Volunteer innovation

Getting it under control

The Geelong Field Naturalist Club is proudly celebrating 60 years of controlling boneseed in You Yangs Regional Park. The program looks after Peak number 3, a site on the northern loop of the East West walk. For over two years, members have experimented with a variety of methods before landing on the one they use today.

‘Boneseeding is carried out in May and August as these months usually have good rainfall,’ says Rob Beardsley, Geelong Field Naturalist Club member. ‘The plant has a shallow root system, so is easiest to pull out in these months.’ 

The group have worked for many years to remove the hill of mature boneseed plants, starting at the peak and working down the slopes to the East-West walking track. Cleared areas would have to be maintained by removing regrowth due to seed stored in the topsoil, the viability of which is estimated to be at least ten years plus. Seeds stored in the topsoil move down the hill slopes through wind and rainfall, along with seeds transported by wildlife from other areas, creating new boneseed growth, which is removed prior to flowering during the groups biannual working bees. ‘This will be an ongoing practice until some other control for ridding the You Yangs of this noxious weed is successful,’ says Rob. 

The method has been so successful that the hill has now been effectively cleared of mature seed producing plants and indigenous plants are once again flourishing.

Founded in 1961 in Geelong, the club was brought together by local naturalist, Trevor Pescott, to unite those with a mutual love of the environment. Members come from all walks of life, with a cross section of the community including trades, doctors, farmers, teachers and other professionals.

‘People in the club have different interests that range from birdlife to geology to botany, and as such we have guest speakers at our general and bird group meetings where you can learn a mine of information. We do a range of excursions every month that include citizen science and species tracking,’ Rob explained.

With membership in the hundreds and at least two to three new members joining every month, the Geelong Field Naturalist Club doesn’t look like slowing any time soon.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Geelong Field Naturalist Club’s boneseed program at the You Yangs Regional Park, Parks Victoria would like to applaud the club for their dedication to preserving natural heritage. Through their conservation efforts, the club has left an indelible mark on the local landscape.

Geelong Field Naturalist Club

Cycling without Age in Rushworth

The town of Rushworth is more connected to the beauty of their surrounds thanks to an innovative project that is promoting inclusivity, reducing social isolation and building a healthier community. 

The pilot project called Cycling without Age, was organised by Rushworth Events Inc and funded by Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund. It enables community members who are unable to engage in cycling to be carried as passengers on a trike, reaping the benefits of a memorable immersion in nature. 

Graeme shares about his own experience that motivated him to apply to the Fund on behalf of Rushworth Events Inc, "My first bicycle was a 27’ Malvern Star, a hand me down from my older brother whilst I was still a primary school kid. As my feet didn’t touch the ground, I learnt to ride by hanging on to the hills hoist clothesline and riding in circles until I eventually got the hang of it. I’ve ridden a bike ever since and I still get that same exhilarating feeling of freedom and adventure every time.” 

What is the appeal of this project for Rushworth?

“Many residents who are unable to cycle have not enjoyed the stunning views along the Waranga Rail Trail, which have only been accessible by bike. Nowhere is the missed opportunity highlighted more than for the residents of Rushworth’s Aged Care facility, which is located at the doorstep of the trail. Now, through volunteer-led rides on the trike, all people who cannot cycle, can still have the exhilarating feeling of freedom and adventure, and experience the wind in their hair.”

How do you take up the opportunity for a ride?

There is no need to book, just look for the flags. The trike provides free rides to residents of the Waranga Aged Care Hostel by trained staff during the week and has now extended to the Rushworth and Gigarree Markets on the weekend.

The project has been well received and the community has been able to run over 30 outings that have been enjoyed by all involved, “the laughter and giggling that ensues is a reward in itself”. Given the success of the pilot, Rushworth Events Inc. intends to expand the scope of services to include the nearby villages of Girgarre, Stanhope and Colbinabbin.

The work of Cycling without Age is only possible because of the dedicated and enthusiastic community volunteers who provide the cycling service to other residents. The benefits of the Cycling without Age program are reaped by all those involved, with every ride opening space to share an appreciation for the town’s natural landscape and benefit from a sense of wellbeing and connection in the process.

To find out more about Cycling without Age, visit: https://cyclingwithoutage.org.au/what-we-do/

Cycling without age

Weed control with goats

The Friends of Dandenong Valley Parklands and the First Friends of Dandenong Creek are taking a different approach to weed control… with goats!

The groups are working together on a patch of bush in Koomba Park near Boronia Road, Vermont, to control weeds and re-establish a native grassland by using goats! The goats graze the weeds sporadically across the site and once the weeds are grazed down far enough, the volunteers hold working bees to plant native grasses, reeds and sedges. Once the native species have established, the goats are returned to the site to continue weed control. Repeating this process of grazing then planting starves the weed root system, eventually killing off the weedy plant. The goats love the weeds and tend to leave the native grasses alone. 

Over the last year, the groups have held numerous working bees to plant more than 5000 indigenous plants into the area. The goats continue to graze, and once the native plants are established enough, they will then be able to outcompete the weeds.

Have a look at more of what the groups are doing on the Friends of Dandenong Valley Parklands website and the First Friends of Dandenong Creek Facebook page.

Closeup of a goat
Dandenong Creek
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