Green Space Our Place Our Volunteers Voice
Issue 13 December 2016
Esplanade Success on ‘Sandpipers’ the Tracks begin ‘n’ Trails
Annual Field Day Pictorial
Our Volunteers Voice
Front Page: View from Mt. Whitfield Green Arrow track. See article Page 4-5
Back Page: Cattana Wetlands was the setting for the Annual Volunteers Field Day - see article Pages 10-11
In this issue: • From the Editor - Louisa Grandy - this page • Volunteer Profile Alex Edwards - Page 3 • New Tracks ‘n’ Trails volunteer program - Pages 4-5 • Volunteers Comments - Page 6 • Hastings Reserve volunteers Page 6 • Esplanade ‘Sandpipers’ begin - Page 7 • Jabiru News - Page 7 • Green Space Our Place attracts plenty of interest Pages 8-9 • Annual Volunteers Field Day Pages 10-11 • Sculpture Botanica - Pages 12-13 • Residents take pride in their area - Forest Gardens - Page 14 • Friends Shop great results - Page 15 • Feathered Friends - Page 15 • Birds-Nest Fungi - Page 16 • Hort Notes - Importance of composting - Page 16 • Successful year for nursery volunteers - Page 17 • Plant Information - Myrtaceae Pages 18-19 • Christmas Wishes - back page. This newsletter is published quarterly, showcasing articles and photographs of volunteer activities throughout Council’s Parks & Leisure green areas
From the Editor Welcome,
What a year....we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for all your contributions throughout the year, whether it be physically in our green spaces or working behind the scenes, supporting the magazine (you can see the articles written by our volunteers), organising activities for Little Taccas, litter collection, graffiti removal or contributing to the Botanic Gardens plant collection database. Once again our program has grown! The Esplanade Sandpipers began in November - (see Page 7) and two new resident groups are underway - Hastings Reserve (see Page 6) and Forest Gardens (see Page 14). Thank you to Alex for talking with me for the Volunteer Profile page. It is always a pleasure to have this one-on-one chat with each volunteer profile. You have all led such interesting lives and readers have told me they find this personal page ‘interesting’, ‘a lovely way to get to know other volunteers’, and ‘a great way to create conversation’. We continue to record our volunteer numbers and you can find some interesting facts and figures (Page 8-9) reflecting the interest in the Green Space Our Place program. I believe this program with its focus on our environment is something special in Cairns as it is creating connections in many areas; connection with one another, a bond between Council and community and a closer connection with our environment. For those seeking employment it is an opportunity to develop a skill set in gardening, horticulture and revegetation as well as confidence to take hold of opportunities as they arise. You continue to inspire, not only collectively but as individuals, due to your passion and commitment towards nature, the joy you have in volunteering and the way you share with one another. The possibilities are endless when we are all working towards a common goal. Sarah and I thank you and wish you all a Merry Christmas. We look forward to working with you again in 2017.
Our Volunteers Voice
“A simple country boy with and grape picker in Switzerland, glassincredibly huge dreams,” is how blowing in Venice and an English tutor volunteer Alex Edwards, describes in Japan. himself - a man that has taken the “When I finally got to Australia world and made it his own. I wanted to experience the entire After 12 years of school, in rural country and as it was the 70s and if Quebec, Canada, which felt “like you thought you could do something, a penitentiary”, Alex wanted to you were given a go. And with that experience freedom. Upon asking the in mind I was able to try a variety of question “Now what does the world jobs such as autopsy assistant and have to offer me?” Alex realised he ambulance driver in Tennant Creek, wanted something different from the Northern Territory; antique furniture social expectation of career, family restoration on the Sunshine Coast; a and a social position. butler in Broome; and a tour guide in “Mum and Dad agreed with my Uluru, as well as developing my own outlook, explaining that having a landscape business.” mortgage may not be the best way Having realised his first two dreams, of life. I decided to unplug and seek Alex followed his third dream of an alternative lifestyle with these building his own home - a Japanesethings in mind: freedom, emotional style house in the bushland near the independence and no debts. It was Sunshine Coast. To read more about the 60s-70s era and possible for me to this incredible feat go to http://www. pursue this idea.” Alex decided to “live off the grid” “Seeing so many random acts of and realise his three big dreams - kindness throughout my travels led explore the world, become multi- me to volunteering as it gives me the lingual and build his own home. ability to give in return.” “As a teenager we had a globe theownerbuilder.com.au/articles/146%20 lamp and every night I would peruse Japanese%20spirit.pdf. it. Australia seemed such a long Another dream for Alex was to kayak distance from everywhere else and it alone down the Murray River from became an obsession for me. Due to Albury-Wodonga to Murray Bridge, the expense to fly there I decided to 2000kms in 60 days. go to Europe, where I discoverd that I could travel across Asia down to Spending this time on his own in Australia.” the bush and on the Murray River This led Alex on a journey of 19 years gave Alex a chance to relate to all life forms, coming to the realisation “We around the world and an exploration are all of the same essence despite in many employment fields from a the difference in form. Living alone radio telephone operator in an Inuit village in the Canadian Arctic (before creates an incredible connection with the surrounding environment.” satellite communications) to being Santa Clause in Brisbane, “People Having been exposed to a variety would open their hearts to me in of cultures, even spending time in a this job, giving me almost prayer-like Japanese Zen temple where the people requests!” he says with delight. would meditate for 10 hours a day, Alex has lived in many countries in helped Alex see other realities and to Europe, South America, Asia and see the simplicity within survival. three years in the Middle East - Syria, “Humanity has all the same attributes Yemen and Egypt. Some other areas and characteristics with emphasis on of employment have been as carpenter some more than others in each culture.
“I have this incredibly strong curiosity for the planet, giving me a life of introspection and a questioning of my own existence. This led me to dismantle all of the social structure that I’d received and replaced it with a tailor-made way of life. “I explored the concepts of shelter, food and clothing and decided: shelter is not about a ‘competition with the Jones’ but a nest for self; food is simply made up of mineral, carbs and protein and did not need to be anything elaborate, just a combination of the three; and clothing is not fashion in the moment but something that suits my physique and an extension of self. “For me to be fulfilled in life I realised all I needed was a full heart, a full stomach and a bit of cash in my pocket.” When asked what led him to Cairns, Alex replied, “As a landscaper my heart led me to the wet tropics. It is like a womb, so full of life, making me feel alive too. It is truly a celebration of existence, of every life form.” Alex said the reason he loves to volunteer, and there are many areas in which he volunteers besides the Green Space Our Place program, is due to the sharing side of it, meeting others with the same generosity. “Seeing so many random acts of kindness throughout my travels led me to volunteering as it gives me the ability to give in return.”
Tracks ‘n’ Trails - improves Volunteer Program
Ranger Christian Cluver joins the ‘Green’ team
“I love this job, I’m surrounded by nature and ‘endorphined-up’ people and working with volunteers who inspire me with their enthusiasm” - Christian Our new Ranger, Christian Cluver has been running a successful Tracks ‘n’ Trails volunteer program since October 4 on the Mt Whitfield Arrow Tracks. There has been an obvious need for a ranger on these well used tracks and the community has shown its full support thank you to the Conservation Volunteers Australia ‘Green Army’ and local users of the tracks for your support. Meredith Cunningham was the first community member to join the program. She could see a need to prevent track users from shortcutting the track routes on both the Red and Blue Arrow tracks and spent a few days with Christian creating barriers. Shortcutting causes erosion especially in the wet season.
Tracks ‘n’ Trails and Down ‘n’ Dirty volunteers joined forces to mulch the Red Arrow entrance.
Russell Watkinson pointing to the anti-erosion barriers.
Meredith Cunningham creating stone edges on the Red Arrow. Volunteers Meredith, Minako, Russell and Yoshimi carting timber to site for step repairs.
Yoshimi Peck planting.
Mt Whitfield Arrow Tracks
Tracks ‘n’ Trails
Within the second week Yoshimi Peck, Minako Nagata, Donna Pansino and Russell Watkinson joined the group. They have been planting and mulching to enhance the Red Arrow entrance as well as general track maintenance such as rock edging and drainage clearance. The CVA ‘Green Army’ has had great succcess with clearing bamboo that has been spreading in the reserve on the Red Arrow track. They have also assisted with general track maintenance on both the Red and Blue Arrow tracks, step repairs, barrier work and planting.
CVA Green Army on their last day with Christian and the Tracks ‘n’ Trails program.
CVA Green Army reveal hidden steps.
CVA Green Army - Austin, Sem and CJ installing a step on the Red Arrow track.
Bamboo management Before
Our Volunteers Voice
Creating community connections in Kamerunga
1. Hastings Reserve plantings bring community together
Jenn Muir “I thoroughly enjoy volunteering with Down ‘n’ Dirty group (which I also call Hot ‘n’ Sweaty though that’s less ladylike). It’s great exercise, great fun, and most gratifying to be contributing to the upkeep of the beautiful Cairns Botanic Gardens, which I love. I am also enjoying the social interaction with a great group of interesting and fun people. Thank you for organising the monthly guest speaker Volunteer Information Session mornings. We (Barry and I) have thoroughly enjoyed them. It’s fantastic that volunteers can make such a difference and great that so many local people want to volunteer. Everyone gains when so much is done together.
Kamerunga residents (2) from right, Dale and Rordon Brouwer and Lee Ross ,with the support of Green Space Our Place, have planted native plants to enhance the reserve at the end of Hastings Street. “This is bringing the community together,” said Lee. “We have named the area Barronville in recognition of the small settlement that existed here to house labourers and service the building of the Kuranda railway. It was later re-named Kamerunga which was its Aboriginal name. “The Barronville Paddock Party (1) has become a regular local event and is such a great way to get to know our neighbours..” The residents certainly put on a spread for these occasions (3).
Our Volunteers Voice
Esplanade ‘Sandpipers’ begin at Healing Garden
“Refreshing to work with such an enthusiastic group of people.”
he Esplanade ‘Sandpipers’ volunteer group, meeting in the prime location at the Healing Garden, is attracting a lot of attention from city residents. Council’s Team Leader City Parks Operations, Aaron Pont approached us at Green Space Our Place in August with an idea to form a group in this area. We were very supportive and excited by the opportunities for
such a group as it would support interested community members who reside in the inner city. Parks Operations Gardener, Brad Wallace is leading this new group and said it is refreshing to work with such an enthusiastic group of people. “With three volunteers on our first Thursday morning we weeded 30 sandbags of weeds and self-sown tree seedlings from the Healing
Garden in just a few hours!” Aaron said, “Thanks for making Sandpipers happen. It is a great opportunity to deliver some great outcomes. It’s really exciting to think of the possibilities.” Pictured: The ‘Sandpipers’, from left, Matthew Rhodes, Thang Ling, Steven Dalton, Charles Wang, Council’s Parks Operations Gardener Brad Wallace, Aude Meiffredi and Valerie Sloan.
JABIRU NEWS Although the Cattana Wetlands Masterplan will not be out until next year, the Council’s Natural Areas Management (NAM) team and Jabiru volunteers are working steadily to achieve some of the ideas presented by staff, volunteers and Cairns Birders.
remove Paragrass growing among native plants and removing Salvinia weed from the lakes. One of the new members has been spraying large patches of Paragrass under the guidance of Council and provided sedges that were planted in Jabiru Lake.
Recently NAM completed some pruning to enhance viewing areas and also placed some of these large prunings on the lake edge to create perching areas for birds and turtles. The Jabirus are continuing to reduce vine weeds,
The Viewing Platform plantings continue to be maintained and watered on a weekly basis and to our delight we found Phyllanthus seedlings that have been potted up and nutured.
Our Volunteers Voice
Green Space Our Place
attracts plenty of interest G
reen Space Our Place volunteer program has become extremely popular with 115 new volunteers registered in 2016 - that is more than double last year!
Our volunteers are a diverse and eclectic bunch of people, who share the passion of working outside in the beautiful natural environment and enhancing our City’s green areas. They are not afraid of green ants and creepy crawlies of various shapes and sizes, or shedding a few litres of sweat while mulching on a 32 degree day. They are hard-working, fun loving, dedicated people who share knowledge, make friends, bake cakes to share and feel the satisfaction of their amazing collective achievements. Some of our volunteers aim to gain employment in horticulture, and whether still studying and accumulating practical hours, or getting experience in the industry, we support their efforts towards employment through volunteering with our program. Some interesting facts and figures from 2016: • 23 active volunteer groups with 9 weekly supervised groups • 147 active volunteers. • 120 new volunteers registered. • 36 people volunteer in more than one group each week.
Weekly supervised groups If you have an interest in gardening or revegetation there are a number of supervised groups available: • Cattana Wetland Jabirus - Tuesday from 9amnoon; general maintenance of the wetlands such as weeding, planting and revegetation.
• Cairns Botanic Gardens Down ‘n’ Dirty volunteers - Wednesdays from 9am-noon, general gardening duties such as weeding, pruning, mulching, turfing and planting. • Esplanade ‘Sandpipers’ - a new program which began November 3, meeting every Thursday from 9am-noon to assist with enhancing the Esplanade’s gardens such as the Healing Garden in front of the hospital. • Natural Areas Managmenet Stratford Down ‘n’ Dirty Nursery volunteers meet Thursdays 9am-noon and are involved in collecting native seed, propagating native seeds, propagating, potting up and weeding. • Saltwater Creek ‘Salties’ meet Fridays from 9amnoon to work around the reserves and Saltwater Creek (near Edge Hill Primary School). • Tracks ‘n’ Trails volunteers take part in track maintenance, weed control and planting on the Mt Whitfield tracks. If you have an interest in learning more about track maintenance contact us as hours are flexible from Monday to Friday. • Little Taccas Children’s Nature Activities Program is designed to encourage children to learn about and experience the natural world through the support of caring volunteers and supportive parents in a safe, yet active, natural environment. • Visitor Enhancement volunteers assist visitors to the Botanic Gardens on weekends by offering directional advice, plant information and showing them the highlights of the Gardens. • Botanic Gardens Plant Collection Database volunteers support staff with updating information on the database.
Our Volunteers Voice
Residents volunteering in suburbs: Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach, Smithfield, Machans Beach, Redlynch, Kamerunga, Stratford, Whitfield, Kanimbla, Brimsmead, Mooroobool, White Rock, Mount Sheridan and Edmonton. They are involved with planting, weeding, litter collecting and graffiti removal and general enhancement of our parks and reserves.
Top three reasons why our people volunteer 1. To meet people 2. Learn skills 3. Exchange knowledge
Age of our volunteers
Kewarra Beach Hastings Reserve
Rotary’s ‘Adopt a Creek’
Jabirus Machans Beach
Down ‘n’ Dirty
The Jabiru Volunteers and Cairns Birders were an incredible support to Council’s Volunteers Supervisors in presenting the Annual Volunteers’ Field Day at Cattana Wetlands in August this year. Nature put on a most spectacular day with nearly 70 volunteers, staff and Councillors Jessie Richardson and Cathy Zeiger in attendance. The Jabirus ran four tours during the morning - Jabiru Lake, The Boardwalk, Plant Information and Birds of Cattana. PICTURED: 1. Opening address presented by Volunteers Supervisor Louisa Grandy; 2. Cr Cathy Zeiger with Volunteers Support Ofﬁcer Sarah Gosling; 3. From left: Odette Aspinall, Theres Ruﬁ, Alex Edwards, Delma Albuquerque, Bernie and Lyn Muir; 4. Pat MacConnacher and Lois Hayes;
ANNUAL VOLUNTEERS FIELD DAY 11.
5. Cr. Jessie Richardson with Louisa Grandy; 6. Cairns Birders member John Seale leads the bird tour around Jabiru 12. Lake; 7. President of Friends of Cairns Botanic Gardens Val Shier with Rita Sheldrick assist with catering; 8. Jabiru Trevor Parsons assist Jenny Martin with the Volunteers Questionaire; 9. Natural Areas Regenerator Desley Sloan, Volunteers Support OfďŹ cer Sarah Gosling and volunteer Carolyn Scott; 10. Jabirus, from front, Jeff Pretty, Prue Fitzpatrick, Trevor and Jenny Parsons; 11. Ganger Natural Areas Dave Lloyd with Cairns Birder member and volunteer Jude Friesen; 12. Geoff and Joann McClure; 13. Isak Gawe and Evelyn Inu; 14. Jabiru Sharren Wong, right, pictured with Colin Batch and John Dowe, leads the plant information tour.
Sculpture Botanica - turning garden waste Robyn Glade-Wright with her piece ‘Crown of Thorns’.
Tijn Meulendjiks with his piece ‘Untitled’.
Anyone who has been to the Cairns Botanic Gardens in recent weeks would have been impressed by the work of the Saltwater Creek Basketry Group. The Sculpture Botanica art trail was inaugurated Lynnette Griffiths and Marion by a partnership between Gaemers with their installment, the Friends of the ‘CIRCUM-nav-e-gate’. Botanic Gardens and the Saltwater Creek Basketry Group. Eleven regional artists were commissioned to produce works made from natural materials, while other pieces were developed by artists and workshop participants. The ﬁrst sighting for me was “Flowers for Mother Nature” on the side of the Mt Whitﬁeld Red Arrow track. I stared, amazed at bunches of huge leaves appearing to have dropped from the trees above into the creek bed. There was no explanatory sign at the time but all became clear once that was erected. Cairns Regional Council and the State Government supported the scheme through the Regional Arts Development Fund. The Gardens’ staff provided materials and workshop participants added their skills to the project. There were sixteen sites and although it was a challenge to locate some of them, discovering the installation amongst the foliage was a part of the delight of this art trail. Many were stunningly beautiful and others completely aweinspiring in concept and execution. The art trail encouraged visitors to explore the precinct, leading them into areas that are not regularly visited such as the Fitzalan Gardens and the Gondwanan Evolution Garden. The Saltwater Basketry Group was established in 2010 as an informal group of basket makers and has grown into a group of like-minded artists dedicated to adding a contemporary twist to the age-old skills of basketry. It is a culmination of their work now expressed in the exhibition. The group’s emphasis has been in making baskets and sculptural forms from natural materials found abundantly in the Cairns region, and the natural ﬁbres are used in combination with some synthetic materials. Their aims are learning, exploring and developing knowledge of traditional and contemporary basketry techniques. It is an informal group and all interested people are welcome to attend the workshops which are held on the last Saturday of the month at the amphitheatre behind the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre. - Rita Sheldrick
into a discovery art trail
‘The Pod’ built by Kim Prentice and workshop participants.
‘Amanita Giganticus’ Ian Tunbridge ‘Ant-icipation’ by Marica Bird was very popular.
‘Windblown’ - Wendy Sheils
Ngadijina - Delissa Walker
Down ‘n’ Dirty volunteers thoroughly enjoyed the art trail on a morning too wet for gardening.
Photos by Val Schier / Colin Huber
“It has been a pleasure to see the interaction between the art, the gardens, and the visitors.” Colyn Huber
Our Volunteers Voice
Residents take pride in their area Forest Gardens Over the past couple of years Council has hosted a community project to rejuvenate and upgrade the areas known as ‘The Duck Pond’ and ‘Sawpity Gully’ at Forest Gardens. This was achieved through the Work for the Dole program which places job seekers in activities where they can gain experience to assist them with employment opportunities. The first project at the Duck Pond gave participants an opportunity to gain skills in horticulture and landscaping with many of the participants completing training in Certificate IV in Horticulture. From the early stages of the project the local community expressed their support for the project and encouraged the participants with their daily comments of support. The community and the project participants celebrated the completion with a picnic in the park. The number of residents who turned up was way beyond expectation. The success of the Duck Pond project opened opportunities for future community projects and in November 2015 works began in the Sawpit Gully drain system; removal of unsuitable tree species including dead, dangerous and diseased trees, pruning of branches, weed control, high-pressure cleaning of paths and mulching of existing garden beds. The works aimed to address mosquito and rodent issues, improve water quality by providing access to inspect and treat areas subject to erosion; and to discourage the ever increasing issue where residents use the waterway as a dumping ground for their green waste.
The Tule family voluntarily weeding the gardens around the Duck Pond. In April 2016 a community meeting was held with the Southern Works department, Green Space Our Place volunteer program personnel and Cr Cathy Zeiger in attendance. The discussions were constructive and the majority expressed positive comments about the project. Residents had the opportunity to discuss their personal wishes with the officers in attendance. As a result this meeting also generated interest from residents to volunteer their time to assist in planting appropriate tree species, weeding and pruning. A small group has been meeting on a regular basis at the Duck Pond on Saturday mornings and another couple of residents have volunteered to collect rubbish as they walk the area.
Before and after: Peter and Michelle Turl and Janice Pichon (in red) weeding the Duck Pond catchment area.
Our Volunteers Voice
Feathered Friends Eastern Koel: Cairns’s sound of spring ‘The spring has sprung, the grass is rizz, I wonder where the birdies is’… so intoned Winnie the Pooh.
Friends Shop great results The Friends of the Botanic Gardens library, gift and information shop is powering on with great results. Many thanks to our dedicated volunteers who serve tirelessly despite a lack of customers at times during the the humid season. I am sure some of our people could sell a fridge to an Eskimo! The majority of our stock is from local producers and we commend them on their originality. For instance, look at the stunning mosquito coil holders. What a great way to deal with used goods. Our visitors are mainly looking for maps and information on what is special in the Gardens. If we got 20 cents for each enquiry, the Friends would be able to fund so much more for the beautification of the gardens. Most asked question – ‘Where is the jade vine’? If you are interested in meeting people from all parts of the globe, come along and assist us in the shop. We are open from 9.30am-3.30pm Monday to Friday. Please ring Volunteers Supervisor Louisa Grandy on 4032 6648 who will pass on your details. - Norma Wright
If Winnie had lived in Cairns, one of the birds of spring that he referred to would undoubtedly have been the Eastern (or Common) Koel. Its characteristic monotonous and feverish cry of cooee, cooee, cooee ringing through the evening air is a sure sign that spring has arrived. Usually arriving in Cairns between August and early October, the Eastern Koel is a large migratory cuckoo which flies to Australia from New Guinea, Indonesia and possibly as far away as the Philippines. It breeds in northern and eastern Australia, mostly in Queensland and New South Wales, at least as far south as Sydney, where they are often seen in the suburbs. A few have been recorded as far afield as Melbourne, the Murray River and even Adelaide. They remain in Australia until March or April, when they fly north once more, returning to their non-breeding grounds. Often foraging while concealed among the dense foliage of fig trees, Koels gorge themselves on fruit. When seen in the treetops, male Koels appear black, but in closer views are actually a glossy blue-black. The females are quite different, with brown-and-fawn coloured plumage with various patterns of spots and barring. This affords them some degree of camouflage while they skulk about looking for nests to lay their eggs. Being a cuckoo, Koels lay their eggs in the nests of other species, especially Magpie-larks, Figbirds and large honeyeaters. The female lays just one egg in the nest, which is then incubated by the hapless hosts. The next time you hear a Koel calling non-stop through the night, rather than cursing it, simply appreciate it as one of Cairns’s classic sounds of spring. John Peter Photographs: Jenn Muir
Our Volunteers Voice
Birds-Nest Fungi By Barry Muir
These fascinating little fungi look like tiny bird’s nests. They are usually less than 1cm across and may stand up to 1cm tall, but are often smaller. The ‘nests’ may have a fuzzy cap over the top when they are immature and this cap falls off when the fungus is mature. Bird-nest fungi are saprobes - they decompose organic matter and convert it into products to be used by animals and green plants for nutrition. Sometimes they form rafts of hundreds of fruit bodies on garden mulch in the Cairns Botanic Gardens during the wet season. The fruiting bodies form little cuplike nests (called peridia – singular peridium) which appear, on close examination, to contain ‘eggs’. The nests serve as splash cups; when raindrops strike the nest, the ‘eggs’ (called peridioles) are flung out of the cup by the force of the raindrop impact. Under the right conditions, and with certain species (there are several) the peridioles can be flung up to a metre away from the ‘nest’. Each peridiole in some species has a hair-like sticky thread which trails behind it, and with which the peridioles latch onto twigs, branches, grass leaves and so on. If the peridioles are eaten by a herbivore such as a sheep or kangaroo, the spores are then dispersed in the animal’s droppings. Even without going through an animal’s gut, over time the peridioles disintegrate, releasing spores that are contained within. The spores are blown in the wind or dispersed by rainwater and then germinate to produce mycelia, the true fungal body. The cups and peridioles are just part of the fruiting body, not the fungus per se.
Importance of composting
Composting can help to eliminate organic waste, fertilise the soil, save money and reduce pollution. Each year over half of our household garbage is made up of food and garden waste which can be recycled by composting. By turning food scraps and organic garden waste into compost you can: • Improve soil quality and garden vitality by releasing rich nutrients into the soil. • Suppress plant diseases and pests. • Reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill thereby preventing greenhouse gas emissions and leachate which can pollute land, groundwater and waterways. • Help soils retain moisture – you do not need to water that often. • Help absorb and filter runoff, protecting streams from erosion and pollution. A good compost is dependent on maintaining a good balance of carbon-containing and nitrogen-containing ingredients. An easy way to remember carbon products and nitrogen products is to think ‘brown’ ingredients are carbons and ‘green’ ingredients are nitrogen. Carbons - fallen leaves, straw, lucerne hay, sugarcane mulch, moistened cardboard, shredded newspaper (not glossy paper). Nitrogen: lawn clippings, garden prunings, green leaves, kitchen scraps, citrus peel, egg shells, tea bags, flowers and coffee grounds. Mixing at a rate of about 60 percent carbon material to 40 percent nitrogen material is ideal, but not essential. Remember to cut up larger items as small as possible as they will break down more quickly and animal manure will also speed up the process. Do not add meat and bones, dairy products, diseased plants, metals, plastic and glass, fat, magazines, large branches, weeds that have seeds or underground stems, sawdust from treated timber, pet droppings or synthetic chemicals. Keep your compost moist but not saturated. If making a heap or bay, build it directly onto the ground, rather than on concrete or paving, as this allows worms, bacteria, fungi and other beneficial organisms to get into the compost. 1. Layer the materials like a lasagne - brown ingredients, manure, green ingredients, manure etc. 2. Water after each manure layer with molasses tea to feed the compost microbes. Mix 2 tablespoons of molasses in a 9ltr watering can. 3. Turn the heap every two weeks for oxygenation - the microbes that break things down quickly need oxygen. This compost will be ready to use in about three months.
Our Volunteers Voice
Successful year for nursery volunteers The enthusiastic Stratford Nursery volunteers based at Natural Areas Management (NAM) nursery have had a successful year since they began in February with over 90 seed trays put down and over 9000 trees potted up. The NAM nursery is a native plant nursery for revegetation purposes and propagate only seeds endemic to the Cairns and district area. These plants are grown for Council revegetation projects, Cattana Wetlands, other council units and various community groups and conservation organisations. Under the guidance of Natural Areas Regenerator Desley Sloan, the volunteers attend the nursery on Thursday mornings from 9amnoon. “Over time people have come and gone and others have taken holidays, so each week the number of volunteers varies. We still have a number of the original members, Desley says.
“Activities have varied from week to week to keep in line with what is required in the nursery.” Some of the tasks performed are: • Weeding • Washing and sterilising pots • Seed collecting • Treating seeds and propagation • Potting up • Rebuilding a pond to grow aquatics
“It’s a great program as the people involved are passionate about what they are doing with fantastic results being achieved. Also, friendships are formed and a vast amount of knowledge is shared,” says Desley who enjoys the volunteer mornings as much as the volunteers themselves.
1. Mary Ettling and Carolyn Scott collect seeds; 2. Sharren Wong, Diane Stephens, Carolyn Scott and Evelyn Inu; 3. Caroyln Scott, Colin Batch, Mary Ettling, Chris Adams, Toby Short and Jeff Pretty potting up seedlings; 4. Chris Adams, Jit Maya Rai, Carolyn Scott, David Farmer and Jeff Pretty rebuild a pond to grow aquatics.
Our Volunteers Voice
Plant Information: Myrtacaeae
The Myrtle family
The Myrtaceae have been around a long time. About 180 million years ago there were only two continents, Laurasia in the north (comprising Europe, North America and Greenland) and Gondwana in the south (comprising Australia, Antarctica, South America, Africa and India). It is during that time in Gondwana that the Myrtaceae family began to appear. Syzygium leuhmannii At about 65 million years ago, Africa and India had separated from Gondwana and by this time only four genera of Myrtaceae had become established in Africa and about six in India. These very old genera included the well-known Eugenia, Heteropyxis (restricted to southern Africa), Metrosideros also found in Australia and New Zealand (the Pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas Tree is in this genus), Syzygium which includes cloves, and the well-known Australian lillipillis. Australia, Antarctica and South America maintained land links until about 49 million years ago. As might be expected, there are closer similarities between the floras of these three continents (in fossil form in Antarctica) than between the flora of Australia and Africa because of the longer period of separation from Africa and India.
Our Volunteers Voice
For example, Australia and South America share several common genera, while floral relations between Australia and Africa rarely go below family level. As Australia severed its last link (with Antarctica) it began to drift north over a period of about 20 million years. The temperature was gradually decreasing and polar ice caps were forming. The Australian rainfall decreased and became more like it is now; with coastal rainfall and a drier interior. The climate became increasingly seasonal rather than continuously favourable.
Melalaeuca viridiﬂora (pink form) an attractive bottlebrush found in certain swamps near Mareeba.
Eventually Australia came close to its present position near the island chains of Indonesia and New Guinea and flora could move to and from Asia via those islands (mostly Keep a look out for next year’s Plant Information tropical zone species). South-east Asia, Indonesia articles outlining particular genus from this family. and New Guinea now have several established native - Barry Muir Myrtaceae, especially Syzygium. Today the Myrtaceae family contains about 130-140 genera and 4600-5000 species. It is generally considered there are two sub-families of Myrtaceae: the fleshy, soft fruited group containing Acmena, Syzygium, etc., mostly found in tropical regions; and a hard-fruited group found in the tropics and in drier climates including Eucalyptus and Leptospermum. Interestingly, our iconic Golden Penda (Xanthostemon) is considered a hard-fruited species, despite its restricted northern distribution. Other genera in the Myrtaceae that you may be familiar with include Rhodomyrtus (the Finger Cherry), Gossia (the Cape Ironwood), Callistemon (Bottle Brushes), Calothamnus (One-sided Bottle-brushes), Melaleuca (the Paper-barks) and Psidium (the Guava).
Syzgium cormiﬂorum, Bumpy Satinash - has ﬂower clusters on the trunk (a character known as cauliﬂory) and is probably pollinated by rats or possums.
Christmas Wishes Cairns Regional Council wishes our volunteers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for all your wonderful contributions to our gardens and parklands. We value your time, effort and passion for our gardens, wetlands and reserve areas.
Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Cairns: Membership details email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 4032 3900. Newsletter Contributions: Please submit articles (must be volunteer or nature based) by February for the next quarterly publication in March. Email: email@example.com. Please note articles are subject to editing.
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Interested in Volunteering? There is something to suit everyone. • Friends Visitor Guides • Public Relations & Shop assistance in the Friends’ House • Tuesdays - Cattana Wetlands Jabirus 9am-noon • Wednesdays - Botanic Gardens Down ’n’ Dirty Volunteers 9am-noon • Thursdays - Esplanade ‘Sandpipers’ - 9am-noon. • Thursdays - Stratford Nursery - 9am-noon. • Fridays - Saltwater Creek Wetland ‘Salties’ 9am-noon. • Weekends - Botanic Gardens Visitor Enhancement volunteers • Children’s Nature Activities Program - Little Taccas Green Space Our Place Interested in becoming involved with your local park, reserve or trail in your community? Contact us to be registered as a Council volunteer and be involved in beautifying your park (enhance planting, weed management, litter clean-up), reporting on issues (graffiti and vandalism, anti-social behaviour, maintenance issues) and building community participation (networking activities) with Council support. If you are interested in supporting any of our weekly groups or volunteering in your local area please contact Volunteers Supervisor Louisa Grandy 4032 6648 or 0429 983 252.