Sisters Beach Wildcare – Building a Community Nature Trail at Our Local Estuary
An Evolving Nature Trail at Sisters Beach Wildcare
Protecting Our Paperbark Woodland
For the past three years, Sisters Beach Wildcare have been working to help protect and regenerate the paperbark woodland around our estuary. This is partly to counter the effects of high impact sea surges that occasionally flood the site, bringing in debris that knocks down paperbark seedlings. By replanting and protecting paperbark seedlings, after three years we have begun to have some success in turning around these negative impacts, no doubt arriving partly as a result of climate change.
Planning for a Nature Trail and Picnic Mound
In recent times the sea surges have also been regularly flooding the back of the paperbark woodland site, where an old playground was located. With the removal of the play equipment to the newer playground further up the hill, two years ago, Waratah-Wynyard Council and the local community agreed that Sisters Beach Wildcare could take over the old playground site, to help protect and re-vegetate the area.
In 2022, we came up with a plan to install a picnic mound at the site (so that parts of the site were protected from flooding) and develop a nature trail as part of our revegetation of the area. This would also serve to introduce local residents and visitors to some of our fabulous local native plants, and suggest ways they can use these in their gardens, including as support of the wildlife that lives in and around Sisters Beach village.
Revegetating the Trail and Mound and Adding a Sculpture
Since the picnic mound and major paths were installed in September 2022, with financial and planning support from Council, our group has been focused on building mini-trails running off the main trail, and we have started to put plants along these, and around the mound.
We have also installed the first of a series of signs, telling people what the plants are, how they can use them in their gardens, and in what ways they are useful to wildlife.
In parallel with this, Council has worked with an arts advisory group and regional artists, to design, build and install a sculpture on the mound. With a recent change of colour, this sculpture now complements and reflects the wonderful biodiversity of the paperbark woodland.
A Very Successful Autumn and Spring 2023
Sisters Beach Wildcare has just ended our Spring planting period, during which we were able to put in over four hundred plants, on and around the mound, towards the main path, behind the mound and up towards the back. By next Spring the whole site should be alive with blooming native wildflowers!
We also achieved the following:
- Led by two of our experienced volunteers, with assistance from two others, we had a very successful stand at the Wynyard City Tulip festival, leading to this article on our project in ‘The Advocate’.
- At the instigation of one of our members, our works coordinator gave a talk on our project to Burnie Rotary, which was well received, and led to discussion about other sea-surge impacts along the Northern Tasmanian coastline.
- We now have detailed plans for development of the paths, seat platforms and frog hollow for Stage 2 at the back of the project site – the plan is to have these constructed in late November.
- It has just been confirmed that we have received a Wildcare TNCF grant. This will provide funds for additional plants, stakes and tree guards, as well as for buying a second cart to carry equipment to and around the site, and some large carry tubs.
- With support from Council for conference registration, one of us was able to attend the Tasmania Landcare conference (along with several additional members, who are also members of another Landcare group), which resulted in lots of great networking and information for our project. Key amongst this was the realisation that many community groups working on coastal projects are seeing serious erosion happening, and that we probably need to network more to get a picture across Tasmania of how many areas are
being affected. We also talked about the serious issue of cat impacts on wildlife, and cat control. And there were insights into how to better protect and support our threatened wildlife, such as bandicoots and quolls.
We had a great turn-up (11 people) for our final Spring planting day. Overall, in Spring, we ran 4 working bees, with a total turn-up of 35 person half days – which amounts to more than 100 volunteer hours – a great effort!
Our Next Steps – Nature Trail Stage 2 and Beyond
It is now confirmed that, in late November the paths and seat platforms in Stage 2 will be installed by contractors down at the site, with funding and overall coordination from Waratah- Wynyard Council. We continue to have great relationships with Council, who have also
provided some funding for plants, stakes and guards to go around these new paths and seating areas.
We are also currently coordinating with the coordinator of the Waratah-Wynyard ‘Pause Places Project’ based at the Cradle Coast Authority, to see if some seating and other amenities can be installed at some of the seating and Frog Hollow areas.
We are looking forward excitedly to 2024 and beyond, as our plants get established and grow, and our local residents and visitors discover our Nature Trail, and find ways to relax, enjoy the facilities we are putting in, and learn about our local environment.