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Community Story - Koolunga Reserve Transcript

Kathleen: When I first moved here in 1980, people were scared to walk in this area, it was unsafe, it was dangerous. The area was very claustrophobic and over grown.

Darren: Completely overrun with weeds. It was completely without love and care, and certainly without community participation and involvement.

Kathleen: So the first thing we know is that the whole area over there was Daffodil Farm. They eventually sold the land here to the Council.

James: I suppose people turned their back on it for a long time and it was a bit of a wasteland full of weeds and probably felt a bit threatening.

Kathleen: It was in ’94 that the Council decided to do something about it.

Darren: The appointment of a Conservation Officer to the City of Knox was really the beginnings of having a dedicated person that could deliver some of the aspirations of the community and listen to the communities concerns about the lack of management of this reserve.

Kathleen: Knox Environment Society employed somebody to be a facilitator to get a Friends Group going. And so that’s when I came on board to begin a Friends Group.

Moyra: We’re here largely to assist the Bushland Crew of the Knox Council, in just preserving what’s here (what we can preserve) and we work to keep the weeds at bay (if we can) and to plant back.

Darren: The support that was available from the community all those years ago was relatively minimal, it was Kathleen.

Kathleen: I took it on myself to learn exactly every single plant that was in this reserve. First of all I would photograph every plant, and then I would take a sample and then I would draw each plant.

James: Over the years, through having the Friends Group involved and when the Bushland Team started up, it was a place where we went on a bit of a journey.

Kathleen: Using that management plan originally, we started quarterly meeting with Council, Council workers...’Now this is in the plan how are we going to do it, what are we going to do?’ So we’re had this interrelationship with Council right from the beginning and they’ve been extremely supportive, helping out in all sorts of ways.

Moyra: We wouldn’t have this without Council, and if Council withdrew their support, it couldn’t survive.

Darren: This reserve is recognition that hard work in term of weed management and ecological restoration can win out.

Kathleen: It’s quiet, it’s tranquil, it’s part of my life.

James: The space in itself, the way the community use it, tells you that people value it.

Darren: We very much care aware very quickly that Kathleen was the custodian of this reserve, she was the one that you would see here most. It’s that observation by her about what’s happening, what’s going on that has actually meant that this reserve is in really good hands.

Kathleen: I pleased with the people in our Committee who are taking over. That I know that the work here will continue.

Moyra: Hopefully it will still be like this for my great grandchildren. I think that ongoing, that it will always be this unique little oasis and native/indigenous bushland for Knox.

Kathleen: There’s very few real bush areas in Knox, particularly like this of this size. I think that’s part of it, making sure it stays.

Moyra: We wouldn’t have what we have now without Kathleen. We may not have it at all without her.

Darren: Absolute consistency, someone that is always here.

James: I think she’s Koolunga’s own treasure. She’s just been a wealth of information and a great advocate for the place, through actions for than anything else...she’s do-er!

Kathleen: One of the things that really really has pleased me no end...After we started working here, cleaning it up and just our very physical presence of people in the park, encouraged people to come back and there’s a whole sense of community that’s developed, with people meeting each other, walking their dogs through the park. And I’m really really pleased this is a friendly, community orientated place. I didn’t foresee that and that to me is the thing that makes me most proud I guess.

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