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Author Archive | Justine Bourke

Coffs Coast Regional Park – Have Your Say

Coffs Coast Regional Park – Have Your Say

Draft Master Plans have been released for comment on the Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) website for Sandy Beach Reserve and Emerald Beach Reserve. These reserves are within the Coffs Coast Regional Park (CCRP) and also form part of the 60km Solitary Islands Coastal Walk.

The CHCC has issued Draft Master Plans for Sandy Beach and Emerald Beach Reserves, see the website for further details and to have your say.

Please note that the above images remain the intellectual property of a photographer. Any downloading or reuse will incur a charge.

 

Byron Hikers – The Healing Power of Nature

The Healing Power of Nature –  Byron Hikers

“When you go out there, you don’t get away from it all. You get back to it all. You come home to what’s important. You come home to yourself.” 
Peter Dombrovkis
Tasmanian Wilderness Photographer, 1945 – 1996

Human beings have lost our connection to nature – and therefore ourselves. Convenience & consumerism has given us a taste for pleasure at the expense of deeper satisfaction. This has led to psychological issues, widespread environmental destruction and even more disconnection from nature. It’s a vicious circle.

There is significant scientific research that demonstrates the quantifiable, measurable benefits of spending time in nature: a reduction in negative thinking and mental illness, as well of course physical fitness and well-being. Interestingly however, this science often can’t explain why such benefits from spending time in nature have occurred, especially those relating to mental health. It’s very likely that human beings don’t fully understand our relationship to nature. However we know enough to know that it’s vital – literally indispensable to our existence.

The Deakin University Literature Review is a comprehensive review of the science that correlates spending time in nature with measurable mental health benefits. Some quick highlights:

  • “People possess an inherent inclination to affiliate with natural processes and diversity, and this affinity continues to be instrumental in humans’ physical and mental development.” Kellert & Derr 1988

  • “The manifold ways by which human beings are tied to the remainder of life is poorly understood.” Kellert 1993

  • “Scientists have found that merely being in an urban environment impairs our basic mental processes.” Lehrer 2009

  • “The authors concluded that neighbourhood greenness was more associated with mental health than physical health.” Sanesi & Chiarello 2006

  • “When compared with an urban scene and all its attendant features, natural settings with tree views and nature reserves with vegetation and wildlife reduced stress levels and blood pressure while improving mood and lowering anger and aggression in participants.” Laumann 2001

  • “Those closer to natural settings were more able to deal with important matters in their lives and felt more hopeful and less helpless about confronting life issues, whereas those living with minimal green or no green vegetation nearby had the opposite experience.” Kuo 2001

  • “Public housing residents whose nearby natural settings scored higher on the scale showed lower levels of mental fatigue and reported less aggression and violence than residents situated closer to the lower end of the scale.”

  • “Measures of salivary amylase activity (an indicator of sympathetic / stress response nervous system arousal) prior to and following a walk in an urban and forest environment individually, showed that salivary amylase activity of the subjects was reduced in the forest environment relative to the urban environment.” Yamaguchi 2006

  • “Nearly all of the subjects showed higher immune system activity after the three-day forest trip (about a 50 per cent increase) relative to before.” Li 2007

 

St John Ambulance First Aid Course Updates

Volunteer St John Ambulance trainer, Belinda Keir, has been instructing First Aid at Senior level since before 2000. Belinda’s practical teaching methods have helped to raise the level of First Aid knowledge within bushwalking clubs. Belinda was recently awarded the Bushwalking NSW 2020 Chardon Award.

St John Ambulance first aid courses have recently changed so it is recommended that Clubs check course codes on the Bushwalking NSW First Aid Training page. The course code for Provide First Aid is now HLTAID011 instead of HLTAID003 and for Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation is now HLTAID013 instead of HLTAID005. The change in course codes mean that all class ID numbers have been revised. You will need to quote the correct class ID to book any course. As our next Remote course is only a few weeks away, we would be grateful if this could be done as soon as possible.

People who have a less than 12 months old HLTAID003 or HLTAID011 Provide First Aid certificate can request a credit transfer for Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation. This gets a discount in time (you don’t need to attend day one) but not a price discount. Credit transfers can take time to arrange and need to be organised well before the course. Please request a credit transfer form when you enrol and return it with evidence of your current HLTAID003 or HLTAID011 certificate. This will be verified by St John and if a credit transfer is granted it will be attached to the class roll.

Please note that while class size limits are currently 18, this could change due to COVID. While the two remote courses are put on our calendar for bushwalkers, there is usually space in other Provide First Aid courses which are offered to members of Scouts NSW.

In 2022 it is anticipated that Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation HLTAID013 courses for bushwalkers and Scouts will run at Barra Brui (St Ives) over two weekends in February, July and November.

Keith Maxwell has stated:

“I have always thought that an important role for Search and Rescue/Bushwalking NSW was to encourage the spread of First Aid knowledge throughout the bushwalking clubs. For example, the Bush Club runs its own stream of First Aid training. Training for their Club walks leaders is fully subsidised by the club”.

Kirsten Mayer, Executive Officer of Bushwalking NSW Inc said:

“First Aid training is important for our clubs and we are so grateful to the entire team of Scouts and St John Ambulance volunteers who facilitate and deliver this training. All of this volunteer effort keeps the price very low for our bushwalkers. We encourage our club members to undertake this training. We also encourage our clubs to consider subsidising First Aid training for walks’ leaders.”

The Bush Club – Marie Byles Commemorative Walks

 Marie Byles Commemorative Walks , The Bush Club, Walks Report by Astrid van Blerk & Kevin Yeats, Images by Astrid van Blerk and Ian Evans

The Bush Club is one of the major walking clubs in Sydney, which offers its currently over 850 members a huge variety of activities such as day and pack walks, cycles, and multi-day trips to explore areas further away. It is often referred to as “the friendly club” – its culture is supportive and inclusive, walks range from relatively easy to challenging and adventurous so everyone can find something that suits them individually, and there is a special focus on encouraging new leaders which allows interested members to try out new skills and share their favourite walks with others. Whenever you meet a Bush Club group on the track you will notice that the atmosphere is happy, open and relaxed – we sure have mastered the art of having fun outdoors! Another telltale sign that the club is healthy and thriving is how much resilience and optimism it showed in these challenging times of the pandemic. For example, during the 2019/20 financial year despite the Covid shutdown which prevented group walking for several weeks, the club managed to complete an astonishing 446 activities – predominantly weekday day walks with an average number of 9.5 paricipants each. What a wonderful way to keep moving and breathing fresh air, and to maintain one’s sanity and social contacts at the same time…!

One of the many interesting collaborative projects that the club offered to its members recently was created to commemorate its co-founder Marie Byles, who together with Paddy Pallin brought the club into existence in 1939.
Marie Byles (1900 – 1979) was the first woman to practice law in NSW, a mountaineer, explorer and avid bushwalker, a committed conservationist, feminist, author and an original member of the Buddhist Society in NSW. As a teenager at her parent’s holiday retreat at Palm Beach, she would look through her telescope across Broken Bay to the bushland on the Central Coast. She would later campaign successfully to place the former coal reserve on the Bouddi Peninsula under public ownership and in 1935 Bouddi Natural (later National) Park was formed, with Marie being elected a trustee of the board that managed the park. By 1938, she had built the house she called ‘Ahimsa’ (nonviolence), on her 3½ acre bushland property at Cheltenham, which she later bequeathed to the National Trust.

To honour Marie Byles’ achievements and contributions to the club, a series of 7 walks, ‘From Buddha to Bouddi’, were held, starting on Marie’s birthday (8th April), from ‘Ahimsa’, Cheltenham and finishing at Marie Byles Lookout in Bouddi. The walks passed through 5 National Parks, numerous council parks and reserves, as well as beaches and important wetlands, and all were suitable for public transport. Walks ranged from an ‘octogenarian friendly’ grade 2 to a more demanding grade 4, as follows:

1. Cheltenham to Lindfield via ‘Ahimsa’, GNW along Lane Cove River to Fullers Bridge, Little Blue Gum Creek, Primula Oval, Paddy Pallin Reserve, Lindfield (19km grade 3).
2. Lindfield to Seaforth Oval via Seven Little Australians Park, Two Creeks Track, Flat Rock Beach, Magazine Track, Natural Bridge, The Bluff and Bantry Bay (21km grade 4 – actual walk reversed for transport convenience).
3. Seaforth Oval to Manly via Manly Dam Reserve, Burnt Bridge Creek, Clontarf Beach, Harbour Walk to Manly (19km grade 3).
4. Manly to Collaroy via Queenscliff with side trip to the wormhole, Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef (11km grade 2)
5. Collaroy to Avalon via Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Crown of Newport Reserve, Bilgola and Avalon Beaches (17km grade 3).
6. Avalon to Palm Beach via Angophora Reserve, Clareville Beach, Bangalley, Whale Beach, Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Head (20km grade 3).
7. Palm Beach to Wagstaffe by ferry, then circuit walk in Bouddi NP visiting Hardy Bay, Allen Strom Lookout, Rocky Point trail, Mt Bouddi, Maitland Bay, Marie Byles Lookout and Pretty Beach (19km grade 3).

This walks series was a great success overall, and there are already calls to repeat the whole lot again next year. A special thanks goes to our wonderful thoughtful and innovative leaders who each led a section, in order: Jenny Donoghoe, Fiona Sonntag, John Hungerford, Bob Taffel, Astrid van Blerk, Joy Bell and Carole Beales-Evans. Also, to quote Carole, thanks to the amazing walkers who made it so special!

To find out more about the Bush Club, please see here. Membership is open to those over 18. To be part of The Bush Club, sign up as a prospective member. Our leaders will help you select activities which will suit you and your fitness. After completing three membership qualifying walks, you can apply to become a full member. We are always looking forward to welcome new members – see you on the track!

Young People in Bushwalking Clubs

Notwithstanding reports that hiking and outdoor adventure has become fashionable for millennials, bushwalking clubs continue to seek ways to attract younger people.  An experienced young bushwalker keen to help clubs address this issue is National Parks Association of the ACT Committee Member Stef De Montis – age 32. Stef bush camps regularly in Australia’s high country and is also a keen runner, cyclist, skier and photographer.

Stef is interviewed in the June 2021 NPA Bulletin. He is passionate about helping clubs to attract younger members and believes this is needed to provide future club leaders and members. He highlights the importance of attracting young people to clubs to gain valuable life skills and an awareness of the importance of environmental protection.

Stef feels that many young people may be missing a sense of community in our modern world and that building friendships in a group setting will enhance young people’s ability to maintain their commitment to important causes.

To attract younger people Stef suggests that clubs hold social events aimed at, and run by, younger people.  Clubs can also harness the skills of experienced members by promoting informal mentorship programs to make young people feel welcome and develop their skills. He also believes that initiatives such as photography competitions and maintaining a strong online presence are ways clubs can encourage young people to get involved.

If you would like to read further, Bushwalking NSW has previously discussed similar ideas for clubs to consider, such as:

  • Consideration of the current average age of club members and if there is a need to appeal to a younger demographic
  • Identifying the potential reasons young people are not engaging with clubs
  • Identifying the skills and benefits clubs can provide to young people and the best way they can be be made aware of them
  • How to harness and pass on the skills of experienced members, for example, through mentoring opportunities
  • Consideration of how walks can be scheduled around young people’s work and or study commitments
  • Available opportunities to partner with local training organisations

What is the current demographic of your club and how successful have you been in attracting younger members? Let us know your experience and views – we would love to hear from you! – feel free to email Justine Bourke at newsletter@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

Armidale Bushwalkers – 2020 Walks Report (extract)

2020 WALKS REPORT (extract), Armidale Bushwalkers

 

 

 

 

 

Like many, Armidale Bushwalkers 2020 walks program got off to a very slow start.

The Club held a one day walk in January around Point Lookout with five members. The smoke from fires still lingered in the valley below Wrights Lookout although where we walked had not been burnt.

In February the Club held a one day walk in the Sunnyside area with five members present while the Secretary was away in Tasmania.

During March the Club had two day walks with dates swapped and the outcome that neither walk went ahead. A weekend walk was organized for a Friday and Saturday later in March which meant that a number of members including the Secretary were unable to participate in the walk. The walk was to be the last for many months as the COVID crisis forced everyone into lock down. Walks were cancelled and the garden never looked better when the lockdown ended in late May.

The Club got together at Gara Gorge at the end of May and discussed walks for the winter months. A short walk along the Threlfall Track helped everyone shake off the lockdown blues and get back into shape for the winter walks. The first walk for the winter was to the summit of Mount Duval and camping near the trig with twelve participants. A wet start on the Sunday meant we were back at the cars and home for lunch.

On the following Sunday twelve members enjoyed a day walk traversing the summit of Mount Yarrowyck.

July saw quite a few walks cancelled due to weather and leaders having other commitments. Four members joined an unscheduled half day walk on the first Sunday in July in the Long Point area. See remainder of walks report here.

Our Club of the Month: Armidale Bushwalking Club

Armidale Bushwalking Club was formed in late 2004 and has approximately 50 members. The Club run walks once a fortnight – usually there’s one or two day trips and a more challenging backpack walk once a month. The Club also brings people together to organise their own trips – from an afternoon stroll to extended overseas backpack trip.

The Club is developing a loose association between clubs surrounding Guy Fawkes river- a kind of “Fawkes Fraternity” to share programs, ideas and trips including with Inverell Bushwalking Club, Clarence Valley Bushwalkers and Ulitarra Conservation Society.

Joining a  group such as Armidale Bushwalking Club is a good way to get started in bushwalking as you can borrow gear from the Club’s store, find out about great places to walk, share costs and ideas and, most importantly, walk safely with experienced walkers.  Club membership gives you access to walks with all of the NSW Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs, and excellent Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.

Armidale Bushwalkers welcome new members and hope to see you on the track!

All Nations Bushwalkers – Little Digger and Two Creeks Track Ramble

LITTLE DIGGER AND TWO CREEKS TRACK RAMBLE, 21 February 2021, Walk Report by Dee McCallum, All Nations Bushwalkers

Parts of this track were known to me but not all, so I was pleased Leah had put this walk on. We met at Roseville Station where several of the group started with a morning coffee, then headed off through the delightful Roseville streets with many fine Federation houses, beautifully renovated with lovely gardens. We got to our first stretch of bush at Little Digger Track, which was not so straight forward but we picked our way alongside houses and past the creek. After a short detour across the wrong bridge we came back onto the main track and were met by our wet weather friends the leeches! We eventually came out onto the fabulous Middle harbour track – easy walking with view through trees to the water. There is plenty of history in the area and lots of informative signs. After passing under Roseville Bridge, we stopped for morning tea at the picnic tables near Echo Point. It was good to be under shade as temperatures were rising!

We then backtracked along Middle Harbour before joining the Two Creeks track. Parts of the track were quite exposed, so we were getting hot and just in time we had our lunch break under the shade of the trees. More friendly leeches about, they seemed to be everywhere! The track continued along Middle Harbour with lovely water views.

Shortly after lunch, we got to the most attractive part of the track, well shaded with beautiful trees and overhangs.

We then had an exciting detour through the tunnel at Gordon Creek. This would be impassable in rain but the water level was fine. Luckily there was a handrail to guide us! After exiting, a last uphill track before getting back to the road at Lindfield Station where we all dashed off after a hot but enjoyable day. On the walk, ably lead by Leah, were Dee, Francoise, Linda, Steve, Len, Tricia, Helen, Bryan, Richard, Molly, Connie, Geraldine, Elaine and Daniel.

Our Club for April 2021 is All Nations Bushwalkers

Come and explore the wonderful Australian bush with All Nations Bushwalkers. The Club visits beautiful national parks and wilderness areas around Sydney and further afield and has a graded series of walks, bike rides and water-based activities.

Most activities involve bushwalking in national parks within 100km of Sydney, including Blue Mountains, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Royal, Wollemi, Bouddi, Brisbane Waters, Dharug, Marramarra and Sydney Harbour national parks, or the parks and reserves of the NSW Southern Highlands and Illawarra regions.

All Nations Bushwalkers activities suit a wide range of fitness and experience levels. Most activities are day walks, ranging from easy to rather hard. There are also overnight camping trips and longer expeditions to destinations across Australia – bushwalking by day, enjoying the companionship of the campfire gathering at night! Club members also organise social activities, such as restaurant nights, cinema and art gallery visits, Christmas parties and various special outings.

Getting to club activities is easy – they generally meet at a train station and then car pool to the walking track. You won’t get lost and don’t need your own transport! Club members are men and women of all ages and nationalities from across the Sydney area.  You are welcome try a bushwalk walk first – choose a walk then contact the organiser for details. Visitors can try one walk for free before they’re expected to join. Membership starts from only $30 a year (for 3 years). Learn more

 

Floods Ignite Raising Warragamba Dam Wall Debate

In late March 2021 an extreme rain event on the Australian East Coast caused serious flooding which endangered people and property in many areas including the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley on Sydney’s outskirts. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley flood highlighted the dangers of urban development in flood-prone areas given the high likelihood of more climate change-induced flood events in future.

The rain event and resulting floods have intensified debate on the controversial proposed 14 metre raising of Warragamba Dam Wall.  Many experts and conservationists contend that the most extreme floods are unlikely to be stopped by raising Warragamba Dam wall. Flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley comes from other river/creek sources in addition to water flowing over Warragamba Dam wall. In addition the geography of the Hawkesbury-Nepean area restricts the amount of water that can flow out of the Valley.

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness states that the raised dam wall proposal is being driven by pressure from developers.  As part of the Warragamba Dam wall raising proposal, Infrastructure NSW plans to house an additional 134,000 people on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain in coming decades. The Foundation states that people in new and existing residential developments in the Valley will not be safe from future extreme floods even if the Warragamba Dam wall were to be raised.

The Foundation states that the proposed dam wall raising will lead to flood water inundation of World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Parks and wilderness streams and desecration of rare and ancient natural heritage and Indigenous cultural sites.

Adding weight to arguments against the raised dam wall proposal, the Australian Insurance Industry recently withdrew their support for the Proposal due to concerns over the probable loss of important cultural sites and natural habitat. The Industry suggested that the State Government should investigate alternative measures to mitigate flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

Alternative flood mitigation actions available to the State Government include improving floodplain evacuation routes such as the Castlereagh Connection, pre-emptive dam-water release water and relocating people in the most flood-prone areas. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro recently stated that alternatives to the dam wall raising need to be considered including lower water levels and building desalination plants for water supply.

 

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Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers – Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens

Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens Easy 6km walk, Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers, Saturday 27th March 2021

A recent Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers Club walk was an easy 6kms in Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens. The Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens are set on 42 hectares of Mogo State Forest, adjacent to Deep Creek Dam. The site has not been logged since the early years of the twentieth century and visitors can appreciate many of the region’s plants in a natural setting.  The Gardens has 8kms of beautiful public walking tracks which vary in length and gradient to cater for individual requirements and limitations.

It was a perfect day for the Club’s walk during which Margaret Lynch explained what was happening in the Gardens.  After the recent bushfires a lot of work has been completed and more is planned. The walkers were delighted to see the Gardens regrowth including many young green wattles which protect the undergrowth floor and let other native plants thrive.

The Club members walked 5.5km and had a look at Deep Creek Dam, for which a new lookout is planned. At the end of the walk Bev Brazel thanked Margaret for the walk on our behalf. Some walkers enjoyed lunch at the Cafe, some bought plants, and others had their lunch in the grounds. Overall all participants agreed that it was a very pleasant day.

Our Club of the Month for April 2021: Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers

Our club of the month is Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers who have been walking for 35 years. The Club meet at the Red Tractor, George Noble Park, Dalmeny, with a plywood tractor now used to represent the original to honour the Club’s history.

Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers was established in May 1986 to encourage bushwalking as a pleasant group activity. The Club welcomes new walkers to join in and enjoy the beautiful bush and coastal environments of the far south coast of NSW.

Volunteer walk leaders offer various grade bushwalks twice a week around the local area of Eurobodalla and Bega Valley, as well as club camps in other localities and some social activities. The Club aims to keep its procedures as simple and as affordable as possible but also has a few rules to keep all walkers safe in the bush. Walks are grouped into 3 programs a year – Autumn, Winter and Spring – and are published on the Club’s website.

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The Walking Volunteers

Sydney Trackwatch

 The Walking Volunteers Inc. have been proof-walking, mapping and providing walking routes around Sydney to walkers for 17 years. They now have over 1,300 kilometres of walking routes on their map and hope to add another 200 kilometres in the next month after approval has been granted by various land managers.

However, keeping track of changes on the walking routes is becoming more of a challenge as the network increases. The Walking Volunteers want to thank the walkers and land managers (e.g. Councils, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Western Sydney Parklands Trust, etc.) who often advise them of new and changed paths and tracks. However, tracks and paths are often closed for essential infrastructure (e.g. sewage pumping stations, light rail, etc.) or damage from natural events. It may take several months before the Walking Volunteers find out about these closures and when they do, they are able to liaise with land managers and establish alternative routes which are immediately updated on their maps and, via the magic of the Internet, updated on walkers’ smartphones, tablets or PCs. However, finding out about changes may take months and, in the meantime, walkers find it very frustrating to find a walking route on the maps has been closed.

So, the Walking Volunteers are introducing a program called Sydney Trackwatch to discover any changes or closures to the walking routes on their maps as soon as possible. It is very simple and does not require filling out complicated forms. Just let the Walking Volunteers know (Email: info@walkingvolunteers.org.au or Phone: 4784 2002) immediately of any changes or closures on the walking routes shown on any of their maps (Sydney Walking Tracks, Walking Coastal Sydney, Great West Walk). Also, let them know of any alternative routes you used to bypass the problem area. They will immediately re-walk, re-map and put the alternative routes on their maps as well as follow up the organisation responsible to find out when the walking route will be re-opened. When it is re-opened, they will immediately re-walk the route and change it back to the original course.

A good example of this is North Head, where the Walking Volunteers changed the route on their maps after the intensive bushfire in October 2020 and are now liaising with Sydney Harbour National Park and Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to change back to the original route when the fire-damaged areas are re-opened to the public.

All it takes is a quick phone call or email to assist the Walking Volunteers and your fellow-walkers!

 

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