First Falls Project - Morialta Conservation Park

First Falls Project Report 2016

The First Falls project began the year with some help from volunteers working with Conservation Volunteers Australia. We were very pleased when at the end of summer the group helped the regulars remove the last patch of blackberry from below the end of the boardwalk. This was a fabulous achievement as we had been working on that patch for more than one summer. The more adventurous volunteers continued removing the small amounts of blackberry regrowth at the top of the site near the base of the cliffs making the first section of the project almost blackberry free.

As we progressed from summer to autumn there was more focus on the annual weeds, soursob and seedling boneseed. Winter saw us tackling the fumitory and we also tackled some of the remaining mature boneseed which is further west along the upper banks. We had the Green Army team in for a day and they also tackled some of this boneseed, treating everything which wasn't in the middle of a blackberry patch. They also treated some of the larger olive, broom and dog rose on the site. We have found more species of orchids in the site and a lovely patch of Juncas which was hiding up the hill. We will work towards liberating it from the blackberry next year.

Then came spring! Whoosh! So much change with the two flood events down the creek!

As we had removed so much of the weed species along the southern side of the creek and it is so rocky the area adjoining the boardwalk is actually looking good with the rare river bottlebrush Callistemon sieberi still looking strong. The water did however wash away a number of the woolly teatrees Leptospermum lanigerum which were lining the creek. An amazing consequence has been the blackberry in the creek was also swept away and the team have jumped at the opportunity to get rid of some of the small patches still remaining and have successfully pushed the blackberry front significantly further downstream. The next patch covers much of the upper bank which wasn't affected by the flood so that is a challenge we will continue to tackle.

This year the team were very sad to say farewell to two of our regular volunteers Bruno & Julie who have both moved to live close to the beach. We wish them all the best in their new homes. However we have been very pleased to be able to welcome Carmel and Marina to the site and we hope they continue to enjoy visiting it as much as we do. I'd also like to thank the regulars Ann, Chreena, John & Russell. A special thanks to Rong who comes as often as her work allows, we miss seeing her smiling face each month and enjoy the times she can join us.

Liz Milner

First Falls in full flow the day after the first flood event September 2016.
First Falls in full flow the day after the first flood event September 2016.
View from Eagles Nest lookout
The view over the project site from Eagles Nest Lookout September 2016

First Falls Project Report 2015

The First Falls project received a very welcome boost in the form of a $5000 grant from the 2014 Natural Resource Management Community Grants in November 2014. This money has been used to treat a number of the larger and inaccessible woody weeds on the project site giving all the volunteers a huge morale boost to see the site transform almost overnight. The contractors have treated most of the olive, boneseed, sweet pittosporum and blackberry which was in the first section of the site and that work has now been followed up by volunteers. Additionally volunteers have come through and done their first sweep of all the blackberry below the boardwalk and at the bottom edge of the site. The transformation is most uplifting!

The grant money has had an additional benefit. By studying weed maps from 2013 it was identified that in 2014 the willows in the area were increasing, creating a focus on the upstream willows. By February 2015 volunteers mapped all the 184 willows in the park along Fourth Creek and treatment has commenced on them. Some willows were treated by contractors using the grant money, some by volunteers and then with a further injections of funds from our Volunteer Support Officer some more willows were treated in April 2015 by contractors before they went dormant. All 21 willows below First falls were treated this year and in all 76 willows were treated before winter. The willows will be a priority for all the project sites along the creek in the next 12 months, in particular for the Crag Care project as eradicating them from Fourth Creek is a very real possibility.

Vandalism of the plantings at the site is an ongoing problem with only 3 of the original 18 2013 plantings still alive this Autumn and 14 of the 26 2014 plantings. We are seeing lovely recovery of native plants cascading down the slope though with three different species of orchids identified at the site this winter in spots where blackberry and olive have been removed. The lower slope near the creek is still in quite poor shape though and we have found a photo of the bulldozing which occurred after the 1981 floods which explains why there is no seed source and native vegetation recovery is so poor in that area even after the blackberry has been removed. Our 2015 plantings have focused on getting some midstorey plants in the area so that any understorey plants will survive in the future.

My thanks to the regular volunteers Ann, Rong, Chreena, Bruno and Julie for their dedication and to other members who pop along when they can. If you'd like to see the work we have been doing come along for a chat to one of our working bees on the first Wednesday of the month. We are quite chuffed by the transformation up there, we hope you will be too.

Liz Milner
4th Creek Project Co-ordinator
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at the base of first falls
Working at the base of First Falls 2 December 2015
Lobelia alata
Lobelia alata found in the creekline 2 December 2015.

The beautiful First Falls in Morialta
The beautiful First Falls in Morialta
6 August 2014

2014 Project Report

As the First Falls project continues to grow in popularity I have broken it out of the Fourth Creek Project reporting, though in reality it is section 11 of the larger Fourth Creek project. From its humble beginnings of 2 regular attendees from its inception in November 2012 it has now grown into a dedicated team of 6 meeting the first Wednesday of every month with a number of other folks who come along when they can.

We gave a little cheer earlier this year when we broke through the patch of blackberry we have been attacking on the southern end of the board walk and made it through to some lovely high quality vegetation. Native Lilies, Ferns and Orchids have all been liberated from this area so we are looking forward to seeing improved vegetation replacing the blackberry, this work can be clearly seen from the track. Fingers crossed anyway. Of course next summer will see some recovery of the blackberries but we are well and truly on top of the patch now.

We were very pleased to receive a visit to the site by one of the DEWNR Ecologists who has recommended we expand the area we are managing up-slope to the south from the creek-line to the cliff-line where the under-storey is both varied and intact. Thus our team has changed its focus from along the track to complementing the work we have been doing down low with more work in the highly diverse area above the board walk. Up here the focus has been on broom and boneseed though there are also olives and blackberry threatening to smother the under-story so they are all on the plan to be tackled too.

Unfortunately the 2013 plantings seemed to suffer a high level of vandalism, so we have learned some of the places not to put plantings. but undaunted we have planted a further 26 plants in the area where the blackberry has been removed and along the creek-line. So far most of them are doing well and with luck we will see some natural regeneration of under-story species creeping down from up-slope.

My thanks to Ann, Rong, Chreena, Bruno and John for their dedication and to the Morialta Residents and other members who pop along when they can. If you'd like to see the work we have been doing come along for a chat to one of our working bees on the first Wednesday of the month. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you see.

Liz
Project Coordinator

tacklnig the blackberries
Tackling the blackberries
2 May 2014
The beautiful First Falls in Morialta
Removing broom
2 May 2014
Taking a break
The group having a well earned break
1 October 2014

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Updated 5 July 2017
2015 Project report added.