Revegetation at HWCA
The original composition and extent of the vegetation of Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is difficult to determine due largely to the lack of information on the site and partly due to the amount of reclamation and alteration that had taken place.
The dominant vegetation was Swamp Oak Casuarina glauca forest and Common Reed Phragmites australis, with the Reeds becoming more dominant in the wetter ‘swamp’ communities to the west.
These communities were almost totally cleared. The swamp communities on the eastern edge were also cleared and reclaimed, although the extent of the filling is unknown.
There were significant changes in the upland vegetation with most of the trees being removed and the natural understorey being replaced by pasture species in most areas. Remnant native species suggest that the original upland vegetation comprised an open forest dominated by Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata and Grey Ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata, with an understorey of various sclerophyllus shrubs.
In order to obtain baseline data of the original vegetation for future planting purposes, a flora inventory of the whole Hunter Wetlands Centre site was undertaken. The entire site was mapped and divided into zones.
Native plant species that were not endemic to the Hunter region were planted around the Visitors’ Centre building, while local native species representative of the existing plant community were planted around the human-altered ponds and other areas including other buildings.
Prior to 1988, 2,290 trees were planted by Greening Australia (Hunter Valley). Since 1988 all species, including the number of plants, the locality that was planted, and the person/s who planted have been recorded. The total number of trees planted to date is approximately 55,000.
Members of the Australian Plant Society and the Hunter Wetlands Centre volunteers (Wetlands Centre Wonder Weeders) and supporters have undertaken most of the planting. The Jesmond Lions Club, Newcastle North and Newcastle Rotary Clubs, GreenCorps, Green Reserve and local Scout groups have also provided assistance. There are three registered Landcare groups on the site including 'The Wetland Wonder Weeders, Thursday Mob' and the 'Butcherbird gully group'.
A grant from the Steel Industries Assistance Program facilitated the planting of vegetation from the Visitors Centre to Ironbark Creek. The planting of species such as Casuarina glauca, Melaleuca stypheloides, M. quinquenervia, M. nodosa, M. linearfolia, Crinum pedunculatum, Ficus coronata, Elaeocarpus obovatus, Callistemon salignus stabilised the clay banks of the canoe trail and provide a more aesthetically pleasing buffer of vegetation.
In other areas, Eucalyptus tereticornis and E. robusta were extensively planted as means of attracting Koalas to the site. Supplementing these Eucalypts was the planting of 3,000 trees to form a wildlife corridor from the Melaleuca Swamp through to Ironbark Creek. Plants from genera such as Eucalyptus spp.,Acacia spp., Leptospermum spp., Ficus spp., Syncarpia spp., Alphitonia spp., have all been established and have shown substantial growth in these areas.
An enormous amount of work has been undertaken over the 15 years at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. Main work ( majority by the volunteers Thursday mob) has involved removal of Pampas Grass, Lantana, Cestrum, Honeysuckle, Blackberry, Moth Vine, Madeira Vine, Ochna and Castor Oil. There are an inordinate number of other exotic grasses and herbs. To join a landcare team or the site maintenance team click here to send an email. Similarly, if you or your group would like to participate in our onsite regeneration works click here to make arrangements.
Plants were obtained early on by donation and purchase with Australian Plant Society (APS) funds. Now plants are propagated on site for use at the Hunter Wetlands Centre and for the APS to sell at shows and to the general public.
On every Thursday morning, plants are on sale to the general public between 9am and 12noon. Check out the “what’s on” calendar for more details.