your property is traversed by a waterway.
At the AGM we also talked about devolution of the office bearer roles which are currently filled by people who are mostly past retirement age. We realise this is a universal problem of many volunteer groups but we need younger people TO TAKE OVER. We have written a Future Committees document detailing our work practices, safety information and who’s who in the zoo to make things happen.
Monthly working bees are held at Wybejong Park, meet at the car park 9:30am on the first Saturday of the month.
When you are time poor, why would you bother to spend time volunteering?
Because it’s good for you!
According to a Volunteering Victoria article “The Benefits of Volunteering”, it’s worth investing time in volunteering (http://volunteeringvictoria.org.au/for-volunteers/). The article lists the following benefits:
• Happiness – volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer
• Health – sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health
• Community – the experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self-worth and inclusion
• Skill building – did you know that 85% of HR Managers look for volunteering on CV’s? Learn new skills and get ahead in the job market.
Volunteering with Greening of Riddell provides all of these great benefits plus an opportunity to enjoy beautiful Wybejong Park. Give yourself, the community and the environment a boost. Come for an hour or two or three whenever you can make it – whatever you can contribute is appreciated. We meet on the first Saturday of the month to remove weeds, plant indigenous species, share knowledge, and soak up the benefits of being outdoors and active, then socialise over morning tea.
Visit our website to find out more: http://greening-of-riddell.org.au and click the “Contact Us” tab.
2018 Greening of Riddell AGM
Greening of Riddell
Annual General Meeting
at Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House
3pm 18 August 2018
Robin Godfrey, Lyn Hovey , Julie MacDonald, Heather McNaught, Karl Jesser, Robert Sanderson, Maree Scale, Doug Scale, Jan Bennett, Christina Bauer, John Ball, Mercedes Ramitez,
Krista Patterson-Majoor, Biodiversity Strategy Projects Officer, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Tim Read, Upper Deep Creek Landcare Facilitator, David Galloway, Melbourne Water.
Cr Natasha Gayfer, Macedon Ranges Shire Councillor, Bill West, Macedon Ranges Shire Councillor
Minutes of previous AGM meeting adopted, moved by Robin and seconded by Julie.
Business arising from minutes
Toilet Block reinstate – Heather, Robin, Julie and Lyn walked over Wybejong with Mary Ann Thomas on 18/8/18 and discussed the toilet block issue. Lyn rang Matthew Irvine, the MRSC Manager of Assets and Operations who agreed to find the 2012/13 file and design by MRSC staff.
Smiths Nursery update – the creek side forest will become MRSC land when the new Management Plan is finalised. Our Greening of Riddell Smiths Management Plan has been used extensively but as yet the new draft plan is still being written by the consultant to Heritage Victoria.
President’s report – presented by Heather.
Annual Financial Report – see attached file. The report was accepted, moved by Lyn and seconded by Robert. It was moved by Heather and seconded by Doug that this year we should apply for chainsaw training funding for Doug and Christina.
Waterwatch – Karl presented 2 slides of his water testing this year which showed that the spikes in salt content, measured as electrical conductivity, occurred when the creek dried up. The Ph is good, there are generally low levels of phosphate but there is an increase in the litter problem. The turbidity is tested and the chemical checks show there is good levels of oxygen also indicated by our healthy plants and frogs. There are no elevated levels of nitrogen and the creek is in good health even when it’s not flowing. Waterwatch data can be seen on the Melbourne Water website, look up Riddells Creek.
Review of Management Plan – to be discussed at the next committee meeting.
Election of Office Bearers – all positions were vacated and Tim Read ran the election as the public officer.
President – Heather McNaught, nominated by Julie, accepted
Secretary – Lyn Hovey, nominated by Heather, accepted
Treasurer – Robin Godfrey, nominated by Robert, accepted
Vice President – Christina Bauer, nominated by Heather, accepted
Other committee members – Karl Jesser, nominated by Heather,
Julie Macdonald nominated by Heather, and John Ball self-nominated.
Tim Shurmann previously indicated he would be on the committee again.
Guest Speaker: Krista Patterson-Majoor
Biodiversity Strategy Projects Officer at Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Following the MRSC Environment Strategy, Krista was employed to develop a Biodiversity Strategy for the Macedon Ranges. The strategy is nearing draft stage and will open for further community consultation at the end of September.
Our role in Wybejong Park has respected the first tier in the hierarchy of biodiversity – protect what you’ve got.
As we live where the plains meets the hills we have great biodiversity.
Wybejong EVC’s include – 128 Grassy Forest, 55 Plains Grassy Woodland and 641 Riparian Woodland.
Krista presented mapping data including the Functional Connectivity Model from the CSIRO, which shows a diagram of what birds and animals need to be able to move, – 10 hectares of native vegetation, one kilometre apart and 100 metres between. This is increasingly important in an era of Climate Change. Another map showed that there is good vegetation extension across the Divide but not so good in the grasslands area across the south of Riddells Creek. Grassland conservation plus connecting and linking public and private land are addressed in the strategy and need support on the ground.
In our area the strategy has a bio-links focus on the Riddell Hills (including Conglomerate Gully, Mt Charlie, T Hill and Barrm Birrm) looking at connectivity, community environment groups and threatened species data.
Krista stressed that it is vital to keep up environmental works on private land as 85% of the shire is in private land. She showed a map of the council owned blocks in Barrm Birrm where the council offers a gift back scheme; there are 130 different owners of private land in Barrm Birrm. She advocates a State Government buy back of the area.
Krista praised the groups (including Riddell Landcare) which have an advocacy role in rail reserve restoration. She addressed the question of how to engage other land owners through public programs or by waiting till the land owner subdivides. David Galloway from Melbourne Water talked about the Stream Frontage Program.
Heather thanked all volunteers and people who have brought morning tea at working bees.
The meeting closed at 4:30pm followed by afternoon tea.
Rivers of the West
View the draft proposal to protect and restore Melbourne’s western rivers and waterways and to defend the liveability of the West.
The report calls for the Victorian Parliament to enact legislation for the protection and restoration of rivers and waterways of Melbourne’s west.
Notice of AGM 2018
You are invited to attend Greening of Riddell AGM
When: 3pm Saturday August 18
Where: Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House
Guest Speaker: Krista Patterson-Majoor
Biodiversity Strategy Projects Officer at Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Krista is a passionate advocate for river health, biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture in this region. She has been involved in community-based conservation for many years having worked ‘on-ground’ with Landcare organisations and Green Corps teams, and in planning roles with Local and State Government.
This year, Krista has been developing a Biodiversity Strategy for Macedon Ranges. Following extensive community consultation, the strategy is nearing draft stage.
What did she discover?
What is our role in rail reserve and grassland conservation, plus connecting and linking public and private land?
What could this mean to Conglomerate Gully, Mt Charlie and Barrm Birrm?
The New Interpretive Sign at Wybejong Park – A Community Project by Greening of Riddell
When you approach the T-intersection, from under the railway bridge, on the northernmost part of Riddell Road and are about to turn right to the Riddells Creek township, you have most likely noticed, ahead of you, a new steel structure with a curved-roof adjacent to the Wybejong Park carpark.
The structure stands in the same location where a previous Park Information Sign was mindlessly wrecked by vandals in December 2016. It has not definitively been determined how the sturdy timber support posts of the structure were broken; however, despite the absence of rope abrasions, towing-out by a car was the likely method.
A Community Funding Scheme Grant of $1,600 was awarded by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council for a new Park Interpretive Sign structure. Needless to say – a replacement sign structure would need to be of ‘tow-out resistant’ steel, rather than of timber as before, and inspiration for the design of the new structure was drawn from the MYKI console shelter at the railway station. An assembly drawing, to scale, was prepared by Robin Godfrey and soon Rex Bennett was welding the steel components together in his backyard workshop – in the meantime, Lyn Hovey set about to arrange the signage graphics.
When completed the signage will have information pertinent to Wybejong Park on the side of the Interpretive Sign facing the car park – and on the northern side will be displayed information relating to Smiths Nursery.
The new Interpretive Sign now stands in Wybejong Park, quietly improving its’ rusted steel finish, while waiting for the signage graphics to be printed and installed on a marine-ply backing board which will be mounted and secured within the frame of the structure.
It was great to be part of a fabulous team effort in Wybejong Park on the first Saturday in May. With our complementary skills we built an exclusion fence, hopefully to keep out wallaby, kangaroos and rabbits.
We planted 173 low growing indigenous plants and staked and mulched them.
Thanks to Western Water for providing the water. Thanks to the Newnham’s loader driver who carried rocks from one side of Riddell to the other. Thanks to Wayne and Peter for a great labour saving job digging the site and shifting rocks. Thanks to Melbourne Water for providing the grant money. Thanks to the people who donated wire, pickets, underlay squares for mulch and eucy mulch. Thanks to the 11 volunteers who made it happen, the future belongs to those who turn up.
By the second weekend in May, the rain gauge near the Park had overflowed at 45mm, all the plants are thriving and the creek is up and running again.
Connecting With The Natural World
As I write, the school holidays have just finished. I spent some time in the holidays exhorting the youngest generation of the family to stop staring at screens. Our 5 year old knows how to navigate an ipad better than both his parent and grandparent.
Since 2012 – 2015 the uptake of smart phones has been phenomenal. Research shows that there is a correlation between screen time and depression. Teenagers spend less time with their peer group, spending more time connecting via social media. We know that social isolation causes lower well-being and that anxiety levels are higher if we spend a lot of time ensconced in virtual reality.
Healthy Parks Healthy People is the Parks Victoria motto to remind people that a connection with nature is essential for a sense of well-being in the world. Walking is great for lowering stress levels. Using the smart phone out there in nature is one way to get kids to engage with environmental reality. Navigating the directions of the compass on the phone can lead to a discussion about where the sun rises, what it does in the sky in each season, where the rain and wind predominantly come from, which direction the creek runs etc. As smart phones and navigational devices deskill our ability to think about where we are going, we need to physically situate ourselves in the real world.
A circuit can begin in Lake Park, head upstream along Riddells Creek, under the road bridge, go west on the Wybejong Park Walking Track to McClusky Street, turn right and head north, then east on Melvins Road and back to Lake Park. Try getting your kids to meet you at the most western picnic bench south of the creek in Wybejong Park.
On Saturday morning of May 5th Greening of Riddell is going to plant up an area of the Park that needs rejuvenating.
We have sprayed out Periwinkle which is a highly invasive weed and removed aged and dead trees. We are going to mass plant the slope with small flowering plants and a few low growing shrubs. This will not increase the fire hazard.
Feel free join us and help with the planting. We will start at 10am, and have a morning tea break. The closest entrance to the site is the lane into the Park opposite Somerville Lane, then walk east. We look forward to seeing you.
Maintenance at Wybejong And Mealy Bugs
An amazing amount of Wybejong Park maintenance happened with ten volunteers at our March working bee.
Garden bed maintenance takes a lot of effort, with those nearest the car park getting the most attention.
The broad areas where there are grasses, indigenous shrubs and trees need less care and time than the exotic section between the road bridge and the spillway. Also along the south side creek frontage at the end of River Gum Road requires lots of weed control. The big oak trees grow a forest from acorns, the elm suckers invade the creek side habitat, hawthorn, blackberry, gorse, cherry plum trees and willow regrowth are removed. The Macedon Ranges landscape is characterised by its propensity for weediness.
Near the road bridge/car park area we slash the hillside to keep exotic thickets at bay to keep an open fire break. So far, requests to the relevant authority to add this to their mowing agenda has produced no action.
When we have an enthusiastic volunteer or two we cut the Phragmites australis in the creek bed by the road bridge to encourage new growth and remove dead reeds. We do patches of it at a time to leave habitat for fish, reptiles, frogs and water rats etc.
Sometimes it’s guesswork to identify cause, effect and remedy. Over the years we have planted many Bursaria spinosa across the top of the Park to attract the wasp that eats the borer grub that chews up our wattles. A dead wattle on the creek next to the simple bench has lots of borer holes stuffed with dead grass. Sitting on the bench you can watch the wasp flying in with more grass and stuffing it in the holes. We have had a noticeable decrease in borer attack over the last few years.
There is always something in the Park to wonder about. Last year it was an over abundance of lerps on Eucalypts, then lots of dead leaves but now lots of new growth at the tips of these trees. This year the Prickly Moses Acacia verticillata on the creek has fluffy white mealy bugs. Mealy bugs are vivid white, unarmoured scale insects that suck the sap out of the leaves and stems of plants, resulting in stunted or deformed leaf growth, yellowing of the leaves, and leaf drop.
If a mealy bug infestation is not treated, the plant will eventually die. Home made sprays can eradicate and kill mealy bugs. Add 4 teaspoons of liquid dish soap to one litre of water in a spray bottle and saturate the infestation. Or they can be sprayed with garlic or chilli soap or a commercial insecticidal soap mixture. Target the undersides of the leaves. Another method for a small infestation is to touch them with a cotton swab that’s been soaked in alcohol.
The full mealybug life cycle is about 7-10 weeks. It takes a week or two for the eggs to hatch into nymphs, and then another 6-9 weeks for the nymphs to mature into adults. There can be several generations of mealybugs, and their life cycles can overlap, meaning that once they get started, the population can grow very quickly. Ants sometimes bring mealybugs to a plant so that they can feed off of the honeydew residue that’s produced by the bugs. You can’t just spray a plant once, and expect the bugs to disappear. It can take several weeks, or even months to kill the entire population.
However the main problem in the Park is the same as in your garden, a lack of rainfall. Invasive weeds that flourish in times of drought have been sprayed in middle March, – thistle, amsinkia, , amsinkia, periwinkle, serrated tussock, cocksfoot and phalaris. We are looking forward to a big rain event
Wybejong Park, Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee and Protecting Our Small Settlement
What I love about working in Wybejong Park is that landscape management is possible. From
the culling of weeds to imagining planted vistas, it’s all possible because of collective labour.
When you have weeds on your private property, it’s up to you to deal with them. In Wybejong it’s
up to us, the team of worker bees.
At our January working bee, 7 of us cut and painted willow regrowth, dug out thistles, landscaped
under the new sign construction, brush cut the entrance hill to Riddell, brush cut the creek path
and under the picnic benches, weeded and pruned the car park garden, removed graffiti from a park bench and plotted and planned future endeavours at morning tea.
Wybejong Park is a small section of a wildlife corridor, the local section of the bio-link connecting the grasslands and the Maribyrnong River to the Macedon Range. The Echidna and Wallaby you see under the bluestone arch are the same ones you see at Smiths Nursery. The Woolly Tea-Tree near the bridge is the same as those upstream. As well as going out with our dicky knees, bad backs, diggers and rakes, looking after the environment requires us all to respond to what planning authorities are doing.
In 2016, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, appointed the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee to consult, hear submissions and prepare a report on how the Macedon Ranges should be protected. The Advisory Committee found Macedon Ranges Shire warranted protection with legislation and a Localised Planning Statement. Policy from Statement of Planning Policy No 8 has been the basis of planning in Macedon Ranges for over 40 years, and has made protection of Macedon Ranges’ water catchments, and its role as a State-significant location for leisure activities and nature conservation, the number one priority for decisions and actions.
In early 2017, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, came to Gisborne and announced he accepted all of the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Shortly after, the newly elected Macedon Ranges Shire councillors resolved to accept, and robustly implement, the Advisory Committee’s recommendations.
However the proposed Localised Planning Statement is worse than the status quo. It turns our small settlements into growth towns, diminishes heritage and environment values by singling out only State and National significance, and even removes existing policy protections from towns, rural land and environment.
In Riddells Creek, which only last year had 130ha rezoned for future residential development, another 120ha south of the railway line is added to the town (that’s an additional 250ha in total), for a town which grew by 38 people a year over the last 5 years
Lerps …. and the Greening of Riddell AGM
Do your eucalyptus trees look sick and have big brown patches on the leaves? Some of my gum trees and some in Wybejong Park are seriously infected. The culprit is Nymph Psyllids, Cardiaspina spp, which excrete honeydew that crystallises as a protective cover over the sap sucking psyllid.
The intricate shell-like or lacy Lerps can be seen with magnification.
Climate influences these population explosions, occurring after unusually wet or dry conditions. This form of stress improves the nutritional content of the foliage. On my block, it seems to be the hybrid Eucalypts and the river red gums which are suffering from serious Lerp attack.
Eucalypts usually recover when the Lerp population recedes but the infestation can lead to other insect attacks and sooty mould.
Insectivorous birds can be attracted by providing safe nesting sites and by planting Grevillea and Hakea under story. Honeyeaters love sugary, starchy Lerps, a year round resource that inspires territorial fights between big and little birds.
The Greening of Riddell Annual General Meeting was held last month. We reviewed our management of Wybejong Park and the creek side walking path, discussed past and future grant opportunities, and elected a new committee and office bearers.
Karl, our Waterwatch expert, reported no outstanding issues with any of his regular monthly testing of Riddells Creek water. He sends his water quality readings to the Melbourne Water database on electrical conductivity, pH, turbidity, air and water temperature, dissolved oxygen, phosphate and ammonium. We are looking for a student to learn from and assist Karl. Contact us, (0418559640) if you are interested in learning the science behind data collection and monitoring the waterway environment.
Those of us who look after Wybejong Park are often called “Greenies”. But who are we really? Regular participants include a tool and die maker, an electrical industry employee, an environment workers’ trainer, a primary school teacher, four retired teachers, an engineer, a painter, a former VicRoads employee, an IT businessman, and a journalist, – a cross section of the community!
At our Saturday 4th November working bee, we will go on a. Meet the Creek walk upstream to Smiths Nursery after morning tea. Join us, morning tea is at 11 am at the car park opposite the road/rail bridge.
It’s Time to Dead Head your Aggies (Agapanthus).
Like many Riddell gardeners I grow Agapanthus for their great mauve-blue flowers in summer. But I also know that their seeds pop up in native reserves like Wybejong Park. It’s time to cut the seed heads off and put them in your fireplace, especially if you border an indigenous plant area.
At our April working bee in Wybejong, Heather weeded around the western steps, John removed tree guards in the top paddock, Robin continued grinding and rust proofing the quarry steps, Doug brought the “Furphy” and watered the brachychitons, Jenny weeded around new plants, Fergus, Julie and Lyn dealt with weeds and staked and sprayed our May planting site.
As you drive over the creek on the road bridge, Phragmites australis the big reedy plants are doing a useful job. They slow down floods, clean the water, provide habitat and stop erosion. We try to cut them to the ground every few years as they grow back small, green and lush. We can also get to the blackberry, gorse, willow twig and elm sucker growth in their midst. This is a whether job rather than a weather job, whether we have a strong volunteer who can do this arduous cull.
The Victorian Government’s Macedon Ranges Protection Committee is currently making decisions about planning issues that will affect Riddells Creek. The Riddells Creek Structure Plan meetings and the Supermarket issue showed that people here are passionate about how their town should grow. We have a new council who will listen. Take every opportunity to have your say.
Come and help monitor the creek health through Water Watch
When: 10 am, Saturday 6th May (Planting at 9am)
Where: On Riddells Creek, at the end of River Gum Road,
at the other end of Wybejong Park to the car park opposite the bridge.
As Ross says in the Riddells Creek Landcare column in this March edition of Riddells Roundup –
Early March sees a big event in rabbit control—1000 doses of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus K5 were released at roughly the same time across Australia.
Greening of Riddell supports Landcare’s concern about rabbits. The property west of Wybejong Park is pockmarked with rabbit diggings, creating soil wash away in the last few heavy rain events.
Here is some history to shine a light on the rabbit problem.
In 1859, approximately seven rabbits were released at ‘Barwon Park’ near Geelong. Just seven years later, 14,253 rabbits were shot on Barwon Park.
By 1875, the rabbit was well established in the western districts of Victoria, in South Australia at the southern end of the Flinders Ranges and around Sydney.
By 1879, the South Australian and Victorian infestations had merged covering the area from Spencer Gulf to north-eastern Victoria.
By the 1920s, rabbits had colonised most of the southern half of Australia and were present in extremely high numbers. The rate of rabbit invasion varied from 10-15 kilometres per year in wet forested country to over 100 kilometres per year in the range lands. The invasion of the rabbit was the fastest of any colonising mammal anywhere in the world.
The impact of rabbits on the Australian environment has been disastrous. Rabbits have significantly altered the botanical composition of extensive areas of natural habitat.
Rabbits are prolific breeders, able to produce numerous litters per year. Two rabbits can breed to over 180 rabbits in just 18 months!
Rabbits are stimulated to breed by the presence of nutritious green growth. This usually occurs during the wetter months but can include wet summers.
Survival of young is substantially increased when rabbits have safe harbour, especially breeding burrows and warrens. The destruction of warrens is the key to achieving long-term rabbit control.
One rabbit is one too many. Leaving a pair of rabbits or just one burrow will lead to re-infestation.
Rabbit control is most cost-effective, now, in late summer and early autumn as breeding has generally ceased in the rabbit population.
If the Chinese can eradicate flies, surely we can beat rabbits!
Walkers in Wybejong Park have been cooling down next to a gurgling stream, green grass and flourishing bush plants. Such a treat in January! The Parks Victoria logo Healthy Parks Healthy People should add Happy Dogs.
At our last working bee three volunteers cut and poisoned the gorse regrowth on our south side frontage off River Gum Road. This included gorse around an elm tree with a honey bee hive in its base by a volunteer in her bee suit in 36 degree heat! Also paths were mowed, plants watered and weeded, then we lingered over morning tea at the picnic bench in the shade of the elms and oaks.
We have been advised by Melbourne Water that our grant applications for 2017 were successful. We will get $1000 for fees and subscriptions, website update and administrative costs. And $1260 for weed control and creek side plants for the south side River Gum Road frontage, and for repainting, de-rusting and graffiti tag removal on the quarry steps.
We employed a local excavator contractor to extend the concrete pipe near the Somerville Lane entrance to the Park. The drain was cleaned up and it functioned well in the Big Downpour in early January. Now, at the end of the laneway, the CFA and other big vehicles can turn left into the Park without having to do a complicated turn.
Greening of Riddell working bees are held on the first Saturday of the month, from 9:30 am till lunch time with a morning tea break. I’m always amazed at how much a small group of people can accomplish. Feel free to come and join us.
If you wish to contact Greening of Riddell, our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and our postal address is PO Box 142, Riddells Creek, Victoria, 3431
By Lyn Hovey
My rain gauge indicated that we had received about 20mm prior to our June working bee in Wybejong Park. It was great planting and weeding weather: a bit cold and drizzly and soggy as we were near the creek, a bit like playing mud pies in childhood.
Doug got the Deutscher going and mowed the hill near the road, Robin burnt off a pile of dead trees, and Tim, Jan, Heather and Lyn got three boxes of plants in the ground before morning tea. We usually have morning tea at a picnic bench near the car park, an area known as the “Green Patch” by local old timers.
But our morning tea was interrupted this month by people with cameras arriving at the car park with news that the steam train was about to go past. Some of us got some good photos of it chugging up the hill – a sight the Green Patch has witnessed for over 150 years.
We planted Nodding Saltbush (a ground cover with a red edible berry), the Common Everlasting, the Cut-Leaf Daisy and Spiny-Headed Mat-Rush Lomandras , which holds the soil and acts as a unifying design plant when planted in masses.
Nature does it so well, for example at Conglomerate Gully.
We are unhappy that the disused toilet block has been targeted by graffitists putting their tags on the brick wall. We have put in a submission to the Macedon Ranges Shire Council Draft Budget asking them to put funds into restoring the toilet facilities.
In early 2013 we were pleased that Council were willing to install a Modus toilet building with a storage shed attached, and a small tank to aid Park maintenance. Council acknowledged there is a need for this public toilet and consulted widely to design one that suited our needs.
Funds were allocated in 2013 by Macedon Shire Council, however when the Shire went to build the structure they discovered that they did not actually own the small parcel of land that the toilets are situated on.
The government department that does manage the land was happy for the toilet to be replaced, but in the meantime the allocated funds went elsewhere.
So now we are waiting, legs crossed..waiting..stuck in a bureaucratic holding pattern!
Greening of Riddell is now scheduling its major planting day for the year in Wybejong Park in Autumn.
We used to plant in spring, but with the changing weather patterns we find that planting in autumn after the advent of some rain, while the ground is still warm, gives the plants a while to settle in before our basalt clay hardens in summer.
We will still need to water the plants in for their first summer, but after that they are at the mercy of what the seasons deliver.
At our May working bee five Greening of Riddell volunteers planted two boxes of under-story and ground cover plants west of the quarry steps. We had previously sprayed out the Phalaris – an introduced clumping grass which is galloping across the park and out-competing our native grasses. We planted Gynatrix pulchella, a tall willowy shrub which has small cream flowers in spring, highly fragrant particularly in the evening. Also Indigofera australis , with blue-green leaves and mauve flowers is a favourite as it grows well on our rocky escarpment. It flowers in spring bringing delight to humans and bees, especially when planted in masses. These plants require stakes and guards to protect them from the wallabys.
In between we planted Brachyscome multifida, the cut-leafed daisy, a mauve or lilac suckering perennial with a compact growth habit, and Chrysocephalum apiculatum – the common everlasting which has grey woolly foliage and terminal clusters of golden flower heads. Both of these plants rejuvenate after pruning.
We put in numerous Lomandra longifolia, a spiny- headed mat-rush which forms a tussock and is a great plant to hold the soil with its extensive fibrous roots. We often use it to hold creek banks from erosion as it is a common plant on escarpments and in riparian (creek side) zones.
As is usual at our working bees we enjoyed a delicious home-baked morning tea accompanied by lots of gas-bagging!
We still have three boxes of plants to go in the ground, so helpers are always welcome.
The Greening of Riddell Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 19 June at 2pm, at the Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House. Everyone is welcome to attend.
By Maree Scale
Happy New Year to you all. Let’s hope that 2016 brings us more rain than last year!
Though it’s the holidays for many, our group still works down at the creek in January to maintain it. Eight volunteers worked on the three ‘Ws’ – weeding, watering and whipper snipping, as well as mowing and mulching.
If you find time to walk along the creek you might see where we’ve been working. Unfortunately at this time the creek was not running freely but there were still enough water puddles to keep some frogs, insects and other critters happy.
If you are looking for a new area to volunteer your time to and give back to the community in some way, working with Greening of Riddell locals may be something you’d like. There are no membership or commitment requirements. You can come on the first Saturday of each month for a couple of hours, or just come along if you have any spare time to help. If you need any safety gear (eg for mowing, brushcutting, etc) we can provide you with some. Our usual tasks involve general maintenance and some planting. We would welcome any new faces!
In the past we have had a chocolate wallaby hop by and visit us, checking on our working bee achievements.
This time the overseer was a wombling echidna! I’m not sure if it was Edwina or Edwin, but it was lovely to see that the environment down at the creek is attractive to our native inhabitants.
At our next working bee is on Saturday 6 February.
Riddells Creek Waterwatch: July to November 2015
Water Flows and Levels
Water flow rates have been declining since October 2015, prior to the first decent rainfall for months in November. Water has been continually freely flowing, albeit slowly over the spillway.
Water levels had been at between 160mm and 200mm at the spillway gauge between July and September, but have since fallen to 100mm at the start of November just before rainfall.
Rainfall has been poor up until early November. The health of the creek appears to be good with an abundance of frog activity and aquatic plants noticeable. Minimal pollution turns up in the creek and the small amounts that do are quickly cleaned up by locals and Greening of Riddell volunteers.
Dissolved Oxygen Levels
Dissolved Oxygen is the small amount of oxygen gas dissolved in the water. It is essential for the respiration of fish, aquatic animals, micro-organisms and plants. To maintain a healthy and diverse aquatic ecosystem, the dissolved oxygen must be maintained at high levels to support the more sensitive species. Light and temperature affect dissolved oxygen levels.
In Riddells Creek, dissolved oxygen levels have remained consistent with previous years for the months of July to September 2015 . Dissolved oxygen levels have been higher for the months of October to November compared to previous years. Measured levels have been between 85-120% saturation of oxygen.
Electrical conductivity is the amount of dissolved salts in the water. These salts enter the waterway through runoff from rock and soils in the catchment. The soils and geology of the waterways catchment normally determine salinity, however human activities can drastically increase salinity levels. Variations in conductivity may also be the result of ground water seepage, industrial and agricultural effluent, storm water run off, land clearing and sewage effluent.
In Riddells Creek, electrical conductivity levels have remained consistent with previous years for the months of July to November 2015. Measured levels have been between 370-750μS/cm.
A car crash through the western railing of the Carre-Riddell Bridge at Riddells Creek at the start of November does not appear to have had a negative impact on the creek due to pollution.
In addition to the monthly Waterwatch measurements in Riddells Creek, a team of Melbourne University students have been regularly taking oestrogen level sampling in the creek. This sampling takes place at many locations with an emphasis on monitoring and comparison at both above and below waste water treat.
Greening of Riddell -May working bee
‘How beautiful leaves grow old.
How full of light and colour are their last days’. (John Burroughs)
It’s certainly beautiful living in Riddells Creek! There are so many gorgeous tree colours in the streets and surrounds. Though you can sense a slowing down of growth, there is still so much to be done around our lovely creek.
Our main focus at our May working bee was planting along the lower area near the large steps – accessed about mid-way along the upper Wybejong area.
- 6x Prostanthera lasianthos
- 6x Callistemon sieberi
- 6x Dodonea viscosa
- 54x Indigofera australis
- 36x Lomandra longifolia
- 18x Brachycome multifida
Luckily the recent rains helped make digging reasonably easy. As usual, there was also mowing and clearing of branches etc. in the upper area.
A few months ago our group put in a request for someone to take over the Waterwatch monitoring of the water in the creek, which gives us a picture of it’s general health.
We were very happy to meet Karl who will be taking on this job, although he has only been in Riddells Creek for a few months. It’s terrific to see that he is keen to involve himself in a community venture already. His information will be included from time to time in this segment.
During the working bee it was great to meet another few locals – Matt, Liz and Josie, who live near the creek and enjoy their regular walks there. Matt walks along the creek to work early in the mornings – what a pleasant way to start the day!
Next month we hope to…
- weed near Rivergum Drive (on the other side of the creek near the drain) and near bridge (among poas)
- burn off dead branches
- remove plants that haven’t survived
- cut up oak branch
- cut elm suckers
- water plants put in early May
Enjoy every bit of sunshine, dust off the beanies, gumboots , coats and scarves and go for walks down along the creek. Bliss!!
Last month our group worked primarily on the upper Wybejong area. A fire was needed to burn off the many branches which had fallen with recent winds, and the area was made safer for mowing.
Often we see townsfolk or visitors walking along the creek in the lower section, but not often in this upper area. Our group tries to keep paths mown so that people can walk safely through here without the worry of snakes or hidden logs.
To gain access you can walk up from the bottom up three different sets of steps. These are a great way to increase your fitness. Recently we spotted a very fit mum running with two boys struggling to keep up on their bikes!
Workers at the working bee were very appreciative to receive compliments for their work from a gentleman and his dog (not sure if the dog said much), who were resting on the park bench placed in honour of one of the founding Greening of Riddell members, and President, Ross Horman. At our May working bee we hope to achieve the following:
- brush cutting
We are always looking for new faces to help, so if you enjoy being outdoors and would like to contribute to the upkeep of our lovely creek and it’s surrounds, please wander down. If you have your own safety gear and/or tools to bring, that’s great. Otherwise our group has these items for you to use.
Greening of Riddell working bees are held on the first Saturday of each month, including January. We meet in the Wybejong Park picnic area at 9.30am. Any amount of time you can spare is useful, even an hour.
Western Water requires its employees to do eight hours of environmental work each year and we’ve been lucky enough to have their services on several occasions. In mid-October we had assistance from four workers, who brush cut the roadside hill, cut and cleared fallen trees and branches and helped us to weed in the picnic area and below the cliffs.
You may have noticed that most of the Phragmites australis (tall reeds) in the creek bed near the bridge have now been cut (it was too soggy to get in there to get them all) and lush new growth has appeared. Grateful thanks are due to Mark, Peter, Will and Joan.
At our November working bee, as well as brush cutting the grasses along the creek edge and the paths to make access safer, we burnt off the timber which the Western Water workers had piled up for us. A team of us weeded and topped up mulch in the area below the cliffs near the western steps.
We planted this section in autumn 2013, and since then have had three maintenance sessions on it, which has really paid off. It’s hard to believe that the 2-3metre high hemp bushes are only 18 months old. Our choice of plants was based on what had done well there already and we’ve had one of our highest success rates ever. It looks beautiful and we encourage to you all to take a walk and have a look for yourselves.
Working bees are held on the first Saturday of each month, including January. We meet in the Wybejong Park picnic area at 9.15am for a 9:30 start. Any amount of time you can spare is useful, even an hour.
With thanks to Maree Scale for writing this update.
We changed location for our last working bee in July. We met at the bottom of Rivergum Road (on the right as you head towards Gisborne) and worked there for the morning. It was great meeting some of the locals who live there and who want to help maintain a healthy river environment.
Some dead willow trees on the town side of the river were lopped, cleared and burned, tidying up an area where walkers visit. The large drain here had been planted out a couple of times but weeds have prevailed and dominated. A huge effort to clear these led to the discovery of many of our plantings and the area looks great now.
Another burn off pile was created and lit as a result of clearing much of the debris on the creek bank on the far side, near the picnic area. During this work, members uncovered some natural ‘treasures’ when a piece of roofing iron that was stuck in the ground was shifted, and underneath were a water skink (Eulamprus tympanum tympanum) , a little whip snake (Parasuta flagellum) and a Pobblebonk frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii).
Our morning tea was appreciated in this tranquil spot. If you haven’t had a picnic there yet, please visit the area and check it out. It’s not only beautiful under the canopy of huge trees, but there is also a large grassed area for kicking a footy (or to be topical, a soccer ball) or playing with the kids or dog. If you wish to help out keeping the creek surrounds attractive and natural, you can come and join us for any length of time at our working bees, held on the first Saturday of each month. (usually from 9.30am until around 12.30pm)
You do not need to have paid any money to belong to the Group, and we are able to provide safety glasses, earmuffs, and tools etc.
Our work can only be carried out with monies from grants and any donations, so if you can’t make it to our working bees, but would like to contribute, please contact us.
Despite the threat of rain (which of course we welcome to keep our creek flowing!), working bee participants managed to complete many tasks followed by our usual well-earned cuppa and morning tea.
New bollards were put in near the picket fence at the entrance to the car park. Hopefully this will stop the ‘yobbos’ from carving up the grassed area. Water sampling took place, some new plants were put in and plenty of weeding was achieved by a team working at the far end (away from the bridge) where earlier plantings had become ‘lost’ due to weed encroachment. It was gratifying to uncover most of the plants which looked none the worse for this ordeal. More needs to be done, but I guess it’s the same at your place!
Much clearing of debris and burning off happened on the upper section of the park as well as some tidying up with a chain saw. This was not only to improve appearances but also to ensure greater safety for visitors. Near the Eucalypts which were planted alongside the road, not far from the bridge, Hardenbergias have been planted with the hope they will cascade down the slope.
At our AGM, held on 31 May, the Group’s activities over the last 12 months were discussed .Photos from this time show that efforts at working bees are proving to be most beneficial. Greening of Riddell participants are hoping to see some new faces in the next 12 months.
It is very pleasing that the tracking of data is showing the creek to be in good shape. Also Priya from Waterwatch comfirmed this was due to the variety of species living in the Creek.
It was clarified that anyone who wants to come to our working bees, however frequently or just randomly, doesn’t need to be a member. The Group is only accepting donations from now on, not ‘subscriptions’.
Over the last few years graffiti has appeared in various spots. There is new graffiti under the bridge. The group will endeavour to remove it and send photos of this to the Police.
Our working bees are held on the first Saturday of each month down near the Creek. Jobs undertaken that day are listed on the white board under the tree near the BBQ. We begin at 9.30am and share morning tea at 11.00am.
On Saturday 1 February, a group of Greening of Riddell members met for the monthly working bee at Wybejong Park with the main goal being to maintain the paths for everyone’s safety. Having achieved as much as possible with the brush cutters in the time available, we hope that some of you can now venture down to this beautiful spot and appreciate the peace and quiet it provides. Other tasks involved weeding on the steep slopes of the escarpment near the iron railing steps (mid-way through the Park) and watering as much as possible, including the trees on the hill near the bridge.
2014 brings fresh hope that we may be able to see some new faces to assist us in maintaining this lovely area.
Our working bees begin around 9am and we stop for a break at around 10.30am. Members come for whatever length of time they have available. The aim is to finish at lunchtime.
Just a reminder that we should be particularly mindful of safety on Parks Victoria land, therefore please remember your personal protective equipment:
- sturdy boots and clothing
- long sleeves
- long pants
- gloves (leather for pruning)
- safety glasses (we have some if you don’t have your own)
Mowing and brush cutting:
- as above, plus
- steel-capped boots
- eye protection
- ear protection
In 2012, Greening of Riddell held a community “Meet the Creek” day. We are holding this event again on Sunday 13 April, where we hope to entice anyone who has not yet visited the Creek, or hasn’t visited it in some time, to come down and enjoy experiencing and hearing about it.
The “Meet the Creek” day will include:
- planting activities for children;
- Waterwatch activities, primarily for children but also for adults;
- a children’s art activity table;
- a talk and walk along the Creek;
- a lovely morning tea, and
- an opportunity to ask any questions, or just have a chat!
At our December 2013 working bee members undertook much brush-cutting, weeding, pruning and mulching focusing on the picnic area and the Correa bed in the upper region of Wybejong Park.
On 4 January, members weeded and watered all of our 2013 spring plantings. There were only two casualties out of 400 plants, so that’s a 99.5% success rate. Very happy! Guided by what has done well nearby, we chose plants which like the run off from the cliff, such as Lomandra, Indigofera, Goodenia and Hemp bush, which we expect will do better than what was previously planted there in 2008.
Although Poa thrive elsewhere in the Park, this particular site seems to be too wet for them.
We cut and planted willows which have sprouted in the creek and pulled out Scotch thistles below the escarpment. The deliberately damaged rail near the car park entrance was mended as well. Goodenias along the path were pruned.
As there is always so much to be done to keep this area beautiful and environmentally successful for all Riddell dwellers (humans, creatures and plants), we would love a few extra hands to assist whenever possible. This year we plan to let you know what will be required for the upcoming working bees. Maybe you can spare an hour or two?
The working bees begin at 9am in the car park opposite the bridge, and morning tea is shared at around 11am. The Greening of Riddell members are a diverse group of nice people, all sharing the same goal of maintaining this town asset for all to enjoy.
On the first Saturday in February working bee, (1 February) we will need to brushcut many areas, weed, water and pile up fallen debris ready for a burn off when temperatures and restrictions allow.
* Just a reminder that there is a lovely picnic spot well worth visiting at the bottom of Rivergum Road, on the right hand side just out of Riddell on the way to Gisborne. Here you will find a beautiful area with plenty of space for ball games, parking, and a large picnic table under beautiful shady trees right beside the creek. It’s a lovely spot for a special tea or a place to just enjoy the outdoors. Greening of Riddell has recently erected a new sign for this area of Wybejong Park.