The passing of Geoff King meant that the project that bore his name was never going to be quite the same. However, as a passionate advocate of the conservation significance and natural beauty of the region, there is no doubt that the great man would have wanted our work there to continue. We had an excited bunch of volunteers, a new campsite and rangers with lots of valuable work to be done.
Our first task was to set up some infrared cameras to help the rangers target feral cats in the area, with the ultimate goal of involving the local community in a trapping program. It was a great way to observe the flora and fauna of the area, with Ranger Nick providing some interesting commentary. At two of the camera sites we noticed some Tasmanian Devil tracks, and we had our fingers crossed for what we might record over the next few days.
Our timing for the project coincided with the flowering period of two endangered orchids of north-west Tasmania. The tiny Arthur River Greenhood Pterostylis rubenachii proved very difficult to find, but the yellow-flowered Swamp Diuris Diuris palustris, although also small, was more prominent amongst the grass. Our observations have been added to the Natural Values Atlas, Tasmania’s comprehensive flora and fauna database, providing important records of these scarce plants. After the survey, we took a drive into the heart of the Tarkine rainforest, admiring enormous trees on walks to Lake Chisolm and in the Julius River Forest Reserve. That evening, we made the most of a rare wind-free night with a campfire and some spectacular stargazing.
The rangers informed us that there was lots of marine debris in the Sundown Reserve, an area from which we had previously removed many kilograms of Slender Thistle Carduus spp. The wind on the open beach was fierce, but we managed to collect eight bags of rubbish from the creek surrounds. Another crop of thistles had emerged from the seed bank at last year’s weeding site, illustrating that weeding projects always require maintenance, but pleasingly there was a vast reduction in density and they were all removed by lunchtime.
It’s not often that we strike a windless sunny day in the north-west, so when we encountered one on day four, we used it productively by completing a bird survey from Bluff Hill Point to the Arthur River. We spotted an endangered Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle on the walk down to the beach, and recorded good numbers of Hooded and Red-capped plovers, oystercatchers, three tern species and large numbers of Australasian Gannets patrolling the unusually calm in-shore waters. Adjacent to the coast, we observed several examples of the Aboriginal cultural sites that have seen the area recently added to the National Heritage list. Of particular interest to the volunteers was Geoff’s shack, with its scatterings of cleaned bones and fragments of many a Devil’s dinner.
We wrapped up the trip with a visit to the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain, enjoying great weather and spectacular mountain views on our walk around Dove Lake. Thanks to all the volunteers for your hard work; you’ve made a meaningful contribution to conservation in this wonderful part of Australia.