Insider Guide: Shepherds Hill volunteer

Insider Guide: Shepherds Hill volunteer

Go behind the scenes to dis­cov­er the unique jobs and pas­sion­ate peo­ple that care for South Australia’s environment.

Bernie Mill­burn – Friends ofShep­herds Hill Recre­ation Parkvol­un­teer

How would you describe your role as a vol­un­teer to some­one at a BBQ?

As a mem­ber of Friends of Shep­herds Hill, I am part of a team that focus­es on improv­ing the bio­di­ver­si­ty of the Park. The native veg­e­ta­tion has been regen­er­at­ing slow­ly, so we assist by pre­vent­ing it being over­crowd­ed by weeds. This means lots of weed­ing, cut­ting back and poi­son­ing of pest plants. When you look after the native plants in the park, you increase the num­ber and vari­ety of insects, birds, and wildlife.

How did you get into vol­un­teer­ing at Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park?

For me, Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park is my back­yard, and most mem­bers of the Friends of Shep­herds Hill vol­un­teer group live close by too.

I was always walk­ing through the park doing lit­tle bits and pieces to help look after it, like pulling out weeds. In about 1998 I saw a meet­ing planned for vol­un­teer­ing at the park, so I went along. I’ve been part of the group ever since.

What do you encounter in a nor­mal’ day vol­un­teer­ing at Shep­herds Hill?

The Friends group meets on the first Sat­ur­day of the month, and in the cool­er months we also work on the third Sat­ur­day. We have about 30 mem­bers, and we get an aver­age of about 15 turn­ing up at a work­ing bee.

We have a trail­er with all the tools, poi­son and equip­ment, and besides the plea­sure of work­ing in a great envi­ron­ment, there is a friend­ly social atmosphere.

A lot of the work involves poi­son­ing olive trees, but it real­ly depends on the time of year. At the moment we are busy pulling out, cut­ting back or poi­son­ing topped laven­der in cer­tain areas of the park.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park?

I always have trou­ble work­ing out the most amaz­ing thing, because there are so many. How­ev­er, every­one gets a kick out of see­ing our emblem – the Tawny Frog­mouth – par­tic­u­lar­ly a pair with young chicks.

I’ve seen things change over the years – from graz­ing land to what you find today. It’s amaz­ing to see the regen­er­a­tion and find new plants that have re-emerged.

We have got some rare and endan­gered plants in the park. They’re often only small, but by com­ing here reg­u­lar­ly and work­ing you get to know where to find them and look after them. It’s a bit like hav­ing your own gar­den, except it’s a pub­lic place.

What are your insid­er tips about Shepherd’s Hill Recre­ation Park?

Keep an eye out for the wildlife and the flow­ers. At dif­fer­ent ages you are out look­ing for dif­fer­ent things. When I was in my 20s the last thing I would be out look­ing for were flow­ers, I was more inter­est­ed in rid­ing bikes!

It’s impor­tant to keep to the tracks. When you get lots of peo­ple walk­ing through the park, things get tram­pled which means plants don’t grow. Enjoy it with­out dis­turb­ing things. It’s get­ting that bal­ance right so that every­one can enjoy the park.

It’s Nation­al Vol­un­teers Week this week (9 to 15 May) – the per­fect time for us to say a huge thank you to peo­ple just like Bernie who give their time to look after the envi­ron­ment and our spe­cial places in South Aus­tralia. Find out abouthow you can vol­un­teertoo.

To find out more about Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park, read our posts aboutSenior Ranger Eric de Smitand5 trea­sures of the park.

Main image cour­tesy of Jason Tyn­dall,Nature Play SA.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living