October 16 - 22, 2022: Issue 558



By Geoff Searl OAM

In 1962 the Wildlife Preservation Society pushed for the Angophora Reserve to be handed over to a Management Committee to be under the direct control of Warringah Shire Council.

This committee was to be known as the 530A Committee and was to oversee the preservation of the reserve so that passive bushwalking could take place in an area where native animals would have the freedom and security of their natural surroundings. 

Initially a lot of work was done by voluntary workers – especially clearing lantana and bridging small watercourses. Other later work included the planting of waratahs and the construction of a small parking area at the Palmgrove Road entrance to the reserve. 

Unfortunately the initial 530A Committee didn’t last long as members moved out of the area and some passed on.

However in 1968 the management committee was reactivated and together with the assistance of Pittwater Rotary and early local resident Bert Payne (of Payne’s Timber in Newport) a timber gateway at the Palmgrove Road entrance was constructed. 

The Avalon Preservation Association (formed as the Avalon Preservation Trust in 1967) had one delegate on the new 530A committee but had many members active in the reserve planting grey gums (Eucalyptus punctata) the food tree for the koalas.

This photo shows members of the newly-formed APT erecting the gateway at the Palmgrove Road entrance to Angophora Reserve in 1968 with the help of Bert Payne from Payne Timbers at Newport. The guy with the rake is Sid Roberts who built the squash courts in Old Barrenjoey Road. The guy with the ‘rings’ around his biceps is our first doctor - John Sanders. Under the ‘g’ is a local builder Roly Jeffrey talking to Bert Payne. - Geoff Searl OAM, Photo: ABHS

In 1976 a new 530A Committee was elected and this time with 5 members of the Avalon Preservation Trust (APT), 2 members of the Pittwater Flora and Fauna Society and 2 residents whose homes bordered the reserve. They endeavoured to get residents bordering the reserve to help reduce the invasive weeds especially by not throwing grass clippings over the common fences and where possible clearing the lantana and any non-native plants from the common boundaries. 

The reserve is dominated by remnant forest and woodland vegetation communities especially the Spotted Gum Open Forest and the Cabbage Tree Palm stands. It contains the only known existing population around Sydney of the Elbow Orchid Arthrochilus prolixus and also provides significant examples of vegetation communities and fauna habitats that are under threat. The fauna of the reserve is rich in parrots and mammals, especially the long nosed bandicoot which has become scarce in a number of Sydney suburbs.

Only recently and on 3 separate occasions, a wallaby was spotted in the reserve, on 2 of those occasions by our bushcare workers.

The significance of all these features is the reason why, in 1989 after a 10 year campaign lead by Connie Adams, the reserve has been included on the Australian Heritage Commission’s Register of the National Estate.

Traditionally the reserve would have been drier in much earlier times, especially with the north-facing aspect but the impact of people has brought changes to the environment.

Residents have brought water to the area with housing, gutters and drains etc. along with pollutants which has loaded up gullies resulting in a rich growth of weeds over parts of the reserve. 

Intermittent attempts to reduce the weed growth were made over the years but 18.5 hectares is a huge area to control, even with Pittwater’s bush regeneration contractors. So in 2010 I contacted Ben Coddington, one of the Bushcare Officers in the environmentally-aware Pittwater Council with a view to forming a bushcare group. He conferred with Karin Nippard and together (and with their keenness) the group got underway in August 2010 with our first work-day in from the Wandeen Road entrance.

Our group meets on the 3rd Sunday of each month and work from one of the 4 entrances to the reserve. Although Bilwara Avenue entrance doesn’t access the main track, what happens up there is often the precursor for further down into the reserve, especially via the watercourses which carry the weeds down into the reserve. The main track is accessed either by the Palmgrove Road entrance or Wandeen Road from the top.

The other entrance is from the cul-de-sac end of Chisholm Avenue, the northern extremity of the reserve which also links up with the main track near the Wandeen Road entrance.

We start at 8.30am and finish around 11.30am depending on the weather. Morning tea happens sometime around 10.30am and usually makes the effort well worthwhile.

Some mornings we have even been welcomed and treated to the stunning calls of the Australian Golden Whistler! 

On top of all this is the knowing that you are helping to conserve one of the very special bushland reserves in our area.

Tool belts are provided and new members are shown what tool to use for which weed and which ones must be treated using chemical intervention. There are some rather unpleasant ‘imposters’ which mimic the true native they copy and our supervisor spends time with the new members to point out the difference. Hazard Reduction Burns have been used but are only used under very tight conditions and we usually come along afterwards and ‘clean up’ any residual weeds around the burnt area. Of course they are carried out by contractors.

Especially at the Bilwara Avenue entrance there is a large area of infestation of the ‘mother of millions’ (Bryophyllum delagoense), which are usually picked out by hand and disposed of. Some of them are very small and as the name implies, proliferate in huge amounts.

We have been delighted to have had the support on 3 occasions of students working on the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme – a win-win situation for all!

Sadly we lost what has been labelled the largest Angophora costata in Australia and the reason why A. J. Small helped establish the reserve in the first place, constructing fences around the entrance to the reserve and encouraging new residents to respect the area. 

Arthur Jabez Small and the Old Girl, pre-1954 - photo ABHS, Geoff Searl OAM

The environment of the reserve is so unique and specialised the tree may have been the largest in the world. In the 1990s Arborist Judy Fakes claimed that the tree had simply reached advanced senescence and there was nothing anybody could do to save her. However she encouraged us all including councils to ‘maintain sympathetic management practices within the reserve to allow younger specimens of Angophora costata to reach similar dimensions’. 

The plaque just beyond the Palmgrove Road entrance commemorates the incredible dedication by local Connie Adams to the environment of the area. She was very much involved in the formation of the Avalon Preservation Trust and the original 530A committee to oversee the reserve. She also was responsible for the documentation submitted to government to secure the listing of the reserve on the National Estate.

To get involved with the Angophora Reserve Bushcare Group please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or visit Council's webpage which lists how you can get involved in your local bushcare group. Visit: https://www.bushcare-volunteers and email me, Geoff, for more details at here.


Grand Old Tree Of Angophora Reserve Falls Back To The Earth

From Issue 549  by GS and AG
President of the Avalon Beach Historical Society, Geoff Searl OAM, contacted this news service sending through the following photos of the grand old tree that gave its name to Angophora Reserve in Avalon Beach.

Geoff said; ''it was noticed yesterday (Friday August 5th, 2022) that the 450 years old Angophora costata has decided it ’s too tiresome to stand up any longer, so she fell over probably with the assistances of the strong westerlies we’ve had lately.

I know you’ve got some pics of her when she was young and beautiful but here are a couple of pics of her yesterday.

She was really hard to shoot because of her massiveness.


Geoff provides: ''This photo shows the official opening of the Angophora Reserve on March 19th, 1938 by Sir Phillip Street (KCMG). Much of the groundwork to enable the purchase of the land by the Wildlife Preservation Society in 1937 was done by Thistle Harris. The reserve cost the Society £364 19 shillings and 7 pence (which converts to around 730 dollars!).''  - photo courtesy ABHS

Arthur Jabez Small and the Old Girl, pre-1954 - photo courtesy ABHS - Geoff Searl OAM

The original 7 acres that comprised this bushland reserve was provided to the Wildlife Preservation Society at half its value through the advocacy of A J Small, who was still pursuing his green vision of open parklands and interlinked  bush reserves as well as wide thoroughfares for Avalon Beach.

Angophora Reserve is located in the core of the Barrenjoey Peninsula bordering the suburbs of Avalon, Clareville and Taylors Point. It consists of 18.5 hectares of bushland containing five plant communities.
This in turn provides significant habitat values for a range of native fauna species acting as an island and refuge for flora and fauna in the urban environment. It also forms a significant part of Barrenjoey
Peninsula’s remnant bushland, and as such plays a significant role as part of a wildlife corridor. 

The total area of 18.5 hectares comprises of 3 hectares of Angophora Reserve to the east (volume 4828, Folio 108, Transfer 1. 141993, 26.6.1942, Lots 355, 387, 388, 524, D.P. 16902 Palmgrove Road and the Circle, Avalon) and the 15.5 hectares that was formally known as Hudson Park to the west (volume 84230, Folio 160, Subdivision Reserve in D.P. 13291, off Hudson Parade, Avalon). 

When the bush reserve was purchased in 1937 W.G. Kett, W.G. Stead and T.Y Harris were appointed trustees.

The NSW HRLV provides under Volume 4828, Folio 108:

Angophora Reserve notes from Warringah Shire Council Records show:

March 15th, 1938: 37. Wild Life Preservation Society, 6/3/38, inviting the Councillors to the Official Opening of the Angophora Reserve at Avalon at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 19th inst., the said Reserve having been set aside by the Society for the preservation of a giant example of the Sydney Red Gum and other flora. Council stated; That the Society be informed it is regretted no one will be able to be present.

Ordinary Meeting, 14/10/41. 32. E. O. Hanson, 6/10/41, re Angophora Reserve, Avalon, expressing pleasure at its transfer to the Council, and stating he is unable to carry out the duties of Honorary Ranger owing Reserve to ill-health, and suggesting that Dr. Eric Pockley would be an excellent man for the position. The Council Resolved: That inquiries be made whether Dr. Pockley is a permanent resident of Avalon, and if he is, he be invited to accept the position of Honorary Ranger of the Reserve: (Crs. O'Reilly, Bathe)

Reports from the newspapers of that time provide details of the official opening:

Centre of New Reserve.

'Set aside by' the Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia, primarily for the preservation of a giant example of the Sydney red-gum (Angophora lanceolata), the Angophora Reserve, at Avalon, was officially opened on Saturday afternoon by Sir Philip Street. 

The president of the society (Mr. W. G. Kett) said the reserve was a memorial to the line work in the cause of science done by their secretary, Mr. D. G. Stead.

Sir Philip Street said that the society, in preserving this great tree as a natural monument and setting apart the area with its interesting fauna and flora, was rendering a public service. 

The magnificent angophora, on which many axemen must have cast covetous eyes, was, he had been told, about 1,000 years old.

Mr. Kett said that, in the reserve, which contained about six and a half acres, there were many varieties of Australian trees and shrubs, and it was also the rendezvous of some of the most beautiful Australian birds. 

Other speakers were the president of Warringah Shire, Councillor Green, Messrs. R. T. Baker, and D. G. Stead.

The reserve is a fine example of Australian bush land, rising from a small valley to the top of a hill overlooking the coast and Broken Bay. About 150 persons attended Saturday's function. 

After the function, the visitors were entertained at afternoon tea by the society at the Avalon Golf House. 

ANCIENT RED GUM. (1938, March 21).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17450337 

Beautiful, isn't it? 
A magnificent redgum, probably 1000 years old, has been "dedicated" in the six-acre Angophora Reserve at Avalon. We wonder who will sit in the shade of this big tree after another 1000 years? What color will he be, and in what language will they whisper? One thing, will, endure.  The tree is close to the Avalon Golf Links; and whether Redgum lives to be 2000 or 3000 years old; the world will still talk golf. A WINDOW ON THE WORLD (1938, March 22). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 4 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229877986

Preserving Australia's Fauna

The Angophora Reserve, which is the Wild Life Preservation Society's new Bushland Sanctuary at Avalon, N.S.W., was officially opened and dedicated by the Hon. Sir Phillip Street, K.C.M.G., on Saturday last, March 19th. This reserve had been set aside primarily for the preservation of a giant 'example of the Sydney Red Gum (Angophora lanceolata) as a national monument. Owing to the junction of two great geological forms (Hawkesbury sandstone and Narrabeen shales) at this spot, the trees and shrubs present many features of interest to the botanist, field naturalist and bush lover. 
THE “ANGOPHORA” RESERVE (1938, March 23). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), p. 7. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222925110 

The Birds Laughed!
A PARTY of our C.P. girls accompanied Cinderella to Avalon on March 19 to attend the official opening of the Angophora Reserve, a forest sanctuary purchased by the Wild Life Preservation Society and dedicated to the conservation of Sydney's largest redgum (Angophora Ianceolata), a giant possibly 1000 years old, but still in his prime. As the different speakers addressed the guests scattered over the grass, on the importance of preserving our beautiful bush and teaching the young generation to reverence such splendid national treasures as our forests contain, loud applause came from an unexpected quarter. A group of kookaburras had accepted the invitation for all forest-lovers to celebrate the day, and shouted their glee from the branches overhead. It was the mast eloquent of all the tributes paid that day to the value of tree-conservation. Who says that birds can't understand?
The Birds Laughed! (1938, March 30). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 63. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166229598 

Searle, E. W. Red gum, angophora lanceolata, Avalon, New South Wales, circa. 1935-38 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-142184682 


The ceremony took place beneath the giant Angophora (Red Gum) which is estimated to be 1,000 years old. In this native bushland, only one hour's run from the city, flora and fauna will find sanctuary for all time, thanks to the enterprise of Mr. David G. Stead, the Wild Life Preservation Society and Mr. A. J. Small who released the land at a tithe of its value.
THE OPENING CEREMONY, ANGOPHORA PARK, AVALON, 19th MARCH, 1938 (1938, April 6). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222925313 

Another Contribution by A. J. Small
When the history of Avalon is written, one man's name in particular will be outstanding. It is that of Mr. A. J. Small. Not only has he given headlands and parklands to the people to preserve for them vantage points from which ocean views can be seen for all time, but he is still giving. His last act of graciousness was when he gave an area of seven acres of land at half value in order that the Wild Life Preservation Society could acquire its Angophora Park. 

Mr. Small also erected the fence and iron gates, made the approach, built the steps, and cleared the paths so that the giant Angophora (sometimes called Red Gum) which is said to be 1,000 years old and of immense girth, may be viewed in its natural surroundings. At the time of the opening (by Sir Phillip Street on March 19th) there was an improvised orchestra of birds — butcher birds, soldier birds, warblers, and jackasses, in fact a representative from practically all the feathered families — which came down to look curiously on the people who attended the opening and to contribute, to the scene. Afterwards, 100 invited guests accepted Mr. Small's hospitality to afternoon tea at the New Golf House at Avalon. The fine golf course there has not a club.

All visitors can play there on an equal footing, and in this respect it occupies a unique position among the metropolitan golf courses. The new building, illustrated herewith, is of white sandstone with buttressed corners. The internal walls are of brick. In the lower storey are locker and retiring rooms for golfers with hot and cold showers for both sexes. The upper walls are shingled and the roof is covered with semi' glazed brown tiles. It is mainly occupied by a large combined lounge and dining room about 60 feet in length. The flooring is of tallowwood designed for dancing. For log fires in winter, an open fireplace, framed in 9in. x 2in. briquettes, has been provided, with a hearth of 9 feet wide. Manchurian Ash of exceptional figure lines the lounge artistically furnished in autumn tints. The architect for the golf building was E. Lindsay Thompson, and F. C. Fripp, the builder. AVALON (1938, April 6). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), , p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222925312 

Worth Noting:

Appointment of Honorary Rangers.
FAUNA Protection Act, 1948.—The undermentioned persons have been appointed as Honorary Hangers for the purposes of the abovenamed Act:—
Mr. Ronald Arthur Searl, 42 Avalon-parade, Avalon Beach; Mr. Charles Herbert Milnes, Chisholm-avenue, Avalon Beach; Mary Brigid Milnes, Chisholm-avenue, Avalon Beach. 12667) C. A. KELLY. (A. 55S53/A. 55-652) APPOINTMENT OF HONORARY RANGERS. (1955, July 15). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 1948. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article220385455

Appointment of Honorary Rangers.
THE undermentioned persons have been appointed as Honorary Rangers for the purposes of this Act:—
Ronald Arthur Searl, 42 Avalon-parade, Avalon Beach; Charles Herbert Milnes, Chisholm-avenue, Avalon Beach; Mary Brigid Milnes, Chisholm-avenue, Avalon Beach. (2940) J. B. RENSHAW, Minister for Local Government. WILD FLOWERS AND NATIVE PLANTS PROTECTION ACT, 1927-1945. (1955, August 19). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 2387. Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article220386559

Hudson Park was dedicated as a public reserve in 1957. In 1962 a 530A Committee was formed to oversee the two adjoining reserves. Volunteer workers were active in removing weeds and rubbish, building tracks, planting native species and constructing a small parking area in Palmgrove Road. However, the Committee became inactive after the loss of several key members.

The Committee was reformed in 1968 and included representatives of the then Pittwater Flora and Fauna Society, which had maintained a close interest in the reserve since its formation in 1953, and the newly formed Avalon Preservation Trust. Some of the Committee's activities were construction of a gateway at the Palmgrove Road entrance and planting of Grey Gums as Koala food trees.

Suggestions were made for greater development of the reserve, including building a kiosk and charging an entrance fee, but these never received much support. 

This photo shows members of the newly-formed APT erecting the gateway at the Palmgrove Road entrance to Angophora Reserve in 1968 with the help of Bert Payne from Payne Timbers at Newport. The guy with the rake is Sid Roberts who built the squash courts in Old Barrenjoey Road. The guy with the ‘rings’ around his biceps is our first doctor - John  Sanders. Under the ‘g’ is a local builder Roly Jeffrey talking to Bert Payne. - Geoff Searl OAM, Photo Courtesy ABHS

The Angophora Reserve/Hudson Park Management Committee was formed in 1976 and remained active until it was disbanded along with all other Council management committees following Council elections in September 1991.

An early initiative of this Committee was a preliminary development plan drawn up by Don Irving, a landscape architect and member of the Committee. Various matters were addressed in the plan but chiefly it was a proposal for a network of walking tracks. The main walking track between Palmgrove Road and Wandeen Road was constructed in 1985 as a Commonwealth Employment Program. However, the suggested network of tracks has not been followed up, with the present Committee favouring a policy of more limited development.

In 1983 the National Trust was engaged by Warringah Shire Council at the request of the Management Committee to assess the condition of the reserve and its suitability for their weeding methods. Subsequently, in March 1984, the Trust began a regular program of bush regeneration in the reserve, with a team of four working one day per week. The program continued under a yearly contract to Pittwater Council. The team was increased to six in 1987.

On two occasions in 1984 and 1991 the then Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board (Now Sydney Water) installed sewer lines through parts of the reserve. Through the insistence of Council and the Management Committee, the pipes were installed using special machinery and by doing much of the work by hand, to ensure minimal environmental disturbance. The National Trust was engaged to carry out preparation and subsequent regeneration work. The installation of the pipe was a model of sympathetic engineering work in a natural area.

In 1987 Angophora Reserve and Hudson Park were proposed for listing on the Australian Heritage Commission's Register of the National Estate, an inventory of places deemed to be part of Australia's heritage, having special value for future generations as well as the present community.

The area was seen as a bushland sanctuary of considerable social, recreational and educational value to the local community and surrounding region. Special features included the Giant Angophora (believed to be the largest of its species), a koala colony within an urban area, and one of the most significant Aboriginal sites in the Sydney region. 

The application for entry to the Register of the National Estate was approved in 1989.

The release of an 8 years old female back into Angophora Reserve after she had been bombarded by magpies. Taronga Zoo picked her up and nursed her back to health before the release on November 5th, 1989. Doug Bladen and Marita Macrae are in the background representing the Avalon Preservation Trust (now APA). Photo by Geoff Searl OAM

Previously an Angophora Reserve and Hudson Park Management Committee aided in the management of the reserve. Following the creation of the Pittwater Council, the Pittwater Reserves and Bushland Management Committee replaced this function. 

Today, the Angophora Reserve volunteer bush care group meet on the 3rd Sunday of each month usually at the Palmgrove Road entrance.

Below run some photographs taken over the years by this news service - a pictorial celebration of one of our older and special reserves. The route taken to get these was from the Palmgrove entrance to the Clareville end exit. 

Geoff at Angophora Reserve - January, 2019

Grand Old Tree Of Angophora Reserve Falls Back To The Earth - by A J Guesdon, 2022

Bushcare In Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or visit Council's webpage which lists how you can get involved in your local bushcare group. Visit: https://www.bushcare-volunteers

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                       1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                        4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland             2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay               4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach             3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                   1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                        1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve            1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve               3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin       1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                 2nd Saturday +3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                      4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                 3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach           4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                     2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                 2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes     3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                     2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                      1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                  3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands          1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                          1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay   2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay       1st Monday                          9 - 12noon