Wasteland to wildlife haven_Oct2011update

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Presentation Description

The story of how a community transformed a quarry and tip into a haven for wildlife

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From Wasteland to Wildlife Haven

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Darebin Parklands Association 1973 – 2011

The story so far…:

The story so far…

Spot the difference…:

Spot the difference…

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For almost 40 years, the Darebin Parklands Association has worked to transform a former tip and quarry into one of Melbourne’s best urban bushland reserves.

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The habitat, created largely through the vision and work of volunteers, now supports a growing and diverse range of wildlife.

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This includes echidna, kangaroos, flying foxes, native fish and frogs, possums and 70 species of birds.

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The Darebin Parklands Association began in 1973, but the story of the parklands began a long time ago…

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In the beginning…

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800,000 years ago…

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Vast quantities of lava from volcanoes north of Melbourne flood the Darebin Creek valley.

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This basalt can be seen in the formations and rocks along the creek in the parklands.

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430 million years ago…

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In ancient seas, fine mud and sand sediment layers form. Over millennia, these are warped and pushed to the surface.

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This Silurian age rock can be seen in the parklands on the Ivanhoe side of the creek.

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40,000 years ago…

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The Wurudgeri people looked up into the sky and saw Bunjil who takes the form of an eagle, the creator of people, lands, laws and language.

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Darebin Creek was an area of beautiful grassy woodlands, with emus, kangaroos, bandicoots, fish, lizards and waterbirds suppling plenty of food for the Wurundjeri people.

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150 years ago…

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In 1858 John Sharp Adams buys what is now the Alphington side of the parklands. He builds Ivy Cottage and Rockleigh farmhouse and establishes a farm with olive trees, an orchard and vineyard, as well as cows, pigs and carriage horses.

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In 1890, John Sharp Adams’ son Thomas begins quarrying on the Alphington side of the park .

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The 40 metre deep quarry hole is leased to Northcote Council as a municipal tip in 1967 . Within eight years, it is full.

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In 1975 Darebin Council says “It’s Time” and buys the tip site and the Darebin Creek floodplains as parkland.

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Meanwhile on the Ivanhoe side of the creek…

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In 1857 Thomas Hutchings Bear buys Rockbeare Estate and develops the property as a farm and winery. He builds Rockbeare homestead on Darebin Hill.

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In 1923 Herman Groth purchases Rockbeare Park. After failed development bids he sells it six years later for £2,000 to “the president, councillors and ratepayers of Heidelberg Shire”.

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Rockbeare Park, one of Melbourne’s earliest suburban parks, is born.

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It becomes a popular place for Sunday school picnics, sports, Scout jamborees, swimming, yabbying (and catching leeches to sell to the local chemist).

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But the fun doesn’t last…Rockbeare Park gradually falls from local favour. Visitors stop coming and the council leases the land to McLoskey’s riding school for horse grazing.

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The parklands remain neglected and all but forgotten until the 1970s. Some people think it ripe for industrial development. Others think the parklands would make a fine freeway .

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Few people realise the value of the remnant native vegetation and unique geological formations struggling beneath the weeds.

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And then one day… The Board of Works decides to improve the “drain” by clear felling trees along the creek.

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Locals are incensed. They form the Rockbeare Park Conservation Group and begin campaigning for the preservation of the site as a bushland reserve.

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In the first of many victories, the board stops clearing and donates 300 trees for the new parklands.

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The renowned landscape architect Ellis Stones supervises this first planting in 1974. He also designs the Rockbeare Park entrance.

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Over the next few years volunteers plant 3,500 trees. “Bucket brigades” carting water from neighbouring backyards keep them alive.

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Volunteers painstaking clear thistles, box thorn and other weeds, aided by a $20,000 government grant.

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As well as planting, the DPA’s forerunners lobby in earnest for the creation of a park on both sides of the creek.

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The organisation changes its name to the Darebin Parklands Association. Its constitution commits it to maintaining the parklands as a nature reserve.

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In 1977, the Premier, Sir Rupert Hamer, comes to visit and offers to match council funding for the park.

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The Heidelberger newspaper reported: “The Premier braved thistles and blackberry bushes…but emerged enthusiastic and impressed…”

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Our first (honorary) park ranger… Duties include hand removal of caterpillars

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In 1979, DPA member Sidney Clifton designs a bridge to link the Ivanhoe and Alphington sides of the park for the first time.

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The formwork is built in Sidney’s Ivanhoe lounge room. Volunteers build the bridge. When the cement truck is delayed, they complete it by gas lantern in the middle of the night.

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DPA members also design and build the timber rangers’ hut, on the Ivanhoe side of the park.

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The Premier, Sir Rupert, returns to do the honours at the official opening. It is possibly the first time that a government leader has opened a shed .

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In 1985 a strapping young lad becomes the parklands’ first professional ranger…

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The DPA helps build paths and seats. In 1990 DPA member Trevor Howes designs the park’s landmark lookout tower and volunteers help build it.

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Plantings continue throughout the 1990s, along with public events such as People’s Day in the Parklands and Dancin’ the Darebin.

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In 2001 the first Olive Festival is held. Hundreds of people sing, dance, feast and harvest olives, which are pressed into olive oil.

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Following the success of the Olive Festivals in 2001 and 2002, the DPA launches a calendar of community events so that more families and local residents get involved.

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Our first event, a community bonfire, attracts more than 300 people.

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Everyone’s survives Pete’s pyromania.

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In 2005 we commission a new logo by artist Kathy Howloko , celebrating our unique park and its natural and man-made features.

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The logo shows the duck ponds, bridge and creek. The concentric circles are “platypus ripples”. They symbolise our long-term aim of restoring habitat to help platypus return to live in the creek.

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We revamp our newsletter and create our first website.

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In 2005, we launch the Darebin Parklands Picnic Races. Hundreds of people come to toss eggs and gumboots, enjoy sack racing and tackle the King and Queen of the Mountain race up Mount Puffalo.

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We also launch the Junior Ranger Club in 2003, with activities including Catch-a-Carp Day and wildlife spotlighting. By the end of the first year 70 kids join.

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In 2003 we survey members for our first action plan. We officially adopt the objective of creating native animal habitat so that wildlife including the platypus can live in the parklands.

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Action plan projects include starting a plant nursery….

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Volunteers plant seeds into tubes, then take them home to nurture them. We grow thousands of trees, shrubs and grasses for the parklands. We also supply landowners and schools along the catchment.

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Developing the Home Cats, Safe Cats, Safe Wildlife project, supported by the RSPCA and Cat Protection Society, to encourage responsible pet ownership…

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We develop an information leaflet and fridge magnet and deliver it to hundreds of households around the park. Banyule and Darebin Council back the project. Darebin delivers the leaflet to all cat owners in the municipality and Banyule puts it on its website.

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And working for the return of the platypus…

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We plant trees, clean up litter and help improve water quality with our pollution signs project. Our Junior Rangers put platypus stencils on drains around the park.

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In 2004 we begin the $60,000 Westpac Hidden Valley project. Working with ranger Peter Wiltshire to a landscape plan designed by DPA member Dave Mitchell, we restore pre-European vegetation to the area.

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DPA members and other volunteers contribute the equivalent of $40,000 in labour over two years.

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In January 2006, the Australian Platypus Conservancy records a platypus sighting just north of the parklands.

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Wildlife including native fish, flying foxes, reptiles, frogs, tortoises, possums and more than 70 species of birds, some endangered, now live in the park.

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Kangaroos have moved in. Experts predict that koalas will follow.

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The DPA’s work does not go unnoticed. In 2006 we win a regional LandCare Award…

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A $7,000 NAB Volunteer Award…

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And a United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award…

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But wait there’s more… 2008 Banyule Volunteer Group of the Year Award 2011 Victorian Landcare Awards, finalist, Community Group section 2011 Victorian Landcare Awards, finalist, Urban Landcare section Victorian Landcare Long Service Honour Roll, Sue Course, founder, nominee 2011 Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award, finalist, Community Action category 2011 Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Awards, finalist, Community Leadership category

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In 2011 we launch a new website, newsletter and Facebook page

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We also commission and launch Darebin Parklands: Escaping the Claws of the Machine , by Dr Sarah Mirams, with foreword by Professor Tim Flannery

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Darebin Parklands has been transformed from a wasteland into one of Melbourne’s best urban bushland reserves. Thanks to you, our members…

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Story to be continued…

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Based on historical research by Sue Course Photography by Chris Bailey The collection of Sue and Laurie Course Anthony Jones Michael Mann Graeme Martin Isabelle Renaudin Peter Wiltshire From Little Things Big Things Grow courtesy of Paul Kelly

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