SWEETWATER CREEK NATURE RESERVE
Frankston, Victoria, Australia
To encourage the community to sustain, develop and enjoy the natural beauty and ecology of Sweetwater Creek Nature Reserve
A p r i l 2 0 1 4 N e w s l e t t e r
ACTION SWEETWATER CREEK
Normally we associate the word regeneration with removing foreign plant species from the Reserve and replacing them with plants indigenous to the area.
But, four years ago, as we observed the number of active members in our group reducing and the remainder not getting any younger, we looked to our own need for regeneration. We had seemed unable to attract and keep new members and we needed to turn this trend around or the days of Action Sweetwater Creek Inc were numbered. We needed to regenerate ASWC Inc
We, the working members, came together in the FCC Nursery office and took a long hard look at the way we were operating as a group. We realised we had many strengths but a number of weaknesses needed to be overcome. The profile in the community needed to be more visible, prospective new members should to be trained and our meetings had to focus as much on how we were going as a community business, as where and what we were going to plant.
It was back to work for Action Sweetwater Creek volunteers in mid-February. We walked the reserve in trepidation after the horrible hot December weather and were agreeably surprised at the resilience of nature. Yes, the reserve looked tired and dry but we discovered some treasures: pink Hyacinth Orchids and Yellow Grass Lilies grew along the verge of the Fire Track and even amongst the sooty aftermath of December regenerative burn carried out by Frankston Council Natural Reserves staff. This was to reduce fuel in the bushfire season, to clear woody weeds and encourage the growth of indigenous plants. If you walk along the track you will see hundreds of encouraged green plants bursting out of the soil. The burn, then, was a success.
Over the past year we have received many applications from would-be volunteers through Frankston Council Volunteer Register. This has been a boon - mostly. Some never turn up; some come for a day and find it is not for them; others find us and the work congenial but then have to move on. For one young man there was an excellent outcome. He had struggled to find employment with his Environmental Studies degree, so while he worked with us, we encouraged him to contact Natural Reserves Alan Wallis who then snatched him for his work team. Alan said he knew volunteers were good material. We are thinking of charging commission.
Last year we had a young Zimbabwean man, an asylum seeker, so not permitted to work in Australia; a Frenchman with time on his hands; a German girl who loved being outdoors and thought volunteering at Sweetwater Creek was a great way to learn about Australian flora and fauna. Even if most of these volunteers have been temporary, their help when faced with a wall of asparagus fern, English ivy, blackberries and other smothering and strangling monsters has been appreciated.
Sometimes I have had the luxury of having so many people I am able to direct teams to different horror spots on the one day. We hope this flow continues throughout this year and of course, we would love some of our local residents to join in.
Our other great resource is the young people from Naranga School. They come to work with us twice each school term and have done so for the past two years. With their teachers Sandi and Francine to keep things running smoothly, we all work at freeing indigenous plants from engulfing weeds. The Liddesdale Avenue entrance to the reserve should be renamed Naranga Walk I think, because that is where the school has concentrated its efforts.
You may have noticed signs of work along the creek banks over the past six months. Melbourne Water has sent contractors to clear the woody weeds - Willows, Pittosporum, the ubiquitous Arum lilies and other water-loving pests and will continue with this clearing for the next few months. As you walk through the wetlands along the boardwalk you might notice there is no longer a sea of Arum lilies reaching across to the far side. At least, we hope that is still the case when this newsletter reaches you. For us they have been impossible to eradicate but Melbourne Water may have the magic wand. Next, they are going to tackle our most hated weed, rambling dock, which entrenches itself with huge tubers and octopus tentacles.
Hooray for Melbourne Water!
Sally Harding Works Co Ordinator
Phone: 9770 1777
Naranga students reflect ...
Scottie: I like to come and pull up weeds. I like to do it at home too.
Patrick: I like to do as much work experience as I can. I want to learn about good and bad plants.
Michael: I come to do weeding. I like to work close to the creek.
Jacinta: I was pulling the ivy off the plants.
Dobuol: I saw a tree covered with cape ivy and I cleared it up. (Dobuol was so keen to get to get the Cape Ivy off the tree that he kept on referring to the tree while working in another area. A staff member went with him and they worked on the tree together. He was proud of his efforts.)
New entrance to Reserve from Liddesdale Ave
As you pass the Liddesdale entrance to the Reserve you will notice some changes. There is a new footpath winding up from the Nepean Highway to the entrance, bollards edging the road and new soil and mulch. Planting with indigenous species is planned for May.
This project was instigated by a tireless community advocate, Pat Bentley, in conjunction with Action Sweetwater Creek. Frankston Council provided the funds for this first stage to provide a better connection with the foreshore boardwalk. Councillor Brian Cunial contributed $5000 from his mayoral fund (2012) and helped to get the project on the drawing board, while Rotary Sunrise has taken an active interest.
The Frankston Arts Board is interested in commissioning a public sculpture for the corner. This would be a site specific piece encompassing the history, culture and environmental aspects of the area. It would mark the entrance to the Reserve and to Olivers Hill.
After some years of meetings it is rewarding to see Stage One under way. Please watch this space as the project progresses
Frankston Ordnance Survey Map 1854
Sweetwater Creek and its tributaries highlighted in yellow
Proposed New Planning/Building Zones for Frankston
Under direction from the State Government all municipalities are required to nominate the areas to be placed into prescribed zones. Residential areas are to be divided between 3 zones; Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). If municipalities have not completed this by 30 June 2014 a General Residential Zone will be imposed on the whole of each municipality which has not complied.
Frankston Council has complied and most of South Frankston, including all of the catchment area of Sweetwater Creek, has been nominated for a NRZ. This most stringent of zones intends to preserve an area from overdevelopment. Any existing planning overlays will remain in place in conjunction with the Zone regulations. Specific information about all this can be found on Frankston Council website.
An Independent Planning Panel will assess the Council proposals. Their report will be considered by the Council and a final proposal be sent to the Planning Minister for ratification. Action Sweetwater Creek supports this placement of the environs of Sweetwater Creek into an NRZ, we have lobbied for many years for stronger planning controls in the area.
Secretary and Treasurer
Dog walker 1
Us: Excuse me, you are supposed to have your dog on a lead
Walker:Oh, my dog is extremely well-behaved; he does not need to be on a lead
Dog walker 2
Us: Excuse me…
Walker: I am bi-polar. I am more likely to bite someone than my dog.
Dog walker 3 (with three dogs on the loose)
Us: Excuse me…
Walker: Oh, they do love to have a good run, they would not hurt a thing.
Lady stopping and leaning over the fence as we labour away weeding: You know, this reserve is terribly weed-infested.
Last month, we came together again, this time at the Yamala Park Bowls Club and we considered our progress over the last four years
Our profile had greatly enlarged. Sweetwater Creek Inc. was now on Facebook and we had our own webpage. We had developed training manuals on flora and fauna recognition which could also be seen on our webpage; we were running community working bees several time a year; we were involved with environmental programmes with three of our local schools; and, most important of all, the number of active members was increasing.
Regeneration after the burn
Liddesdale Art Project
Editor: J McMillan
Action Sweetwater Creek Inc.
PO Box 5294 Frankston South. 3199