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Friends of the Bannockburn Bush

Progress of the right kind in the Bush
A lot has happened in the Bannockburn Reserve since the December article.

We have completed and maintained the gates and fencing that for the most part has kept vehicles from entering and dumping rubbish. Unfortunately we have had some damage and entry by Quad bikes and 4WD vehicles and one citizen who just drove over the fence.

Note that the fences are not meant to stop you from entering the bush; they are just to keep your powered vehicles out and to keep the Reserve clean and quite. You are very welcome to ride bicycles and horses and to run or walk.

The Park Run group has been going well and if you enjoy a group run have a go and turn up at 7:45am on Saturdays for a flat 5km jog. I have been an apology so far this year while I recover from a mystery ankle injury.

A fencing suggestion from Dale at the shire enabled us to save $3000 on our Southern Triangle fencing project and we are putting this into one of those glossy multifold Flora and Fauna brochures you may have seen around. This one will be focused on our reserve (pun intended) and we have been given some great images to use. Hopefully it should be out by May.

Over the festive season we have continued picking up caches of junk from the bush but more remains and the Lethbridge Cubs and Bannockburn Scouts helped us to do another Clean Up Australia day effort on Thursday March 2nd. Golden Plains Shire are helping by providing a Cleanaway skip. They will also deal with any tyres, concrete rubble and asbestos we find.

And for some lovely schadenfreude, or karma, the driver who rammed and damaged the gate at the south end of Mason road left enough evidence for the Bannockburn Police to gain a conviction in the Geelong magistrate’s court. Sometime soon FOBB, as “victims of crime” will receive a cheque to cover the cost of replacing the gate.  The gate at the top of Mason Road was also abused but was rehabilitated after a run-over with the tractor!

Another DELWP grant for good works
The Ballarat Environment Network, BEN has received a MILL Municipal Industrial Landfill Levy grant for $20,000 to do more conservation work in the bush.

One thrust of this grant will be to do some serious wildlife monitoring. In the past we have done flora and bird surveys but not enough on the fauna. We should have fat-tailed Dunnarts in there somewhere but we do not know.

Fat Tailed Dunnart: Photo Courtesy Trevor Pescott

We can’t say they are there or not there. In ecological monitoring there is a distinction between “Dunnarts not found” and “Dunnarts not looked for”. Now we are going to look and hope the news is good. If you would like to get involved with this survey work, please contact us.

Council Plan; why not have a dedicated Environment Pillar?
Followers of the Golden Plains Shire’s Council Plan process may have noted that most of our neighbouring shires have plans that include a dedicated Environment Pillar to focus on the special natural resource management issues in their area. Unfortunately GPS, while scoring runs in some areas, seems to have lumped Environment in with Development; Managing Built and Natural Environments. For many this could be a conflict of interest and we would like to see our local environment given a much higher profile, budget and attention. We have some very good local environment officers and some excellent reserves and natural areas. We should not be hiding our natural treasures under a Built Pillar.

Farm Forestry 
Bush visitors will be aware that there is extensive Sugar Gum logging going on. Royalties from the sale of this timber come back into managing this and other BEN reserves. 

But we also need to do some follow-up work to manage the coppicing stumps (sucker bashing). Some of this will be paid work. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

Firewood collection.
Although you are not permitted to go in and collect firewood randomly, there are certain spots where we want ‘uneconomic’ timber removed so that regrowth or replanting can occur. If you help, you can keep the wood. Again get in touch to register.

Harvey Road Soil Dumps; still unresolved
One of our members recently contacted Golden Plains shire (again) regarding the messy weedy soil dumps on Harvey road, the cause of some concern for us.

The following reply was received: 
“Roadside storage of material and lay down areas related to road maintenance activities carried out by the shire are an essential tool in managing such a large geographical area and workload. The Shire now and into the future will continue to utilise roadside storage and lay down areas to allow for efficient construction and repair of the road networks.

Following on from your email and being new to the Shire I have inspected the sites in question and met with councils environmental and works teams to discuss this matter. I have requested my staff to look into these historic stockpiles across the shire with the aim of firstly rationalising how many we require and use on a regular basis and secondly to come up with a long term management plan for the removal and use of stockpiled material.”  David Greaves, Manager – Works.

FOBB’s reply would be that if council needed such soil dumps:
1.  They should do it on council land, not in a conservation reserve area.

2.  The material there is not really of road building or mending quality. When some of it was used to build up to extreme levels the new Dann Road leading to Stevenson Road, uncontrolled weeds have been allowed to spread into the high value grassland site along the railway reserve. 

3.  If they have existing historical dumps adjacent to conservation reserves then they should control weeds that threaten those reserves.

4.  A few years ago, in a meeting with GPS, BEN and FOBB, GPS agreed to remove the dumps on Harvey Rd asap and had a few options for placing the material. The limitation was with having funds available. 

5.  Given a suitable site, (eg the old tip site in the South West corner) this material could be used to create a trail bike course to keep trailbikes out of the native vegetation sections of the Bush.

6.  FOBB and BEN are running out of patience with the procrastination and obfuscation of the shire in this matter.

7.  The current dumps are invitations for others to dump their unwanted material and as such GPS should have a daily ‘watch and remove’ program so that this entry to our lovely town does not look trashy.

8.  People often comment on how nice this southern entry is with healthy looking bush (eg. Steve Sinclair from DELWP) but why should we tolerate these eyesores?

Trail Bikes
We have been in contact with a few trail bike riders including some who asked how to join Friends of Bannockburn Bush. All you have to do is turn up at a working bee and flick me an email as below.

You will see from the 8 points above that we are still sympathetic to the need for riders to have a site that is safe for them and safe for the bush. FOBB thinks that the old tip site is a possibility but we need riders to drive it. My own view is that trail bikes are incompatible with appreciating the bush or teaching your kids about it. If you really want to do that, just walk, run or ride a Mountain bike. Blasting along on a dirt bike is no way to smell the wildflowers. You have to focus on staying upright. So I’m not motivated to do the work for you but I’m happy to work with you. I also think it’s reasonable that if you want to ‘use’ the bush, then you need to put something back into it. So far, despite many promises, not a single rider has ever turned up to help cleaning up or planting. But that could change.

Coming Events:
Working Bee Sunday March 26. 10-3, Working bee to do whatever needs doing. Kate or I will think of something.

Working Bee Sunday April 23, 10 – 3. Preparing sites for replanting. Coppice management.

Stuart McCallum, Friends of Bannockburn Bush
Contact: Email:
Mob: 0438 904 961