The edge of Catalina Lake in The Gully is slowly being transformed after the decade-long work of a vibrant bushcare group, Blue Mountains council's environment team, the Gully Traditional Owners and a special NSW environmental trust grant.
A yarning circle at the Gully and a YouTube bird watching tour are now just some of the welcome additions to the restorative bushcare and swamp care work.
Gully Traditional Owner and Gundungurra man, David King said the Garguree Bushcare group has been "slowly mulching, planting, moving logs and stones to create habitat for the amazing number of aquatic birds that frequent the Lake - 100 have been recorded".
The group is working hard to restore the delicate environment at the headwaters of the Katoomba Falls Creek and make it a happy place for new memories.
Mr King said for thousands of years Garguree - which means The Gully - was a campsite that sustained the Gundungurra and Darug people. Indigenous communities were displaced when council approved a car racing track - the Catalina circuit - in 1957. It has been recognised as an Aboriginal place since 2002.
The 81 hectare site is being cared for with the help of a Protecting our Places NSW Environmental Trust grant. And a virtual bird walk has been created around The Gully by one of the group's "fantastic volunteers, local bird expert John French", he said. (The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02bAWEk9iNo ).
Mr King said the lake habitat is linking with the riparian corridor works along Gedumba Creek and all the restoration works in the middle swamps and McRaes Paddock.
"The whole 81 hectares of The Gully is an incredible diverse wildlife haven and safe corridor linking up to the valley. While working around the lake it was decided that it would be a beautiful spot to also create a yarning circle on the lake for the Gully Traditional Owners and community to meet and share stories and cuppas."
In late February in a rare dry moment, "sandstone blocks were placed in a beautiful semi-circle and the Yarning place was created". He said "over the next few years more plants will go in, more habitat will be created, more stories will be shared and there will be more caring for Country".
Elder Aunty Sharyn Halls on the bird video says "the restoration and the work we do here is extremely important its about sharing a story of place ... and bringing back to people the connection we have with everything that happens here, so each plant we put in has its own story ... you can feel the past as well as the present". She has previously said her people would visit as a summer camp for the "sweet water" in the swamps and then return to the Burragorang.
Disappointingly Mr King was unable to showcase the bushcare work recently for the Edible Garden Trail. The event on March 6 showcasing first nations history, native edibles and sustainable living, needed to be postponed at the last minute due to the wet weather. A new date is yet to be set.
The bird watch tour was created for the council bushcare presentation awards late last year. Mr French said he expects as plantings grow more smaller birds - reliant on the shrubs and understory for protection - will arrive more frequently.
Garguree Swampcare has previously won the prestigious regional Indigenous Land Management Landcare Award in 2017.
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