All about the birds, the bats and the trees

Members of the group of quiet women (and men) who saved a reserve, including Jane Hendy

When Jane Hendy says she does her bushcare and community campaigning for the birds, the bats and the trees she means it.

Hendy has lived most of her adult life overseas but has made Blackwall her home and has built a network of what she calls a “self-effacing, quiet group of women” who truly love the local environment.

Her latest project is to keep campaigning to have the Memorial Avenue Reserve at the base of Blackwall Mountain, which was almost sold by Central Coast Council, reclassified from operational to community land so it is safer from any threat of sale in the future.

The first step Hendy made shortly after she moved to the area was to write to Central Coast Council and have the remnant stand of endangered Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland (UCSW) officially recognized as a reserve.

“Before that it was just a piece of land known as ‘the bush’,” she said.

Her efforts were successful but that did not stop Central Coast Council from listing the reserve as one of the surplus assets it was considering for sale earlier this year.

With other community groups and individuals, Hendy held several events in the reserve, helped circulate a petition and letter- and email-writing campaign, all of which resulted in the Memorial Avenue bushland being taken off the asset sales list.

It is, however, still classified as operational land, which means Council can technically sell it without even informing the community.

Jane Hendy is not prepared to let that happen.

She is waiting, somewhat impatiently, for lockdown to end, so that she can start doing bushcare on the land with assistance and supervision to be provided by Central Coast Council.

Already an active member of a bushcare group that works at the top of Blackwall Mountain, Hendy cannot wait to get weeding and planting.

“When the flats next door were being built it was very much a free-for-all and I thought a whole acre of land was doomed,” she said.

“The builders drove their equipment through the reserve and destroyed trees and massacred the reserve leaving a big empty space that you can still see.

“That is why I asked myself how could I save the trees and got it made into a reserve.

“I wrote to the council who said yes then council workers came and put in blocks to stop people parking their cars on the land and I am hoping now that we can get the classification changed to community land,” she said.

Ongoing bushcare for the land has already been lined up with Central Coast Council and Hendy is looking forward to lockdown ending so she can get started.

“When people ask me why I wanted to save the land I say it is because I wanted to save the trees, the birds, the bats and something that is totally rare, the Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland,” she said.

“Support came from all over,” she said. “We all want to conserve the bits of bush we have left; it is not to give myself a bigger backyard or create luna park rides for kids.

“I just didn’t want to see more concrete and this council could get away with anything if people are indifferent.”

Hendy said she hopes the community rallies to save Austin Butler Reserve in Woy Woy which is still listed for sale by Council to the neighbouring Woolworths supermarket in Peninsula Plaza.

“It is essential that it is saved,” she said.

“I know a woman who goes there every morning to put out fresh water for the ducks.

“I am just worried that if we keep developing this area there will not be enough schools or roads or room.

“The number of flats and the higher density zoning is crazy because anyone with town planning training or sensitivity would see you cannot have high density just off the side of a mountain.”

Jackie Pearson