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Umbagong Landcare Group

Geographic focus: Ginninderra Creek Corridor between Ginninderra Drive to Florey Drive, focused at Umbagong District Park, Latham.  The group also has an interest in Goodwin Hill, Macgregor.

Regular Activities and Working Bees: Our activities range from weed management, planting native vegetation, erosion control and community awareness-raising and education. Please contact us if you would like to come along to one of our upcoming activities.

Contact: Convener, Celina Smith. Contact via the Ginninderra Catchment Group, 6278 3309,

Latest news

The follow musings are my reflections on what we achieved each working bee that I email out to Umbagong volunteer landcarers.

Umbagong landcare runs a working bee on the first saturday of each month, although this occassionally changes when there is public holiday or special event such as Clean Up Australia Day (1st Sunday in March).

If you like what you read and are interested in joining us on our working bee please contact Ginninderra Catchment Group during business hours and they can put you in touch with me.

There are lots of photo’s of us working in Umbagong but I am still working out how to load them up to the site so hopefully you will see the pictures to match my words soon.

Please look at the bottom of the page where we have lots of other information about Umbagong and a copy of our brochure you can download



May 2016 Working Bee - Umbagong reflections by Celina Smith
I am learning all the time about what a landcare coordinator needs to know from many of you who have been caring for Umbagong for many years. One such lesson is that Autumn and Spring are key seasons for keeping on top of woody weeds.  We certainly made the most of it over this Autumn.
As I wrote in my last email we got stuck into the satisfying cut and dab process but  many more were found this month as the leaves of the Box Elder started to turn from green to bright yellow.  The leaves of the Box Elder were so bright that they seemed to be taunting us.  It was like they were saying “ha ha you missed me”.  
Well we caught many of them this time, mainly targeting those growing close to the creek, just down stream of the axe grinding grooves and the large bridge.  When we got through the reeds to the Box Elders many of them had been cut a year or so before and were re-sprouting.  This is a lesson in patience.  Most woody weeds such as Box Elder need to be hit a few times before they die.  Persistent is the key.   Another important technique to the treatment of woody weeds is to cut them low enough that the poison reaches the roots but not too low that you mix soil in with the poison which makes it inactive.  We saw some woody weeds cut too high and were re-sprouting with tremendous vigour.
The volunteers this month were up to the challenge of the Box Elder’s taunts where we systematically targeted each plant on both sides of the creek.  The job was made easier than other times as the creek was really low.  Some of us were hidden in the reeds while others were more visible.  This visibility of volunteers working encouraged those strolling along the bike path to stop and chat.  Much of this interest provided really good feedback on the work we were doing.  The interest from others on this sunny autumn morning was so great that we ran out of pamphlets, luckily we had more in the car.
On our way out of the park we targeted a few large privet bushes that were full of berries under the willows where the path to the Florey St car park forks off the main path.  One thing that slightly damped our morning was a number of us tripping over the fallen wire fence climbing out of the willow area.  
Assisting with the access to the Box Elder was the mown and half burnt area which was done to support research done by Ken Hodgkinson to find the best way of promoting native grass regeneration.  This research will hopefully help future landcarers and the ACT government to maintain ACTs grasslands.  The main question is what method can managers of grasslands apply to promote native grass growth.  Will it be burning, mowing, grazing  or just leaving it be?  Or maybe another method not yet explored?  This is important research and I am glad it is being trialled at Umbagong.  Whatever Ken finds out it would be good to apply in Umbagong on a larger scale to help reduce the exotic grasses and promote the native species.
I would also like to say a big thanks to John Fitz Gerald, Damon and the Telstra volunteers who worked all day last Thursday removing many of the privet and other woody weeds from the creek banks just above the grooves, see the attached marked aerial photo of the area they worked on below. John said they took away a number of trailer loads full of woody weeds. A great help to continuing our efforts in regenerating the banks of the creek to a more natural state with native vegetation.  This helps with both water quality and the general ecosystem of the Ginninderra Creek.
Also I would like to thank the Green Army and those involved in getting them organised in removing many of the small poplars close to the creek, just down stream of the stepping stones.
Below are a few pictures of yesterdays working bee, the weather was much sunnier than today but we definitely welcome the rain - thanks Rosemary for your great camera work.
So there has been heaps of work done on woody weeds this cut and dab season. So work now shifts to our winter activities.  For our June working bee, Robert has a great idea to plant native grasses so we will be focusing on growing and not destroying for the next working bee.  
I hope to see you there.
April 2016 Working Bee - Umbagong reflections by Celina Smith

It was a fresh morning as the group filed along the path towards the axe grinding grooves. We spied our first victim - a brier rose near the first bridge on the left. That took three of us to destroy.

The other half of the group got stuck into the Box Elders sprouting along the creek, within half an hour most of the box elders were cut down.
As the creek was low we were able to get on to the islands in the creek and get to those wood weeds we had our eye on for a number of months. We were luck to have the company of the fire tails and wrens hopping around the thick grasses as we cut and dabbed.

As more brier rose were targeted near the axe grinding grooves, I found myself under a bridge cutting more woody weeds and doing extra rubbish collection.

In the last half of the working bee we started to tackle the box elder on the eastern side of the creek. Among the reeds, we found sprouting willow and got stuck into that as well.

We saved many more woody weeds to cut and dab on the eastern side of the creek for next month. It was suggested that next time we should have half the group on one side and half on the other as spotters of woody weeds along the creek edge.

I hope to see you at the next working bee and thank to all those who came this morning for some satisfying work well done.
All the best


March 2016 Working Bee - Umbagong reflections by Celina Smith

Thanks to everyone who helped with this years Clean Up Australia day today.

It was quite hot work even starting at 9am and it got even hotter by 11 am in collecting rubbish around Umbagong. We had 12 volunteers and 3 dogs. The amount of rubbish was less than the amount we had come across in previous years. We were not sure the reason for this - either the recent burns also burnt the rubbish, the recent rain had pushed the rubbish along the creek further down stream or maybe the community is learning not to leave rubbish and is cleaning up after themselves. Not so sure the last is the case but I hope so.

We concentrated on the Florey drive side of the creek from Want place to the steeping stones. We also picked up quite a bit of rubbish along the fence between Florey Drive and the Park and around the car park area.

Eric and Caroline (and Whiskey) came across a big patch of rubbish just downstream of the stepping stones where the recent (and not so recent) floodwaters had dropped many drink bottles and cans which have been washed down the creek.

The tally for our efforts was 10 recycling bags of rubbish and 6 non-recycling rubbish bags. We also found one needle and a number of full sharp containers which was a concern and for those who are around Umbagong often please watch out for these problems. If you do see needles and sharp containers please contact Canberra Connect and they can get rangers to remove them appropriately. If you do find this type of thing, please let me know and we can look in to getting the ACT gov to check around the areas more often.

I have included in this email those who helped today but are not current members of Umbagong Landcare group - we would vey much welcome you if you were keen to get more involved so let me know if you are. For those who were there I have included the pictures from this morning. When taking them I did ask if it was ok to use them but if you don’t want the pictures to go any further than this email please let me know. The only other use would be to promote our landcare group in putting these photos on the web or Facebook showing the groups activities.

I hope everyone is now celebrating our great achievement today with a cool drink and a relaxing afternoon - I know I am. Thanks again for all your help



Feburuary 2016 Working Bee - Umbagong reflections by Celina Smith

It was a cool but fine morning. The plan was to do weeding at Want place however a number of keen volunteers had done quite a lot of weeding during the last month already. So we moved to another spot on the way to the Stepping Stones where we had weeded a year ago as it is a good area full of Kangaroo Grass, a rocky outcrop with small ferns and a clump of casuarinas and native trees.

As we enjoyed the music if the creek bubbling behind us we weeded this large patch of Kangaroo Grass. With the recent rain the soil was moist and made it easy to get at the St John Wort roots out and too pull the tough Verbascum plants up. Although only some St John’s Wort were flowering, once we had our noses to the ground we found many new plants sprouting among the Kangaroo Grass.

We also spent time chatting to people as they went past. There were many families and people out getting some sunshine and exercise this morning in the park. Quite a few were interested in what we were doing. Many thought we were picking something but we then explained what we were doing and they seemed interested. Luckily we had brochures for those who were interested.

In my wanderings in Umbagong this morning I also spied a group of 6 Kangaroos by the first bridge with the white rails just north of the Florey St car park and a couple of pacific ducks warming themselves on a rock in the creek near the axe grinding grooves.

It was a lovely morning however we did find some dumped rubbish among the wattles near the car park and we have left them in an obvious place so that TAMS can pick them up when they check for rubbish during the week.

This is a good reminder to us all that Clean Up Australia is an important day to focus our work on reducing the rubbish around Umbagong. I have registered Umbagong as a Clean up Australia site so I hope to see many of you on Sunday 6 March which will be our next working bee. 



January 2016 Working Bee - Umbagong reflections by Celina Smith
9 January 2016 working bee - Assessing plantings from last year around the Axe Grinding Grooves
This Saturday was a bright and warm summer morning as the group set out to find out the survival rate of the plants that were planted around the axe grinding grooves section of the Ginninderra Creek.  A range of Callistemon (bottlebrush) and Casuarina (She-oaks) were planted as a joint venture between Umbagong Landcare and Mulanggang Traditional Aboriginal Landcare Group.  
In our assessment, we estimated that there was a 60% survival rate of those that were planted. We removed many of the tree guards from those that didn’t survive or did need guards any more and weeded around those that were struggling to grow through the thick grass surrounding them.
In the creek just up from the axe grinding grooves we found a patch of woody weeds which might be one of our next tasks however we might ask if the green army if they could help with a willow we found in the middle of the creek.  
After looking at how well the planting went we tackled the African Love Grass around the path new the grooves, at least trying to reduce the spread by chopping off the seed heads. We also found a great patch of Dianella (blue flax Lily) which we weeded around mulched with some kangaroo grass, hoping some would seed in the area.
A  good idea for one of our Autumn working bees was suggested, if we can get hold of some plants.   It would be good to plant some daisies and other native ground cover plants under the trees near the path (where there is considerable bare ground) near Want Place.  
Results from the previous working bee results from 5 December, we did a fantastic job in loping the heads of the Verbascum which will hopefully mean less of them next year, thanks to all who helped.

Posts from 2015 and prior

In Flower at Umbagong

Umbagong is a very special area of natural temparate grassland with many native grasses and forbs flowering in spring.  Umbagong Landcare Group work to look after these areas as there is less than 5% of original natural temparate grassland remaining in the ACT.

Click here to see the plants in flower at Umbagong

Winter in Umbagong

Out and About along Ginninderra Creek – June long-weekend 2014

Why we Landcare by Rosemary Blemmings

I was meandering through the eucalypts parallel to the creek from Flynn to Macgregor & this little beauty – a cluster of Chocolate Lilly cluster, near the U-shaped end of Wrenfordsley Place, made me muse that it’s these sorts of experiences that make it all worthwhile. The rewards we reap don’t always come through ceremonies and certificates, they are on the ground, in other stories, in fresh air and in the skies.

Chocolate Lilly Cluster at the end of Wrenfordsley Place – Umbagong June 2014 (photo by R Blemmings)

Here’s another series of bonuses….mostly in the order in which they occurred.

1.   I approached a young couple with two children in a stroller and gave away the first of about 7 Umbagong Brochures I handed out. “It’s our first time here” she said. They had American accents & the father & I both realised at the same time that we’d met when the USA Embassy people came to work on removing briars at the axe grinding grooves. They’d had the kangaroos pointed out to them by another alert walker. They were rapt. How great that they’d come back to Umbagong.

2.   A cormorant flew downstream from the footbridge.

3.   Just after the first boardwalk (coming from Flynn) I could see a young woman with dog walking my way but via the track to the monitoring station there. Another brochure. She excitedly explained that she’d seen an Echidna the other day in that same area after wondering what the waddling thing ahead of them was.

4.   There were several other families on bikes/trainer wheels & with strollers/dogs. Even though the easterly was cold how good to see people taking advantage of the weather & getting OUTDOORS.

5.   West of the Florey drive carpark & amongst the planted trees there was a mixed feeding flock of birds with Weebills, hovering Thornbills, Scarlet robins, Golden Whistlers & Wrens. 

6.   There was a native Clematis beginning to climb up at rough-barked treetrunk.

7.   I was heading for the River Redgum plantings. Weed spraying has reached that track from the chimney end. I wished I trusted Monsanto enough to do walks like today’s armed with a spray-pack and scissors+bag to gather the seeds from the easily-missed isolated tussocks amongst the other grasses.

8.   When the sap’s running again we could easily spend a working-bee in there on the woody weeds. 

9.   So much to see amongst the various “woodland” areas with many toadstool rings and isolates of > 10 species of fungi.

10. Perhaps a month ago the eroded path down from the flying fox was turned into a “bike” run with large rocks moved onto the path to add to riders’ excitement.

11.  There’s a wide-axle vehicle mark down through the Themeda grassland here. The good thing is I came across at least 3 Leucochrysum albicans in this area with one cluster in flower.

12.  Walking back along the path and between the boardwalks I noticed a soccerball-sized “hump” in the grass. At the same time about 5 roos bounded (being chased at first?) towards the space between the Greening Australia plantings & the Florey Dr. carpark and stopped. The “hump” turned out to be an Echidna. I took a couple of photos and then retreated to watch. A teenager sped along on his bike & seemed pleased I’d flagged him down & shown him the echidna. The digger checked out the grasses & then went off deeper into rank grass. By the way it moved I reckon the odd tracks I’d previously seen in long grass might be signs of echidna moving through. My photo of its diggings suggests it was after animals near & under the grasses’ roots. But to be able watch it when it wasn’t really concerned about me as a threat was pure magic.

13. Four young girls were playing in the shrubbery below the other playground (nearest “new” Latham”) were very grateful for Umbagong brochures and also said they’d seen an echidna recently nearer home when I mentioned my luck. Just seeing them outdoors using their imaginations and enjoying each others’ company made me muse that all those I’d seen today & spoken with seemed alert, happy, involved and were making the most of the day & place. If only we could take people out of their shopping-centre lives & out into the bush/along the creek and show how much else there is to LIVING!!!.

14. Perhaps one way forward might be to do a Natural history of the various areas along the creek or in the catchment. Ann M (member of Mt Rogers Landcare Group) has suggested The Natural History of Mt Rogers which I’m working on. This is in addition to the new edition of the reserve’s brochure. We could borrow & interchange paragraphs to suit each area as much of what’s there & what’s observable is interchangeable. Even though I’m an amateur, between us (landcarers) we know enough natural history, local history, Indigenous history, botany, geology, zoology & ecology (past & present) to be able to produce fact-sheets in anecdotal form for each of the areas that either do or don’t have brochures.

Leucochrysum albicans Umbagong June 2014 (photo by R Blemmings)

Note – a copy of the Umbagong Brochure can be downloaded from this page. Have a look and dont forget to get out to visit Umbagong or any other local park in Canberra – it can be quite an experience.

Autumn at Umbagong

Working Bee at Want Place – 31 May 2014

Landcarers at Umbagong have spent many years nurturing and caring for the patch at Want Place with the array of Blue Devils, native Kangaroo grass and paper daisies. Its been a bit of an up-hill battle with this important patch being mowed and being susceptible to weeds.  This working bee with great help from Mt Rogers scout group got into this area to remove flat weed and philaris.  It was a lovely sunny morning where Lesley and Kat taught us more about the large diversity in native plants in this special little patch.

Landcarers and Scouts weeding at Want Place – 31 May 2014 (photo by C Wenger)

Umbagong Landcare with Mt Roger Scout Group – May 2014

Umbagong Landcare convenor Caroline and her daughter Lucy (Umbagong local bird expert) were invited to do a talk at the Mt Rogers Scout Group on the many bird species that inhabit Umbagong. The Mt Rogers Scout Group is keen to help us with out annual bird survey which will be happening in spring. Keep it in your diaries and keep an eye on our website on how you can be involved as well. The results from previous surveys are below.

Celebrating Heritage Week along the Ginninderra Creek – April 2014

Umbagong means axe in Ngunawal language and Heritage week was a great opportunity for those living around Latham, Holt and Macgregor to learn more about the Aboriginal heritage of the area from local Ngunawal people, Wall and Tyron Bell and the Thunderstone team. Over 2 to 3 hours we learnt about how aboriginal people saw, lived and travelled through the Ginninderra Creek catchment. At the end of the walk there was a great opportunity to learn basket weaving and to chat to Wall and Tyron about this important local history.

Aboriginal Heritage walk at Umbagong - April 2014 (photo by E Wenger)

Basket weaving at the Aboriginal Heritage walk at Umbagong - April 2014 (photo by E Wenger)

Summer in Umbagong

Working Bee at Want Place - February 2014

1 February 2014 was the second working bee of the year and the Umbagong Landcare Group was out early on a mission to reduce the weeds in the grassland area around Want Place, Latham. Although it was a hot morning the group got stuck in to the St Johns Wort and African Love Grass. Reducing the weeds at Want Place grasslands is an ongoing project with our hard work paying off with many of the native grasses taking over from the weeds. After weeding we meandered down to Ginninderra Creek, which was flowing well after the rain from the day before.  With the water level in the creek still low we were also able to see some of the axe grinding grooves. A lovely morning had by all before the heat of the day started. The next working bee is scheduled for the start of March.

Picture of Umbagong members busy weeding Want Place grasslands (taken 1 Feb 2014) (photo by C Smith)


About Us:

“Think global, act local”:  In the end, the environment is the sum of its parts and if you care about it you need to do your bit to protect the bush that’s closest to you. 

Previously known as the Friends of Latham District Park, the Umbagong Landcare Group was established in 1990, and covers the area known as Umbagong District Park. The Group was instrumental in changing the name of the park to Umbagong, meaning “axe” in Ngunawal language; a significant axe-grinding groove site is found in the park. Umbagong Park straddles the Ginninderra Creek corridor, between Ginninderra Drive to Florey Drive.  Adjoining suburbs include Latham and Macgregor along its length, with Kippax, Holt at the southwestern end and and Flynn at the northeastern end.  An entrance stone depicting axe grinding grooves has been erected at the car park entrance, off Florey Drive, Latham.

In 1992-3, the ACT Public Works Department undertook an extensive Flora and Fauna Survey of Umbagong District Park (uploaded onto this web page).  This, together with the heritage listing of the park’s Aboriginal axe grinding grooves, helped secure protection of areas of the Park near Florey Drive that were threatened by residential development.

In 2000, two other surveys were undertaken including “Umbagong District Park Blue Devil Grassland: an inventory of plant and animal species and suggested management activities” by Isobel Crawford, and “The Revegetation of Ginninderra Creek between Barton Highway and Macgregor, ACT June 2000” by Geoff Butler (the latter report is uploaded on “resources and links” of this website).

In partnership with Urban Services the Group conducted weeding, preparation and maintenance work for the construction of a series of gabion weirs to control sediment movement along the Herron Creek drainage line, in 1994. In addition, Gross Pollutant Traps were constructed at each end of the park by the Department of Urban Services. Willows were removed from this part of Ginninderra Creek in 1999. Native rushes and other aquatic biota are beginning to flourish.

Primary areas of concern for the Group include enhancing wildlife habitat through the removal of woody weeds and replacement with natives, native grassland restoration, soil health and erosion prevention. Regular working bees are held.  Members engage in weed removal, planting and maintenance of existing plantings.  The group also organises a Clean Up Australia Day event each year and other activities according to the interests of its members, such as bird surveys, WaterWatch and FrogWatch.

For volunteers interested in activities besides working bees, the group has a GPS mapping project (including creating a computerised map) and an ongoing bird survey project.  There are free courses as well as activities such as public engagement, maintaining the group website, planning, brochure writing, having your say in consultation processes, engagement with schools and more. 

It’s great exercise and you can develop a huge network of friends not just in your own suburb but even right across Canberra. 

Download the new umbagong brochure:

Strategic Plan

Umbagong Landcare Group Strategic Plan


Management Plan For Lower Ginninderra Creek

Flora and Fauna Survey

1992 1992-93