THERE are a few 'ifs' planning any event these days. If COVID restrictions at the time allow; if people are feeling well; if the weather is kind ... South West Rocks Community Dune Care's next working bee will be on on Sunday July 25.
It's scheduled at Gap Beach South in Hat Head National Park between 9am and 1pm.
This gorgeous, secluded beach with littoral rainforest perched between two headlands has been restored to its natural beauty over nearly 30 years, mainly by the volunteer environmental group.
"It's a beautiful place to work and a favourite among many of our volunteers," SWR Community Dune Care president Ian Burnett said.
"Long-term locals have seen an incredible difference over the years. We've largely eradicated bitou bush in particular, and the native plants are now thriving and pretty resilient. But we need to check a few times each year to ensure the weeds never get the upper hand again."
At the next working bee, the dune carers plan to concentrate on scattered lantana, cotton bush and the purple flowering billy goat weed.
"Big lantana bushes on the hillsides are great for those who feel like a bit of a 'green gym' workout," Ian said.
"But if you're feeling less energetic, small seedlings and billy goat weed in the flatter areas are perfect.
"Sadly, given COVID restrictions, we can't invite new volunteers to join us, as it's hard to train people with appropriate social distance. We're also not sure yet whether we'll be able to offer our famous shared morning tea and lunch.
"Plus the track to Gap Beach is 4WD-only and tricky after rain, so the venue may change at short notice. Or indeed we may have to cancel due to new COVID rules. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates."
The last week of June saw a record for SWR Community Dune Care - 507 hours of volunteer work removing weeds over 14 hectares of public bushland. Fourteen visiting volunteers worked during the week, including at South Smoky Beach, Main Beach, Brighton Park and Boyters Lane Bird Hide.
Then on June 27, 37 enthusiastic volunteers joined in the monthly 'bitou bash', restoring native bushland in the dunes behind Back Beach.
The award-winning volunteer group is supported by cash grants from the NSW Environmental Trust, and in-kind donations from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Kempsey Shire Council.
South West Rocks Community Dune Care (SWRCDC) covers 16 kilometres of coast from the mouth of the Macleay River round to Smoky Beach, south of Smoky Cape lighthouse, working on public land controlled by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Kempsey Shire Council and NSW Lands Department.
Using a combination of local volunteers, visiting bush regeneration volunteers and professional contractors, SWRCDC is well down the road to achieving their aim - which many people thought impossible - of ridding this part of the coast of bitou bush.
Existing South West Rocks Community Dune Care volunteers are asked to meet at the South Gap car park at 8.45am. Anyone who needs a lift in to the location can meet either at the end of the bitumen on Gap Beach Rd at 8.30am; or (if it's dry) at the top car park on the Gap Beach South track.
Volunteers need to wear enclosed shoes or boots (not sandals), long pants, long sleeves, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and take water. Gloves and tools will be provided.
For more information see Facebook SWRcommunitydunecare, or call Alan 0419 012-640, or email Ian on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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