Interviewee: Ann Parks, born 1934
Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
for Baulkham Hills Shire Council
Date of Interview: 22 Aug 2001
Transcription: Catherine Sapir, May, 2006
This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee
The year 2001 marks Anne Park’s 25th year as a bush care volunteer in the Shire. Originally from Canada she settled in the Shire in the 1970’s and is a foundation member of the Shire’s Bushland Conservation committee.
We bought this block of land here in Carlingford in 1976 and there were car bodies in the creek line and pampas grass and privet and all sorts of things so we worked by ourselves. Then a few of the neighbours got interested in what we were doing and helped us out. I also joined the Society for Growing Australian Plants and so I went along to their volunteer groups as well. Here and around Darling Mills volunteering really got going once the Water Board came in to repair the damage that having put the sewers down through Darling Mills creek had caused, and I was supervising the team. I got my team of workers mainly from the volunteers who were working around the area and from SGAP the Society for Growing Australian Plants, which is now APS (Australian Plant Society) they had very much the volunteering side of it as part of their make-up and so everywhere that we worked around the catchment we would talk to people and try to organise volunteer groups which we supported by working with them on Saturdays as volunteers ourselves. So we actually organised 9 groups working around Darling Mills.
The volunteers that we organised in nine different groups would meet once a month – you’d have about six or eight would turn up. But that was enough. Half a dozen people working three hours one day a month was turning the tide. We were a bit dismayed in ’95 when the M2 went through, right over the top of our best area - a really nice little creek line that we had worked on for so long, so we were a bit disillusioned then and we changed our tack and got more involved with plant rescue, so I had publicised days and volunteers came along and helped us do plant rescue, digging up all sorts of liliacae plants and collecting seed and so on and these were all kept at the community nursery which is at Ted Horwood reserve.
Did the bush care groups receive much help from the residents and the community in general?
Yes they did. Whenever we managed to publicise something, a lot of people came along and helped plant and they really enjoyed themselves. They said they would come along to other things of this nature if it were organised. So there is a lot of support in the Baulkham Hills shire.
Looking after the bushland is never ending. We did, in subsequent years, finish weeding the area up to the M2. A couple of times a year now we have a team going in there and having a look but we’re part of the urban area and you are always going to get weed invasion. So it’s not something that you can just say it’s done and walk away from.+
Bushcare training in cutting Lantana 2002
Did you have any contact with the Forestry Commission also?
Yes I did. They were quite supportive. Early on, before we had help from Baulkham Hills Council, the Forestry Commission did supply us with tools and herbicide but they wouldn’t help us to propagate plants. So we went to Nurragingy, the other side of Blacktown, to a Greening Australia nursery to grow our plants because by this time we wanted to be able to put some of the native plants back into the bush from the seed that we had collected and the cuttings and so on. So for a few years we grew things at Nurragingy and I’ve got to know Steve Dunesky a bit better and said to him why do we have to go to the other side of Blacktown to grow plants for Baulkham Hills Council and he did set us up a nursery. That’s been ongoing now for some ten years and it’s really very good.
What’s your biggest challenge in bush care?
(Laughs)...Vines... Honeysuckle I suppose I could say.
So what is being a volunteer meant to you?
Well it means that I can go out and so something that I enjoy doing. The bush is very sensitive and you need to know what you’re doing and not open up too much of an area at one time and be prepared to do follow up, and plant, and be sensitive to how the bush is reacting to what you are doing for it. It’s quite a science, bush care. I’ve always been very positive about what I expect of the future and I really expect great things with Baulkham Hills Shire. With their new Council officers that we’re getting now that are environmentally aware and they are doing a great deal of planning and they are getting out there and supporting volunteer groups and I do expect that in the future, Baulkham Hills Shire’s bush land is going to be looked after quite well.