Woodlands Historic Park
History - Revegetation

Little revegetation took place before the formation of the Friends of Gellibrand Hill Park (now Friends of Woodlands Historic Park) in June 1982. This is not to say that all plantings have been done by the Friends group, as many groups such as schools, army cadets, cubs and scouts have been involved over the years. The first plantings took place in the picnic area at Somerton Road, followed by a large amount of revegetation in the Back Paddock.

Friends of Woodlands Historic Park Planting at Cumberland Dam, May 1987. photo by Joan Thrush
Planting at Woodlands Historic Park (Cumberland Dam), May 1987

In general, one should use the term "tree planting" rather than revegetation to describe the work done in the park, as the latter implies restoring the original vegetation, including grasses and other ground layer plants. The main species planted in the early years were trees and some shrubs - Red Gum, Drooping Sheoke, Wattles, Sweet Bursaria and Tree Violet, as well as Manna Gum along Greenvale Creek. I know of one successful attempt at direct seeding of Kangaroo Grass, and some Common Tussock Grass has been planted. Some daisies were planted in the picnic ground as early as June 1985 but these have not survived. (There are a few struggling everlastings near where the creek crosses Somerton Road, but these may be original.)

Plants were originally protected from rabbits with short wire netting guards assembled by the Friends, and these can unfortunately still be found at the base of trees around the park. At that time Kangaroo browsing was not an issue, although it became so before most of the Sheokes had matured, and as a result these were eaten off at a comfortable Kangaroo munching height for many years.

Some of the main areas planted in the Back Paddock were erosion control areas near the quarries and south of Gellibrand Hill. Gellibrand Hill itself was also a focus. For example, 1000 trees and shrubs were planted there in the Spring of 1985, and more planting took place after the construction of the new radar facility in the early 1990s.

Most plants used in the park have been grown in the nursery, situated at the homestead until facilities were constructed at the new Park Depot. The nursery was run by park staff with assistance from the Friends group until 1986 when the Friends were asked to take a more active role. Today it is operated and maintained solely by Friends of Woodlands Historic Park.

In 1991 an area south of the picnic area known as the "conservation zone" was revegetated. This is the area immediately north of the track running west from the park depot, or the lower right part of area 12 on the clickable map .

The Restoration Plan (Carr et al. 1996) proposed restoring the original "scrub" on the hill above Woodlands Homestead and across to the sugar gum plantation, and this work commenced in 1999. Later the belts of Drooping Sheoke were planted either side of the homestead driveway, also according to a proposal in the Restoration Plan, although with the addition of some Golden Wattles.

Friends of Woodlands Historic Park Planting on Woodlands Hill Sep. 1999, view from the east.
photo by Joan Thrush
Planting at Woodlands Historic Park Sep. 1999, view of Woodlands Hill from east
Woodlands Hill from the east, Nov. 2007
Woodlands Historic Park Nov. 2007, view of Woodlands Hill from east
Sweet Bursaria planted by Friends of Woodlands Historic Park and protected by Kangaroo Resistant Tree Guard
Sweet Bursaria planted by Friends of Woodlands Historic Park and protected by Kangaroo Resistant Tree Guard

By this time Kangaroos had increased to very high numbers outside of the Back Paddock, to the point where plants protected only by plastic guards had almost zero survival rate. Taller plastic film guards were trialled but were quickly ripped to shreds, while available corflute guards are either too short or too skinny. On several occasions contractors have attempted revegetation using "Sentry" Kangaroo repellent, but in the most recent attempt in 2014 almost nothing except the prickly wattles survived. On this project, adjacent to the bike path, rabbit guards were not used either. It was part of the "Two Million Trees" project, which in the case of Woodlands Historic Park somehow became the Eight Thousand Shrubs project. Surely one of the least impressive vote buying exercises ever.

FOWHP have settled on the use of Kangaroo resistant wire netting guards 1.2m high and 0.5m diameter. These are quite expensive (and labour intensive to make) but can generally be reused several times.

Note that the Kangaroos are not numerous enough to prevent natural regeneration, at least of Eucalypts and wattles in wet years.

Since 2005 FOWHP have concentrated their efforts on the former Greenvale Sanatorium/Northwest Hospital land. As well as planting shrubs along Providence Road in a vain attempt to trap windblown litter and weeds, and planting shrubs and grasses along the upper part of Greenvale Creek, they have also experimented with planting small areas of Kangaroo Grass and also direct seeding of Kangaroo Grass, both to replace patches of Chilean Needle Grass. These areas have been protected with temporary 1.2 m high netting fences. (While adult Kangaroos can easily jump these fences, they don't seem to do so if the area is small enough.) Even with two years of weed control before planting, it has been found necessary to spot spray or hand weed to remove Chilean Needle Grass for several years after planting, no matter how densely the Kangaroo Grass is planted