Working bee: September 23
Volunteers are welcome to join in the monthly ‘bitou bash’ working bee for South West Rocks Community Dune Care at South Smoky Beach on Sunday, September 23 between 9am and 1pm.
This stretch of beach south of the lighthouse is spectacular, with crashing surf and a passing parade of whales over the winter months. You don’t need to know anything about native plants and weeds, as training is provided. Your reward for your efforts? A delicious morning tea and barbecue and salad lunch.
Last month South West Rocks Community Dune Care hosted 20 visiting volunteers who worked alongside locals in the mornings and spent the afternoons and evenings enjoying the Macleay Valley. Many volunteers enjoy it so much they return year after year, contributing to the Macleay Valley economy.
South West Rocks Community Dune Care has achieved award-winning success in restoring huge areas of publicly owned bushland over 15 kilometres of coastline from the mouth of the Macleay River to south of Smoky Cape lighthouse over the past 25 years.
“These days we generally get about 30 keen volunteers turning up each month, so we remove lots of invasive weeds,” SWR Community Dune Care President Ian Burnett said.
“We’re always happy to welcome new volunteers, and there’s no obligation to join the group permanently. We understand people have busy lives, and some people only come once or twice a year and that’s fine.”
“We expanded into this area south of the 4WD drive beach access track at South Smoky in September 2015, thanks to a grant from the NSW Environmental Trust,” Ian said.
“Using a combination of professional contractors to tackle the big weed infestations – such as walls of shoulder-high bitou bush – and volunteers to follow up the new seedlings, we’re making huge progress restoring the native plants on the dunes and littoral rainforest behind them.”
South West Rocks Community Dune Care (as well as Arakoon Bush Care group) restores native bush on public land along 15 km of coastline including Back Beach, Gap Beach, Smoky Beach, Main Beach, Arakoon and Little Bay. It is mainly funded by 3-6 year grants from the NSW Environmental Trust, and supported by National Parks and Wildlife Service, Kempsey Shire Council and Local Land Services North Coast.
What volunteers should wear
If you’d like to try your hand at Dune Care, even for an hour or two, please wear enclosed shoes or boots (not sandals), long pants, long sleeves, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and take water. Gloves, tools and training will be provided.
Volunteers are asked to meet at 8.45am on Sunday, September 23 at the entrance to the 4WD beach access path at South Smoky Camp Ground, which is off Lighthouse Road (on the right about 3km from Arakoon Road).
If you prefer mid-week activity, Arakoon Bush Care welcomes volunteers each Wednesday morning from 9-11am, followed by morning tea. Contact National Parks and Wildlife Services Ranger Cath Ireland on 0459 846 833.
For more information please see Facebook SWRcommunitydunecare, www.swrdc.com.au, or phone Alan Hill on 0419 012 640.