“The Jewel in the Crown of the Town of Vic Park”, otherwise known as Jirdarup Bushland, is a small piece of remnant banksia-jarrah woodland, tucked away in East Vic Park behind Kent Street. Jirdarup has been registered with the WA State Government as a “Bush Forever” site, and is the closest remnant bushland to the city. 'Bush Forever' is the protection of our locally significant natural areas in the Perth region, and as such should remain bush forever.
Jirdarup is the noongar word for “Place of many birds”, and it is. To facilitate this, the council has erected 3 bird waterers, to provide safe places for the birds to drink, especially the larger birds, who need more space to be able to land and fly away in safety. It’s home to at least 62 species of birds, as well as 14 species of reptiles and over 200 plant species.
The bird waterers comprise each of 4 watering troughs, which are attached to mains water. Control valves fill and flush them regularly, keeping them clean. While the black cockatoos were resting high in the trees, the smaller birds were enjoying some spray as the water was running.
The waterers were a finalist for Innovative Design with The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) WA.
I spoke with Friends of Jirdarup Bushland, Helen Brown and Vicki Caulfield, who I met on their twice weekly trips to weed their designated areas in the bush. They explained the council and the ‘Friends’, work together to manage weeds, and at the moment they are running a three year study into the effectiveness of weeding by the group by hand, and the weeding done with spray by the council. In 6 months last year, the volunteers put in 533 hours weeding.
“The Friends are a group of committed community members, who love the bushland. It was started in the 1990s, with the goal of protecting this small patch of remnant bushland, keeping it safe from development, and also having a hand in the design and actual work of ecological restoration of the land.”
It’s an ongoing project, and always will be. It needs community to continue to keep it safe. Everyone works to this end – the council, the friends, Curtin University assists, as do the indigenous cultural advisory group Mindeera.
Adjacent to Jirdarup, is the old “Kent Street Sandpit”, which was designated low level contamination many decades ago, and has just sat unused for all those years. Moves are underway to turn it back into bushland, and perhaps into the future it will become an addition to Jirdarup Bushland.
This is exciting, as it is the only piece of “forever bushland” that the Friends know of that is actually expanding, rather than the norm, which is the shrinking of what is left of our remnant bush. They are excited by the prospect, but it's tempered by the time and work they know it will take.
The council has endorsed the concept design plans for it on their website, and opened them for comment in January. The initial plans were amended after the Friends put in feedback, including to narrow the path and remove mulch. The design includes yarning places, shaded areas, water stations, pathways, and seating for Aboriginal stories and history presentations.
Kingsly Dixon(PhD), botanist and professor currently working from Curtin, and who's other works include being the founding Director of Science for over 30 years at Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, told the group “It takes a lot of work to turn something into a bush site, it’s easier to protect what you have”, so this is the Friend's main focus - to take care of Jirdarup.
“The rainbow bee eaters nest in burrows in the area of the sand pit, so it’s going to be work to make sure that they are protected over the course of the ecological design and are safe from machinery, building work and walking traffic", Helen explained.
As the friends went back to their weeding, I sat quietly, surrounded by the cool and quiet bushland. If you go down there in the early morning or evening, you’ll see the black cockatoos fly down from the tall trees, to settle and drink from the troughs. Although it is in the city, it seems a world apart, and it’s a quiet, restful and beautiful place to just sit and enjoy nature. If you sit quietly near the waterers, you may see a huge number of different bird species, including a the brown goshawk who makes his home there. Jirdarup really is the Jewel in the Crown" of the Town of Victoria Park.
If you'd like to do more than wander and enjoy, get involved in the work to maintain this bushland and be assured that the Friends always love hands to help and training is provided to all volunteers. In just a few weeks of hand weeding over February, the team have managed to remove all of the perennial veldt grass from their designated zone, and have decided to take a break. They'll swing back into action probably after the first rains.
Anyone keen to join can email the Friends at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find them on Facebook: Friends of Jirdarup Bushland, Instagram @friendsofjirdarupbushland, and their website friendsofjirdarupbushland.org.au. Photos Courtesy of Georgina Wilson.