Thursday, June 21, 2012

Creek video

Hopefully this works!

video

I have also been sent this great planting in action video as well, and it gives a great sense of what it is like down there on the coal-face! Thank you so much everyone for your help.  This is becoming a community garden, just without the veggies!  Thanks Hank, the video is excellent...

The planting begins!

Last weekend Sue and her crew of dedicated reforesters hit the ground running, planting out the first round of trees and shrubs.  This is so exciting! This is how it all looks now, and in a year I will put up comparative shots to show the changes.

The green plant protectors mark where things are going, and lets me know where to keep the slasher away from when keeping this area weed free.  I will also get a photo of Sue's planting map and post it up here too.




I also have a bit of video footage to upload, but it is proving a bit tricky.  Will keep at it.

Planting preparation

Part of the clearing process has been reshaping and preparing for new planting.  This has included dragging logs and offcuts up the slopes to create small swales without cutting into the steep hillsides. At these points we can plant trees and shrubs and create a protected base for them.  Water, soil and organic matter can collect around them, critters and bugs can hide and play around the logs.  Eventually, after a year or two, those logs will break down into the soil and the wee plants first planted will have already established their root base, holding the hillside together.   

On the flat it is a different story, but the trick is to pick the safest spots on and above the flood line. There are plenty of safe areas, so all will work out fine.


Taking shape

Now that the big burnings are done, we can get the site ready for the first round of planting. Sue has done an enormous amount of work lugging around the border logs, mapping out paths, creating sacred spaces as well as social spaces.  The creek is a place to enjoy and experience, not just admire from the road or from above.

I appear to have lost some progression photos from my phone, so cannot update with visuals for this post. I will get fresh ones shortly!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Day burnings!

With May 1 just past, the Big Burn to clear the creek began in earnest!  By my count there were 12 stacks to burn, and Sue and I, over 2 days leveled them all.  The weather was perfect for it, cool, calm and the very lightest misty drizzle until about 2.30 when the heavens opened and made our bonfires safe to leave overnight.  These stacks have been sitting around drying for months now, and all it took was a little newspaper to get them absolutely blazing.  Sue and I also learnt that it is a good idea to show more respect for fire at the starting process. Enough said...

Below are shots of the two of us looking gloriously sooty! The radiant heat from the fire behind us was so intense, it took a couple of hours to get any closer than this.



The next shots show the current state of play.  There is now space to get paths made and the re-vegetation planting will now begin properly.  It still looks pretty raw down there.  The piles of branches and logs will now be relocated into path borders, seating areas, critter homes and hillside erosion control.

Where you can see still standing tree trunks will soon house bird houses, and I can't wait to get this underway.  The bird life along this creek line is amazing, so all of the planting we will do specifically targets local birds. 



Friday, February 24, 2012

European wasps

Over the last couple of months it has been very hot and dry along the creek.  Each bit of undergrowth cleared leaves exposed soil and lots of bugs.  They all scurry away as fast as possible.  However, the European wasps arrive in force.  Initially I thought they were just after water, but on closer inspection, they were hunting bugs.  I could get quite close and they took no notice of me whatsoever.  They would find something bite-size, pick it up and head off to their nest, somewhere beyond my current work zone.  I wondered when or even if I would find their nest, and yesterday I did. And I still marvel that they did not go at me as I cleared all the Cape Ivy from their dead log home.  At the time there was no waspy activity, I only noticed their HQ a couple of hours later.

Anyway, they are right in the line of progress and in huge numbers.  I took some photos, but they seem to have vampire qualities, in that they are impossible to photograph, except the one hint of one in the close up shot.  Please just agree that there are a lot of wasps here!



Next step is either alerting the council or doing my own commando raid...I will meditate on this...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Changing landscapes

Another hot and humid day today, 35C, and it is an energy zapper!

I have set a goal to clear to the end of the creek before it runs under the road  and away.  This is so all rubbish can be cleared, trees and weeds removed and waterways unclogged before the next rains due in a couple of months.  It took ages to get any headway initially, but once a path was cleared to the creek, things started to flow, so to speak. In this little patch is my favorite waterfall, and have been itching to get to this bit to get the rubbish out. Well I was in for an interesting surprise.



Neither of these foreign objects are going anywhere!  Look how the tree roots have completely embraced that tyre. It will now be there forever.  And the bit of tin crushed and molded to form the lip of the waterfall is now part of the landscape.  To try and remove it would require heavy machinery...



Here is the full waterfall (before shot), the main flow is off to the left.   As you can it was in a terrible state, and the amount of rubbish dumped along here is staggering.  There is still a way to go, and no shortage of weed to battle.  We even had Jim in to spray everything early this morning, so this should make blackberry clearing easier... More to come!

It was also a good day for the chainsaw and the slasher.  More piles of burnables followed soon after...




Thursday, February 2, 2012

Progress marches on...

The last post was a bit of a catch up on months of very poor blogging and sporadic visits to the creek to get on with the job at hand.  The mild spring and early summer here meant that everyone's lawns and gardens grew furiously with no view of dormancy in sight, and I ran like a crazy man to keep up.  Just before and after Christmas there was some staircase action, and as of yesterday, this is where we are, with the finish only days away...






Nick really has done a great job here, the slope was a real challenge, but now we can easily walk down to the creek!  You really need to try to walk up the hill stair-free to appreciate how awesome this structure is. Nearly 60 steps!

Back to the clearing.  After a big break from it, clearing has commenced with earnest.  This whole area is unrecognisable now with the big willows gone.  Sorry folks, they were gorgeous, but they had to go to make way for the right native trees.  And yes, I know, the poplars are not native, but they do create an interesting vista, and will remain until they fall.  I do wonder how long that will be, they are very old and last month one fell all by itself, rotten at its base.








Now we can see a cleared creek way.  I might keep some of the big logs as natural bridges.

I am back there again tomorrow, still more to clear, so much rubbish to haul out of these dry beds and up the hillsides and only 3 more months till the burning season!






Here is a shot of the area to the left of the staircase (facing the road), to show this area nearly ready for the reveg process.  You get a real sense of achievement when you look at it all from this perspective!




The hard trees, they're gunna fall

"Use the chainsaw, Nick!"
This is actually an old post from October...yes, it has been a while since my last post...

It is a week since my last visit to The Creek, and today was particularly satisfying.  I brought in my great friend and landscaping buddy Nick Thwaites, to do some tree felling.  The ones I had in mind were all in need of sensitive dropping.  They either were too close to the road, the power lines, other trees that did not need to be squished, or simply on really treacherous terrain. By tricky terrain, I mean a 45 degree slope on slippery loose soil.  A lot of fun...

We dropped about half a dozen this day, including the olive behind Nick in the photo above.  That one was a bit scary, as there was little room for error and not a lot of running away room.  We dropped it pretty much where we wanted it, so no drama there... Prepping the tree and site beforehand takes quite a while, which surprised me.







By November the real big trees came down, and our tree guy Nathan Beers brought the massive willows down.  He was amazing to watch!


 But Nick and I wanted more excitement and adventure.  So we decided to build a staircase from the house to the creek!  Below is during mid project... This whole area was big willows, now all cleared leaving the natives.  Future posts will start to look at the re-vegetation program, which will be really interesting.  In the meantime there is still a lot of clearing to do.