Join the 'Bitou Bash' at spectacular South Smoky Beach with South West Rocks Community Dune Care. This month South West Rocks Community Dune Care are hosting 18 keen visiting volunteers to help in their ongoing restoration of native bush on public land.
Some of the visitors will join locals on Sunday, August 25, at the monthly 'bitou bash' working bee at South Smoky Beach (in Hat Head National Park) between 9am and 1pm.
A delicious morning tea and barbecue and salad lunch are provided. New volunteers are welcome to join in too.
"Our visiting volunteer program makes a huge contribution to the work we can achieve tackling invasive weeds," said SWR Community Dune Care President Ian Burnett.
"Last month fifteen students from Newcastle University Student Environment Club (NUSEC) stayed at Arakoon House for a week. They volunteered 360 hours work tackling Bitou Bush, Senna, Mother of Millions, Asparagus weeds, Coastal Morning Glory and many other weeds at several sites around South West Rocks. That's the ninth year the NUSEC students have participated."
Earlier in August SWR Community Dune Care had a visit from senior staff from the NSW Environmental Trust, which funds most of the group's specialist bush regeneration contractors to tackle the worst weed invasions before follow-up by volunteers.
"The Trust staff were keen to see first-hand the long-term success we've had restoring native bushland over 15km of coastline," Ian said.
"We've had four multi-year grants from them since 2011 and hope to announce another soon."
The Trust staff were impressed with the vision, strategic planning and tracking of progress SWR Community Dune Care have in place for the work they do.
They were equally impressed with the amount of consideration and care that goes in to coordinating events for such large numbers of volunteers.
"We often joke that a generous supply of delicious food is the key," Ian said.
"And that was certainly on display for our morning tea and lunch at our working bee last month."
On July 28, 32 enthusiastic local volunteers contributed 132 hours weeding 'mother of millions' in the area around the old fishermen's hut half-way along Main Beach on Trial Bay.
The huge infestation there has been significantly reduced, thanks to the relentless efforts of volunteers over several years, and will probably be largely overcome in the next couple of years.
If you'd like to join in on Sunday, August 25 at South Smoky, this stretch of beach south of the lighthouse is utterly spectacular, with crashing surf and amazing birdlife.
And if you're lucky you may even spot a migrating whale! You don't need to know anything about native plants and weeds, as training is provided.
Volunteers will be walking through the dunes, plucking bitou bush seedlings and any other weeds which have sprouted in the past couple of months.
"We're always happy to welcome new volunteers," Ian said.
"And there's no obligation to join the group permanently. We understand people have busy lives, and some volunteers only come once or twice a year. We're happy with that - even an hour or two can make a big difference."
What to wear
If you'd like to try your hand at dune care, 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, August 25 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).
For more information please see Facebook SWRcommunitydunecare, www.swrdc.com.au, or phone Alan Hill on 0419 012-640.