The four years from 2012 to 2017 has seen a major focus on environmental weed control in the very difficult and challenging Heritage Quarries area of Mt Gibraltar, supported by grants from the NSW Environmental Trust, South East Local Land Services (formerly Hawkesbury Nepean CMA), and WaterNSW (formerly Sydney Catchment Authority), supported by Council's Environment Levy and the outstanding efforts of the Mt Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare volunteers.
Final Reports detailing the project activities and outcomes can be downloaded in PDF format from the links below. The NSW Environmental Trust report covers the full three years of the project.
During 2014-17 some of the most difficult sites in the Heritage Quarries Complex were tackled.
The most challenging area - the quarry cliff faces (area 3B) and the area immediately above the cliff faces (area 3A) – was awarded to specialist rope access bush regeneration contractors, The Good Bush People, who are highly experienced with dangerous and challenging sites. Their task has been to control the environmental weeds growing on the edge of the cliff face and on the benches and in crevices across the almost sheer quarry faces, while suspended from ropes. This work commenced in March 2015 and concluded in January 2016. Additional work remains to be done and Council has scoped this for a tender to be issued in Spring 2017.
Council undertook detailed mapping of the weed infestations on the cliff faces using a binocular-based survey technique, to guide the initial tender process and inform the contractor. See map of cliff face weeds (PDF 770 Kb).
Though not as dangerous as the cliff faces themselves, the areas of loose rubble ‘scree’ slopes below the cliff faces are also hazardous and challenging with many significant risks for the unwary. Weed control on these slopes (areas 3D, 3E, 3F, 3G, 3H & 3J) was awarded to a second specialist rope access bush regeneration contractor, Total Earth Care. See Detailed area 3 map (PDF 1.5 Mb)
Total Earth Care commenced work at the site in January 2015 targeting woody weeds, viny weeds (predominately English Ivy) and herbaceous weeds, completing their contract in February 2016.
A third specialist rope access contractor, Toolijooa Environmental Restoration, was contracted to work on other loose gravel slopes undertaking both primary weed control and secondary (follow-up) weed control. Toolijooa is not new to the Mt Gibraltar site having undertaken contracts on adjacent loose gravel slopes over the previous two years. Toolijooa commenced work in February 2015, supported by a grant from South East Local Land Services. See SELLS project area map (PDF 930Kb). Note that area 4-2 on the map was not included in this contract.
Toolijooa Final Report HN9935 (PDF, 4.7 Mb)
In partnership with Mt Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare Group, Council was successful in gaining grants from WaterNSW and South East Local Land Services (SELLS) to continue the weed control works on the steep unstable slopes above the water reservoir (areas 4-2 & 4-3) during the 2015-16 financial year.
WaterNSW (as SCA) previously funded environmental weed control work at the northern end of the Heritage Quarries Complex, adjacent to the heritage stone stairs. Mt Gibraltar is the head of the catchment of both Mittagong Creek, which flows into Wingecarribee River and the Nepean River, both of which feed into Sydney's water supply.
The contract for the specialist rope access bush regeneration works in areas 4-2 & 4-3 was awarded to Toolijooa Environmental Restoration, with works commencing in December 2015 and completed in May 2016.
Toolijooa Final Report 2015-16 (PDF 2.71 Mb)
CPIG 161 before & after photos (PDF 2.32 Mb)
While the contractors work on the dangerous sites and hazardous loose gravel slopes, the volunteers from Mt Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare Group have been working on the flatter, safer, more accessible sites adjacent to the walking tracks. Every Thursday morning this intrepid team of volunteers, some with a 22-year track record at the site and others somewhat recent recruits, gather to pull weeds section by section.
During the 2014-15 financial year the Mt Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare volunteers contributed 1,435 volunteer hours on the project, valued at over $50,000 and contributed 1,702 volunteer hours in 2015-16 valued at $59,570. These volunteers are the ‘glue’ that binds the project together; their efforts demonstrating the high level of community commitment to caring for the federally-listed Endangered Ecological Community that cloaks the heritage-listed Mt Gibraltar Reserve.
Further details on the Bushcare program and Mt Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare Group can be found at:
Wingecarribee Bushcare Program (internal link)
Council’s Bushcare team provide a vital component of the project, coordinating and supporting the Bushcare volunteers and looking after their health and safety on the work site. The Bushcare team carry out scheduled weed control right across Mt Gibraltar but also undertake primary weed control in some quarry sites, such as treating the environmental weeds directly under the cliff faces.
The E&S team contribute to the project by engaging, monitoring and managing bush regeneration contractors, tracking the inevitable changes to their work schedule resulting from the unpredictable highlands weather, preparing the reports to the funding agencies and undertaking forward planning.
The task of protecting the very special Mt Gibraltar forest has many components. The fire trails and Asset Protection Zones need to be monitored and maintained, hazard reduction burns scheduled, undertaken and assessed (information on this can be accessed from the About Mount Gibraltar Reserve link below); lookouts, walking tracks, interpretative signage, roads, parking areas and other facilities maintained and upgraded, etc. A great deal is being achieved through Council and the community working together in unison to protect and enhance this wonderful community asset.
Additional information about Mt Gibraltar Reserve and its heritage values, including a map of walking tracks can be found at the link below. A PDF copy of the award-winning coffee table book 'The Gib' is also available for download at this link:
About Mount Gibraltar Reserve (internal link)