John Forrest NP clean up – Red Hill
Richard – Patrol; Roger & Derek – Patrol; Don & Jane – Patrol; Penny & Spence – Landcruiser; Ivo – Landcruiser; Simon & Jacob – Perentie; Matt – Pajero; Gary – Landcruiser; Peter – Landcruiser; Rob & Amy – Prado; Dave – Prado; Sean & Deb – Triton; Brandon – Jimny
Firstly, I want to thank each and every All Tracks member who made themselves available on short notice for this day of volunteering. In a recent meeting with the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA, formerly DPAW), somehow the conversation got around to would you consider doing a clean-up in the Kimberly! The look of surprise on my face must have given away the fact that I had no idea what they meant. “The Kimberly” is the colloquial name the DBCA guys in John Forrest National Park use, to refer to Red Hill as it is on the north west corner of the park! Once I was made aware of where they needed help it was an easy “I’ll get back to you with an if & when” answer. After a couple of emails, I let them know that All Tracks could fit in a clean-up on the 7th March.
I had actually gone into Red Hill with Paul (senior Ranger) in February to do a reccy, and to get our heads around how bad it was and to see what was required. To be honest the bottom of the hill was better than we anticipated with most rubbish coming from illegal dumping, so to some extent it was not spread out. Unfortunately, the top of the hill next to the main road is a total disaster and there is a lot of commercially dumped rubbish. Paul and I hatched a plan on how best to attack the problem and achieve a good outcome. Given the amount of rubbish, we were fully aware that this might take more than one clean-up day and we would try to fit one in before winter and then look to possibly doing another one later in the year.
Roll forward to the 7th and I was surprised to see so many of our members up on Neuman Rd ready and waiting when I arrived before 8am. After getting everyone signed up we had a quick volunteers meeting with John (our Ranger for the day) to discuss what we were doing and how it was important that we try to minimize our impact, as this area has some unique flora and that is why it is national park. Part of the reason I was happy to arrange this day was that our members could legally enter and drive in the national park whilst helping out DBCA. After moving into a central area members teamed up and spread out quickly filling the five trailers being towed by members, and the one trailer provided by DBCA. The plan was to then transfer this to a skip bin that we had placed down the road at Battistessa Studio. It is unfortunate that the bin had to be placed in a secure area in order to stop people dumping their rubbish in it.
The level of enthusiasm that everyone had was quite remarkable and short work was made of initial areas we targeted, and we then started to move up the hill. Knowing the terrain that was coming up members started out along the various tracks that wind their way east and up the scarp. The feedback from members who had no experience with Red Hill was interesting, most people are not aware of how hard some of the tracks are and that this is all right on the metro area fringe. As we had collected so much rubbish, Dave (towing the DBCA trailer full of tyres) and myself (towing cage trailer) headed back to the bin to unload. The original plan was to clean the bottom of the hill and then collect as much from dump site at top as we could fit in the bin. Unfortunately, as we had almost filled the bin before starting on the main pile, I made the call to stop collecting rubbish after consultation with John. We then had everyone head back and bring in what they had already collected which significantly added to the bin. In the end John with the tyres had to be joined by Simon and Don both towing full trailers back to the works depot in the national park.
John had a thought that the guys would like to take a “short cut” back to the depot. so rather than head over to Gt Eastern Hwy he led them up the Heritage Trail that runs from the back of Swan View up through the middle of the park. Apparently having gate keys and driving a DBCA ute gets you access to some nice areas. As I write this, I am planning for a catch-up meeting with DBCA to work out what went well with the day, what we could have done better and more importantly what future activities could we as a club partake in. With the ongoing cutting of budgets, volunteers are now more than ever vitally important to the smooth running of our national parks. Building a good working relationship with DBCA has always been my plan and many hours of planning & meetings take place before these types of days come to fruition. For me the reward is that we did something good for our environment and we achieved that as a group.
Thanks heaps and watch this space as I have more ideas planned.
All the best