Efforts by loyal and devoted volunteers spanning nearly two decades to restore the natural diversity and beauty of one of the southern highlands iconic landmarks should be applauded and supported.
Every week for nearly two decades a small group of volunteers has been systematically weeding and assisting natural regeneration on Mt. Gibralter.
Their goal is to rid the reserve of environmental weeds working from the top down. They are methodically removing all unwanted vegetation, freeing the forest from dominance by weeds such as English Ivy, Honeysuckle, Cherry Laurel, Cotoneaster, Holly, Privet etc. allowing the forest to recover and regenerate.
Help has also been provided by professional contractors in areas too steep or dangerous for the volunteers to work. This assistance has been funded through the Local Environmental Levy and other funding secured by this committed group.
So successful have their efforts been, they are now working on the southern lower slopes of the Gib where the last quarrying operations ceased in 1986.
Mount Gibralter, or the Gib as it is known by locals, dominates the landscapes of Bowral and Mittagong. Rising to a height of 863 metres above sea level the Gib has had a long history of modification since European settlement. Quarrying of tracheae (a hard rock prized for construction and road making) began in the 1880’s. By the early 1900’s clearing of land for agriculture and urban development exposed some of the scars from the many quarries operating on the mountain. This prompted a response from concerned citizens to put pressure on local council to act.
In 1919 Bowral Council purchased 32 hectares to create a reserve. Successive Councils acquired further land over the years to protect the natural environment and features of our iconic landscape. Quarrying operations continued, with the hard rock extracted being used for major projects such as railways, dams, roads and buildings.
In 1940 the reserve was declared a flora and fauna reserve. Quarrying operations finally ceased on the Gib in the 1980’s and by the 1990’s the reserve was neglected and infected with environmental weeds along with feral goats, rabbits and foxes. This, combined with rubbish dumping, stealing of rocks and timber and vandalism of the many improvements enacted by previous community groups, made the reserve an unpleasant to visit.
So neglected was the Gib that pressure from the community and the National Parks Association prompted our Shire Council to create volunteer Management Committees to care for and manage the major reserves in our shire.
In 1993 the Mount Gibalter Management Committee was formed and plans and resources were put into place to restore the Gib back to a more natural state. Now called the Mount Gibalter Landcare and Bushcare, many of the founding members are still actively weeding and caring for the Gib. The group welcomes any new members or funding to assist enhancing the amenity value of the reserve and to protect and enhance the endangered ecological community that exists within the reserve.
To avoid further invasions of environmental weeds and to reduce the workload of these committed volunteers (who meet every Thursday to methodically remove environmental weeds from the reserve) it would be appreciated if all gardeners and landholders in the shire remove any fruit or seeds from environmental weeds on their land to avoid their spread into Mt. Gibalter, or any other reserve or endangered ecological community within the shire.
Many environmental weeds are sold by nurseries and recommended by plant designers. Become environmentally aware and assist those who wish to preserve our unique natural environment by not planting environmental weeds in your garden or new landscape.
A list of environmental weeds in our shire is available from Wingecarribee Shire Council or from environmentally aware nurseries or plant sellers.
Also available from the Mt Gibalter Landcare and Bushcare group is a well researched and readable book titled “The Gib”. In hardcover and full colour, it is a valuable reference book packed with information about the history of Mt. Gibalter and its ecology.
For further information contact Mt Gibalter Landcare and Bushcare at PO Box 981 Bowral.