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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

 

The shoe spray challenge

 

You know those boot-cleaning stations at the start of iconic walks?

They help to stop the spread of diseases, particularly Phytophthora Cinnamomi, that can fell mighty big trees.

One of the walkers on my most recent walk almost felled me with this brilliant idea:

He brought along his own spray bottle to spray everyone’s boots at the start of the walk! A portable boot-cleaning station.

We all raised each foot behind us, like a horse being shod, and got a spray all over our soles.

And oh boy did my soul feel good to be walking so softly through that beautiful un-tracked rainforest!

This little trick is easy and cheap to do.

All you need is a spray bottle with either methylated spirits (70-100%), bleach (dilute to 25%) or F10 disinfectant solution.

Read more

The challenge

Will you be the sole cleaner for the walks you lead or join?

You’ll be helping to preserve the beautiful places you visit, and probably also making some more souls feel good 🙂

 

Happy, clean walking shoes at the iconic Protester Falls in northern NSW | Fellow walkers with clean boots | Beautiful Protester Falls country. Photos: Kirsten Mayer

Myrtle Rust

Myrtle Rust is a member of the guava rust complex caused by Puccinia psidii, a known significant pathogen of Myrtaceae plants outside Australia, and was first detected on the Central Coast of NSW in 2010.

It has now firmly established itself along the east coast of Australia from southern New South Wales to far north Queensland, and in some parts of Victoria. Its spores spread rapidly and by air, making whole eradication unfeasible.  However, areas such as Wambina Nature Reserve have eradication plans and are quarantined.

Tasmania’s efforts to educate bushwalkers included a Myrtle Rust ID card.

Studies have found that at least 347 Australian Myrtaceae species are susceptible.

The most notably affected are eucalypts (Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia), paperbarks and bottlebrushes (Melaleuca and, formerly, Callistemon), and tea-trees (Leptospermum).

Myrtle Rust attacks young, soft, actively growing leaves, shoot tips and young stems, as well as fruits and flower parts of susceptible plants.

The first signs of myrtle rust infection are tiny raised spots that are brown to grey, often with red-purple haloes.

After infection, the spots produce masses of distinctive yellow spores.

The fungus is spread very easily by these spores through the air and water, and can also accumulate on clothing, gloves, hats, tents, watches, wristbands and other gear.

Bushland that we visit could be infected with Myrtle Rust. Remember to arrive clean and leave clean, pack light, carpool when possible and leave cars in carpark areas or away from bush.

If there is any chance that you have encountered the fungus, change into fresh clothes and wash your hands, face and footwear to prevent it spreading. Clean your shoes with a 70% methylated spirits or benzyl alkonium chloride disinfectant.

Standard washing-machine use with detergent will kill Myrtle Rust spores on clothing, gloves, hats and other items suitable for the washing machine. Brush up on how to Clean Your Gear and see our Solutions page for information.

 

Notes:

https://www.invasives.org.au/project/myrtle-rust

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/plant/established-plant-pests-and-diseases/myrtle-rust

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/pestsweeds/110683myrtlerustmp.pdf

http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/myrtle.pdf

https://invasives.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Case-Study-Myrtle-rust.pdf

https://invasives.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/fs_myrtle_rust.pdf

Update:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-12-04/myrtle-rust-fungus-invasive-species-killing-native-trees/11730738

Phytophthora Cinnamomi

Phytophthora Cinnamomi is a fungus that grows inside a susceptible plant’s roots, reducing its ability to transport nutrients to the rest of the tree, killing it or making the tree look sickly (generally known as Dieback).

Trees and plants infect each other by root-to-root contact. However, on a downward slope Phytopthora can travel up to 40 metres per year through soil and mud, and can lay dormant in dry soil.

Some examples of NSW affected areas are Wollemi National Park, Barrington Tops National Park and Mount Imlay National Park where flora and fauna have been radically changed by it. The flora suffering Dieback are quarantined to limit the spread. The infected flora are still important, providing a habitat for species and preventing salinity and erosion in the area.

 

As bushwalkers, we can play our part when walking nearby infected areas, by assisting in keeping other areas free of infection, limiting the spread and reducing our impact. It’s Sweet to Walk Soft!

Unlike diseases such as Myrtle Rust, studies have found that contaminated trees do not contain the fungus on leaves or branches, but the fungus can still be transported by touching infected roots, water, soil or mud.

 

Read all signage in our National Parks and follow their instructions, staying out of quarantined areas, as well as using Hygiene Stations when available to brush down gear. Unless with an experienced leader with background training and knowledge in the area, we must stick to tracks and paths while bushwalking and/or driving, and limit the amount of vehicles we take.

 

To learn more about responsibility in the bush, join your local bushwalking Club, take one of our FREE courses or try volunteering to protect our lovely National Parks.

 

 

Notes:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/PhytophthoraKTPListing.htm

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=20026

http://www.cpsm-phytophthora.org/

https://www.dwg.org.au/

http://barmac.com.au/problem/phytophthora-cinnamomi/

David’s Lane Cove River Minimal Impact Training walks

David will be leading two Minimal Impact Bushwalking Awareness Walks in Lane Cove National Park and this webpage shows the planned route. To book for these walks go to: Bushwalking NSW Minimal Impact Bushwalking Training Events

The walk will start at the Koonjerie Picnic Area in the Lane Cove National Park:

The walk will parts of the Great North Walk on the east side of the river after crossing at the Lane Cove Weir:

The walk goes back across the river near Christie Park where the river is not very wide or deep, and there are many rocks creating the crossing:

The walk will finish at the Macquarie Centre:

From here a 545 bus can be caught back to the starting point or Chatswood Station.

 

Chytrid Fungus

Chytridiomycosis is a disease caused by the Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which has been causing sporadic deaths and other times a 100 per cent mortality rate to different species of frogs.

So where is this fungus?

According to research, the Chytrid Fungus is now widely distributed in Australia in water or wet soil and has caused six species of frog to become extinct.

In particular, the fungus is along the Great Dividing Range and adjacent coastal areas in the eastern mainland states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, eastern and central Tasmania, southern South Australia, and south-western Western Australia, and there is no known way to remove it.

In NSW, 22 species, more than one quarter of the total NSW amphibian fauna, have been diagnosed with the disease. There are 3 frogs at a high extinction risk in NSW, identified by their low population, ongoing state and predicted decline of population size. I’ve listed them below:

 

Spotted Tree Frog (Lioria Spenceri)

Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Corroboree)

Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Pengilleyi)

 

You can find out if these frogs are in your favourite walking area by using https://www.frogid.net.au/learn. Just plug the frog’s English name in the search bar for some info, pictures and frog sounds.

There are various fieldwork programs in place made from volunteers, frog experts and enthusiasts. The Northern Corroboree Frog Captive Breeding and Release Program is one example; the frogs take 5 years to mature, so breeding, raising frogs followed by their release and monitoring involves a timeline of over 8 years.

While there is not yet evidence of being able to remove the disease, some research has found that the frogs are building an immunity to the fungus, so with long-term methods like the Captive Breeding Program, our NSW frogs still have a chance to adapt.

As bushwalkers, we can play our part too.

If we’re sloshing through creeks near where frogs hang out, we might want to look at brushing up on our Solutions and have a think about how we clean our gear before and after the walk.

We can help mitigate controllable threats, such as habitat degradation, and preserve our wild places!

For more info, see the links at the end of this article.

 

 

 

Notes:

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/279bf387-09e0-433f-8973-3e18158febb6/files/c-disease_1.pdf

http://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/WR15071

http://www.frogsafe.org.au/disease/chytrid_bg.shtml

http://www.fats.org.au/

https://frogs.org.au/frogs/search.php

Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, including locations:

Spotted Tree Frog (Lioria Spenceri)

Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Corroboree)

Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Pengilleyi)

Weeds, pests and diseases

While we have a strong ethos of ‘treading lightly’ when out in the bush, it’s all-too-easy to unwittingly spread weeds and diseases that can kill wildlife and destroy wild places.

Weeds, pests and diseases are major threats to Australia’s native plants and animals. They can hitch a ride on muddy hiking boots, in wet fishing gear or even hidden on the dirty rims of your car.

So what are these weeds, pests and diseases affecting NSW?

Here are the main ones we are looking out for, and they can be contained and prevented from spreading by all of us doing our part. Tread lightly!

– Chytrid is a fungal disease blamed for frog extinctions here and overseas. It is transmitted between frogs or through contact with contaminated water.

– Phytophthora is a root rot that destroys native plants. It is spread in mud and soil on walker’s boots, bikes and vehicles.

– Didymo, also known as ‘rock snot’, has yet made it to Australia but can be transported on wet fishing gear. It has devastated riverbed habitats in New Zealand.

– Myrtle Rust is a fungal disease which affects new growth in eucalyptus, melaleucas, bottlebrush and other Myrtaceae plants. The yellow/orange spores are easily spread on clothing, gear and vehicles.

– Weeds radically alter ecosystems, smothering and outcompeting native plants and robbing wildlife of food and shelter.

– Intestinal bugs picked up travelling don’t always show symptoms in some people but can spread by poor toileting near creeks and severely affect other people and wildlife.

 

Bushwalking NSW has just endorsed the latest version of the “Keep your gear clean in the wild” brochure by the Invasive Species Council. Stay up to date on the invasive species that are threatening our favourite bushwalking tracks by checking out their website www.invasives.org.au.

Frogs and Sunscreen

 

If you’d like to enjoy a swim on your bushwalk, come prepared to keep the water clean for our frog-life by having your skin free of insect repellent, sunscreens, soap and fragrances.

This summer, many of our walks will involve swimming holes, creek crossings, canyoning, kayaking and lilo trips, so we’re bound to come close to our froggy friends, although you might not spot them.

They’re also very sensitive, and absorb chemicals through their skin to their own detriment.  The Fleay’s Barred Frog are one example of a frog species threatened almost to extinction attributed to sunscreen and insect repellent.

Amphibian skin is unique, being physiologically active and able to absorb air, water and electrolytes. We don’t hear much about frogs – experts are still puzzling over their unique anatomy.

Chytridiomycosis is one example of a disease that affects amphibians worldwide, but how it does so, and its true impact of frog populations is not certain. Some species of frogs seem unaffected by such pollution while other species have been declared extinct.

Before we take on the outdoors, we can think about the skin products we intend to use. Even skin products and cosmetics that are biodegradable with natural ingredients, while certainly a good thing, are not environmentally friendly to our frogs.

Instead, we can take care of our skin and the environment by using a wide-brimmed hat, or a cap with a neck flap. Take a long-sleeve rash guard if you’re susceptible to sunburn while swimming.

Also, look at alternative technologies for keeping mosquitos, ticks and leeches at bay such as doubling up on socks, use of gaiters and long-sleeve, loose fitting shirts.

Insect-repellent clothing

Insect-repellent clothing does not provide complete protection on its own, and begs the question – will it affect our environment? This technology uses a pesticide called Permethrin, which has been known to come out in water. Tests have shown the pesticide rapidly breaks down (rather than clump together like other chemicals), and is biodegradable in 1-16 weeks – but it is highly toxic to insects and fish.

Before we get lost down the rabbit hole, it seems the main thing is we be mindful with the ‘slop’ part of ‘slip, slop, slap’. Think twice about sunscreens or insect repellent before you dive into the water this summer, and choose your walks wisely!!

 

Sources:

http://www.alertdiver.com/Sunscreens-Coral-Bleaching

http://www.wildswimmingaustralia.com/sustainable-wild-swimming/

http://emag.bushwalk.com/BWA201612.pdf

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/0cc789ea-5551-4d6f-ace3-5952c9cd0a5f/files/tsd06fleay-barred-frog.pdf

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/279bf387-09e0-433f-8973-3e18158febb6/files/c-disease_1.pdf

http://healthcenter.indiana.edu/answers/insect-precautions.shtml

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/repellent-treated-clothing

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10537

Are you a Biosecure Walker? Part 3: Teaching Others

This post follows a 3 part series beginning with Part 1: The Risks, where we looked at weeds, fungus or bugs in the bush, and terms like Biosecurity. In Part 2: The Solutions we looked at awareness, the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, our responsibility for our environment as well as actions we can take now. In this article, we look at the club level and teaching others.

 

So is every bushwalker scrubbing their car tires, or picking seeds from their clothing and depositing them in a ziplock bag? Probably not, so how can we influence our walkers to be biosecure?

Luckily, not every walk requires every solution we have mentioned. One thing Sarah discusses is bushwalkers being ‘in sync’ with the area we are walking in.

This means knowing your walk – something our club leaders are experts on already.

“Educating yourself on the potential environmental impacts you might have within a park and discussing the issues and the ways you can moderate your impact helps to make minimum impact bushwalking strategies more commonplace.”

Some interesting tips include:

  • A leader’s box in the car – one with a diluted metho spray bottle and a brush – that can be pulled out before or after a walk will ensure that every walker understands what is best practice.
  • When emailing and organising the walk, include any biosecurity risks and solutions you would like walkers to be aware about.
  • Discuss signage board alerts during the walk. Identify and report possible pests or species by taking a photo and GPS co-ordinates.
  • Identify potential risks and walker gear in your group such as open weave cotton t-shirts.

Luckily, brushing down your boots is a very effective way of stopping weeds spreading! We are hoping to cultivate a practice of brushing down boots to remove soil and seeds before entering a walking trail and when exiting a trail. Our end objective is to install brush-down bays at trailheads, starting with key trails in Kosciuszko NP.”

Lastly, we can get involved. As clubs, we can have our say on Minimum Impact and Biosecurity, engage in weed eradication volunteering, and discuss tips and tricks to make cleaning easy.

Some ideas to facilitate discussion are:

  • Include Biosecurity in Information Nights and Basic Skills Workshops
  • Review the club’s Minimum Impact or Bushwalker’s Code and strategies
  • Add a section on the proposals, walk programs and walk submissions guidelines to include Biosecurity measures
  • Have an information night to raise awareness, using Sarah Fulcher’s power point presentation.

“Discuss some of the issues raised in this article – what people wear, how they collect and dispose of seeds from their socks or tent, boot cleaning and personal hygiene with a view to making small changes in behavior. A walk’s leader with a ‘clean box’ who is mindful about the area being walked in can have a major influence on the behavior of a group.”

Read “Are you a Biosecure Bushwalker?” for further information, links and articles.

Use this presentation for your club: Sharon Fulcher: How can we ‘Leave no Trace’ when bushwalking?

See Arrive Clean, Leave Clean for identifying biosecurity threats, cleaning guides, hygiene checklists and kits.

Learn more about invasive species.

Notes, slides and content courtesy of Sharon Fulcher.

Photos under Creative Commons Licence on Pexel

Hand photo by Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash