A pearler of a celebration for Friends of Aranda Bushland

By Jane Ryan

Friends of Aranda Bushland Landcare Group celebrated its 30 year anniversary this month with a working bee and a delicious spread.

It was attended by more than 30 people, some of whom were newcomers, others old timers who have been putting in since the very beginning.

Kat and Jim weed away before the feast

The sense of place is sacred to many. They feel a passionate connection to the bushland and are proud of the work that’s been done. 

Jenny Andrews is one of those, she has been secretary of the group for 15 years.

“We have made progress,” she said. “We’ve learned to work with the weeds.”

“This place is very important to me – it’s my backyard. We own it in a sense and we have invested a lot of emotional capital in the place. During the lock down it was such a comfort to be able to step out of the back door and into the bush.”

Jenny said the group is like family, something her friend and co-volunteer Mary Falconer agrees with. She has been co-convenor twice.

“This place is part of my soul. It’s part of me. It’s as important as my family and my family is important to me,” she said.

“It’s who I am, and since I have come to Canberra it is my extended family.”

The group formed in 1990 and since then has worked to keep the area 95 per cent weed free.  It also works hard on erosion control and provides guided walks, a field guide and programs for school children.

Blowing out the candles

The occasion was marked with an array of sweet treats, but only after a working bee where volunteers weeded Paterson’s curse and cape weed daisies.

For many there are rich memories of the past 30 years, for others an enduring sense of peace and homeliness. Pam Macdonald said things were different a while ago.

“Looking back at who’s here today it’s so different to how it started but the spirit is still the same,” she said.

“In the beginning we had no meetings, we met while we weeded in the bush.”

What does 30 years of Friends of Aranda Bushland mean to Colan Macdonald?

“Thirty years just means that I’m older – the bushland is in much better condition –  just behind us was a dense thicket of hawthorn which we tackled,” he said.

“It means a lovely place to walk, there are so many suburbs that don’t have anything like this kind of native bushland and this bush is in fairly pristine condition which is so unusual.

“It’s part of the glue that sticks the community together.”

Traditionally the celebratory stone of the 30 year wedding anniversary is the pearl, and here at Ginninderra Catchment Group we think that’s about right.

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