How do you like to spend your Saturday mornings? A hot cuppa in hand, a sunny spot in the garden and the weekend newspaper on your lap? Not so for a group of dedicated Bush Heritage Volunteers in Queensland's south-east corner.
On Saturday 22nd August a team of seven willing weeders headed down to Currumbin Reserve, nestled beside Nicoll Scrub National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland for the first-ever working bee at this small but significant patch of remnant forest.
This working bee was significant not only because it was the first one at this location but because it was coordinated entirely by volunteers. With no Bush Heritage field staff based in the Qld SE corner it can be a bit of challenge to provide the on-ground care and attention we'd like at this site. That's where volunteer Heike Eberhard stepped in... or should I say stepped 'up'.
After assisting with siam weed survey and treatment at Yourka earlier this year, Heike expressed a willingness to take on a team-leader role at her 'local' reserve. With just a little help to purchase some hand tools and put the call-out to other Bush Heritage volunteers, Heike led a supportive team of her peers to make a start on weed issues at Currumbin.
By Sunday afternoon I had received a string of photos and texts from participants and an excited report from Heike:
"The day started out a little miserable with rain over the Gold Coast all night. Luckily, this soon cleared up and we were left with a beautiful partly cloudy day (perfect for weeding). At 9am sharp all volunteers were so ready to hack into the weeds that they hardly let me finish my site induction. The volunteers who attended were Alison Blatcher, Nicolla and Yenda Rolls, Paul Green, Joanna Reid and her adorable daughter, Lucinda.
"Paul identified a good accessible patch of lantana just behind the memorial gardens on the left side of the reserve. That’s where we then worked through the nasty stuff because it was smothering native regrowth and climbing up into the canopy of many smaller trees. It was really rewarding to remove this lantana and 'rescue' the trees from their heavy load.
"By 12pm we had worked through approximately 200m2 of lantana and uncovered a little over-grown path with a bench that Dr Giffith himself may have made many years ago.
"We followed the path for about 20m when we spotted a small infestation of Cat’s Claw Creeper. We were lucky in a way that we found it early. I’m not sure what Cat’s Claw Creeper is like up north, but here in south-east Queensland it's one of the worst environmental weeds and such a hassle to manage once properly established. We tried to pull out as many seedlings as possible, but we will definitely have to keep an eye on that area and spray any regrowth.
"All in all it was a fantastic way to spend the morning and I'm really looking forward to another working bee later in the year."
At Bush Heritage we're extremely fortunate to have volunteers with such passion and dedication. Volunteers with the skills and experience to operate autonomously are an incredible capacity-builder for our organisation.
Thank you volunteers for helping us care for our reserves!