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A mystery solved

Our Landcare group has made good progress in clearing the gorse and bluebell creeper from the northern corner of Barrm Birrm. Surrounded by owners who are letting these two weeds run loose on their properties, this is a holding operation that will need attention yearly, but it’s a joy to be out in the Spring, doing something useful instead of fretting about the state of the world.

Slender Bitter-pea spreading right along the slope

The acacias are largely finished, but now it is time for the Slender Bitter-pea (Daviesia leptophylla), yellow and orange flowers spreading across the mid slopes. It is, dare I say, a nondescript plant that is suddenly everywhere and vibrant with colour. And the Love Creeper is winding its tendrils up around anything it can find and blooming a soft blue.

The gates put up by Council on the public roads into Barrm Birrm seem to be working! If you know the terrain, it’s easy enough to drive in on other tracks, but the gates are slowing the tide of opportunistic 4WDs. It is a constant source of bewilderment to visitors that this bushland is actually private land, subdivided in the 1880s (in an office in London I’ve been told!) into 165 allotments ranging in size from 0.3 hectares to 5.2 hectares. The land was sold off in the 1970s to people who hoped one day to be able to build. That won’t happen: the land can’t handle 165 septic systems, and the bush is now a rare and wonderful place to enjoy the natural world.

The Shire has named Barrm Birrm a valued asset in its Biodiversity Strategy, and the land has recently been listed by the Catchment Management Authority in its prospectus of worthwhile projects awaiting government funding.

Just how Barrm Birrm will be returned to public ownership remains a mystery, but at least another mystery has been solved. Last Clean Up Australia day, as we scoured the hillside for rubbish, the favoured party places of Barrm Birrm were miraculously clear of broken bottles and cans. We wondered at the sudden change: had the party boys somehow turned responsible?

Only a few bags of rubbish this year on Clean Up Australia day

Now another explanation has appeared. A dancer staying at my place has been up there, clearing the ground in order to dance freely in the middle of the bush.

One mystery solved, and you’ll be dancing too, if make you way to Barrm Birrm in Springtime and find the chocolate lilies and dianella and murnong and more, as they claim their time in the sun.

Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare,

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