Walk along House Creek 19 May 2013


Report:    Walk along House Creek in the Clyde Cameron Reserve 19 May 2013
By: Bruce Nulty

Clyde Cameron Reserve Group Creek Walk participants
[Chris and Annette Walkerden, Kim Radnell and Natalie Howlett (brand new on the day) and Pam and Bruce Nulty.  Pam was only at the first part of the talk because she needed to prepare for afternoon tea]
10 The GroupStuart Roberton,
Biodiversity Project Officer,
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE)
(Recent name change to the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI)

… told us about many biodiversity programs across North East Victoria, the inter-related nature of these and the different soil types and plant types in the area.   More information on biodiversity and vegetation can be found via the DEPI website: http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/  and via DEPI interactive maps: http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/about-depi/interactive-maps

He identified the Reserve as Floodplain Riparian Woodland/Riverine Swampy Woodland and gave us a list of Ecological Vegetation Class (EVC) plants appropriate for the Reserve.  He also gave us a pamphlet of Freshwater Fish, Crayfish and Turtles we may find in the creek and showed us a number of A3 sized maps and photos that are available from the DSE/DEPI.

Our walk started at the Pearce Street end which we have not yet worked on except some planting that Jill Dawson organised a couple of years ago.
30 FleabaneStuart identified a range of weeds (fleabane, square or box weed, vetch, paspalum) and said that we could remove the fleabane – which we planned to do anyway.  He suggested putting the fleabane in black garbage bags and leaving them in the hot sun for as long as possible to cook the plants and seeds, then disposing via green waste. Alternatively they could be piled up and burned on site. Controlling (hand pulling) the weeds well before they set their seed would be the best method, that way they can be left on site as a source of mulch. Which ever method is used, consideration needs to be given to reducing the spread of weeds via seeds or fruit.

The Privet should be removed but black berries and privet will require continued efforts.  He noticed the Privets at the back of the hospital and over the other side of the creek and challenged us with the question:  “Do you intend to work on the other side of the creek?”  The suggestion being that if we do not remove weeds etc over there, the seeds will just blow across or be transported via bird droppings.  Hmmm …
40 WattlesHe noticed a grove of self-seeded wattles (Blackwoods – Acacia melanoxylon) which are doing very well.
His comment on the patch of Silver Elms was that they are not native but are holding the bank so we could trim them so that the tractor/mower could get in and keep control of the suckers.
Stuart commented on the Council’s new strategy of trimming the main limbs off dead trees to promote wildlife habitat.  There did not seem to be many habitat holes in that tree.  “It takes about 100 -150 years for a tree to develop habitat holes”.  One native animal he suggested we could attract is a glider and he suggested specific nest boxes as an immediate habitat provision.  Nest boxes would be a valuable contribution to the reserve as nesting places are in a real shortage across the landscape. They may also provide future opportunities to engage with the community through signage, spotlight walks and nestbox inspections with pole cameras to see which critters make the boxes their home.
50 Other TreesHe identified many of the trees that were planted by the Corporation in the main area of the Reserve and noted the diversity.  Stringybark, yellow box, iron bark, blue gums, manna gums (flaky bark) white and grey box.  All are native but few are local. Rehab efforts usually aim to replace the local species that originally existed in the site. However having this diversity of gums can be viewed as a real positive for the Reserve. These gums will all flower at different times of the year, meaning that birds, possums, insects and possibly gliders will have a huge diversity of food (nectar) to utilise throughout the seasons.
60 Measure Red GumWe only managed to get about half way along the creek to the area containing the four large River Red Gums.  He got excited about this section and said that this is most likely what the creek bank looked like many years ago.  We measured the girth of the trees to estimate their ages.  They came out as 490 years, 230 years 500 years and 490 years – give or take 110 years depending on the soil type and drought conditions etc.  Gerrard Moore mentioned later that the “young” one may be as old as the others but not as big because of its proximity to the others.
70 Sand SlugI asked Dr Alison Mitchell to confirm that the area below the willow in the middle of the creek was a sand slug, as I have been telling the Wodonga Catholic College students.  We walked down into the creek and Alison said that it is only a sand slug if it moves with flows in the creek and the one I had been referring to looked pretty permanent.  However another blob of sand just down stream from this area could be a sand slug.  We should keep an eye on it to see if it moves.

From this perspective, in the creek, the erosion around the fourth red gum made it look precarious. We should attempt to preserve the bank and the tree.  It would be a pity if, after 490 years, the tree gets pushed over by the next flood.  Perhaps transplanting some Common Reed (Phragmites) along with other shrub plantings in these spots may assist to hold the banks together.
20 FootballThanks to Anne Stelling (Facilitator WULN) for organising the event and the 17 participants including 5 children for their attendance and contributions.  Thanks also to Kim Radnell, Anne and Stuart for their editing and additions to this report.

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