The Friends of Mound Springs group held its main working bee for 2018 from 19 to 25 May. Participants were Bruce and Sherrie Gotch, Alan Williams, Lynn and Kate Brake, Rick Moore, John Tagell, Ross Smith, Bernice Cohen and Simon Lewis. Colin Harris was a late withdrawal with a thumb fracture.
Conditions were fine throughout with some cloud cover on 20 May but otherwise mainly sunny. Day temperatures 22 to 25 and night temperatures around 8 to 12 degrees.
Participants travelled independently to Roxby Downs on 19 May, before heading up the Borefield Road to camp on the Gregory Creek about 100km north of Olympic Dam.
Over the ensuing four days the group applied itself the following tasks:
- Monitoring of three springs (Beatrice, Bopeechee and HBO004) on Finniss Springs. These springs were burnt in 2016 as a trial primarily to assess options for the management of prolific growth of reeds (Phragmites). In a 2017 inspection, it was noted that horses on Finniss Springs were impacting on both Bopeechee and HBO 004. The 2018 inspection showed that the Phragmites regrowth at Bopeechee has now been grazed to ground level by the horses. Impacts by horses have therefore compromised the effectiveness of this trial. FOMS plans to continue monitoring at these springs but the value of this exercise in monitoring the response of Phragmites to fire has been diminished.
- Maintenance of the walking trail and replenishment of brochures at Strangways Springs. The walking trails were in good condition although there are sections of the Springs Walk that would benefit from clearer definition. In addition, the temporary sign warning people not to climb the Cutting Grass Spring will need replacement in the next year or two. The bayonet gates at Strangways remain in good order
- Installation of new signage and walking trail maintenance at the Peake Overland Telegraph site (see separate item in this newsletter about the new signage). As at Strangways, the walking trails at the Peake were in good shape, requiring only minor attention. Some members of the group proffered the view that the Creek Walk could be improved by extending the formal trail out to the cemetery – something for further consideration.
The group also noted some recent vandalism at the Peake carpark. Three of fifteen timber bollards – installed by FOMS ten years ago to define the carpark and prevent unwanted vehicle access to the site – had been removed, apparently to be used as firewood. The FOMS group constructed a low stone wall to block the gap created but a more lasting solution will be needed. The current plan is to replace all of the timber bollards with UV stable recycled plastic bollards.
Following the work at the Peake, the FOMS group journeyed south to Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park, to tackle two main tasks:
- Check on cattle intrusion into the Park, particularly in the southern sections. It has been evident for some time that the Park boundary fence has weak points at one or two drainage lines, enabling cattle to access the Park from the neighbouring pastoral property. While cattle were still present at Buttercup Spring, it was evident that fencing repair work was underway to rectify the situation and FOMS has been advised that this is a result of a cooperative approach between the Department for Environment and Water and the managers of the adjoining Stuart Creek property. (During a subsequent inspection in early July 2018, no cattle were noted within the )
- An initial reconnaissance to assess the potential of establishing a walking trail from near Blanche Cup out to the extinct mound spring that is Hamilton Hill. This showed that there is potential for an interesting walk, but to make it really worthwhile the walk should venture to the top of Hamilton Hill. The difficulty is that for the most part the slopes of Hamilton Hill are steep and stony and a safe access route for public use has not yet been identified. If a preferred route is identified there will need to be a formal assessment and approvals process involving the Department for Environment and Water and the Arabana people.
At Wabma Kadarbu the two main interpretive signs at Blanche Cup had deteriorated and this information has since been passed on to Department for Environment and Water staff. A brief inspection of Little Bubbler spring was also undertaken. This spring is of interest in that it was free of Phragmites until the early 2000s. Some growth of Phragmites was noted at the spring vent at that time but its rate of spread since that time has been quite limited – just two or three metres around the spring vent. The factors affecting the establishment and spread of Phragmites are still not fully understood.
The FOMS working bee concluded in style, with lunch at the Curdimurka Siding on the return journey and a final night at the Eldo Hotel at Woomera. Many thanks to all.