Friends of The Steppes Annual Report for 2016-17

The Mountain Hut Preservation Society volunteer group restoration of the outbuildings between 2010–14, gave a great boost of enthusiasm to friends of The Steppes Reserve. It became a pleasant site to work, and increased the visitor numbers. 33 working bees have been held since March 2016,, when the Friends of The Steppes was formally organised . Highlights of the year have included the removal of pine trees with the help of a contracted truck & excavator operator, that were obstructing the growth and access to a row of Banksia marginata. These were planted in 1975-6, in memory of Madge Wilson, who was the last member of the Wilson family‚Äôs 112 yrs era at the Reserve. As a result a Banksia Garden area is being established ; a rustic seat constructed from donated timber is already in place . Rain & deep snow laying for a number of weeks further deteriorated the Homestead weatherboards. In conjunction with PWS, our group organised for builders to inspect, repair and paint the building ; work is ready to begin. Maintenance of the outbuildings is continual in this environment, such as replacing shingles on the toilet roofs, PO tank repairs & repairing of heritage damp affected wallpaper in the Studio, the cleaning & stocking the toilets, cutting barbecue fire wood, gate repairs, cutting & removal of fallen trees and debris , weeding ,and grass cutting are regular tasks in the Homestead area and the Sculpture track . A number of large groups have visited this year, including 40 members of the Small Ford car group, and 38 members of the Tasmanian Historical Research Ass: then 24 from the Sunny Coasters Painting group. They are to exhibit their paintings at The Steppes on the weekend of March 18th–19th. A historical guided tour is always provided for such groups, likewise visitors are welcomed and offered a brief history of the buildings and the Wilson family when we are there on working bee days each 2nd week end 4 seasonal bird surveys have been done by Sally Bryant TLC and a UTAS student this year, results are available on request . The historical photographic display established earlier in the Homestead, also is displayed on working bee days. Reports of working bee days are forwarded to PWS and frequently written for the Monthly Highland Digest, which is circulated throughout the Central Highland Municipality Anne Thwaites ..Secretary