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Third Falls Track Project Update

Paul Farmer and Maureen Redfern | Published on 3/31/2023

Third Falls Track Project Update

2022 saw us continue our work on the Third Falls Track Project with Weed Patrols in April and October. These Patrols are an important activity to remove any woody weeds that have been missed, or germinated since the last Patrol. The common (although at low numbers) weeds are Boneseed, Broom and Gorse.

Since starting on this Project back in 1994, it’s great to see the improvement in the Bush which provides habitat for a huge variety of plants, animals, reptiles and birds. The Third Falls Bootscraper still provides a challenge, and in March each year we prioritise the hand removal of Leafy Broom seedlings (they are easy to see in the brown grass), and each year the seedbank gets a little smaller. From our work on the “Broom Hedge”, we know that we are now well into the 20 year timeframe that is required to run down the Leafy Broom seedbank.

Working at the Hedge Block

As our work along the Third Falls Track has changed from heavy Primary weeding to Weed Patrols, we have extended our work to a number of other sites. The first of these is Moore’s Road (a natural extension of the Third Falls Track) where Boneseed has been the most abundant weed. Thanks to the Rangers for removing a trailer load of old galvanised iron from this site.

Fox Hill Track has also been added, and weeds here include Pincushions (Scabious sp), Boxthorn, Olive, Boneseed, Artichoke and Ornithogalum (a small patch). It’s great to see the Fire Crew continuing to work on the adjacent areas, and results they are getting.

We also support the Colonial Track Project, mainly working between Gate 12 and Gate 14 along both sides of the creek. The northern side of the creek is Stringybark forest with Banksia marginata and the southern side of the creek is a different soil type and was recently farmed.

In consultation with Tom and Allira and help from the Trailrunners, an old fence line near Gate 14 (installed in the early 1990s to contain goats as part of the Blackberry control program!) has been removed. In the Spring, Arthropodium strictum, Bulbine bulbous a, Caesia calliantha and Acaena echinata are now seen in abundance in some areas of this once severely degraded site. It is hoped that, each year these little pioneers will continue to spread under the Eucalyptus. Enneapogon nigricans is now seen in large numbers along the creek banks as it returns in areas once covered by Gorse, Broom & Blackberry.

Working with the Trail Runners and Rangers

In the creekline, Phalaris and Periwinkle have been treated, and Typha orientalis, a few Acacia retinodes and other special things have returned. Watsonia was treated in this area in 2019, and the small Watsonia plants now emerging from the seedbank are big enough to treat, and these Watsonia seedbanks will need close monitoring (and work) for another few years.

In summary, habitat restoration is a verb. It is a process which starts when we see the Bush under threat and we come to understand  “if not me, then who will act?”, a site is chosen, careful minimal disturbance weeding is commenced, lessons are learnt, and follow up continues over many years until the woody weed seedbank/regenerative parts are reduced to a level where the Bush (again) dominates the site and all that the Bush asks of us is an annual Woody Weed Patrol.

Paul and Maureen
Third Falls Track Project Coordinators
(started 1994, 2000+ volunteer hours)