Taking stock

It was cold – winter is when weed growth slows down and its time for the beanie – so in June 2021 the group decided to do a stocktake of our weeding site.

We walked the main roads through our site: the first part of the gravel road along Narrow Neck Peninsular, which is called Glenraphael Drive, and Cliff Drive to Narrow Neck Lookout. Up until this time we had just focused our weeding efforts on the known worst locations and had not had a good look for other weed infestations across the whole site. Karen our trusty supervisor recorded significant features and weed infestations on her clipboard.

Karen logs weeds along Cliff Drive which were treated at the same time.
Karen logs weed locations along Cliff Drive and if the infestation was small enough Paul and the rest of the team immediately treated them.

We used a smart phone to record the location of points and to confirm the location of Glenraphael Road. Andrew uses Pocket Earth Pro, an easy to use map app for iPhones. You can see the start of the route walked by the blue line.

Map of Bushcare and Glenraphael Drive site using Pocket Earth Pro.
Map of the bushcare site made using Pocket Earth Pro, an iPhone app. The blue line is the logged route of Glenraphael Drive. The dashed red line is the operational area of the Narrow Neck Bushcare group. The area to the west is part of Blue Mountains National Park.

The collected point and line data is then passed onto the Council’s GIS team.

Data collection didn’t take all morning, so while we were at Cliff Drive near Narrow Neck Lookout we got to work with those weeds that were in sight.

Madi and Pip attack a small New Zealand flax nestled in the bracken ferns near Cliff Drive.

Paul and Andrew found a large New Zealand flax plant (Phormium tenax) on the fuel reduced zone on council land close to Cliff Drive. It is invasive in forests and woodlands, so worth removing before spreading into the nearby intact bushland.

Paul is about to launch an attack.
Victory! Paul and Andrew make sure the New Zealand flax is gone after about 10 minutes’ work.

It is immensely satisfying to remove such a large weed in a short amount of time.

The glyphosate treated base of the New Zealand flax worked on by Paul and Andrew in the photos above. The red areas are the stems where glyphosate was applied, the red dying making it easier to see which areas you have treated.
After his head and shoulders were buried in the New Zealand flax, Andrew found a huntsman spider on his shoulder.

Just after this June session, the Narrow Neck Bushcare group went into hibernation as the whole of Greater Sydney was put into COVID lockdown for three and a half months. We are itching to get back into the bush and see what weeds have popped up and how much those weeds we haven’t got to yet have grown.

This is a long-game and we can wait until we are ready because the weeds are not going anywhere – well at least if they are not seeding!

Blackberry attack

March was Blackberry month.

While visiting Sydneysiders flocked to see the last of the waning Pink Flannel Flowers along Narrow Neck, the Narrow Neck Bushcare group had other priorities in mind.

With the growing season rapidly coming to an end, it was important to treat a large patch of Blackberry on the roadside before winter arrived.

Pip and Lyndal attacking a patch of blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.
Pip and Lyndal attacking a patch of blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.

We trimmed the long Blackberry canes to allow easier access and removed and carefully placed any berries in our weed seed bags. Then we could begin the scraping of the stem followed by a quick application of glyphosate.

Lyndal scraping and applying glyphosate to blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.
Lyndal scraping and applying glyphosate to blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.
James scraping and applying glyphosate to blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.
James scraping and applying glyphosate to blackberry near Cliff Drive and the start of Glenraphael Drive.

The Blackberry was just at the start of Glenraphael Drive and within chatting distance of the National Parks and Wildlife ranger stationed at the roadhead managing the foot and car traffic flocking to Flannel Flower viewing.

Next month we will finish the attack of the Blackberry before winter arrives. See you from 9am to noon on the 1st Saturday of the month!

New Narrow Neck Bushcare group

By Pip Walsh

In late 2019, before bushfires and COVID, a few mature Pampas Grasses were noted along parts of Glenraphael Drive, which is off Cliff Drive at Narrow Neck, Katoomba.

The sighting was flagged with a friend, who suggested we start up a new Bushcare Group.

As part of our investigation, we realised that we had several small drainage lines where various weeds were flourishing and if we tackled them, we could help protect the Escarpment Complex vegetation and a population of the threatened species Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii (formerly known as Microstrobus fitzgeraldii).

The team at their favourite morning tea spot overlooking Jamison Valley
The team at their favourite morning tea spot overlooking Jamison Valley. L to r: Pip, Lyndal, Andrew, James, Madi and Paul. Photo: BMCC.

Pampas Grass has become a dim memory, and has now been overtaken by our dedicated Holly hunting, as well as a bit of Privet, Cotoneaster, Himalayan Honeysuckle and Ivy hunting for variety. At some stage, we will have to tackle the Montbretia.

Bushcare veterans realise we have years of entertainment ahead. We do have a fair bit of manoeuvring through the bush to get to our weedy targets, but the effort is made worthwhile when we break for morning tea and look out over the valley below and across the southern mountains.

We now have a regular, core team, but since formally becoming part of the Bushcare Program from November 2020, we would be pleased to welcome more members.

We meet on the first Saturday morning of the month.

Contact Pip Walsh pipwalsh (at) ozemail.com.au or Karen Hising (BMCC Bushcare Officer) khising (at) bmcc.nsw.gov.au