Sue Baker, Mid North Coast Branch of NPA
If I was ever asked what is the greatest miracle that I have witnessed in my life, the answer would be the post-fire regeneration in Crowdy Bay NP. Earlier in the year I wrote an article for the journal describing the sickening devastation, the deathly silence and lack of life in the park, 84% of which was burnt last November including the most precious patches of littoral rainforest.
In 2019 we received only one third of our average annual rainfall; by the end of April this year we had received our total annual average! Swamps and wetlands (in which I had only ever seen minimal water) filled to the brim; pools lay everywhere along the road edges. The photo on the front page of this journal attests to the miraculous recovery of the park’s heathlands. Literally, seas of grass trees have not only regenerated but put up metres-high flower spikes while wildflowers carpet the ground.
In the wetter areas, massed growth of Juncus australis have created swathes of winding chocolate colour.
The story is not so great in the littoral rainforests. We have focussed much of our effort on the forest at the northern end of Kylies Beach that we had been working on intensely in recent years. It was utterly devastated by the fires and is now home to a large variety of invaders. Strange to say that we must treat these weeds as our new canopy! Despite our itchy fingers, these weeds must be left in place as they are keeping the soil shaded and moist, providing necessary conditions for native seedling germination. It will be a long, slow process to full recovery.
In addition, some magnificent areas of mixed forest have been totally devastated, with many former Blackbutts (Eucalyptus pilularis) having to be removed for safety reasons along the Indian Head walking track.
To date, fifteen working bee days have been held, with many people – even from as far away as Sydney – lending a hand. The lack of vegetation in several areas has allowed us easy access to deal with weeds such as Morning Glory, that are determined to survive no matter what! Post-fire germination of the Western Australian Golden Wreath Wattle, Acacia saligna from the soil seed bank has also seen thousands of these invasive pests having to be tackled.
History fans will be pleased to know that NPWS will shortly begin a replica construction of Kylie’s Hut, the place where Kylie Tennant wrote several of her books.