News of Friends of Grasslands

Supporting native grassy ecosystems

July - August 2020

ISSN 1832-6315

Also available as a pdf file (4MB) in original format with photos

In this issue

Donations to support FOG 

If you hurry you may make a tax-deductible donation to FOIG before 30 June. 

FOG makes small grants to researchers, educators and on-ground projects, a highly effective way to support grassy ecosystems. 

To support this, you can make a tax deductible donation to FOG Public Fund by: 

Direct debit: BSB 633 000, A/c 153493960 (Bendigo Bank). Please include your name and advise our Treasurer

Cheque: payable to ‘Friends of Grasslands Public Fund’, mailed to Treasurer, Friends of Grasslands Inc., PO Box 440, Jamison Centre, ACT 2614. Include your name and postal address. 

A receipt for tax purposes will be sent to you. You may also include a donation when you complete your membership application/renewal form. THANKS


Welcome to our new members

 Juris Jakovics, ACT, Mickey Christensen, ACT Alicia Palmer, ACT, Brian Faulkner, ACT &  Melissa Piper, ACT. 


July & August events

Special winter presentation , 1.30-4pm, Sat 25 July 2020, Mugga & via Zoom

Two special presentations: Sarah Bates, PhD student and FOG grant recipient: Plant and soil microbe interaction in weed invasion in grassy ecosystems, and

Jamie Pittock, Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, honorary FOG life member, and much more, will answer your questions on: Being a leader on the environment.

More information below.

Winter grassland tour , 1.15-4pm, Sun 23 Aug,* Canberra

You will recall last year’s visit to Canberra’s emerging grassland reserves. Again, Maree Gilbert will lead us to four more. * date to be confirmed. 

More information below.

Work parties in July & August

Franklin Grassland: Thurs 9 & 23 Jul, 1.15-3.15pm. Register with

Stirling Park: Sun 9 Aug, 9am-12.30pm. Register with

More info on these and future work parties, including Yarramundi Grassland, Hall Cemetery and Scottsdale monitoring below.

Some events after August

Narrandera weekend Fri-Mon, 25-28 Sep with Rainer Rehwinkel to visit high quality TSRs and other sites. Contact

Chiltern NP weekend Fri-Mon, 9-12 Oct. FOG and Australian Native Plant Society, Chiltern NP & Boorhaman Grasslands, Wangaratta . Contact

Bioblitz with young rangers: Sun 20 Oct, 10am-noon, FOG with ACT Environment Planning & Sustainable Development Directorate (venue to be decided.). Register

“Wandiyali” near Googong. 31 Oct, 9.30 am Sat (half or full day), with Rainer & Margaret. Register:

Best of Monaro TSRs weekend. Sat-Sun 14-15 Nov. Contact: 

Three days in Tassie Midland Grasslands with Andrew Cameron (Bush Heritage & Midlands Project). For expressions of interest, contact

More detail on upcoming events

Upcoming winter presentation on Sat 25 July

The role of plant and soil microbe interaction in weed invasion in grassy ecosystems: Sarah Bates

Native grassy ecosystems are under threat from weed invasion, despite good management efforts. This presentation aims to increase understanding of the success of weeds by focusing on the interactions between weeds, natives and soil microbe communities. Soils are full of microbes and, as seen in agriculture, can influence plant growth. However, little is known about how native soil microbe communities and weed species interact. The presentation will cover what is known about soil microbe communities, how plants can shape them and how they can affect plant performance and influence plant populations.  The results of Sarah’s PhD project are showing the plant response to different soil microbe communities. Questions addressed are 1) are invasive species gaining benefits from soil microbe communities?  2) what affect does the introduction of invasive species have on native soil microbe communities? and 3) are invasive species cultivating soil communities that further help their invasion.

Leaders in the environment: Jamie Pittock

Friends of Grasslands is very fortunate in having amongst its members, individuals who make a strong contribution to the environment through contributing their knowledge and skill, giving freely of their time and resources, being courageous advocates, being open-minded and accepting the beliefs of others, encouraging others and being leaders, etc. On this occasion we ask Jamie how does one develop skills and find the  time, ability, drive, self confidence, resources and so on to be a leader? What deep values inspires a person to become a leader?

Jamie's contribution to grasslands commenced in the 1980s when he was an advocate for the conservation of natural temperate grasslands in Victoria. Subsequently he joined the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) taking a leading role in arranging Commonwealth Government support for grassland conservation projects and, behind-the-scenes, was a strong advocate for grassy ecosystems. In 2009 Jamie initiated FOG’s partnership with the National Capital Authority for restoration of National Capital Lands. At that time, he undertook his PhD, and is now Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society. Currently, he is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, a consultant on major water projects abroad, a pro bono councillor for leading environment groups, and a frequent media interviewee on environment issues.

This will be an opportunity to quiz Jamie on being an environment advocate?

Following the presentations we will have an afternoon tea. Register with 0403 221 117 to attend in person (and for directions) or via zoom.

Stirling Park/Gurubung Dhaura Workparty, Sun 9 Aug, 9am to 12.30pm

Likely activities include maintaining plantings and fence removal.

This one could be invigorating! The idea is to undertake a few maintenance tasks before spring. Contractors are leaving a lot of manageable lengths of cut timber around the park, that we will place around our plantings to keep the ‘roos off and enable some of the native grasses to set seed without being grazed flat. There will be rubbish to round up and tree guards to repair or remove where required. Subject to NCA approval, we may also begin to take down a decrepit wire fence that has reached the end of its useful life. Meet at the corner of Empire Circuit and Forster Crescent, Yarralumla. Some teams may work elsewhere in the park. Please wear enclosed shoes and bring your own eye protection, morning tea and drinking water. Register with me: or 0407 265 131.

Events will be cancelled if the weather is unsuitable: a) the forecast is 35 deg C+, b) it is a total fire ban day, c) there is lightning, d) air quality is hazardous, or e) there is heavy rain. Tools are provided for work parties.

Winter grassland tour, 1.15-4pm, Sun 23 Aug, Canberra (date to be confirmed)

This is an exciting winter event, so rug up, to visit up to four sites. The visits provide an opportunity to see some extensive Canberra grassland landscapes and learn about their likely inclusion (some as offsets) in an extended future grassland reserve system. It will be an opportunity to examine their quality, consider the work required to preserve and restore them, and assist FOG to provide more informed comment on their future development. Register:

Work party dates after August

Franklin Grasslands: Thursdays 1.15-3.15pm, 3 & 17 Sept, & 1 & 15 Oct. Register: 

Stirling Park work parties: Sundays 13 Sep, 11 Oct, 8 Nov and 13 Dec, 9am-12.30pm. Note: Sept event also includes Yarramundi Grassland. 

Register with:

Hall Cemetery work parties Sat 3 Oct & Sat 7 Nov 9am-12.30pm. Register: 

Scottsdale annual monitoring Wed 11 Nov, 8.30am-4pm (to be confirmed). Register

Would you please please help me? - Geoff Robertson

Hi all. It is amazing how the breadth and depth of FOG’s activities continue to grow, despite the drought, fire, rain, virus and the economic, social and personal challenges that each of us faces. However, this creates a much greater workload coordinating and reporting on all this. 

As FOG’s president, newsletter editor, program coordinator, and inquiry answerer I am overloaded and need assistance. If you have a few hours to spare each week, I could use your skills and help get you started. 

For example:

  • Someone with minimum clerical skills could keep track of and coordinate FOG’s events
  • Someone with minimum writing skills could assemble the news for our newsletter;
  • Someone with minimum computer design skills could put the newsletter together;
  • Someone with research skills can assist on many issues;
  • Someone who has a friendly manner can help answer our many inquirers.

Apart from making an important contribution to grassy ecosystems systems, these tasks are inherently interesting and a great way to learn about what FOG does and how it does it.

As stressed on many other occasions, you do not need any particular expertise. 

If curious or interested, please contact me: or ph 0403 221 117.

Advocacy Report

by Naarilla Hirsch

May 2020

FOG provided comment on an EPBC referral for a South Canberra Memorial Park, sited between Callum Brae and Mt Mugga NR on the old Mugga zoo site. Our submission noted that a key objective of the proposed action is to provide a setting that retains the natural ecological values of the project area and supported the proposed landscape plantings of indigenous trees, shrub mid-layer and ground storey species. We did suggest consultation with experts with regard to the choice of species and urged that the landscaping may include habitat-enhancing features.

June 2020

FOG commented on the NCA’s Draft Amendment 95 - North Curtin Diplomatic Estate and Urban Area. Our concern related to the possibility of the endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM) occurring in the area that is subject to this amendment, pointing out the persistence of a population of GSM through the southern part of central Canberra which has been subject to actual or potential development impacts over the last few years. Once again we asked for consideration of the cumulative impact of all these small impacts and asked for a strategic approach to GSM conservation in the general area.

FOG also commented on Development Application 201936352 for the Molonglo 132kv transmission line relocation. Issues raised by FOG included revegetation of the disturbed area in the Buffer Zone to Kama Nature Reserve using native forbs and grasses, the buffer with Kama Nature Reserve buffer, weed control (particularly of African Lovegrass) and weed-hygiene for all construction equipment, and the problems a hard maintenance track will create.

The full text of these submissions appears on our website.

Grassy ecosystem grants 2020

FOG is pleased to announce Grassy ecosystem grants 2020

1.        Tein McDonald and Graeme Little - Bushland Regeneration Project, Cooma, NSW

2.        Sharon Fulcher - Revegetation of Grassy Woodland, Two Rivers Catchment Reserve, Ballyroe, NSW

3.        Griffith Narrabundah Community Association / Friends of Bass Gardens - Control invasive weeds and review of mowing regimes in remnant native NTG grassland, Bass Gardens Park, Griffith, ACT

4.        Dr Alfonsina Arriaga-Jiménez and Prof Nigel Andrew (UNE) - Dung beetle species richness and composition between natural and introduced grasslands: impacts on ecosystem functioning and services, University of Sydney experimental field station grasslands, Narrabri, NSW. 

Recent FOG Events

Mother’s Day planting at Stirling Park

10 May. Jamie Pittock has reported that at FOG’s work party on 10 May at Stirling Park (Gurubung Dhaura) planted about 300 trees in the 6 ha of former pine plantation. The pines were removed by the National Capital Authority because of the safety risk from these old trees. The planting plan is to create a Yellow Box - Blakely’s Red Gum vegetation community to join up with the remnant woodland vegetation at Stirling Park at which FOG has been working for eleven years. This is FOG’s first involvement in creating a grassy woodland community from scratch. 

The work party, similar to the previous work party on 12 April (page 4, previous newsletter), followed physical distancing rules and the holes for planting were pre-prepared. 

The planting was planned for 2021 but was brought forward a year as the project was ahead of schedule and the planting conditions were ideal. The main plantings of understory species will be undertaken in autumn 2021. 

FOG commends the National Capital Authority’s excellent work to engage the community and restore this land. This is an exciting extension to the NCA-FOG project at Stirling Park.

And again on June 10 from Jamie

A great morning with (less than 10 of) my Friends of Grasslands volunteers and Greening Australia supporting the National Capital Authority to plant 300 trees at Stirling Park (Gurubung Dhaura). Great to see a government agency doing a first class job to conserve the environment. The project will restore 6 ha of former pine plantation to box gum grassy woodland similar to the adjoining threatened ecosystem.

More on Stirling Park (Gurubung Dhaura) below.

Franklin Grassland work parties 

As reported previously, FOG held a meeting (13 Mar) on site to establish a Franklin Parkcare group. That was put on hold with the shutdown. Since, FOG has held work parties on 4, 11 and 18 June; another is planned for 25 June and two in each of July, September and October. Average attendance is five, not counting rangers. 

To date, FOG has registered regular volunteers as Parkcare volunteers, adopted Parkcare procedures, completed a risk assessment and received equipment from ACT Parkcare. 

The group is initially focusing on manual weeding in a high quality area of the grassland and is developing a weed strategy which aims to teach volunteers how to identify each weed present, how to distinguish each from look-alike native species, and methods of seed and plant removal. The strategy harmonises volunteer and Ranger Craig Wainwright’s efforts. 

Another aim is to have the group skilled up to work with other stakeholders as they become more involved. Margaret Ning and Vanessa Goss are taking responsibility as coordinators. For more information, contact

Yarramundi Grassland

by Geoff Robertson 

Sat morning, 20 Jun, I was one of thirteen volunteers who turned up to the work party at Yarramundi Grassland, rescheduled from an earlier time due to inclement weather. With rain threatened, no herbicide was used and hence manual weeding was our only weapon. However, it turned out to be a delightful sunny winter’s day.  

Under Jamie’s direction we were sent to different parts of the the grassland. Recently large areas of Verbascium had been effectively sprayed, with a mass of plants wilting. However, as is well known, viable seeds remain in capsules on the stalks of these plants and so several volunteers cut and bagged stalks ensuring that the seeds did not fall from the capsules (see top image, second group of photos). My job was cut and bag the seed stalks of African love grass (ALG) and after several hours I had two bags to take away. Here again, these plants had been sprayed but live seeds remained on stalks. 

A number of volunteers chipped away at Goatsbeard and Capeweed. Paul (second photo) turned up with FOG’s lawnmower, of which he is the guardian, to mow herbaceous weed areas. This not only sets back these plants but makes them easier to identify and spray on a later occasion. 

This was another opportunity to observe the scrapes. The last photo is of Linda Spinaze standing alongside a recently erected sign (see pages 6-7) at a healthy looking scrape. 

Work parties are also an opportunity for volunteers to exchange information and strategise about future FOG plans. 

Also there are rewards such as my sighting a pair of gang gangs, which I photoed  and recorded on Canberra Nature Map, and my talking to a passer-by who showed interest in my activity. 

Mcleods Creek Nature Reserve 

11 June. This is a pic from Mcleods Creek Nature Reserve work party taken by Rainer. FOG has been a long-term supporter of this reserve and on this occasion three FOG members attended. Rainer reported that there has been a massive recruitment event of the Aromatic Peppercress, Lepidium hyssopifolium, as well as a great crop of competing weeds. The task for the day was to remove some of the weeds to give the peppercresses a better chance. 

Many people follow Rainer’s Facebook page as he tours around with his fabulous nature pics.

Hall Cemetery

23 May (rescheduled from 4 Apr). Eight people attended a work party at Hall Cemetery.  In addition, well over 200 hours have been contributed since early April by small parties and individuals to deal with weeds at the cemetery. 

John and Margaret describe the weed issue on page 14 and on page 10 (see FOG seeks funding at Hall Cemetery) mention is made of an application to obtain professional weeding assistance. 

Theodore Grassland

by Margaret Ning

Sun 7 June. What better grassland site to take a couple of people to, for a couple of hours, than the Theodore axe grooves site? Full story next issue.

Murrumbateman Village grassy woodland 

20 June. At 2pm six Canberra FOG members travelled to Murrumbateman Village Grassy Woodland to be welcome by Annaliese Caston (Murrumbateman Landcare Group which co-organised the event) and Andrew Hall. Full story next issue.

St Marks Grassland

24 June. Eighteen people participated in a work party at St Marks Grassland, an iconic grassland in central Canberra, containing a high diversity of native plants and low invasive plant diversity. Full story next issue.

News roundup

Lawson North development, NTG & YBRGGW

On 14 June, Tait Network which is working with Defence Housing Australian on the estate design for Lawson North, the former Belconnen Naval Transmitting station, approached FOG as part of their community consultation regarding the implications for high quality grassland locations there. FOG members were invited to attend a site tour, subsequently cancelled due to concerns over Corona virus, and a zoom hook up on 23 June. 

By way of preparation, three FOG members attended sessions organised for Lawson South residents and circulated notes to a number of FOG members who put up their hands to be involved. The group met via Zoom on 22 June to discuss FOG’s strategy and came up with a list of questions which were asked at the 23 June session. 

The map, right, shows the proposed Defence Housing Development. Sixty percent of the former Naval Station will be set aside as a grassland reserve. However it is proposed to destroy some grasslands and woodlands, (critically endangered grassland and woodland ecological communities). These areas also contain populations of critically endangered golden sun moth populations, and other threatened and rare species. 

Information supplied by Tait Network and Defence Housing is assisting FOG to determine its response on the proposal, which FOG expects to proceed quickly. 

Tenders for Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) 

25 May. FOG was informed that Local Land Services were advertising the availability of five year TSR leases for grazing. The advertising stressed that TSRs, with threatened ecological communities and species, needed to meet conservation objectives. Lauren van Dyke, June Wilkinson and Margaret Ning urged that FOG support conservation oriented tender applications. 

Applications closed 7 June. Each of the available TSRs were listed together with their size and a suggested tender bid - the latter was the estimated value of fodder available for grazing. Tender values ranged from under $100 to several thousand dollars per annum. Applicants would need to pay a $300 application fee if successful, include a management plan, and have/plan to have $20m third party insurance policy.

The management plan needed to address biodiversity and cultural values, weeds and feral animals. Several discussions were held with Luke Pope (South East LLS) to clarify requirements. Luke was extremely helpful and suggested the LLS would work with TSR managers and provide assistance, particularly with feral animal control.

Rainer was quick off the mark, providing conservation status for each of the advertised TSRs. In its Events Update, 28 May, FOG advertised the tenders and encouraged “individuals, families or groups to consider tendering for a lease. FOG is putting together a panel who may assist. The panel can assist with preparing a management plan, discuss how to meet any obstacles you may see, and provide on-going support” and if interested to contact FOG. The Events Update included Rainer’s TSRs list of 22 high conservation value TSRs.

FOG received a very positive response. Five community groups expressed interest in applying for a TSR as did several individuals. A number of individuals offered to work on managing TSRs if applications were successful and a number of individuals offered financial donations. 

The final outcome was that Upper Snowy Landcare Network, Royally Landcare and FOG each put in a bid, as did two individuals, with strong conservation credentials, one of whom bid on two portions of a TSR and the other for two TSRs. Rainer put in an enormous effort in drafting the applications. 

This was a very pleasing process.

Victoria to resume feral horse culling 

8 May 2020. Following a ruling by the Federal Court, Parks Victoria will resume its plan to remove feral horses which was halted by the Australian Brumby Alliance when it challenged the plan. The plan seeks to stop horses which have been overrunning the Bogong high plains and eastern Victorian Alps within the Australian Alps national parks. The federal court had been asked to consider whether removal of horses should have been referred to the federal environment minister because they were part of the cultural heritage of that region. The court ruled against the Alliance and ordered it to pay Parks Victoria’s costs. The Alliance may appeal. 

Brumbies and high country

15 June. Jamie Pittock tells Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National, why brumby horses are not only wild but feral. Well worth a listen:

FOG on Facebook

Our Facebook page has been a little quiet, but thanks to Sarah Hnatiuk it has been resurrected and now advertises upcoming events, reports on activities and reposts media coverage. Images shown here are reposts. 

Check us out: like us, message us, notify us and keep us informed. 

ACT Grasslands/woodlands listed as critically endangered - FOG media coverage

The top image right is of Sarah Sharp photographed in the Canberra Times when the ACT Government announced that Natural Temperate Grassland and Yellow Box - Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland were listed as critically endangered (26 May). ABC Canberra’s Paula Kruger interviewed FOG’s spokesperson, Geoff Robertson, (26 May) as did 2CA’s Jem Slade (30 May). 

Franklin Grassland Reserve

Middle image is a repost of Minister Mick Gentleman’s announcement (23 May) that “Canberra's newest reserve - Franklin Grasslands in Gungahlin. It's home to native species including Ginninderra peppercress, superb parrot, golden sun moth and striped legless lizard. Congrats Suzanne Orr MLA who worked hard with me and local advocates to make this a reality. Our team will now increase weed and pest control and establish a Landscape Plan to preserve ecology, and increase community access.”

Images shows Suzanne Orr, Geoff Robertson, Thea O’Loughlin and Mick Gentleman, and superb parrots, Thea and golden sun moth, found at the reserve. 

Geoff Robertson & FOG

by Se Pradeep

The last image is reposted from the Facebook page of Gungahlin Se Pradeep under the title of Capital Kindness (28 May). Pradeep approached Geoff to interview him about Geoff’s passion for FOG, grasslands and Franklin Grassland reserve. Pradeep’s interview is on FOG’s Facebook page. 

Pradeep is a community leader in Gungahlin and posts interviews from time to time of people he considers community leaders in Gungahlin. Thanks Pradeep.  

Yarramundi Grassland Revegetation project signage

This newsletter has carried frequent updates on FOG’s Yarramundi Grassland Revegetation project. The latest development is the erection of temporary signage at the site. 

Michelle Jeffrey (Manager Open Space, National Capital Authority) and John Fitz Gerald have designed a sign which is shown here, which is now displayed at both of the Yarramundi Grassland Scrapes to draw the attention of visitors to FOG's Demonstration Revegetation Project (2018-9). The information is printed on corflute and tied onto star pickets beside each scrape. To extend the lifetime of these signs for up to two years, extra copies have been printed so any weathered or vandalised signs can be replaced. It provides a good summary of the project. 

The sign states: “A trial to measure the success of surface scraping and seed sowing was conducted at this site between November 2018 and December 2019. The aim was to bring back a mixture of grass and soft flowering plants (known as forbs). 

This area of Yarramundi Grassland holds an important remnant mixture of plants which grew in treeless frost hollows along the banks of the Molonglo River before European settlement. Soil disturbance and invasive weeds have reduced the native richness that was once here. 

This trial was possible through the collaboration of the National Capital Authority (land manager), Friends of Grasslands (community group for conservation of Australian native grasslands and grassy ecosystems), and Greening Australia. Funding was made available through an ACT Government Environment Grant. 

Five centimeters of soil was scraped off the surface of the site, removing the weeds and their seeds, then seeds of native grasses and forbs were laid on bare ground, allowing nature to take its course. Despite extended periods of very hot, dry weather, the flowering daisies and other plants have thrived. 

It is hoped that seeds will spread naturally from the site into the surrounding grasses and new plants will grow there, starting the next cycle of native revegetation.”

Gurubung Dhaura

by Jamie Pittock 

There is so much news from the last four months. As the social isolation restrictions began we faced the problem of planting around 350 wildflower seeding kindly grown for FOG by Tristan Armstrong. As they would not survive in pots, in April dedicated teams of two got them in the ground at Stirling Park - Gurubung Dhaura in places where weed grasses had been sprayed out. The plants appear to be thriving so it could be a colourful spring!

After an extensive consultation with FOG and local residents, the NCA has felled the pine plantation at the western edge of Stirling Park - Gurubung Dhaura. In order to take advantage of faster site preparation than planned and excellent planting conditions, the NCA, Greening Australia and FOG brought forward the initial planting of the major trees. In May and June, 340 eucalypts, wattles and allocasuarinas (for cockatoos) were planted, watered and mulched (see picture). A major revegetation community event is planned for the site in autumn 2021 that will plant grassy woodland understorey species.

In addition to their excellent work replacing the pines, the NCA is making a number of very welcome investments for better management of Stirling Park - Gurubung Dhaura. A second round of spraying of Vinca / Blue Periwinkle infestations has reduced the weed cover by around 80%. Hopefully, follow up control in spring can eliminate regrowth. Work has been completed to install drainage lines to control the erosion that was damaging steep sections of tracks through the park. As I write, arborists are felling many of the remaining weed trees in the park and at Attunga Point. Trunks will be left on the ground to provide large woody debris habitat for animals like echidnas. Small branches will be left for FOG use to protect plantings. The collapsed white timber safety rails over two culverts along Forster Crescent will be replaced.

At this time when Australians are reflecting on how we can better acknowledge and respond to the injustices inflicted on Indigenous peoples, I would be interested in your views on whether “Stirling” is an appropriate name for the park, or whether its traditional name should be fully restored. The park is named after Admiral Sir James Stirling, the first Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Western Australia (who had no association with Canberra).

Wikipedia (that well-known source that no professor should use …) says “In October 1834 Stirling led a detachment of 25 armed troopers and settlers … l that attacked an encampment of 60-80 Pindjarep Aboriginal people. ... Settlers accounts claim between 10-80 aboriginals died compared to aboriginal oral history which claim 150 people died. Stirling remained entirely unsympathetic to the needs of Aboriginal people in Western Australia, and never recognised their prior ownership of the land despite the fact that the Buxton Committee of the British House of Commons informed him that this was a mistake for which the new colony would suffer. Stirling mentioned in dispatches that the Aborigines "must gradually disappear" …”

Is “Stirling” an appropriate name for land where the Ngunawal traditional owners have an ongoing association?

After the fire with Libby Keen

Our last issue included reports from several members on the aftermath of the fire. Here is more from Libby Keen. 

“The neighbouring Poa and Themeda paddocks, ungrazed, brown and drought-stricken for the last two or three years, came back to life in April,  with Wild Sorghum and grassland forbs in the mix, including prolific greenhoods, Golden Weather Grass and Parsons Bands. Small native ground-covers and bracken appeared in a bulldozed firebreak near us. Remarkably, there were few weeds except annual solanum.

In our grassy woodland there were Sticky Everlasting, Little Dumpies, and Lomandra in a bulldozed area especially along the track - much is returning vigorously.”

Libby’s images: front page Little Dumpies Greenhood, and from top to bottom: Wild Sorghum and Kangaroo Grass, Sticky Everlasting, Golden Weather Grass, Parson’s Bands and  “prolific little dumpy greenhoods that were widely underfoot”.

Being alert to damage on reserves

On 22 April, FOG wrote to Ministers Gentleman and Orr attaching photos of several adults and children building a BMX track in Tuggeranong woodlands. It pointed out FOG’s long involvement in this area, and its past work parties to remove such tracks and restore the vegetation. It urged the government to take urgent and quick action to repair the site, erect suitable signage and obtain media coverage to discourage such behaviour. Before FOG’s email was actually sent, ACT rangers had  removed the jumps and erected a sign.  

We also raised issues about the management at Attunga Point, an area with many high conservation values - natural temperate grasslands, box gum woodland, and populations of Button Wrinklework and Golden Sun Moth. FOG brought  attention to problems of illegal parking by people removing barriers to access the site and the need for better human traffic management, both of which were causing erosion and other damage. Also FOG raised issues of significant weeds, in part caused by mowing practice.

FOG also urged that the ACT Government, working with the National Capital Authority (NCA), ask the Australian Federal Police to take a number of actions to prevent illegal parking.

FOG spoke to the Minister’s office to follow up the matter and learn that the issues with Attunga had been raised with the NCA. In a letter dated 11 May, Minister Gentleman responded stating:

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and school closures, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service has seen an increase in inappropriate activities in Nature Reserves including track building, dogs off lead and firewood collection. The damage caused by the building of bike jumps on Tuggeranong Hill was addressed by rangers. The bike jumps were removed and signs erected outlining the maximum penalty for the offence of damaging lands in a nature reserve. Rangers continue to monitor the site and will follow up on any further unlawful activity. 

To help educate visitors, many of whom are new to the reserve system, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service created media content including social media posts and a media content form which the Canberra Times published a story on appropriate ways to visit your local Nature Reserve.

The Minister’s letter provided the contact details to the ACT Conservator Flora and Fauna should it wish to follow up. 

FOG wishes to thank the ACT Government for its prompt action, although we consider that better management of Attunga Point still needs to be achieved. 

FOG would also urge its members and friends to take action when they observe damage being done to our reserves. Readers can do this directly, or refer the matter to FOG. In the case of Tuggeranong, a local resident and a FOG member were quick to draw the matter, including photos, to the attention of a local ranger and to FOG. 

On country

by Angela Pattison 

On 12 Sept we were privileged to be part of a knowledge sharing day co-organised with the Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Land Council, Tony Meppem from TAFE NSW and funded by the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and Friends of Grasslands*, plus seed donated by Colin Seis. Over 50 people attended from Narrabri, Wee Waa, Moree and Walgett. The main theme was to bake Johnny Cakes from native grass flour. Steven Booby (Cultural Heritage Officer from the OEH) said this practice hasn’t been performed in the area for over 200 years. We used 5 native grain species plus various versions of wheat flour. 

A group of Aboriginal women from Wee Waa showed a mixed group of volunteers the dough-making technique in the morning. We used the commercial kitchen at the high school, which also meant a stream of school kids got involved. Deadly Science donated some ‘Young Dark Emu’ books and other resources, including a giant telescope, to the school as part of the event. 

Then we moved to Tulladunna for knowledge sharing and to bake the dough. Helen Wenner shared some of her story about growing up at Tulladunna, Angela shared about native grains, plus there was a big lunch and smoking ceremony. 

The native grains all tasted different, and we were able to pick a couple that tasted better than others. These will become the focus of research for future food products. 

It was agreed by all (and has always been the case) that all research will proceed in collaboration with the Kamilaroi people. The role of the University and TAFE is to support, upskill and research, not to commercialise potential products. 

The picture shows one such potential product – Native millet (Panicum decompositum) flour and fresh quandong baked over coals. It was gluten-free, additive-free, organic and absolutely delicious! We also did a version which was half self-raising flour and half native grains, which had even better texture and colour. 

The day was documented by a professional videographer (thanks Harry and Joanne!) so stay tuned! 

* Robyn Keeffe (CEO, Wee Waa LALC), with support from Angela, applied for a FOG Supported Projects grant. While FOG favoured this approach, it was actually funded from a separate source.

Source: On Country, Native grains update, Indigenous Food Research Park (newsletter Sept 2019). This newsletter and more recent newsletters are very informative and are available from 

Note: An excellent explanation of the broader project is found on youtube:

ParkCare Display at Jamison, Sep 2019

Recently FOG received a report, by Libby Viccars, Jean Geue and Linda Beveridge on the ninth annual ParkCare Display at Jamison, 13-15 September, thanking the volunteers who were involved. The display was coordinated again by Jean Geue, assisted by Friends of Aranda Bushland, Black Mountain, Grasslands (FOG), Mount Painter, and The Pinnacle, Ginninderra Catchment Group, Parks and Conservation Services (PCS), ACT Government, Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Park (STEP) and Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG). 

Overall, the display was attractively set out. People paused and looked at the display and most engaged in conversation with the ParkCare groups members to learn more about the work being done by them. Sales of our various publications still generated a worthwhile stream of interest and income for our groups

There seemed to be fewer shoppers in Jamison than previous years, which was indicated by the number of remaining flyers about coming events. This may be because the display was on the same weekend as the opening of Floriade this year, whereas in previous years it has mostly been earlier. 

The display followed our traditional model of displaying beautiful photos which showcase the diversity within the bush environment and disseminate information in the form of maps, publications and press releases. As always it was interesting to see a series of photos showing the “before” and “after” landscapes following weeding, erosion control measures and revegetation projects.  An important part of the display was also informing the general public about how they could volunteer to help the conservation effort in these invaluable outdoor areas. We also used the platform to publicise our upcoming events such as bushwalks and educational talks. The display also gave due recognition to other related activities such as track maintenance, understorey planting, GPS tagging of rabbit burrows and the publishing of field guides, creation of brochures and production of informative signage.

The report mentions that PCS provided us with ParkCare insurance and three double-sided grey panel stands for the display and Friends of Grasslands brought their own black stands. Twenty-nine people helped with mounting and operating the display, 4 more than last year.

FOG has been involved since the first year and its volunteers also enjoy the opportunity to catch up with what other groups are doing. A big thanks to Jean Geue, a founding and long-term FOG member, who has been a key organiser since its inception. Also thanks to Libby and Linda and the other volunteers who make Canberra a truly Bush Capital (or as we like to say the Grassland and Woodland Capital of Australia). 

FOG applies for an ACT environment grant

18 May FOG applied for an ACT Environment Grant for $20,856 to undertake major woody weed removal on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin at Blue Gum Point, an 8ha site with extensive areas of natural temperate grassland (NTG) (or secondary grassland) and Yellow Box - Blakely’s Redgum  Grassy woodlands, and populations of Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) scatterings of Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorhynchoides), and a population of the rare Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii)

The grant would pay for removing a large area of woody weeds encroaching on the grassland. FOG would undertake follow up weeding and planting. FOG’s Stirling Park Group is already holding work parties at the site which neighbours Stirling Park. If the application is successful FOG would pay $1878 for plants and hold two already planned work parties.

Longer term, FOG would like to see other populations of woody weeds, which could cost an additional $57,000, targeted in coming years. Jamie Pittock is the architect of the application but was assisted with input from many others. 

FOG seeks funding at Hall Cemetery 

Following a suggestion from Michael Pettersson MLA, FOG provided him with information on 9 June to seek funding of $1800 (for 1.5 days) or $1200 (one day) professional spraying at Hall Cemetery.  

Victorian axe aged 34k years

by Janet Russell

Austrian painter Eugene von Guerard painted Tower Hill in great detail in 1855 after visiting it. Fresh evidence shows two prominent south-west Victorian volcanoes, Budj Bim and Tower Hill, erupted at least 34,000 years ago and that people were in the area before those eruptions. Key points: Scientists have been able to provide a more precise date for the eruptions of two Victorian volcanoes; a human-made axe was found buried in volcanic ash at Tower Hill in the 1940s; and the presence of the stone axe shows that people were present there prior to the eruption. Source - ABC News:

Mount Painter Wildflower Triangle - Burnings, planting & flooding

by Sarah Hnatiuk & Cath Busby 

The easternmost part of the Mount Painter Nature Reserve, the Wildflower Triangle (WFT), is a nine-hectare patch of bush adjacent to Bindubi Street that was cut off from Aranda Bushland when that road was extended in 1979. It is separated from the main hill by the Cook Horse Paddocks, and straddles the Deakin Fault which is the boundary between the volcanic rock and soils of Mount Painter and the sedimentary substrates of Black Mountain and Aranda Bushland.

The WFT includes two areas of grassland that are separated by a cycle path. It is thought that they are the results of clearing the original woodland of the area. The lower grassland (to the south-west) is low-lying, very flat, and subject to waterlogging, and has patches of Box–Gum woodland at either end. On the Bindubi Street side of the cycle path, the land slopes upward through patches of woodland (and a small plantation of Red Stringybarks Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) to a flatter area around its highest point where the upper grassland is found. This is bordered on its southern edge by an area of woodland similar to that of neighbouring parts of Aranda Bushland.

The area above the cycle path, including the upper grassland area, had a patchy prescribed burn in April 2014 at a time when there was very dense grass cover on the flat area. Data collected up to 2017 from a Vegwatch monitoring plot in the upper flat area have been interpreted by Sarah Sharp as showing that the burn led to a large increase in annual exotic groundcover, which then reduced over the following years. Native grass cover, on the other hand, initially reduced following the burn, but increased to higher than pre-burn levels after the fire. Significantly, there was a large change in native forb cover, which increased from nothing before the burn to a maximum of 17 per cent seven months after it. Forb cover then remained above 8 per cent for the following three years. Notably, Bulbine Lilies Bulbine bulbosa flowered profusely in the first spring after the burn, but have declined since, and a few Golden Moths Diuris chryseopsis flowered.

Kangaroo Grass dominates the lower area on the Mount Painter side of the bike path, but there are patches of Poa Tussock Poa labillardierei, Phalaris Phalaris aquatica, Fescue Festuca sp., Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata and Paspalum Paspalum dilatatum as well. At the time of a patchy prescribed burn in March 2018, these grasses formed a dense mat of living plants and litter. In the months following the burn, with the much reduced biomass, we recorded more than 50 species of native grasses and forbs in flower, including many we had previously been unaware of. Common Woodruff Asperula conferta and Native Geranium Geranium solanderi var. solanderi were among the first forbs to appear. Later we found many more, including Native Plantain Plantago varia, Billy-buttons Craspedia variabilis, Native Carrot Daucus glochidiatus, Swamp Isotome Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. australis and Blue Grass Lily Caesia calliantha. These and many others have been documented in Canberra Nature Map. Unfortunately, a new weed, Witchgrass Panicum capillare or hillmanii, was also noted for the first time.

As the exotic grasses resprouted after the burn, we sprayed them individually with glyphosate in a strip 100 m X 35 m on the west side of the grassland. It was hoped to reduce the exotic grass cover and allow native grasses and forbs to spread. This work is continuing eastward. In addition to the scattered exotic grasses, a solid 200 m2 patch of Paspalum, was also sprayed and in August 2018 was planted with 250 tubestock comprising Poa Tussock, Kangaroo Grass and Bulbine Lilies. Despite having only been watered at the time of planting, these tubestock have done well. Ninety-six per cent of the grasses are still alive and flourishing after the very dry, hot and smoky conditions of the 2019–2020 summer which left the area parched and bare. 

In May 2019 we identified several small relatively bare areas where we planted 241 tubestock that included a variety of daisies, two lily species and a sedge. Our choice of planting sites was informed by our earlier experience with planting ground cover species on Mount Painter itself. In 2011 we were encouraged to plant into dense exotic ground cover along the summit path. While many plants survived, they were overwhelmed by surrounding vegetation and did not thrive or regenerate. In 2017 and 2018 when we next planted on the hill, we were aware of research that showed that native ground cover regeneration is favoured by 5–10 per cent bare ground. Accordingly, we planted in sites with sparser cover and had greater success. Early signs are that this approach has also been successful with the 2019 WFT planting.

At the time of writing (April 2020), we are observing the effects of the hailstorm of 20 January 2020 which dumped about 20 mm of rain in this area and which was followed up in February and March by nearly 200 mm. The grasslands have turned a spectacular green with the resprouting grasses, and forbs which would normally flower in spring put on colourful displays – among them Vanilla Glycine Glycine tabacina, Yellow Rush-lily Tricoryne elatior, Golden Stars Hypoxis hygrometrica var. villosisepala and Bluebells Wahlenbergia spp. Disappointingly however, heavy runoff from the neighbouring horse paddocks during the hailstorm also introduced many seeds (with associated manure) of weeds such as Paterson’s Curse Echium plantagineum which members of Friends of Mount Painter had spent many hours trying to eradicate. Amaranth Amaranthus retroflexus, already abundant in other parts of the reserve, has also appeared for the first time. Large numbers of Witchgrass plants have come up too, particularly along the horse paddock fence.

The WFT is also home to many animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates. While observing the 2018 burn from across the cycle path, we noticed that many insects and spiders appeared to be responding to the smoke and were on the move. Although we have no baseline data from before the burn for comparison, it has been interesting to observe the many species of insects and spiders now living in the newly open vegetation. Like the plants, these have been recorded on Canberra Nature Map. Of particular note was the discovery of an adult Perunga grasshopper Perunga ochracea among our recent plantings in November 2018 and a nymph of the same species in September 2019. 

We continue to discover new animals in the area, for example Shingleback lizards Tiliqua rugosa that were observed for the first time during 2019 and are relatively rare in the Belconnen area. We look forward to following the further development of the grasslands and enhancing their native biodiversity, especially by removing weeds. If you would like a guided tour of the grasslands, we would be happy to provide one, as and when we are allowed to gather again. You may contact us at


Photos on page 3 of our previous issue attributed photos to Amin Sahel and Andrew Zelnik. All were Amin’s.

Yellow-footed Antechinus - a nocturnal, marsupial carnivore

by Michael Bedingfield

The Yellow-footed Antechinus is very agile and scampers up trees and along branches just as fast as it does along the ground. It can also run quickly upside-down along the underside of branches and rock surfaces as well. It has striated pads on the underside of its rear feet that assist in this acrobatic skill. However it is mostly terrestrial and the main thing it eats is insects. It will also eat small mammals, reptiles and birds, as well as flowers and nectar. Superficially, it looks similar to the common house mouse. But its teeth are not like a mouse’s rodent teeth, and are more like those of a canine. Other differences are its bulging eyes and it has a noticeably pointed snout similar to a shrew.

The Atlas of Living Australia lists 15 species of Antechinus. They belong to the marsupial family Dasyuridae, called dasyurids, which also includes Quolls, genus Dasyurus, and the Tasmanian Devil Sarcophilus harrisii. Dasyurids occur only in Australia and New Guinea. The Yellow-footed Antechinus is also called the Mardo and has the scientific name of Antechinus flavipes. Features that separate it from other species of the genus are pale eye rings, a black-tipped tail and its colour. It has a variation in the fur colour from slate grey on the head and back to yellowish-brown or orange-brown on the sides, rump and feet. The male is larger, having an average overall head and body length of approximately 12 cm, females 10.5 cm, the tails being an average of about 10 cm for males and 8.5 cm for females. It is less nocturnal than other Antechinus species and will come out during the day.

This mammal is the most widespread Antechinus species and lives in a variety of habitats including tropical forests, coastal heath, dry arid scrub, open dry forest and grassy woodlands. In some places it is familiar since it will come into houses and even make nests there. It is not found in open grasslands because it needs tree hollows or hollow logs for nesting. It enjoys foraging in the leaf litter and among the fallen logs that woodlands offer, running around with quick, darting movements. It occurs along the eastern side of the Australian continent from north Qld down through NSW and Victoria, as well as in southeast WA. There are three subspecies of Antechinus flavipes. They are A.f. rubeculus in north Qld, A. f. leucogaster, in WA with the local one for south-eastern Australia one being A. f. flavipes.

Life and breeding for the Yellow-footed Antechinus is on an annual cycle. The young animals become mature enough to be independent in winter. Food is scarce then and they use intermittent torpor to conserve energy. Breeding occurs in late winter or spring with all females in a local population coming into oestrus at the same time. Polygamy is normal with the males being extremely active and competitive. Copulation is a strenuous affair and can last for up to 12 hours with the males gripping the female tightly with jaws and forelegs. The males’ vitality and health is used up but the next generation is assured. Within a few weeks all the males are dead from stress and exhaustion.

The females have a rudimentary pouch with 8 to 12 teats, the number varying between individuals and subspecies. After about a month’s gestation they give birth to up to 12 young that may have several fathers. They carry the tiny infants in the pouch for up to five weeks and then suckle them in the leafy nest until they are about three months old. The young share the nest until the following winter when they eventually seek independence and become territorial. After a while they are ready to mate. Most females die soon after the young have been raised but some manage to survive and produce a second litter.

The Yellow-footed Antechinus is a feisty shrew-like animal that won’t be tamed. If you try to handle one you may come off second best because it will not hesitate to use its sharp teeth. On the other hand, if you have encountered one in the Canberra area you are fortunate indeed, because although they are a generally common species, they are not often seen around here.


The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals, edited by Ronald Strahan, 1983, Angus & Robertson

A photographic Guide to Mammals of Australia, by Ronald Strahan and the Australian Museum, 1995, New Holland

Grave concerns at Hall Cemetery 

by John Fitz Gerald and Margaret Ning

FOG's Hall-Cemetery team has been very busy on deck over the past 8 weeks. Like many other places, the Hall Woodland has been growing madly. As readers will expect, this has been mixed native and exotic. The northern part of the woodland has become a sea of weed, probably from seeds stored in seedbank by previous infestations at the site but likely also having blown in from surrounding paddocks.

Let's focus on the positives first. Native understorey is doing well in the northern woodland. The Carex appressa zone along the drainage line is lush. Native grasses like Microlaena and Rytidosperma spp. have flowered and seeded nicely.  Lomandra filiformis is everywhere, so too is Stinking Pennywort. Dianella revoluta and D. longifolia are actively growing leaves, so too is Blue Devil. Some Plantago varia is currently shedding seed. In open places, Australian Stonecrop is growing. A few species show some open flowers including Mentha diemenica and a Wahlenbergia (stricta?). In the shrub world, Silver Wattle has some very leafy patches.

Now to the exotic negatives. Dense stands of Sonchus spp. (dominantly S. asper) have required urgent attention - buds, flowers and seeds all were showing, so urgent work proceeded to bag and remove as many of these as possible. Prickly Lettuce is also abundant, but not yet budding, but that must be FOG's next target. Black-berry Nightshade is carrying many fruits, so bagging and removing is again a high priority.  Capeweed has had a run and, while growing fast, shows no buds yet, but we have dug many plants to get ahead of them. The Ribwort Plantain threat mentioned in the last newsletter is going to be a huge challenge.  So too will exotic grasses including Ryegrass, Bromes and of course Phalaris. The weed list unfortunately goes on way beyond those noted here.

Physical action will continue to dominate our battle, so long as we have time and workpower to action that. We are most grateful to the FOG committee for agreeing to purchase a cordless line trimmer to quietly slash the major areas of Sonchus and Prickly Lettuce. Exotic Grass will also be tackled as time allows. Consideration is being given to herbicide attack on Milk Thistle rosettes, even though the cold and damp will slow response. Huge thanks to the many volunteers who have put time into weeding (estimated to total over 200 hours - so far!) and a few have done days and days of work and carted away large volumes of green waste.

All offers to help work in these woodlands are welcome - contact 

Photos show:

1.  Dense stand of Sochus asper, one metre and more tall. (photo Jenny Clarke)

2.  A similar patch, now deseeded and slashed.

3.  Buds, flowers and seeds of this species.

Images from our Deua Weekend

With apologies, we never provided a more complete account of FOG’s 16-17 Nov Deua weekend. Andrew Zelnik’s photos, shown here, are a reminder of that trip. Thanks Andrew.

This was FOG’s third visit to Karen Warburton and Michael Chapman’s property on the Shoalhaven River, and its extensive area of “secondary heathland growing on a coarse Devonian sandstone conglomerate” (Roger Farrow, May-June 1919 newsletter, page 14). Andrew’s photos do not include species previously included by Roger in our earlier newsletter. Andrew confessed his fascination of "the deep time and multiple geological formation processes out of which the current native vegetation in this part of Australia has evolved - the Devonian period is between 410-354 million years ago".

Right top to bottom

Flowering Black-anthered (Spreading) Flax Lily Dianella revoluta. Clinging onto one of the anthers is a small pollen laden native bee (~6mm long), possibly a Red-bottomed Bee Exoneura sp., a species previously seen during our initial Dec 2018 visit.

Flowering cream/white Thelionema caespitosum. Woodland Flora indicates it can also occur in a blue form, is found in relatively undisturbed woodland wet forest and woodland sites - in the latter it's restricted on the Southern Tablelands to sites east of Braidwood i.e. not common in this part of the world. This pic is from our initial Dec 2018 visit when conditions were wetter (and cooler) and growth and flowering of this plant, compared our most recent Nov 2019 visit, was noticeably "boofier" (to quote Marg) and more prolific. 

A diminutive Pale Everlasting Coronidium gunnianum on its way out and probably struggling at that time with the heat and lack of water.

Australian Brooklime Gratiola peruviana with characteristic pink flowers down by the river's edge. We also saw what looked like a form with white flowers, possibly another species?


Characteristic plethora of greenish to yellow flowers along spikes of Slender Stackhousia Stackhousia viminea. 

Front page 

Some of our group including our hosts at the beginning of our walk along the Shoalhaven River after morning tea. On the other side of the river is a Ribbon Gum Eucalyptus viminalis forest section of Deua National Park.

Contact us

General & media inquiries:; phones 0403 221 117 / 02 6241 4065 (Geoff Robertson)

Membership inquiries & payments: (application forms

To join in FOG activities/events:

To join FOG work parties: 

Hall Cemetery woodland, ACT: 

ACT Yarramundi Grassland & Stirling Park woodland:

Old Cooma Common, NSW: 

‘Scottsdale’ (near Bredbo), NSW:

Franklin Grassland ACT, NSW:

Health & Safety matters:

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(order forms are at

Applying for FOG small grants:

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Postal: PO Box 440, Jamison Centre, ACT 2614

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To contribute to FOG advocacy:

Website matters:

For more on FOG, see

Our webpage: and Facebook: Friends of Grasslands  - FOG. 


Friends of Grasslands Inc.

PO Box 440, Jamison Centre ACT 2614