|This is one of the two small ponds (rather intermittent being rainfall dependent) at Blue wrens Retreat; one of the local council (Shoalhaven City
Council) reserves in the St Georges Basin area being
developed and maintained by the Basin Bushcare Group. For
information on this and other reserves click on your
selection from the list below, or simply scan down the
page. Blue wrens Retreat is so called because it is one
of the last local retreats of the Superb Blue Wren. Note
that the Wirreecoo Wildflower Garden (located at the Lady
Denman Museum, Huskisson) is the responsibility of the Australian Plant Society (Nowra
The names of the first three reserves on our list (Blue Wrens, Fire Tail Creek, and Grass Tree) were suggested to the Council by the Bushcare Group. The Council approved the names and forwarded them to the NSW Geographical Naming Board for ratification. In due course the Board officially approved the names. Timber name boards have been set up in standard Council colours . The Bushcare Group is proud, not only of its efforts on the reserves, but also of the fact that it is responsible for the choice of name.
Of course, working on a suburban reserve consists of much more than just weeding and planting. Attention has to be paid to bushfire hazards, to public access with possible amenities such as seats and paths, fencing and signs, to storm water, and to the location of services such as sewerage, water supply, electricity, etc. Most aspects of bushcare require finance; for example, for chemicals, equipment and clothing for weed control, for mulch for covering areas after weeding, for seedlings and young plants, fill for paths, timber for fencing and signs, and so on. Much of this comes from grants available from State or Federal bodies. In the case of grants someone has to fill out the obligatory paperwork asking for financial support, and provide a report at the end. Grant proposals need to include, not only an explanation of the work to be carried out but also a costing of items which are required. The need for volunteers to be adequately covered by insurance has complicated the situation in recent times.
This reserve has absorbed the most effort from the Basin Bushcare Group. Work first began in 1999 when the reserve was in an extremely degenerate state; affected by the passage of vehicles taking a short cut, full of weeds, rubbish, etc. It is a little less than 1 hectare in area and in fact is a portion of the historical Wool Road (which is discussed in the Heritage section) just before it reaches Island Point Road. One of the first tasks undertaken was the placing of bollards and large boulders to prevent vehicular through-traffic and to define the reserve area.
The pond shown above is fed by stormwater collected from the Wool Rd to the west of the reserve. Excess water is led via a shallow, open, shaped channel to a second pond from where it is diverted to a culvert which takes it under Island Point Rd. The area to the north of the channel is fairly natural and provides a lot of cover for small birds - such as blue wrens. A good solid path also runs from the Wool Rd to Island Point Rd. Much weeding and weed-spraying has taken place over the years, and the cleared areas have been mulched. Over time many small seedlings have been planted and most are showing considerable growth. The majority of the species planted are local natives such as kunzea, banksia (ericifolia and spinulosa), hakea, acacia (myrtifolia and suaveolens), casuarina, and others.
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Although the Bushcare Group has erected a fine sign in front of this reserve on Loralyn Ave, little work has been done. This will change in the future. If you would like to get involved in regenerating and maintaining this and other reserves please get in touch with the Basin Bushcare Group (see information at the bottom of this page).
In June of 2007 a considerable number of young native plants (cuttings and seedlings) were put into the open corner of the reserve. Unfortunately a few of these have not survived the dry and hot conditions occurring since that time. However, this isn't too unusual as some loss is usually anticipated. It's more a case of the survival of the fittest since it isn't feasible to give continuing individual attention (usually watering) to all new plantings. Once the survivors are more mature a decision will be made about further plantings.
Grass Tree has a much more formal appearance than any of the other reserves. Indeed the garden has been designed and is used to display some of the local plants found in the fast disappearing bushland around the Basin area. This garden is located on the corner of St Georges and Island Point Roads, a prominent site opposite the St Georges Basin commercial area. It consists of a large elongated raised bed with a gravel path in front. Bed and path are surrounded by a grassed area mown by the Council. There is, of course, a large grass tree - which was "rescued" from the area cleared for the Vincentia Leisure Centre.. It has thrived since being transplanted. There are also many other healthy rescued native plants in this and other reserves maintained by the Bushcare Group. Several other seed-grown grass trees have been planted as these often take more readily than transplanted older plants. A feature of the raised bed is a large sandstone boulder at one end.
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As discussed in the Heritage section this reserve sits on Tasman Road between the fire station and the Scout hall. It is a small area (about two house blocks) of mature eucalypts but with no natural understorey. A path cuts diagonally across the reserve and a seat has been placed beside it. The area between the path and the back fence of the Bruce Street properties is grass which is kept short for fire safety considerations. The area on the road side has been mulched although a small amount of weeding is still required. Some young plants have been planted- for example, banksia, westringia, hakea, casuarina, callitris, and lomandra. And some natural seeding has occurred - for example, wattles and hardenbergia. Two nesting boxes for possums have been placed in appropriate trees. Some ropes have been put up at a high level to link some of the trees together and make it unnecessary for the possums to come down to the ground all the time. As described in the Heritage section the reserve has associations with Tasman House and the Blackets. One of the associations is the 1911 sandstone horsetrough which sits beside Tasman Road. There is an explanatory plaque beside the horsetrough.
image: courtesy Robyn Williams
The Lady Denman Museum (www.ladydenman.asn.au) is located at Huskisson and the garden below the upper carpark has been maintained since 1985 by the Nowra branch of the Australian Plant Society (APS) (www.austplants-nsw.org.au). Previously this garden was simply known as the Lady Denman Garden but in 2003 was given its own name - the Wirreecoo Wildflower Garden (wirreecoo is aboriginal for tea tree). While the Lady Denman complex (including the garden) is on Council land the Lady Denman Board act as trustees. Members of this branch of the APS come from all over the Shoalhaven area, including St Georges Basin. Because the area was severely burnt in the bushfires of the 2001/2002 summer a lot of work has been required to regenerate the area. And further work is continuing. Considerable attention is being paid to the design and layout of this garden as many visitors will pass through it on the way to the Museum. Since the garden borders a bushland area the design of the garden also has the local wildlife in mind. For example, some nesting boxes for birds, possums and gliders have been set up.
Basin Bushcare Group Contact N. Webb on 4443.5080
Australian Plant Society (Nowra Branch) PO Box 618, Nowra, NSW 2541.
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