It has been a wonderful, if wet, summer in the park. We've had a busy time lately with more than 1,000 people taking part in our holiday activities. The sights and sounds of so many visitors having a great time makes for a fantastic atmosphere - now, on to autumn!
Diving into the bay never felt so good than at the moment - largely thanks to our higher than average summer rainfall combining with our more usual hot weather. Right now on cooler days, the water temperature is often higher than our air temperature! On warmer days, you can't even feel the water as you enter it!
Summer holiday program
Park staff ran a big holiday program over the summer school holidays, with the ever popular campfire yarns, bush tucker walk, kids' koori games and bird watching walks to name a few.
There were 71 involving around 1,200 visitors. Traditional owner and guide Julie Freeman catered for up to 80 people at a time with billy tea and damper at the campfire yarns. Slideshows ran at night during the summer including stories of Booderee ecology, fire and our wildlife.
One of the most pleasant and popular ways to end the day was to walk out at twilight with traditional owner Marley Ardler. And we ran two activities each week especially for kids - curious kids and kids' koori games.
We will be running a similar holiday program in the April and Easter school holidays.
What's your favourite thing at Booderee?
Are Booderee's animals your favourite thing? Sooty oystercatcher - photo Marj Kibby
The results are in! In January we completed our bi-annual visitor survey, asking more than 300 of our visitors what they think of our park. Here's a sample of what they said... but we would love to hear your thoughts too!
Visitor from Holland, aged 20-30 'We saw dolphins from the beach, echidnas on the road and we had a beautiful walk in the national park.'
Indigenous visitor from New South Wales, aged 30-40 'Seeing Wreck Bay mob do so well, I want to see this partnership model across the country. This model has significant implications for improving Indigenous community and mental health.'
And a local from Shoalhaven, aged 50-60
'Family time, animals and marine life, clean swimming beaches. We want to keep it a secret! This is the best national park we have ever visited. Really like the friendly staff, the cleaners, rangers and office people... very much enjoyed the penguin talk and the marine photographer. The Aboriginal people show themselves in a very positive light here in Booderee National Park - they represent their people extremely well.'
Let us know what your favourite thing about Booderee is - leave a comment on our blog!
Bush medicine - the swamp lily
Swamp lily, Crinum pedunculatum
photo: Richard Parker
This large and beautiful lily is found growing on dunes and forest edges around the park - wherever there is constant moisture. It has long, broad, succulent, light green leaves which can grow to almost a metre in length. In summer, large scented white flowers appear on long tall stems.
The lily blooms and flowers extremely well after a good rain - so it has been a good summer for them!
In bush medicine we rub the sap from the leaves onto irritated skin to calm jellyfish and bluebottle stings.
Please note: all our native plants in the park are protected and should not be collected or damaged.
South Coast sea spurge control program completed
Parkcare volunteers removing sea spurge
Booderee National Park has completed a concentrated control program on the invasive coastal weed 'sea spurge'.
Help from the Southern Councils Group, local Indigenous groups, volunteer organisations, NSW Parks and Wildlife and the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program made the works possible.
Since late 2008 a steering committee has worked hard at firstly mapping then putting in place control measures to remove generations of sea spurge.
Volunteers and staff have spent many thousands of hours removing or spraying sea spurge on southern NSW beaches. Their monumental efforts have recently been recognised - the Southern Councils Group received a 'Highly Commended Award' in Local Government Excellence in Environmental Weed Management Category in 2010.
Here at Booderee over 1,000 hours have also been spent by park staff, Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community workers and volunteers to remove the weed from our beaches. Sea spurge has been known to occur in the park since the mid 1980s.
Today only light infestations exist within Booderee. And we now have strategies in place, from Kiama to the Victorian border, to ensure that sea spurge does not increase.
At the Gardens
Regular visitors to the Botanic Gardens will have noticed a few changes this year. First of all - it has been wet! The rain has caused good growth in the plant collection but also plenty of weeds in garden beds and knee-high grass on lawns. On the plus side - the lake hasn't looked this good in years.
Another 300 plant labels have been placed, this time in the rainforest. One young visitor had a good look at them and wondered why one is named 'Fart Bush'? Nothing like observant youngsters!
A long ongoing issue has been wallaby grazing in the Gardens which is why we've used cages around individual plants over the years. However, our desire to keep wallabies from nibbling away completely at the Gardens led us to erect a new fence last year. Some of the wallabies found themselves 'on the inside', so volunteers and staff have been busy trying to herd them back out into the bush.
Finally, the few blades of grass that once were the Scribbly Lawn below the car park, gave way to trenches, timber and mud this summer. The lawn renovations are now rapidly taking shape, with construction of an amphitheatre that will seat 200 people. Soon there will be lots of green grass too and without doubt the facility will be put to good use. In the meantime, if you are in the area drop by for a walk or a picnic and enjoy the plants and animals of the Gardens.
Baited Remote Underwater Video has the catchy acronym of BRUV. It's a system for monitoring fish abundance without having to get wet. Basically, a BRUV is a video camera sealed within a PVC pipe with clear perspex at one end. This pipe is set within a sturdy metal frame. Attached to the frame is a bait arm in the video camera's field of view.
The BRUV is taken to a likely place to monitor fish, such as a rocky reef. There the bait basket is loaded with pilchards, the camera is switched on, and the BRUV lowered into the water. After about half an hour the BRUV is retrieved and the video downloaded. The fish attracted to the bait can then be identified and counted.
We have two BRUVs within Commonwealth waters, both installed in December 2010. So far we have turned up a wide variety of fish including bream, mado, morwong, yellowtail, grouper, flathead, moray eels and lots of Port Jackson sharks. Depending on your view, it's fortunate or unfortunate that we haven't seen any big sharks yet!
Keeping Booderee clean and green
Booderee is leading the way with its recycling programs - we're constantly improving our facilities to help visitors and our environment.
If you've visited us recently you might have noticed that longer locking chains have been fitted to the park's recycling bins. This is so we can increase the size of the bottles and other objects people can recycle - the bins now take any items up to a 10-litre water container for recycling.
Keep in mind that there are some items that just can't be recycled - plastic bags for example - so if you can put your rubbish in the right bin it certainly helps us keep Booderee clean and green for everyone.