The Little Bubbler is a relatively modest spring near Blanche Cup and the Bubbler in Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park. The spring’s vegetation has been monitored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since the mid 1980s. For most of this time, the vegetation at the spring vent and along much of the tail has comprised an almost pure stand of bore-drain sedge, Cyperus laevigatus.
However, during the last two or three years, the common reed, Phragmites, has become established at the spring vent. Phragmites is indigenous to many mound springs, but often has a tendency to grow vigorously to the exclusion of other spring vegetation. This has been noted at several springs fenced by the Department in the 1980s (e.g. Big Perry, the Fountain, Twelve Mile) and at Finniss Springs following destocking.
It is possible that Phragmites was introduced to the Little Bubbler on the shoes of researchers or monitoring personnel and therefore may not be a truly natural introduction. Although Phragmites is not yet proliferating at this spring, it may have the potential to do so.
The question therefore arises: should FOMS be suggesting to DENR that active steps be taken to remove Phragmites from the Little Bubbler? Some of us think the answer to this question is “yes” but any comments from FOMS members on this would be welcome.
Another point of interest about the Little Bubbler is the propensity for its tail to change direction from time to time. The left-hand fork in the tail in the above photograph is a recent “break-out”. The new tails tend to be colonised by species such as Cyperus quite rapidly.
FOMS members had a busy time in May 2011 establishing a series of walking trails at Strangways Springs and the Peake. Both sites are of national importance because of their combination of mound springs and ruins of Overland Telegraph repeater stations.
FOMS has been involved in protective works at the two locations for the last three years. FOMS has worked with S Kidman & Co and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the installation of protective fencing and informative signage. Much of the recent protective work has focussed on the Peake, where fencing was constructed in 2010 to prevent indiscriminate vehicle access to the nearby gidgee creek-line. This complemented earlier work by FOMS volunteers (in 2008) to establish bollards around the main car-park.
In 2010 FOMS was fortunate to secure a State Government community NRM grant of $9,600 to complete this work by establishing self-guided walks through the springs and other cultural features at both Strangways and the Peake, an initiative which had been previously suggested to FOMS by S Kidman & Co Managing Director Greg Campbell. During 2010 there were two trips by FOMS personnel to determine the routes for the walking trails.
The project came to a climax in May this year when 26 FOMS volunteers gathered on site with mattocks, rakes and scrapers to develop, as well as blisters and sore backs, a total of about 6 km of walking trails. The group was guided by trail construction experts Rob Marshall and Dr Sue Barker, with trail markers established at points of interest and brochures prepared to guide walkers around the trail loops.
Many thanks go to the following helpers who made it all possible:
Hadyn and Chris Hanna
Leigh and John Childs
Anne and Bjarne Jensen
Leigh and John Childs
Bruce and Sherrie Gotch
Alan and Marlene Swinstead
Dean and Marian Harris
Brendan and Elizabeth Lay
During the Strangways work the group had a brief visit from DENR’s Regional Manager Geoff Axford, along with Janet Walton from the SA Arid Lands NRM Board. On the same day a convoy comprising Roger Wickes, Peter Allen and Andrew McTaggart and partners also dropped in. The camp-fire was quite crowded that night! The visitors had a quick guided tour over the walking trails and provided some positive feedback.
There are now three walks at each location. At Strangways, the Mound Springs Walk takes visitors on a 1.8km walk around several active springs and the cemetery; the Woolwash Walk (2.2km) ventures down to the ruins of the wool-scouring plant and back along the springs plateau; and the Settlement Walk is guided by signs identifying each of the buildings. At the Peake, the Coppertop Smelter and Mine Walk (1.5km) explores the old mine and smelter and provides sweeping vistas of the springs and ruins on the return loop; the Creek and Cemetery Walk provides a short 0.6km loop along the watercourse; and the Settlement Walk showcases the old buildings.
The completion of the physical works in May paved the way for finalisation of three FOMS brochures – one each for the Strangways and Peake walks and a third with general information on mound springs. The brochures are of a high quality and the input and assistance of a number of FOMS members was very much appreciated.
Twelve thousand brochures have been printed and 4000 were transported to the on-site dispensers by Colin Harris and Simon Lewis 7-10 August 2011.
Pictured are the first visitors to use the brochures at Strangways Springs on 8 August, Heather and Tracey Mahon from Sydney.
This work effectively completes a major and very successful project for FOMS at Strangways and the Peake, although ongoing maintenance of the trails will be needed and the brochures will need to be topped up from time to time.
Many thanks again to all who have contributed, especially the FOMS members who worked tirelessly on the construction of the trails. Special thanks are extended to Rob Marshall and Dr Sue Barker, walking trails experts who generously contributed a great deal of time and effort before, during and after the construction work. The high standard of the completed work is in no small measure due to their commitment and expertise.