Waltraud Pix – Friends of Mount Majura

Waltraud Pix

Nov 152017

Golden Sun Moth, Synemon plana female discovered at The Fair on Friday 10 Nov 2017 (Waltraud Pix)

A female Golden Sun Moth has been spotted at The Fair re-vegetation site on Friday, 10 November 2017; see this Canberra Nature Map sighting http://canberra.naturemapr.org/Community/Sighting/3384817.

These are exiting news because

  1. The species is declared “Critically Endangered” under Commonwealth legislation and listed “Critically Endangered” in Victoria and “Endangered” in NSW and the ACT;
  2. This is the second record of the endangered moth species on Mt Majura; Tony Howard discovered males of Golden Sun Moth for the first time in Novemeber 2013 further uphill and northeast of the recent finding (http://canberra.naturemapr.org/Community/Sighting/3384818);
  3. The adjacency of the 2013 and 2017 records may indicate a viable breeding population in the area;
  4. The female was spotted in a revegetation area south of the big conifer where volunteers controlled herbaceous weeds and direct seeded native wallaby and spear grass. Solid proof that volunteer work works.

Golden Sun Moth male (Tony Howard, Mt Majura, Nov. 2013)

Golden Sun Moth, Synemon plana, is a day-active moth native to Australia that occurs in Natural Temperate Grasslands and grassy Box-Gum Woodlands.

For further information on the conservation status, habitat requirements and the biology of the Golden Sun Moth click on the following links

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy

NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage

ACT Government Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate


Nov 142017

Paterson’s Curse, Echium plantagineum. Physical removal is the best method of treatment at the flowering and seed setting stage.

Please help tackle Paterson’s Curse at its last stronghold at The Fair any time that suits you within the next fortnight.

Paterson’s Curse (PC), Echium plantagineum is one of the most prevalent herbaceous weeds in the nature reserve east of The Fair. Volunteers made great progress controlling this pesky weed since they began work to reclaim the grassy woodlands at The Fair in 2012. During the first years volunteers conducted biannual spraying in autumn and spring followed by handweeding of flowering and seed setting plants.

Thanks to the hard work and persistence, PC numbers decreased dramatically (see for instance progress of work on the bottom of this page) and no herbicide spraying was carried out this spring.

Of course there are still PC weeds scattered at the revegetation site which have now passed the peak flowering stage. If you can, please help remove them before the flowers loose their highly visible petals which will be within the next two weeks.

What to do

Pick up a bag at the nature park entry at Ian Nicol / Tay Street intersection (map); walk towards the big conifer northeast of the entry point and pull & bag any purple flower that you come across (some are tiny). The highest density is around the big conifer in an area outlined pink on this map. Deposit the bag at the entry point on your way out or, if it is too heavy, leave it where you finished weeding for someone else to pick up later.

Bring sun protection and gloves; no weeding tool required.

Enquiries: projects@majura.org

Give Curse No Chance!

Nov 132017

National Tree Day planting east of The Fair, Mt Majura nature reserve (Steve Bittinger)

See latest exciting news:  Significant finding at The Fair revegetation site

Come and give a hand watering the young National Tree Day plants at The Fair before the summer heat strikes. Most seedlings planted on National Tree Day in July are thriving and some of the Bulbine lilies planted by the Majura Mountain Scouts even bloom!

We need muscles to carry buckets with water and to carry out some mulching too. You can make a difference even if you have only half an hour to spare.

When: Sunday 19 November 2017, from 9am to 12noon;

Where: Meet nature park entrance intersection Tay Street and Ian Nicol Street, The Fair, North Watson; view this map

What: Watering plants, mulching and installing coir rolls to control erosion at the gully.

Wear and Bring: Long pants and sleeves, hat, enclosed shoes, sunscreen, drinking water and gloves if you have them; morning tea will be provided.

Inquires: secretary@majura.org or projects@majura.org

Nov 012017

Proud weeder Tanja posing in front of a horehound pile.

Few things are more satisfying than the hand weeding horehound – you really see what you’ve done!

On Sunday 29 October, ten ANU Intrepid students and a couple of Friends of Mt Majura hand removed  horehound at an old sheep camp located on the beautiful ridge between Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie. It was a cool and overcast morning perfectly suited for the work.

Horehound infested stock camp…

…and 3 hours and a banana cake later.

A well-deserved picnic after work.

In 3 hours, the crew cleared several hundred square meters and concluded the successful weeding morning with a lovely picnic.

There is still horehound left which we hope to chip away over time.

You can help! Go for a pleasant walk (click on this map to view the location and access), take a little mattock and a pair of gloves with you, choose your personal horehound site and hack for half an hour – you will be amazed how much you can clear in a short time. Add the removed horehounds to the large piles and be proud of yourself.

We can provide short-handled light mattocks. Please contact secretary@majura.org if you are interested.

Horehound, Marrubium vulgare L. is native to Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean region including North Africa. It was introduced to Australia in the 19th century as a medicinal herb and became a weed of native grasslands and grassy woodlands where it was introduced with settlers’ livestock.

Horehound is now widespread throughout Australia and is declared under noxious weeds legislation in several Australian states and regions. It occupies disturbed or overgrazed ground and is common on sheep camps, around rabbit warrens and in waste places.

Horehound is favoured by grazing because of its high alkaloid content which makes it unpalatable to livestock and other herbivores. Once established, the perennial weed persists in native vegetation preventing desirable species from growing. Seeds are primarily dispersed by stock and other furred animals as the fruit or burr readily attaches to fur. Water is also an effective dispersal agent, and horses are known to pass the seeds, after ingestion, in a viable condition.

Over the past 13 years FoMM volunteered 1000 of hours hand-weeding a number of large sites in the Mt Majura nature reserve that were infested with horehound.  The old sheep camp located on a beautiful ridge between Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie is the last vast horehound site in the reserve (there are some smaller sites often around trees that indicate old stock rest sites or rabbit warrens).


Oct 272017

Horehound is a common weed often found at old stock camps.


Students of the ANU Intrepid Landcare group will chip in time (despite looming exams!) to help tackle horehound at an old stock camp on Majura Ridge.

If you have time on Sunday morning why not joining them?

When: Sunday, 29 October from 9am to about 1pm

Where: “Sheep camp south” Mt Majura ridge; click on this map to view the location of the sheep camp (red marker) and access routes (green lines). You can meet with the Intrepid crew at 9am at the car park Kellaway St / Philip Av or walk in your own time.

How to get there

(1) From the nature reserve entrance Kellaway Street car park turn left then walk uphill (southeast) on the fire trail named Hancock road; pass the transmission power line easement after about 500m and continue walking uphill close to the saddle; turn left and walk the trail uphill in northeast direction to access the stock camp. The walk will take about 30 minutes from the Kellaway Street nature park entrance.

(2) From the nature park entrance Mackenzie Street (roughly opposite Grayson Street) walk in east direction along the maintenance road (Blue Metal Road); at the saddle turn right and pass the upper Hackett water reservoir and walk uphill  in southwest direction to access the stock camp.

Bring: Sun protection, sturdy shoes, drinking water, and gloves if you have them.

Enjoy: A beautiful spring day and fantastic views over Canberra and Majura Valley.

Inquiries: projects@majura.org

Horehound, is a common perennial weed often found at old stock camps that have nutrient enriched soils.

Oct 252017

Striated Thornbill, Acanthiza lineata (Image Credit: Tobias Hayashi)

On an overcast and coolish Sunday morning of October 22nd, Ornithologist Peter Miller led a group of 19 Bird enthusiasts (including three children & a sleeping baby!) on a leisurely stroll through the Fair Mt Majura Grassy Woodlands.

Peter’s friendly storytelling style interspersed with questions and lively discussion kept us all in a positive mood to find out more about our local, very diverse birdlife (around 112 species have been recorded in Mount Majura).
Peter shared lots of tips and examples for spotting and identifying birds, including their characteristics songs and flight styles. Several mobile Apps now include the calls and songs for a number of species which can assist in identification. However, Peter did caution us not to over (ab)use these App calls to ‘lure’ birds to put in an appearance just for us, as this can stress and confuse birds trying to find these virtual rivals and/or partners.

Catching a glimpse of Majura’s feathered inhabitants (Image credit: Max Power)

Peter related an interesting anecdote from a research article which illustrates just how smart, adaptive and innovative birds really are: Some urban birds have learned to incorporate cigarette filter butts into their nests containing nicotine (which can act as an insecticide), to help reduce the number of ticks in their nest! The cigarette butt article it is available on line at https://www.newscientist.com/article/2138655-birds-use-cigarette-butts-for-chemical-warfare-against-ticks/

Additionally, some of our keen-eyed observers today spotted a pair of  (tiny) Buff-rumped Thornbills using the cracks between a large Gum tree’s bark as their Nesting site, perfectly camouflaged and protected from the weather.
Today we were lucky enough to hear and catch glimpses of the following bird species during our two and a half hour stroll (8-10.30am) :
Collared Sparrowhawk, Galah, Crimson Rosella, Magpie, Australian Raven, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Brown Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Magpie Lark (peewit), Crested pigeon, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Superb Blue Fairy Wren, Striated Pardalote, Western Gerygone, Golden Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher, Grey Fantail, White-winged Chough,  Mistletoebird, Olive- backed Oriole, Pied  Currawong, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo …….. that’s some 20 odd species of different BIRDS in just a couple of hours (of which about half I (personally) have not seen before). So a Big ” Thank You ” Peter for sharing your expertise.
How lucky we are to live in this Ngunnawal / Canberra region of Australia.
Max Pouwer, FoMM.
Any errors or omissions are mine.
Sep 252017

Spotted Pardalote, Pardalotus punctatus (Harvey Perkins, COG).

Walk through the woodlands with bird enthusiast Peter Miller to spot, observe, listen to, and learn about the amazing variety of Mt Majura’s birds in Spring.

When: Sunday, 22 October 8am (sharp) – 10 am

Where: Meet at nature reserve entrance Tay St / Ian Nicol St, in The Fair, Watson (volunteer registration point on this map)

Enquiries: secretary@majura.org

Wear appropriate clothing for the weather, sturdy shoes, sun protection; 

Bring Gold Coin donation for a Mt Majura bird species list.

Recommended: Binoculars, a bird guide or app* if you have them. *See for instance Michael Morcombe & David Stewart apps for Android and Apple.

Bird walk poster for upload.

With over two hundred recorded species, Canberra and the surrounding region has the richest bird life of any Australian capital city. Roughly half – 112 species – have been recorded on Mt Majura.

If you have an interest in our feathered friends (and some foes) check out the website of the Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) which has heaps of information on the distribution, seasonal occurrence and breeding of birds, brilliant photographs taken by COG members and even records of calls of several bird species.




Wildflower Walk (15/10/2017)

 Events, News, Plants, Walks and talks  Comments Off on Wildflower Walk (15/10/2017)
Sep 252017

Scrambled Eggs, Goodenia pinnatifida  (W. Pix)

Explore the wildflowers that are blooming this season on a stroll with local ecologist Michael Doherty. Enjoy the beauty of the Mount Majura reserve, its grasses, trees, and views whilst you go and learn about the different species found in the grassy woodlands and open forest of Mt Majura.
When: Sunday, 15th October 2017, 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm
Meet at the Antill Street Nature Park entrance opposite Carotel, south of The Fair in North Watson, click on this map to view the meeting point.

Wear suitable clothing for the expected weather, and comfortable and appropriate footwear.
Bring sun protection, a camera and magnifying glass if you have them.

An updated plant species list of Mount Majura / Mount Ainslie will be available for a gold coin donation.

Download this poster for promotion of the event.

Endangered Hoary Sunray, Leucochrysum albicans, northwest slope of Mt Majura (Photo W. Pix).

View Mount Majura’s Floriade. Visit FoMM Flickr galleries with pictures of flowering orchids, forbs, shrubs

Sep 252017

Pretty Hoary Sunrays open their flowers in the nature reserve east of The Fair (W.Pix)

Join the Friends of Mt Majura spring working party at the Fair.

When: Sunday 15 October 2017, from 9am to 12noon;

Where: Meet nature park entrance intersection Tay Street and Ian Nicol Street, The Fair, North Watson; view this map

What: Hand digging weeds, watering plants, (more) mulching and other maintenance jobs.

Wear and Bring: long pants and sleeves, hat, enclosed shoes, sunscreen, gloves – if you have them, and drinking water; morning tea provided.

Inquires: projects@majura.org


Sep 242017

Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie (left and centre) are significant places to the Ngunawal people (Photo: S. Bittinger).

Mt Ainslie Ngunawal Women’s cultural awareness walk led by Ngunawal custodian Karen Denny

This walk and talk will take place on Mt Ainslie and is aimed at providing cultural awareness training to women Parkcarers and Landcarers who care for Canberra Nature Park areas including Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie, Mt Painter, the Pinnacle, Red Hill, Black Mountain, Aranda/O’Connor Ridge, Stirling Park, and Capital Hill

When: Sunday 8 October, 1pm-3.30 pm

Where: Mt Ainslie; meet at Canning Street access to Mt Ainslie.

RSVP: Josie Barens 0402 913 131

Karen will discuss Ngunawal cultural sensitivities associated with a women’s cultural place and what to be aware and watch for when conducting Landcare and Parkcare activities.

Aboriginal people have lived in the Canberra region for at least 25.000 years. Numerous known sites indicate intensive occupation of the region including Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie and surrounding valleys and plains.

Mt Ainslie is part of the Ngunawal pathway that follows the watersheds and valleys associated with the Molonglo River, Ginninderra Creek, Sullivan’s Creek, Woolshed Creek, crossing the Molonglo River (Lake Burley Griffin) to link to the ridges and valleys associated with Yarralumla Creek and other minor creeks draining Red Hill and present-day Capital Hill.