Busy Bee’s bush battle

Busy Bee’s bush battle

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Busy Bee volunteers cleared dead vegetation, including 20-metre-long branches, from the Rain Lover Trail on Sunday.

A Busy Bee clean-up operation organised by the Darling Downs Resident’s Association on Sunday saw 22 determined volunteers clear an incredible 40 tons of dead vegetation from the trail area in Darling Downs, known locally as 70 Acres.
The Resident’s Association (DDRA) was formed 33 years ago to look after the trails and riding area in Darling Downs, a public open space covering some 74 hectares that is available to all Perth equestrians.
DDRA President and Darling Downs resident Bruce Hilliard said the group’s work has meant the area is safe and tidy for everyone to use.
“When we first started the area was barren, but over the years volunteers have planted a lot of native trees and we’ve got the area back to an environmentally sound condition,” Bruce said.
“This year we have put in over 2000 hours of volunteer labour. After a very dry summer this year, a lot of the trees have shed branches.
“If we didn’t do this the trails would rapidly fill up with dead vegetation and people couldn’t use them.
“It is an absolutely unique area with wonderful facilities used by people from all over Perth – horse riders, dog walkers, we even have a bird-watching club – there is nowhere else in Australia like this,” he said.
This weekend’s enormous effort was only one such event in a carefully scheduled calendar of works the Residents Association regularly attends to, with bimonthly Busy Bees attracting about 45 volunteers, as well as smaller operations taking place on an almost weekly basis.
“On Sunday we took a trail near the 70 Acres and had people bring their cars and a tractor,” Bruce said.
“We moved about 40 tons of dead vegetation which had piled up, including a huge tree that had fallen – we had to cut it into four, massive parts just to move it with the tractor,” Bruce said.
“Without all those terrific people we really wouldn’t have the area.
“We have a really good relationship with the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire. We had a tree that split about a week ago – it was extraordinarily dangerous – the branches would have each weighed a ton and they were just hanging over the bridal pass waiting to fall.
“Our team raced up and got what we could on the ground, cut it up and removed it from a fence.
“We couldn’t do the high-level work, so we got in touch with the Shire and they went straight out the next day to cut it down and fix the problem.
“The beauty is, the Shire knows what we’re doing, we know what they are doing, and we can collaborate.
The extraordinary volunteer work is a labour of love, according to Bruce, who is quick to point to the community members who put in the time and effort to maintain the area.
“A lot of our volunteers are doing the work because they want to make sure the area is maintained for the next generation of riders,” he said.
“We’ve made the Busy Bees a really social thing. We put on a sausage sizzle and we always have new people coming in, meeting others and forming strong friendships.
“We also have teams refurbishing picnic areas so people who drive long distances can meet their friends, keep their horses in a safe area and enjoy a cup of tea.
“It boils down to the community helping each other, there are so many people who put a massive effort in to maintaining this unique area.”