If you've ever taken a leisurely stroll, gone for a bike ride, or just driven through the Centennial Parklands, you may have noticed a dedicated team of environmental volunteers hard at work.
Our volunteers can be seen planting and weeding in the gardens and bushland, observing birds with binoculars or a telephoto lens, picking up litter left by park users, or assisting the resident flying foxes during breeding season.
These dedicated locals come into the Parklands weekly and perform critical environmental work alongside our horticultural and environmental staff. You would be surprised by the contribution these groups make, both in terms of our environment and the savings to Centennial Parklands' budget. In fact, in 2022-23 alone, our volunteers contributed over $120,000 worth of their time, doing jobs that would often have otherwise gone undone.
When you add the amazing positive impact they have on the environment, the Centennial Parklands volunteers are a critical part of our work.
So, what kind of work do our volunteers do? Here are just a few examples:
Quarterly Bat Counts
The Parklands is home to our iconic flying fox camp, a gathering of over 20,000 Grey Headed and Black Flying Foxes who rest and breed in our central swamplands. The sunset fly-out is a fantastic natural spectacle in Sydney that shouldn't be missed.
Our volunteers contribute significantly to the scientific understanding of these species by conducting quarterly counts. The data they collect goes towards an ongoing study of these critical and declining animals. Additionally, dedicated carers brave the mud, poop, and mosquitos of the camp to rescue abandoned babies and raise them to adulthood.
The Guriwal Trail Habitat Restoration
The Guriwal Trail is our Indigenous Heritage Walk. It is an area of beautiful, closed forest with tall trees and a lush understorey, where a range of naturally occurring and planted cultural species are profiled on signage and through cultural tours. Our volunteers play a crucial role in maintaining this area by keeping it weed-free and looking great.
A team of 10-20 long-term volunteers of all ages meet each week to weed, plant, and preserve the bushland. Some of our volunteers have been coming for many years, and the group is also a great social activity. It's worth noting that the home-made cakes Lana brings to share at morning tea may or may not be a contributing factor to why people keep coming back.
In the centre of the parklands, you'll find a small but productive nursery where volunteers propagate a variety of plants for use in habitat restoration and bush regeneration. They collect native seeds from around the park and propagate new plants with the appropriate local genetics. This can be a challenging process, and the group experiments with various techniques such as fermentation, abrasion, and smoking to get our tricky natives to grow.
One of our nursery volunteers has been coming for over 20 years!
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub Regeneration
The Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub is a critically endangered vegetation community unique to Sydney, with less than 4% remaining. Centennial Parklands is home to some of the last remaining stands, including some critical fragments, clinging on within the formal parkland setting. Our volunteers apply their skills in bush regeneration and plant identification to preserve and expand these tiny fragments through fortnightly Sunday sessions.
Interested in becoming a volunteer?
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with our work in the Parklands, whether you're a local resident, corporate group looking to give back to the community, school group, or passionate birdwatcher. Check out our website or head straight to our Myimpact site to register to help out.
Blog article written by Dave Harrington, Site Coordinator Volunteers (Centennial Parklands)