While holidaying in Japan Rob, of Highbury, met Trees For Life volunteer bushcarer Jim Byfield.
A discussion about Japanese gardens over breakfast at their hotel eventually turned to Jim’s bushcare work and the concept behind it.
On returning to Adelaide, Rob visited Jim’s bushcare site – Hills Reserve in Tea Tree Gully - and soon after signed up as a new site volunteer.
“When I first visited Jim's site, he showed some of the amazing tiny flora that he had discovered. Tiny orchids that were pollinated by mosquitoes and gnats are treasures of this site,” Rob said.
A year on, Rob and his fellow bushcarers work on the site every Tuesday.
“I enjoy being in the bush, making a difference, understanding more about our unique flora, learning various bush regeneration strategies and how important habitat, biodiversity and preserving native vegetation are … all in a practical hands-on way,” he said.
“I also enjoy the company of the fellow bushcarers on the site, as well as meeting up with the other bushcarers on a regular basis. The support we get from the field officers is very good and we also feel like we add value to the bush.”
Rob, who recently retired from a 40-year career as a civilian scientist in the Defence Force, believes bushcaring is a valuable transition activity for those looking for something fulfilling to do after leaving the paid workforce.
“It can be as demanding physically and mentally as you want it to be. You meet interesting people from varied walks of life, you are provided with excellent training and you can take this training as far as you like,” he said.
“You have the opportunity to work on your own site or travel to other sites to concentrate on particular weed eradication or control programs. One things for certain; you will never look at the bush the same way again!”
Hills Reserve, adjacent to Anstey Hill, is one of 19 Bush For Life sites in the City of Tea Tree Gully.
The vegetation association on its two hectares are primarily Long-leaf Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx) and Drooping Sheoak. It features 90 indigenous plant species including the SA Conservation Status-rated Rare Pink Gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa) and five Regional Conservation Status-rated Uncommon species: Pale Groundsel (Senecio hypoleucus), Sword Matrush (Lomandra sororia), Rayless Daisy-bush (Olearia tubuliflora), Narrow-leaf Plantain (Plantago gaudichaudii) and Southern Cypress Pine (Callitris gracilis).
Rob continues to learn the species on the site and has also undertaken Plant ID and Grass ID workshops through Trees For Life.