Black Spur Wetlands Project updates

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Black Spur Creek Wetlands Project - Update 6

I aim to provide 2-monthly brief updates of less than one page so I apologise for a longer version after more than 4 months gap – it was Christmas after all!

Since Update 6, our landcare group has held two well-attended friendly events – a Christmas break-up barbecue at Coral and Kevin Hughes and a farm walk and barbecue on Melissa and Luke’s property. The latter is nestled in the bends of the Tarwin immediately adjacent to the Black Spur Creek Wetlands (BSCW) project. We all appreciated the many unique and beautiful features of the property and were very interested to learn about Melissa and Luke’s plans for it. Their work will be of enormous benefit to our area and we wish them all the best in their endeavors. Thanks too, to Matt Bowler, WGCMA, for accompanying us on the walk and providing valuable insights into river and wetland management.

During February 2018, Indigenous Designs are contracted to remove ragwort flowers and spray ragwort and blackberry in the BSCW area. Further down the track they will be addressing other environmental weeds in a plan to target quality remnant vegetation and revegetation areas.

During October last year, Coral, Jill and I walked the South Gippsland Highway realignment site with Debbie Mclees and other representative of Vic Roads and Indigenous Designs. We focused especially on the vegetation and plant identification especially Eucalyptus strzeleckii and E. globulus pseudo-globulus. This was a very valuable exercise to enable knowledge sharing and developing a vision for the area. (I also learnt that the Sacred Kingfisher sounds like a squeaky toy being pressed!)  Suggestions from the local community about increasing species diversity have been taken on board by Vic Roads and included in revised realignment plans.

On behalf of the landcare group, Sue sent a letter of support confirming extensive consultation to the Australian Department of Environment for the EPBC referral process. This process, and Vic Roads employment of contractors, is currently delayed because of concerns about E. strzeleckii and Grayling Fish. We are not sure what the outcomes of this will be but hopefully it means extra care will be taken of our very special environment.

The Tarwin River is the boundary between the Gunai Kurnai and the Bunnerong but the Gunai Kurnai are to be the contacts for the Vic Roads project. The site has been found to be of cultural significance with important artefacts found. We hope to have a speaker from Aboriginal Victoria present to the Landcare group about these interesting developments in 2018.

The Rail Trail through the BSCW continues to be well used by walkers, runners, bike and horse riders. It’s been especially delightful to see mothers’ groups with their prams and pushers and also the regular Saturday Park Run which attracts many people. I gave the organizers links to our BSCW project plan and videos.

We’ve been approached by Dr Pat Macwhirter, owner and author of "Harewood Westernport - Stardust to Us" to represent the Koonwarra fossils at a Charity Open Day (Sunday 18th March 2018) to celebrate 150 years of Harewood House. Flora and fauna dress-ups are being used to promote a Healesville to Phillip Island Naturelink. Any volunteers to dress up as a fossil? The museum has generously provided some beautiful fossil photos and also given us an update on their activities. Tom Rich wrote:

“At the moment am in a stage where what is being done is to scan Koonwarra fossils with as many different techniques as possible in order to see which might facilitate the recovery of them.  There is no point in carrying out a major dig there using the techniques available 36 years ago without first exploring the potential of new technologies to locate fossils there.

The widening of the South Gippsland Highway adjacent to the fossil locality will move the road about 1 metre away from the site.  On 22 January, Vic Roads drilled a core as close to the site as the drill rig could be safely located.  The result of this is that there is now a core through most if not all of the fossiliferous unit there. A number of studies will soon be carried out as both physical and paleontological aspects of this core.  So even before a major excavation is carried out there, we shall know more about the history of the ancient lake in which the fossils were buried than we know at the moment.”

We welcome a new Committee of Management for the Great Southern Rail Trail and we look forward to working with them to nurture our unique assets.

Please note that copies of Vic Roads plans for the Highway Realignment and detailed biodiversity assessments, provided by Debbie Mclees, are currently stored at my place. Let me know if you wish to view them.

Kate Walsh, Coordinator, Black Spur Creek Wetland Project, for Nerrena/Tarwin Valley Landcare Group.

walshpk@gmail.com.  Phone 0409 418 223.