August 28 - September 3, 2022: Issue 552


Spring Is Sprung!

On Thursday this week, September 1st, Spring commences which means you made it Pittwater! There may still be a few snow winds around but we're heading towards the beginning opf the Patrol Season on beaches, LOTS of flowers out in our bushland reserves and much more light as days lengthen.

Above is one of the baby kookaburras currently flitting around the garden here at Pittwater Online headquarters, on this occasion being hassled by the resident pair of butcher birds - they're nesting too!


Stony Range Regional Botanical Garden: Some History On How A Reserve Became An Australian Plant Park + Current Photos

The wonderful Stony Range Flora and Fauna Reserve Volunteers - 2021 photo. 
Stony Range Flora and Fauna Reserve celebrated its Diamond Jubilee as a Flora and Fauna Reserve on September 2nd, 2021. 

On September 2nd 1961 the Stony Range Flora and Fauna Reserve was officially opened, although it had been gazetted under this name in 1959, and then became a Botanic Garden of Australian Bushland in 2006. The Reserve itself was set aside as a place for recreation for the public in 1886.

With thanks to dedicated volunteers over the years it has developed into the calm oasis of bushland it is today with a picnic area, accessible paths for all, cascades and children's areas. The garden is jointly managed by Northern Beaches Council and a Volunteer Advisory Committee. It is free and open every day except Christmas.

Stony Range Botanic Garden has several microclimates: the rainforest gully, the sandstone heath, and the lush ecosystem of the Federation Cascades. The waterfalls that form the Federation Cascades were constructed by volunteers in 2001 to commemorate 100 years of Federation in Australia. Since then they have created their own ecosystem and now abound in lush plants and ferns.

Intricate walkways take visitors to these microclimates. The main circuit takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and in 2013 was extended to include the accessible sensory track - where people of all abilities can experience the Australian bush like never before. Signs along the sensory track point to plants you can touch, taste, smell, and look at, to observe the garden with all your senses. There are also side tracks for the energetic and inquisitive.

After half a century of growth, the rainforest gully is regarded as one of Alec Blombery's (one of the garden's founding members) greatest achievements in the reserve. When Stony Range was first created, the area along the main creekline was badly infested with noxious weeds such as lantana and privet. Today, it is a cool oasis populated with cedar, coachwood, flame trees, hoop pine, lilly pilly, ferns and palms.

The site of the sandstone heath in the upper area of the reserve was part of the stone quarry which was reclaimed with soil fill. Today there is a collection of grasses, grevilleas and banksias which all create a picturesque display at different times of the year.

Stony Range volunteers have a variety of activities to suit all levels of participation. Volunteer sessions run on Tuesday mornings 9am-12pm and Saturday afternoons 2-4pm.

The nursery is also open for sales and advice during these times. Stony Range Volunteer Position Description(Opens in a new window). If you would like to become a volunteer contact

A few weeks ago Pittwater Online News' Parks and Reserves photographer Joe Mills visited this lovely little oasis on the south hill overlooking Dee Why to catch a pre-Spring preview. Some of Joe's photos run on this special Spring Commences history page this Issue.

The great team of volunteers who look after this Reserve report this week that many of the bushflowers endemic to our area are now flowering and it's a great place to visit even when not celebrating a Diamond Anniversary.  

Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, it was necessary to cancel the Diamond Jubilee 60 years Anniversary Spring Festival that was planned for Sunday 12th September 2021 but there are festivities going ahead this year instead.  A special Spring Festival celebration will take place this year on Sunday 9th October in conjunction with the Northern Beaches Group of the Australian Plants Society.

There will be native plants for sale plus many displays, music on the stage, live native animals, children's fun activities, a BBQ and coffee shop. More details on that soon - but first, a look into where this great park for the people commenced and some of the efforts the residents and council have made for over a century to make this one of the best reserves in our area.



Save The Northern Beaches Bushlands Community Meeting + Department Of Planning Creates 'Aboriginal Planning Concierge' And Appoints 13 New People To The Sydney District And Regional Planning Panels

Wombat in Belrose, February 2022. Video supplied.

On Sunday August 21st members of the Save the Northern Beaches Bushlands group and concerned residents met at Belrose and heard from speakers including Councillor Kristyn Glanville, Dr. Conny Harris, Julia Walsh Chair of Save Manly Dam Catchment and Uncle Laurie Bimson, who gave the Welcome to Country.

The meeting was held in regard to the decision the Minister for Planning made to approve the draft development delivery plans for six sites of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal Lands, despite a huge community response against such draft development delivery plans including members of the local Aboriginal community.

Julia Walsh pointed out that this plan is about hundreds of hectares of wildlife habitat, noting that 13 species went extinct in Australia last year. The proposal frames yet again the short-term financial gain expected by some at the cost of the long-term view and that the community is up against people whose job it is to eliminate any hurdles and ensure such developments go ahead, whatever the cost.

Both Dr. Harris and Ms Walsh pointed out it is important for the community to document what is in these areas themselves and make others aware of the critically endangered plant species and listed as endangered wildlife species specific to these sites. 

''Petitions will not be enough, protests will not be enough - the community needs to create as individuals and as one whole a 'tsunami of pushing back' against more destruction'' listeners heard. 

There were calls to showcase all the animals and flora that were missing from the documents presented, although, as shown in last week's Department of Planning and Environment announcement for Sydney's Koalas in the south area, both NSW government departments will forward development plans, regardless of the state or commonwealth listing for species, such as koalas, and will relegate what is left of any eco-system to 'tree museum' status to facilitate the same.

Koalas!!!  Sighted recently in the Belrose area. (exact location withheld as per NPWS policy) UPDATE: This koala sighting has been entered into Bionet/Wildlife Atlas.”

Please help to keep koalas safe. Their biggest threats are:

* dog attacks - please keep your pets away from wildlife

* vehicles - slow down for wildlife particularly on Wakehurst Parkway, Mona Vale Road and Forest Way

* habitat destruction - over development on the NB is a major threat to our koalas and could eventually wipe them out.

In a sad era for our native wildlife it's an exciting time for us at WIRES to learn that there are in fact koalas still living amongst us. Here are some photos courtesy of @lisa.spinks1 WIRES

The sites and their sizes are know as:

  • Lizard Rock & Morgan Rd - 71ha
  • Aquatic Drive - 1.93 ha
  • Forestway Belrose – 2.7 ha
  • Corymbia Circuit – 11.8 ha
  • Paxton St – 4.4 ha
  • Ralston Ave – 135ha

At present the Save the Northern Beaches Bushlands group are collecting signatures on a petition with the aim to get enough to have the decision debated in parliament. They are also asking everyone to write to their local minister on this matter.

The group is calling for the NSW Government to:

  • Repeal the amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021, so that the 227.3ha of land in the Northern Beaches is no longer subject to the Development Delivery Plan;
  • Work with all the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the land; and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, to find an alternative means of realising a fair and timely income from their landholdings, while retaining the bushland at those locations.  Many alternatives have been shared with the Minister for Planning, for his consideration, including:
    • Leasing or purchasing the land with Environmental Zoning as a National Park
    • Compensating the Traditional Owners and MLALC for the loss of development potential
    • Investigating a land swap for a developable site elsewhere that has no conservation value
    • Investigating a re-tabling of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “Indigenous National Park concept”;
    • Investigating options for long lasting financial income options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from the lands; such as via tourism opportunities, land care and bushland and Aboriginal Culture education; 
    • Creating a Social Justice Improvement Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;
    • Addressing the concerns of the wider Northern Beaches and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities from an Indigenous Cultural Heritage, Recreational, Tourism and Environmental Preservation perspective.

''There are many opportunities for this beautiful landscape which contains culturally and environmentally significant value to be cared for, shared, protected and utilised in a way that benefits everyone across the entire community.  

We are not against development in the right locations with the appropriate supporting infrastructure and proper planning, however this bushland is NOT the right location for development of 500+ homes, industrial sites and other land uses.  It is pristine and culturally significant and as such must be properly protected.'' members state.

Members state an online petition is being launched and residents can download and help fill out the paper version by accessing it here:

On Friday July 5th the NSW Department of Planning announced the Finalisation of Northern Beaches Aboriginal Land DDP and SEPP amendment.

Six sites owned by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) in the Northern Beaches have been included in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 via this. 

The Northern Beaches Aboriginal Land Development Delivery Plan (DDP) has also been approved by the Minister for Planning and Homes, Anthony Roberts. 

The finalisation of these plans is the first step to allow consideration of planning proposals or development applications (DAs), which will involve further community consultation. 

These decisions allow planning proposals for the sites to be reviewed by the North District Local Planning Panel

On Wednesday August 24th, the NSW Department of Planning announced the creation of two new groups to speed up assessments, improve outcomes and unlock economic benefits for Aboriginal communities, the new Aboriginal Planning Concierge, through the same Department, and 13 new appointments to the current pool of people who make decisions on the Sydney District and Regional Planning Panels. All of these are appointed by the same Department, NSW Planning.

The Department of Planning and Environment’s Deputy Secretary of NSW Planning, Marcus Ray said a dedicated service had been set up within the Department of Planning and Environment, to help Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) and Native Title Body Corporates navigate the planning system.

“This is an important step in returning to a level of ‘self-determination’ for Aboriginal communities, so they can control the destiny of their land,” Mr Ray said. “Ultimately, the new Aboriginal Planning Concierge will help unlock opportunities on Aboriginal-owned land, by reducing backlogs and accelerating the assessment process.

“Whether it’s clearing hurdles holding up a proposal’s determination, or resolving complex issues with agencies and industry, this team is skilled at removing barriers and simplifying pathways to avoid delays and keep the economy going.”

Marcus Leslie, a Gomeroi man from North West NSW with a background in natural resource management and environmental regulation, will lead the Concierge to offer advice, build relationships, and ensure seamless experiences in the planning system. 

Mr Ray said Aboriginal communities will also benefit from the appointment of 13 new specialists to the current expert pool for the Sydney District and Regional Planning Panels.

“These new specialists, with expertise in strategic planning and Aboriginal land planning, will join the existing pool of alternate members on a case-by-case basis when needed to improve decision-making, and help speed up the assessment and delivery of new homes, jobs, and infrastructure,” he said.

“This will give existing panels the additional resources they need to improve rezoning reviews, planning proposal timeframes and unlock more opportunities for Local Aboriginal Land Councils.”



2022 Australian Longboard And Logger Championships + Australia’s Para Surfing Championships + Australian Bodyboard Championships - Team NSW Brings Home 27 Australian Titles

Australian Over 40 Men Shortboard Champion, Christo Hall of Narrabeen. Photo: Surfing Australia

The 2022 Australian Surfing Championships wrapped up over the weekend of August 20-21 with results showing NSW athletes have taken home for more than half of the titles following the culmination of the Australian Surf Championships at Port Macquarie – a stunning representation of the talent and depth across the state. 

Visit early report of: 2022 Australian Surfing Championships (Issue 550: results so far of shortboard, Longboard and Logger comps. + full NSW Team named).

The team of 142 athletes represented NSW in shortboard, longboard, bodyboard and para surfing and in total won 27 from 48 Australian Titles over the 17-day event. 

Team Manager, Michael Crisp (Lennox Head) said the event was a huge success for NSW and was proud of the individual and team efforts. 

“To win this many titles across all areas and divisions is incredible,” said Crisp. 

“We had such a strong team this year and it’s been so inspiring and great to be part of. The Australian Surf Championships haven’t been held since 2019 but I think that the absence has made the team stronger and more grateful for the opportunity to represent their state.

“There were some truly amazing performances and sportsmanship and I feel honoured to have been part of the team and their success in 2022.”

The event was held between the beautiful beaches of Bonny Hills, North Haven and Town Beach, with athletes all commenting on how wave-rich the region is. 

“I love this area and I think we’ve been blessed to be able to compete in the Australian Championships here this year,” said Over 40’s Shortboard Champion, Paul Snow. 

“It’s one of the best areas for surfing competition on our coastline with so many high-performance waves combined with breaks for any ability, with accommodation for any kind of trip.” 

“Port Macquarie is the mecca for bodyboarding and the waves are world-class. They are perfect for the Australian Titles,” Bodyboard Head Judge, Craig Hadden added. 

Port Macquarie Deputy Mayor, Adam Roberts attended the presentation of the Masters Longboard Titles on Friday. He said the Australian Surf Championships provided a huge boost for the local economy and he was proud that the area could provide for the athletes, their families and event crew, as well as showcase the world-class beaches and surf breaks.

“It’s such a fantastic festival of surfing and it’s so good to see Port Macquarie back on the surfing map. We’ve got a slice of paradise and a great community,” said Roberts. 

“It’s great to see everyone here enjoying our world-class waves and we welcome surfing events in any capacity. The locals love the surfing customs and community and we love having everyone in town. 

“All the event locations were going off over the two week period with solid waves and everyone was pumped to have options to pick the very best location as conditions changed.”

Roberts also said it was fantastic to see NSW have great results, including a number of local surfers.

“It was a real pleasure to get down to the presentation and see the Blues take out so many titles on home turf too,” he said.

For the state’s south coast, two new champions have returned home hoping to inspire the region. Matt Hoar (Dalmeny) and Freya Prumm (Merimbula) both echoed each other about the impact the wins will have on their towns and the surf community to inspire people in the sport.

“This means so much because it shows the kids back home and the people from the south coast that it’s possible to be a good surfer and be competitive at any level,” said Hoar, who owns the Dalmeny Surf Academy.

Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden said he couldn’t be more stoked to see NSW have such success. 

“We pride ourselves on having a stellar and talented lineup of surfers and bodyboarders and our results at this event have proven that,” said Madden. 

“Not only do we have some of the best top-level elites, the Masters competitors from the Over 35’s right through to the Over 70’s are also at the top of their game in their divisions, as are the para surfers who are leading the way in adaptive surfing and gaining incredible momentum.”

NSW Australian Surf Championships Results

Para Surfing (6/9)
Kneel – Jade ‘Reddog’ Wheatley (Newcastle)
VI1 and 2 – Jack Jackson (Umina)
S1 – John Wheele – (Tura Beach)
S2 – Dale Taylor (Cabarita)
Prone 1 Women – Sam Bloom (Newport)
Prone 2 Mixed – Lee Ferrier (Sydney)

Bodyboard (6/8)
Over 45 Men – Shane Chalker (NSW)
Over 35 Men – Nathian Davis (NSW)
Open Men – John Cruickshank (NSW)
Under 18 Junior Men – Jordan Waights (NSW)
Under 14 Grommet Open – Sunny Williams (NSW)
Drop Knee – Jimmy Leayr (NSW)

Longboard (7/14)
Open Men – Declan Wyton (Manly) – pictured above by Gary McEvoy
Open Women – Melanie Straunton (Burrill Lake)
Under 18 Women – Chelsea Tingle (Saratoga)
Over 40 Men – Shane Baker (Murrays Beach)
Over 45 Men – Jason Livingstone (North Curl Curl)
Over 50 Men – Jason Livingstone (North Curl Curl)
Over 60 Men – Mike Pimm (Casuarina)

Logger (1/6)

Under 18 Women – Jasmine Howarth (Avalon) – pictured below by Gary McEvoy

Shortboard (7/11)
Open Women – Freya Prumm (Merimbula)
Over 35 Men – Matt Hoar (Dalmeny)
Over 40 Men – Christo Hall (Narrabeen)
Over 45 Men – Paul Snow (Newcastle)
Over 50 Women – Sandra English (Central Coast)
Over 55 Men – Rod Baldwin (Copacabana)
Over 60 Men – Rod Baldwin (Copacabana)

Report by Suring NSW, Tuesday August 23, 2022


Winter Becomes Spring In Pittwater

McCarrs' Creek, Church Point. Photo: A J Guesdon.

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