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    HEN was contacted in 2015 by members of the original group which looked after the recovery of bushland on land used for the Castlereagh Toxic Waste Depot aka Liquid Waste tip on the Northern Rd between the John Morony jail and the Castlereagh State Forest. Their request was to help them ensure that the area is never used for housing or industry; is retained as a Nature Reserve, which would keep the 1.5 million tons of toxic waste safe under the 108 000 trees that have been planted since 2004. The depot covers 350 hectares, has been closed since 1998 and has been well maintained to date.  A visit to the site was organised by Neil Wakeley and Bill Sneddon of the RAGE group in 2016, where we met with staff who maintain the site, and other members of the original conservation team. Neil Wakeley from RAGE spoke about his campaign for the Castlereagh Tip (in Penrith LGA) to be added to the adjacent State Forest and not used for housing and industry.
    The site (350 ha) should be State Govt owned and permanently not-for-use as 250 ha of the land is contaminated, currently fully fenced by Waste Services. The RAGE group wants ongoing community knowledge of this history.

    SITE HISTORY:The depot was established in 1974, in the face of strong opposition from residents, officially as a small, temporary site for liquid waste. The people living in the area were told it would be gone in six months. Twenty years later, it has grown to cover 360 hectares filled with 8000 holes plugged with toxic waste. Between 1993 and the start of 1994, the site took 47.4 tonnes of pesticides, 29 tonnes of metals such as chrome, iron and zinc, 347.7 tonnes of alkalis, 790 tonnes of paint and 200 kilograms of acid. In all, the depot has received more than a million tonnes of waste.The NSW Waste Service, which ran the depot, had issued statements claiming that no pesticides are stored at the depot, yet RAGE co-ordinator Alan Mills had found internal documents listing many tonnes of pesticides stored at the site.Further detail can be found in records such as the Castlereagh Liquid Waste Disposal Depot Bill Reading by MP Paul Gibson 1992 and the interview of Alan Mills by Greenleft Weekly in 1994:Toxic cover-up: a million tonnes of poison.

    Meeting of RAGE, HEN and staff of Waste Services at site 2016. L to R: Janusz Dobrolot – W.A.M.C., Site Hydrologist,  Samantha Craige,Revegetation, State Govt.,   Peter Ridgeway, – State Govt. Revegetation, Elspeth Murphy -Public Closure Committee, Ken Hill – Public Closure Committee, Bill Sneddon – Public Closure Committee,  Glenn Vickery and  Margaret Vickery – H.E.N Representatives.  Neil Wakeley – Public Closure Committee,  Peter Lowery – W.A.M.C. Tree Planting Supervisor, Robert Symington – W.A.M.C. Planning Manager , Grant Forrest – W.A.M.C. Site Maintenance Supervisor

    HEN agrees that this site must never be developed, but added into the current Cumberland Plain Woodlands corridors to

    Variety of planting undertaken since the site was closed, from 2004 onwards. Birdlife on the day indicated that there is plenty of habitat of value.

    be retained for wildlife habitat.The Cumberland Plain Woodland area is currently home to all kinds of birds, bats, and small mammals. Native wildlife need more than just pockets of bush to live in.  They need corridors that allow them to move around, to find seasonal habitats, food, and breeding grounds.The federal Department of Environment and New South Wales government have identified the Cumberland Plain Woodland as an endangered ecological community. Since 2014 various agencies have formed a plan for managing this woodland, to protect the wildlife living there.

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    Since Jules returned from Uppsala she continued into honours with studies on bees and wasps. Her studies in  environmental management and climate change at UWS Hawkesbury certainly fitted her well for her role as Chair of HEN, and so she stepped into the role at the AGM in August 2015. Her active connections with other groups wider afield than Hawkesbury, for instance in the Walk 4 Water campaign has been of great advantage to HEN.  “The Swedes were far more sophisticated than most Australians when it came to knowledge of environmental sustainability.They’re just so much more advanced than us. It’s just so hard to get people aware of it here.You can become sustainable in everything you do but you can’t expect incremental growth. People say it’s a nice idea — someone should do something about it. I want to be that someone.”

    Jade joined HEN in 2016 whilst she was supervisor of the Green Army wetland team stage 3. Her team held her in great esteem and affection as she undertook some delicate interactions with wetland landowners and assisted the education around wetland protection. She is passionate about looking after the planet and nature. Out of the operations, she and the team decided to form Wetland Warriors “Does our natural environment calm your nerves, do you like getting your hands dirty, would you like to be a voice for wetlands, meet some super rad humans and call yourself a Wetland Warrior? ☀️🌱 We are always looking to expand our team, so if this makes you excited and your between 18 – 35 (we aren’t really that strict 😉 have a chat to us if you don’t quite make it) then please PM or email us at”



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  • Wetland update: Green Army have finished their role: now it’s time for Wetland Landcare!

    How is the knowledge and works on our local wetlands progressing?

    Wetland bank vegetation showing relationship of form to site and function. Missing in the diagram are the roots which are key to bank protection.

    The map of Bushells Lagoon here shows (orange spots) where HEN and Green Army stages 1-3 began some on-ground works in 2015-2016, which now gives us much more clarity about what to undertake next. We have treated weeds, fenced, planted reeds, trees and shrubs; and learnt a lot..plant ID, bird ID, water tests, carpwatch, assessing damage to banks and how to protect them from erosion…there is much more to learn however!! It was a collaborative operation with WSU, TAFE, Council and Hawkesbury River County Council, as well as Local Land Services and several research students. A new youth team calling themselves Wetland Warriors was formed by the young GA team: despite calls on their time to study or find a job, they have inspired landholders to work together on more wetland protection.Plans are now on the way for workdays to be held at selected sites to continue bank protection and restoration. This is intended to encourage locals around the wetland  to give some of their time to develop a more stable, biodiverse and resilient riparian edge (against wave and carp action) by initially scoping the site and seeing some indicators of issues eg depth, turbidity, exposure, lack of plant roots, lack of woody debris etc; then undertaking planting of selected reeds, shrubs and trees on the day. The two photos taken before and after restoration works shows what can be done by simple means. Please get in touch with HEN Project Co-ordinator for more information about being involved.

    Reed beds June 2015. No control on livestock grazing

    Same reed beds after fencing to exclude livestock, and introduction of more species of reeds. March 2017

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  • HEN AGM 2016: Thursday October 13th, 6.30pm at the Deerubbin Centre WINDSOR

    Invitation to the 5th AGM

    HEN welcomes members and visitors to attend this event; hear about all our activities undertaken in the last 12 months and welcome in our new Committee for 2016-2017.The agenda below is brief, to permit an interesting presentation by our guest speaker, followed by our usual excellent spread of refreshments. We look forward to catching up with friends and visitors. Entry free for members or gold coin donation at the door.

    Please contact or phone 0414 672 014 for any enquiries or to send a proxy vote.


    • Welcome and introduction by Chair Jules Wright. Apologies
    • Guest Speaker: Corinne Fisher, TEC Campaign SOS Green Spaces
    • Confirmation of Minutes of AGM on 28th August 2015
    • Chairman’s Report : Jules Wright
    • Treasurer’s Report: Jim Watson
    • Election of Office Bearers and Committee
    • General Business
    • Supper

    Guest Speaker: Corinne Fisher from the Total Environment Centre (TEC) will be presenting the latest information about some of the greatest threats to our environment: the threats to our biodiversity laws and increased clearing of public green spaces as Sydney expands inexorably into the west. HEN is concerned particularly about the way and rate at which this expansion is taking place.

    NSW councils have sold, developed or reclassified more than 20 per cent of public urban open space in the past decade, a figure state environmental groups are labelling as a “crisis point”.

    The Georges River Corridor, the Cumberland Conservation Corridor, the Shanes Park Woodlands and bushland at the site of the new hospital at Frenchs Forest are some of the 39 open spaces under threat, says the Total Environment Centre.​

    Urban open space includes parks, playing fields and bushland reserves. “We’re consistently getting reports of losses of parks, open space and urban bushland. We think it has reached a crisis stage,” said Jeff Angel, executive director of the Total Environment Centre, which says there has been a 23.5 per cent decline in open space in NSW in the past ten years.

    CEO of the Nature Conservation Council Kate Smolski described the loss of open space “incredibly alarming”.

    “There are clear risks that the current government is bending to the will of property developers who want more land transferred into private hands and cleared for development,” she said.

    The most recent episode of clearing part of the Cooks River endangered Ironbark bushland within Wolli Creek valley for the WestConnex corridor has enraged locals who know just how special this bushland is.

    As secretary of the Cumberland Conservation Network, Wayne Olling knows the struggle of protecting open space well, having spent the last ten years trying to protect the Shanes Park Woodland from a road reservation.

    “When you’re talking about something as big as a motorway it has a huge impact on a high conservation value area.”

    We need to develop a system of conservation laws that will ensure our wildlife, bushland, soils, water supplies and climate are restored to health and can meet the physical, cultural and spiritual needs of future generations. To achieve this, we need laws that:

    • Protect and enhance the health and variety of our wildlife, protect water supplies and ensure healthy soils and productive farmlands
    • Ensure no return to broad-scale land clearing by retaining clearing controls
    • Support farmers who protect wildlife, healthy soils and pure water supplies in return for maintaining strong vegetation laws
    • Identify and rule out clearing bushland that is critical as habitat for threatened wildlife
    • Rule out offset schemes that allow developers to destroy wildlife habitat in exchange for cash or dissimilar types of habitat
    • Use tree-clearing controls to maximize the amount of carbon pollution captured and retained by native bushland, and
    • Require comprehensive and accurate mapping of the state’s 1500 vegetation communities so we know exactly where they are and can protect them properly.

    More details about these issues can be found at the following links



    Shane Park Grassy Woodland. Australian Plant Society visit April 2013


    Londonderry Bushland site: Conservation group with Wayne Olling of Cumberland Land Conservancy on right.


    Former Riverstone meatworks wetland: hosts large flocks of up to 190 international migratory shorebirds and 400 plus nomadic waterfowl



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  • Freshwater fish of Hawkesbury-Nepean catchments

    Wetland studies on the Richmond-Windsor floodplain is part of the work and learnings currently being undertaken by our Green Army team and local landholders. At the recent Wetlands of the West Symposium, some live fish displays included native catfish, Tandanus tandanus,long-finned eel Anguilla reinhardtii, and some carp gudgeon Hypseoletris spp., and striped gudgeon, as well as freshwater mussels and crayfish (yabbies). The current state of the larger wetlands such as Bushells Lagoon, is highly affected by carp which dominate the water body; however, locals who have known that wetland through several generations tell us that there were many native species including catfish, mullet, perch, and eels in the lagoon in great quantity. Dipnetting by the GA team does catch small mosquito fish (Gambusia sp.) which are introduced. These and several types of macroinvertebrate (bugs) can be found where the edges of banks still support some healthy vegetation, even in the alligator weed which provides some habitat. Frogs are not as noticeable either.

    If the advent of the Carp Herpes Virus affects the carp and rids the wetlands of them, it is hoped reintroduction of suitable native species may be possible. The link to a short movie showing some of the species which were on display can be seen here : Catfish behaviour.

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