On Friday 11 May 2018, Gareth Ward, the State Member for Kiama, attended Bangalee Reserve to officially launch Bangalee Bushcare's new website. Also attending the event were Shoalhaven City Council's Bushcare Coordinator, Peter Swanson, and several guests from Shoalhaven Riverwatch and Shoalhaven Landcare.
Left to right: Saskia Macey (Bangalee), John Tate (Riverwatch), Sarah White (Bangalee), Grant White (Bangalee), Gareth Ward, Len White (Bangalee), Peter Swanson (Shoalhaven City Council), Margie Jirgens (Riverwatch), Greg Thompson (Landcare), Peter Hanson (Riverwatch), Peter Jirgens (Riverwatch), Marien Stark (Landcare).
After Mr Ward had met all the volunteers and guests, he gave a speech to officially launch the website and to explain the vital importance volunteer environmental restoration organisations to the community and the health of the local ecosystems.
"I don’t see the money we invest in Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare and Riverwatch as a cost to Government; it’s an investment in our community."
Mr Ward then planted a lilly pilly (syzygium smithii) to mark the occasion. "Lilly pillys are a very tough tree," Mr Ward said, "Like White Cedars, they are a really nice tree to plant."
After Mr Ward had ceremonially planted the lilly pilly, Len White, the volunteer coordinator of Bangalee Bushcare, took Mr Ward and the other guests on a tour of the work conducted by the group over the past few years. Starting at the downsteam end of the current work area, Len explained how the group has been working through the lantana towards the bank of Shoalhaven River. He also showed the guests how the groups has been able to create straight maintenance lines up towards Koloona Drive. "The goal," he said, "is to be able to create clear maintenance boundaries so that we can monitor the rates of regrowth in areas we have cleared of weeds."
Len also showed Mr Ward and the guests the different stages of bush regeneration at Bangalee as well as the successes or failures of different weed control methods. For example, pointing to the northern side of the existing River Walk, Len said, "Over there, we simply trampled the lantana down rather than piling it up. Lots of Kangaroo Apple has grown but the dead lantana still covers the ground making it very hard to control other weed regrowth."
Len told Mr Ward and the other guests how vitally important the followup weeding team is as Bangalee. "Without the weeders, we simply would not be able to prevent re-infestation of areas we have previously cleared of lantana. They look after the new planting areas and ensure that no previously regenerated area gets overrun with non-native species."
Mr Ward reiterated how impressed he is that the group is actively experimenting with different bush regeneration methods and has learned the importance having different people concentrate on different tasks.
"The work you’ve done here at Bangalee getting rid of lantana and other invasive species is just a real credit to you and it is a legacy that you are leaving."
The tour then moved to the upstream end of the Reserve before everyone returned to the picnic ground for hot coffee and homemade cake and biscuits provided by Elizabeth White, another regular volunteer at Bangalee Bushcare. Assisting her with catering was her (and Len's) grandmother, Cheryl White. Cheryl maintains Bangalee Bushcare's largest home nursery with close to 2,000 plants in her care.
It was a very successful day and Bangalee Bushcare are sincerely grateful to Mr Ward for making to time to come to our bush regeneration site and share a morning tea with us.