Local Resident’s Meeting Information

Diamond Firetail Finch c 10cm tall

Gawler Environment & Heritage Association (GEHA) has been approved for a Commonwealth Communities Environment Grant to re-establish native grassland habitat on Gawler Council Phillips Avenue Reserve (the ElectraNet powerline corridor) between Calton Road and Phillips Ave.  The project aims to create a space which combines an improved natural environment plus higher community value as a place for observing nature, walking, exercising dogs and other activities. This will be done through the establishment of 1 hectare of a native grassland in the centre of the corridor, which will contain a highly diverse mix of native plants; and a surrounding area of native grasses as a buffer to help suppress weeds.  An informal walking track around the reserve will enable community walking and recreation.

Due to time constraints the project will use an innovative method to control weeds.  Rather than a long term weed control program usually required for native grassland restoration, the project involves removing a layer of top soil containing the soil weed seedbank (a depth of about 8cm) from the central area and relocating this on the perimeter area to a similar depth. 

This will allow direct seeding in late autumn/early winter with both grasses and some broad leaf native plants.  The central area will also have many other ground layer native species planted as tubestock into small patches – managed areas where careful weed control can occur to allow these species to establish, set seed and spread in future years.  Over 100 species are proposed in this high diversity central area. Labelling of species will assist with identification and weed management. The outer buffer area will mostly be planted with grasses to produce a cover that allows control of weeds such as caltrop, galenia, capeweed, gazanias and scabiosa.

Butterfly: Conservation South Australia

The original vegetation of the Gawler East area was native grasslands with scattered areas of trees and shrubs – mainly on steeper stony areas or on creeklines.  The vegetation and the insect and bug populations which thrive in grasslands provided the food supply and habitat for many mammals, birds and reptiles.  Birds such as Diamond Firetail Finches, Red-browed Finches, Stubble Quail, Brown Quail, Pipit and Songlarks, now rarely seen in the area, will hopefully be attracted back to the area by the restored food supply.  Local grassland bird species including Red-rump Parrots, Crested Pigeons, Masked Lapwings (Spur-winged Plovers) and Galahs will also benefit. 

Many native lizard species will also be able to use the habitat including Bluetongues, Bearded Dragons and smaller skink species.  Several local insect-eating native bat species will also benefit.  Predator native species such as Kookaburras and smaller raptors such as Kestrels and Kites are also likely to find the area attractive. Grasslands are also vital habitat for many native butterflies and moths – the rare Chequered Copper Butterfly relying on native Oxalis plants is an example (photo courtesy Butterfly Conservation SA).

Issues to be managed include minimizing dust during soil relocation, ground preparation and seeding.    Timing of soil disturbance to times when topsoil moisture is reasonable will assist.  Ensuring that weed spraying does not occur when winds are present, to prevent drift is an important issue.  Noise from machinery will be limited to usual daytime work hours. The main project parts will be managed by Seeding Natives who have several years’ experience dealing with such issues. Monitoring and managing of feral rabbits and cats is likely to occur by GEHA.

We hope that local residents will get involved with the project to assist its success.  Opportunities will exist to be involved in tubestock planting days, followup watering especially in the first summer, and weed control in the central area which will be ongoing for several years.  Appropriate training and information sessions will be provided by GEHA as required.  Other aspects will likely include infill planting in future years and creation of additional habitat in the area currently planted with trees. GEHA is interested in providing opportunities for local schools to be involved.

An initial project information session is on Sunday 1 March from 11am to noon.  Meet at Phillips Ave end of the reserve near Rebbeck Crt.  If you can’t attend but wish to be on an email news network to get updates on the project please send an email with your details to geha1@bigpond.com 

The Town of Gawler provided support for this project under RESOLUTION 2019:09:COU352 at Special Council meeting 10 September 2019. Gawler Environment Centre will also be involved, including a web page providing information gawlerenvironmentcentre.org.au/powerline

This letter is distributed to residents of Phillips Ave., Rebbeck Crt, Stithians Dr, Matz Crt, Lally Dr, Norman Ct. & Sunnydale Ave (W).  If you know others who may be interested, please tell them. For more information, please contact GEHA project manager Adrian Shackley Ph: 0429004363    Email: finniss@bigpond.net.au