Print this page

News

Who Cares About the Bannockburn Bush?


Most Bannockburn residents will know something about the 425 ha Bannockburn Bush reserve located on the western edge of Bannockburn township.

Since 2007, the Ballarat Environment Network (BEN) has managed the reserve for its biodiversity (flora and fauna) values.  As many residents will know, this has also meant having to deal with the long term issues of recreational trail bike and four wheel drive usage, rubbish dumping and firewood collection. 

For many people, the disruption and disturbance created by these activities has put them off using what is otherwise an area of great beauty and natural environmental values. 

Because the reserve has been largely unmanaged for many years, habits and uses that many people think are inappropriate for the reserve have become entrenched. Anecdotally, these uses seem to be increasing and expanding into previously undamaged parts of the reserve.  

As BEN’s motivation for managing the reserve is for its environmental values, it agrees with those people who believe action needs to be taken to change the existing, unsatisfactory situation. 

Since 2007, with the significant assistance of the Friends of Bannockburn Bush and the Golden Plains Shire Council, clean up activities have been organised, resulting in the removal of truckloads of domestic, commercial and industrial waste. More recently, the Council has been following up incidences of rubbish dumping. For years, residents have reported the presence of unlicensed trail bikes in the reserve and the Police have followed up on many of those reports. However, all of these actions are occurring ‘after the fact’ and it is prevention that is really needed.

With the support of the Friends and other members of the Bannockburn Bush management support group, BEN has decided on the following measures, that if successful, will enable the community at large to truly enjoy the natural beauty and serenity of the ‘Banno Bush’:

• Repairs to and reinstatement of the perimeter fencing.

• Provision of gates at the 5 entry points to the main section of the reserve (between Brislane and Masons Rds), with provision for pedestrian and horse access at each entry. These gates will be locked at most times.

• At the main Teesdale Road entrance, a small car park will be provided inside the perimeter fence.

• Fencing of the southern section of the reserve (south of the Portland powerline).

• Harvesting of sugar gum plantations along the southern side of the Teesdale Road (commenced in 2011), the northern side of the Teesdale Road (between the Golf Club and the eastern boundary of the reserve) and in part of the main plantation will enable the cleared areas to be reinstated to natural woodland (as been occurring in the former pine plantation sites).

• Heavily disturbed areas, such as the gathering or ‘picnic’ area next to the former night soil depot and the area of manna gum woodland immediately north of the former tip, will be fenced off or otherwise managed to exclude disturbance by vehicles to enable these areas to be rehabilitated.

• Potential conversion of the section of north of the Teesdale Road to a wildlife sanctuary.

Harvesting of the sugar gum plantations generally will continue into the future, with the main area of plantations in the southern part of the reserve being the focus of operations. Vehicle access to harvesting sites needs to be prevented for reasons of safety and effective harvesting operations, and as harvesting work may occur at any time during the year, this is another reason why vehicle access to the reserve needs to be restricted. In recent months, a small amount of harvesting has been carried out in the main plantation as a trial but this is expected to expand significantly in coming months.  Harvesting of the plantations on each side of the Teesdale Road are planned to occur over the next 2 months.

Collectively, all of the above actions will take some time to come fully to fruition, however, it is planned to carry out the installation of the entrance gates and fencing work in the second half of this year.  The Network expects that there will be some opposition to the plans to limit vehicle access to the reserve but considers that to do so is in the best interests of the proper care of the reserve and for the majority of Bannockburn residents who love and value the area for its natural character and environment.

BEN is very interested in feedback from residents and other interested persons on these plans (as mentioned, these plans have been developed with the involvement and support of local people and groups).  

Written comments can be submitted to: Ballarat Environment Network, P O Box 1538, Bakery Hill BC, Ballarat, 3354 or by phoning Network Executive Officer, Hedley Thomson on 428 027 895 or by email to hedleythomson@gmail.com.

Hedley Thomson,  Executive Officer