Our team completed a Residential Project with Sydney Coast Walks between 10 – 14 July 2017.
On day one we walked to the Three Sisters and participated in a Welcome to Country with an Aboriginal Elder, David King, including a smoking ceremony.
On day two we trekked to Ruined Castle in the Jamieson Valley and spent the evening stargazing through telescopes.
On the third day we visited Wentworth Falls and on the fourth day we travelled down into the Grose Valley from Perrys Lookdown.
On day five our team worked with David King to remove weeds, introduce mulch to an area of bush at our accommodation, and check on previous bush regeneration projects.
The bush regeneration project was featured in the Blue Mountains Gazette.
David King’s ceremony and presentation on the first day of my Residential Project set our perspective for the week – in particular we focused on traversing the landscape with minimal impact to the environment, which aligns with the way in which indigenous Australians traversed the land, allowing them to preserve nature over 50,000 years.
By visiting the different valleys I got a sense for their distinctly different ecosystems, particularly noting the lyrebirds’ presence in the Jamieson, which is tied to their sacred position in the local Aboriginal country, allowing us to witness one up-close during our walk back from the Ruined Castle.
I enjoyed working with the other team members and felt that we genuinely bonded over the course of the week. Having a tight-knit group of six people made it easy to get to know everyone well, which I felt was important for the successful operation of the project as a whole.
Furthermore, our differing backgrounds and interests allowed us to each bring unique knowledge to the project, an example being Jack’s geological and astronomical studies which the group was able to learn from during the walks and the astronomy night.
The final day of bush regeneration served to bring our experiences in the bush and David King’s stories of his own regenerative work together, allowing us firstly to check the previous group’s work at Katoomba Falls before preceding to water some tree plantings, remove crop guards and noxious weeds, and lastly introduce mulch to a section of bush on our accommodation site. During this, King shared more insights into his bush work and his concerns of some upcoming constructions in the Katoomba area.
This Residential Project allowed me to become involved with the Blue Mountains area on a level much deeper than previously as a tourist.
By listening to the stories of David King and the land itself I certainly achieved my goal of studying the impact of western civilisation on this area and its biodiversity.
Moreover, the bush regeneration project allowed me to take a first step of direct action against some of the issues I’d learnt about and seen firsthand during the week.
Ultimately, the project was a vessel for social interaction which let me exchange perspectives with the others in my company, who were at first strangers but who now I would consider good friends.