Friends of Melaleuca WILDCARE

March 2024—time for the Friends of Melaleuca annual working bee!

Melaleuca Lagoon (Photo, Justin Marshall)

A group of enthusiastic volunteers hopped off the plane onto the white gravel of the Melaleuca airstrip to join those who had come by boat. A couple of new faces joined the gang this year and it was lovely to meet the new PWS Volunteer Coordinator, Emmalene Maher.

Happy volunteers gather around

Our group gathered for an induction from Ranger Steve Locke and Emmalene, followed by a BBQ by the river. Dan Rowe, newly appointed Ranger for the Southwest, also joined the team. Debra and Russell, the PWS caretakers, were very supportive and helpful and it was lovely also to have Ian Marmion (retired Ranger in Charge, Huonville) joining us as a volunteer.


At Claytons, Mark, the bricklayer, had a job in store. Bricks, delivered by Bob and Sue on Georges Bay, awaited us. The fireplace in this heritage cottage had some issues with old deteriorating bricks, rusty lintels and very awkward flashing on the exterior flu. Mark and Chris tackled this restoration project while Ian, Emm and Rob worked on track clearing, weed removal and other maintenance jobs.


At Melaleuca North the weather smiled intermittently on the roof-painting team. Our new volunteer, Justin, had admitted to professional roof painting in the past, so was immediately snapped up for a job along with Kings roofing stalwarts, Mel and David. They were confronted with a bunch of broomsticks, buckets and paint and had to work out how to tackle the curved roof. A moment of panic set in when the tin lid was lifted to reveal a gaudy purple, but a good stir set the colour to the good old heritage/manor red. A soft broom works very well on a corrugated iron roof and the long handles helped to reach the awkward spots with the help of brushes and a trusty roll of duct tape.

General Maintenance

Meanwhile the persistent buzz of the brushcutter indicated that Ian was hard at work, while two white, billowing apparitions glided about the mine intent on their fishy business. Richard had his head down in a drain restumping a lean-to shed, came up smiling, and replaced rotted floorboards and weatherboards. The ‘Port Davey Shipwrights Association’ addressed a major leak in Blueboat’s stern and after a few hiccups, began to add sister ribs beside broken ones.

The Stevenson Screen, installed in 1946 and part of the heritage precinct, had a good facelift while some maintenance and improvements at Karina’s, the garden hut accommodation, made quite a difference. David quietly disappeared from time to time, shovel in hand, to clear vegetation and open up clogged drains.

At Melaleuca South, the ‘Panama Canal’ emerged from the jungle and even beats ‘Butlers Gorge’, one of David’s earlier feats. The team replaced the deteriorated gutter on the Smelter, completed maintenance jobs at Willson’s and inspected general infrastructure to pin point further maintenance work.


While there are few weeds around Melaleuca, due to acid and waterlogged soil and vigorous native vegetation, there are some persistent ones that require vigilance in the old gardens — Montbretia, Watsonia, Foxglove and Rhododendron ponticum. Foxgloves had not been seen at Claytons for years (thanks Emm for noticing and weeding these seedlings) and have probably popped up due to clearing around the house. There is a push to list foxglove as a declared weed in Tasmania. The seeds can be viable in the soil for 68 years (NRE Tas, Weed Risk Assessment: Foxglove), so we’ll have to continue to pull out the babies for another few years.

FoM achieved a lot during the week. (This is just the tip of the iceberg. A full report will be available on FoM’s Files page in due course). Even so, we managed to include a recreation day.

Thank you!

Thanks Andrew for the very pleasant cruise in perfect weather on Bathurst Harbour aboard ‘Juliet’. Volunteers also had time to wander the Needwonnee walk and admire Melaleuca Lagoon.

Thanks volunteers, PWS staff and caretakers for a happy and productive week.