Feb 21, 2024 | News, Newsletters

Standing on the ridge of the Hunter River Reserve, surrounded by beautiful spotted gums, with sandstone steps down to the river flats, it’s hard to imagine you’re in one of the last remaining strands of intact native vegetation along the lower Hunter River. And volunteers from the Hunter Region Landcare group, with support from Highways and Byways, are working to ensure it remains intact and thrives.

The group is regenerating and maintaining a 9 hectare parcel of Crown Land in the area, less than an hour from Newcastle in NSW. Importantly, they are trying to get the community involved so they understand its environmental significance and so that the area can be enjoyed by future generations.

Stacy Mail, the local Landcare coordinator, said the area is ‘off the beaten track’ and used mostly by dog walkers and locals. Over the years it has been degraded and damaged by vehicles and many invasive species of weeds that choke native vegetation.

“We thought one of the important ways of preserving the area was to engage locals and show them what a beautiful area we have and offer insights into how it might be protected,” Stacy said.

Two important awareness-raising events were a nocturnal spotlighting tour and a bushtucker workshop. A highlight for Stacy was the bushtucker workshop, run by a local Indigenous person, which revealed an aspect of the reserve that few people knew about.

“We were shown how to identify edible foods in this area as well as seeds and leaves that could be used to make tea. There were about 30 people, and most were surprised to learn about the usefulness of the many local plants,” Stacy said.

Stacy said the awareness raising events, as well as inviting locals to participate in the national tree-planting day, had led to an increase in the number of volunteers at the Landcare group’s monthly working bees.

“We want to make sure the area, that was neglected, becomes more of a nature haven for locals and visitors alike.”

Image main: Sandstone steps are a feature at Hunter River Reserve. Image courtesy Cessnock Advertiser. 

Image insert top: A nocturnal spotlighting tour at Hunter River Reserve captured the local wildlife in its native habitat. 

Image insert: A bush tucker workshop included a demonstration on the use of edible foods found in the local area.


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