“The bush, the birds and the beasts”

 Exploring the diversity of the natural environment

About the “Walk on the Wildside” Weekend Workshop

This weekend workshop is for people who want to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the bush and its many secret and not so secret inhabitants – the plants, insects, birds and animals in their wild, native and natural environment.

The workshop includes both theory and practical sessions. It includes presentations and easy educational walk and talk tours through the bush both during the day and the evening. Over the weekend you will see many plants and animals that will amaze and inspire you. The walks will be conducted around “Bandusia” which is rich with a diversity of special plants and animals, being surrounded by both Yengo and Wollombi national parks. This Hawkesbury Sandstone area of the Sydney Basin is known as the second most diverse place in Australia and during the workshop you will find out why, considering it is built on such infertile soils. The walks will be easy and fun for all ages and will not be hard or far. The area is home to many plants and animals that you will see such as wallaby, reptiles, rare birds (that you would never have seen) and many more. The tree species are rich with Iron bark, stringy bark and a range of others and we also have plants and shrubs that are rare and beautiful. During the workshop we hope you will see some of the rare animals such as the koalas, platypus, sugar gliders – of course we cannot guarantee but the chance is always there.

By the end of the weekend you will have a greater understanding about plants and animals and the native environment. You will be able to identify a range of plants and animals, know more about their needs and behaviour and their role in the native environment. For Permaculturalists, this will give you a greater understanding of zone 5 – “The Wild Zone”, the role it plays in the total design system and particularly the importance of natural conservation and biodiversity.  This will enable you to go home knowing more about wild plants and animals in your backyard or community so you can better design for to meet their needs such as habitat and other requirements. This will be a fun packed hands-on weekend with two passionate, very experienced and knowledgeable trainers.

The workshop is very appropriate for young and old people of both the city and country who want to know more about tree and plant species, how to identify them and their functions and benefits. It’s suitable for the home and community gardeners; Permaculture designers; landscapers; horticulturalists; bush care workers; town planners; architects; or a range of others professions. But it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone will benefit and have a fantastically fun time. You will see the bush from a totally new perspective.

About the Sessions

Session 1
“The Bush – the Flowers & the Trees” – Saturday morning to late afternoon

This workshop is particularly focused on the native vegetation – plants, shrubs and trees and the communities and environment in which they flourish. It examines the relationship these plants had with people from a historical perspective – plants used by the Aboriginals as well as plants used by the Early Settlers.

The first settlers lived at the end of a very long and unreliable supply line. All the necessities of life arrived in Sydney after a long sea journey from England, South Africa, India or China. Bush tucker has become a novel addition to our diet today but in the early years of settlement and exploration experimenting with local plants for food, drink and medicine was essential. This presentation describes some of the plants which were in daily use more than 200 years ago.

Most people look at the Sydney bush land and marvel that it supported a thriving civilisation of several Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years. It has been estimated that the Aboriginal people of Sydney only spent an average of 5 hours a day gathering the food necessary to sustain them.   The bush was the supermarket, pharmacy, hardware and calendar for the Aboriginal people. Plants found in the Sydney bushland and their traditional uses will be described during the workshop presentations.

Session Two
“The Birds and the Beasts” –  Saturday evening to Sunday Lunch

This session begins with a spotlighting walk and talk after dinner followed by a 5am start Sunday morning for a bird watching tour, country breakfast at 7.30am then 9am birds and beasts talk. The day will finish the with a lunch. From there participants can head home or relax around the pool or Bandusia for the rest of the day.

About the Trainers

Jennifer Farrer

Jennifer_FarrerJennifer is a Sydney resident and tour guide passionate about Sydney’s bush land and whose knowledge and interests are Sydney’s early European history and Sydney’s unique flora. She works as a tour guide to share her knowledge. All her tour walks are researched by her and  are designed to highlight these particular aspects of the Sydney experience. One of Jennifer’s special interests is native plants used by the Early European Settlers at Sydney Cove. Many of these plants can be seen on the walks.

Jennifer is the founding director of Boronia Tours, a registered tour company that has been providing interpretive bushwalks in the Northern region of Sydney since 2002. Boronia Tours has organized and provided the Guided Walks Program for The Hills Shire Council since September 2004. She has also led walks for Ryde, Ku-ring-gai and Parramatta Councils. Interpretive bushwalks are also provided for social groups such as Probus and garden clubs, the Workers Education Authority (Sydney’s premier adult education provider) and independent travelers. Walks for children are also organized for school holiday programs and birthday parties.

Jennifer’s educational experience includes – Bachelor of Arts in History; Level IV Certificate in Tourism (Guiding); Professional Member Institute of Australian Tourist Guides; Senior First Aid Certificate; Member of the Australian Plants Society Bushwalk Leader. Her other guiding experience includes – Site Guide The Strand Arcade Sydney, Site Guide Queen Victoria Building Sydney, Guide for Chocolate Espresso Walking Tours Sydney

Phil Stewart

Philip is a Teacher at Ryde TAFE in Applied Environmental Management. He has worked in a diverse range of environmental and planning projects within local government, private consulting and educational institutions for over 25 years.

Philip has an immense understanding of animals, birds and wildlife and teaches animal identification. His long-term interest in bird watching since childhood has lead to bird-watching trips across the globe and around Australia and in anticipation, to the wonderful natural avian hotspot of the Wiseman’s Ferry area.

Phil will be guiding you on the evening spotlighting tour as well as the morning bird watching and animal identification talks.

Workshop Program

Session 1
“The Bush – the flowers and the trees”

This workshop will cover practical and theoretical information about the natural forest and vegetation:

  • the importance of native forest and vegetation
  • identification of trees and plants
  • plant communities
  • functions of native plants in natural environment
  • bush foods and other uses
  • Hawkesbury sandstone region soils and diversity

Session 2
“The Birds and the Beasts”

This session covers the practical and theoretical information about birds and animals in their natural environment.

  • Identification of animals and birds
  • The calls of the wild
  • Behavioural characteristics of birds and animals
  • Habitat and the natural environment
  • Interesting facts and information about birds and the beasts

Weekend Timetable

Day 1

  • 9.30am to 12.30pm Educational presentations on the flora and bush tucker of the Sydney region and their relationship with both Aboriginals and the early settlers.
  • 12.30pm  Country Lunch
  • 1.30 – 4pm Walk and Talk Tour through the bush
  • 4pm Afternoon tea and end of session one
  • 4pm to 7.30pm Rest and relaxation time
  • 7.30 Aussie bush foods country dinner
  • 8.30pm till late: Spotlighting tour – exploring nocturnal animals–  koalas, sugar gliders, microbats, bush rats, spiders, bandicoots, pythons, owls, and all other creatures great & small

Day 2

  • 5am – Break of Dawn bird watching  (see rare and most beautiful birds)
  • 8am Big Country Breakfast
  • 9am – 1pm Talking about the birds and the beasts
  • 1pm Ploughman’s lunch

After the workshop you are free to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings