Parkes residents are privileged to have access to about 11 national parks and reserves within an hour’s drive considering only nine percent of the state of NSW is conserved.
In addition, the Lachlan Valley Branch of the National Parks Association organises two to three bushwalks per month in these national parks run by knowledgeable and skilled volunteers who are keen to share their knowledge.
President of the Lachlan Valley Branch Martin Bell encouraged residents to explore these parks at the Australia Day awards ceremony in Cooke Park last month when he accepted the Environment Award for 2021.
“We do not organise hikes, but ramble in the parks and state forests and take our time to appreciate the birds, other wildlife and countryside,” Martin told The Parkes Phoenix. He said a long day would be a 10km walk, but most of the walks are five to eight kilometres. “This means you don’t have to be super fit and everybody is welcome to join in.”
He said a typical day would start at 9:30am, include lunch on a log or rock somewhere and end by 4:30pm “We normally see between 40 to 50 species of birds, and also have members who are very knowledgeable about biology, geology and botany.”
According to Martin participants will not only gain new knowledge, and enjoy the trees and solitude of the bush, but they will also gain a better understanding of the natural environment and why it is so important to conserve it.
He said there were so many interesting and unusual things to see and discover, like the threatened Glossy Black Cockatoo and endangered Swift Parrot, as well as seasonal birds from Papua New Guinea, like the Dollar bird. “We often come across interesting goannas and snakes, and as Parkes and Forbes are on the intersection of the coastal and desert districts, there is a great variety of plants and birds to observe.”
With some of the best parks in NSW on our doorstep, another benefit is that these parks never have large crowds of people like those closer to the cities.
As COVID-19 has restricted travel opportunities, Martin said it was a good time to join the Lachlan Valley Branch walks as it offered locals a great opportunity to discover spectacular scenery close to home. He said numbers had started to increase since COVID with about 12 people joining a walk.
The Lachlan Valley Branch is also involved with the Forbes Arts Council’s Gum Swamp bird hides and the Lachlan Valley Sculpture Trail projects, while Central West Lachlan Landcare (CWLL) is very supportive.
The Lachlan Valley Branch will be supporting two events of CWLL over the next two months.
On 24th March the Get to know the Glossy Black Cockatoo workshop will take place in Parkes. The day includes a presentation by photographer Warren Chad, as well as an overview of the Glossy Black project from Local Land Services staff and then a field trip to Lake Metcalfe to talk further about Glossy Black habitat, some bird observation and a bird count and finish up around 1pm with BYO lunch at Lake Metcalfe. (Also see details on page 4 of the call for volunteer counters for the Great Inland Glossy Count.)
On 7th April the Securing the Swift Parrot workshop will take place with Saving Our Species Team Leader, Energy, Environment and Science, Matt Cameron as guest speaker. The Securing the Swift Parrot project aims to stabilise or improve the trajectory of the Swift Parrot by 2023. They are nationally listed as critically endangered. The Swift Parrot is unique as it feeds in the Central West during winter on flowering Eucalypts and Ironbarks, then flies to Tasmania to breed over Summer.
More details of these workshops are available on the Central West Lachlan Landcare website.
If you would like to join the Lachlan Val-ley Branch bushwalks, due to start again from next month when the weather starts cooling, look on the Parkes Shire Council’s What’s On page, or on Central West Lachlan Landcare Facebook page, get a copy of the program at the Parkes Visitors Centre, or contact Martin Bell on 0429 346 586.
By Maggi Barnard