The Fair – Friends of Mount Majura
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.


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: or

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.



Aug 152017

Aboriginal Axehead found on Mt Majura (W. Pix). Further info here

CHANGE: Unfortunately Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell will not be able to attend. The working party will go ahead. Sorry for this late notice. There will be a Mt Ainslie Ngunawal Women’s cultural awareness training led by Ngunawal custodian Karen Denny on Sunday 8 October;  further details and RSVP see below. 12. September 2017

Come along to a special working party at the National Tree Day planting area east of The Fair. Hear about the importance of Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie to the local Aboriginal people from Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell who will be joining our working party to demonstrate working with the environment in a culturally aware way, and will talk about the significance of the area for Aboriginals for thousands of years.

When: Sunday 17 September 2017, from 1pm to 4pm; Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell will be joining us at 2.30pm

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

Bring: Sun protection, sturdy shoes, long sleeve and pants and garden gloves if you have them.Tools and afternoon tea will be provided.

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


Yam Daisy, Microseris lanceolata on Mt Majura (W. Pix). The tubers were stable food for Aboriginal people.

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.


Sites containing  materials such as artefact scatters, ground axe heads and ceremonial stone arrangements indicate the importance of the mountains as a source of food, water and shelter to the Ngunawal peoples as well as cultural and spritual connections to the land.


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

The walk is aimed at providing cultural awareness training to women Parkcarers and Landcarers who care for areas along the ridges of Mt Painter and the Pinnacle; Aranda/O’Connor Ridge and Black Mountain; Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie; and Stirling Park, Capital Hill and Red Hill Ridge.

Date: Sunday 8 October

Time: 1pm-3.30 pm

Location: This walk and talk takes place on Mt Ainslie and 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.

Meet at Canning Street access to Mt Ainslie.

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.

RSVP: Josie Barens 0402 913 131


Aug 012017

Caring for young plantings (S. Bittinger)

Join the Friends of Mount Majura working party at the planting area behind The Fair and give the seedlings planted on National Tree Day a head start for spring. Help direct seeding native grass, spreading wood chip mulch and placing debris of cut Cootamundra wattle around the plantings.

When: Sunday 20 August 2017, from 1pm to 4pm; come for an hour or more.

Where: meet nature park entrance intersection Tay Street and Ian Nicol Street, The Fair, North Watson

Bring: Sun protection, sturdy shoes, long sleeve and pants and garden gloves if you have them.

Tools and afternoon tea will be provided.

Enquiries: or 62477515

National Tree Day 2017 planting along eroding gully (S. Bittinger)

Jul 312017

Over 90 enthusiastic volunteers of all age cohorts turned up at nature reserve east of The Fair to plant local trees, shrubs and wildflowers at the Friends of Mt Majura 10th National Tree Day.

More than any words, these photographs and the time-lapse video taken by Steve Bittinger convincingly show that people had a great afternoon helping out.

A big thank you to all our volunteers for a very successful and enjoyable planting event!

In particular I like to thank

Peter O’Neill for digging the planting holes – very much appreciated;

Parks Service Raf Gobin for carting water;

Urban Service rangers for depositing piles of wood chip mulch;

Parks Service rangers Phil Selmes, Alison McLeod, Pat Harvey and Simon Stratford for giving their time providing fantastic support;

The helpers on site Jo Lynch, Jenni Marsh, Lynne Alexander, Lesely McGrane, Chris Paterson, Joseph Stapelton, Noel Brichall and Jochen Zeil who were there when needed, ensuring everything worked smoothly and no water was wasted;

Steve Bittinger for the brilliant photographs and time-lapse video and for sharing them on Flickr and YouTube;

Jean Chesson for catering and baking delicious muffins, thanks also to anonymous for the wonderful chocolate cup cakes which together with tons of Timtams were gone quickly;

Cindy Allen for putting up posters;

Barbara Inglis for the help with volunteer registration;

Leigh Cameron for coordinating the Majura Mountain Scouts;

Greening Australia volunteers and staff for raising and arranging the seedlings;

Molonglo Catchment Group for a grant to buy the plant seedlings and some tools;

And last not least, a big thank you to Shane Rattenbury, MLA for a great demonstration “how to plant” which was enjoyed by everyone.

Click here to view the species planted on Sunday. There were two distinct planting sites: Lilies and Everlastings planted at a Majura Mountain scouts dedicated grassy woodland site and a mix of local wattles species and native box thorn planted along a gully where volunteers carried out erosion control work over the past two years. In addition twenty eucalypts were planted in a widely scattered pattern at these two sites.

Silver wattles and other wattles were planted along the eroding gully (S.Bittinger)

Friends of Mt Majura, National Tree Day 2017 coordinator, 31 July 2017

Scouts planted Everlastings and Bulbine lilies (S. Bittinger)

Jul 242017

The joy of planting together (S. Bittinger)

Join the Friends of Mount Majura (FoMM) to celebrate National Tree Day 2017 on Sunday 30 July and help with the planting of local trees, shrubs and flowering ground-cover plants. Bring your friends and family and enjoy an afternoon of fun out in the bush.

Planting veteran Shane Rattenbury, MLA will be kicking off the event at 1pm with a demonstration on how to plant a tree.

This will be FoMM’s 5th National Tree Day community planting in the nature park behind (east of) “The Fair” and the 10th consecutive mass planting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers in the Mount Majura nature reserve on a National Tree Day.

The planting holes will be dug prior to the event and water delivered so all we need are volunteers to help with planting, watering and mulching the seedlings.

Shane Rattenbury will kick off the event with a demonstration on how to plant a tree (L. Barnsley)

When: Sunday 30 July 2017, from 1.00pm to 4.00pm; volunteer registration opens at 12.45pm;
Please come early for a demonstration on “How to plant”.
Where: Mount Majura nature reserve behind (east of) The Fair in North Watson; click on this map to view the planting area and volunteer registration point;

Warm up drinks and Timtams will be provided.
Access: park entrance intersection Tay St and Ian Nicol St close to the volunteer registration point or via nature park entrance Antill St roughly opposite Carotel for a 5-10 minutes walk to the planting site.
Car parking: along Antill Street opposite the nature park entrance; limited car parking space at The Fair and along Aspinall Street / Solstice.
What to wear: Garden gloves, appropriate clothing and foot wear, wrap up warmly.
What to bring: Bucket, trowel or small mattock if you have one.

Important: Please label your items with your phone number so that we can reunite any left-behinds with the owner.

What we will plant: List of species with photos

Enquiries: e-mail, phone 6247 7515

Contact number during event: 0435 357 172

Promote National Tree Day 2017 on Mount Majura: download this poster

Media Release

Click on this little pamphlet How to plant: 10 steps to help your seedling survive

A big thank you to the Molonglo Catchment Group  for providing funds from the 2017 Small Grants Program for FoMM to purchase tube stock from Greening Australia and equipment for this planting event!

National Tree Day 2016 planting at The Fair (S. Bittinger); see photographs of the 2016 planting spectacle here

National Tree Day is held annually by Planet Ark which runs the Australian wide project to encourage mass tree plantings and to communicate the merit of trees.

Jun 302017

Early Wattle, Acacia genistifolia wrapped in spider webs on a winter morning (W.Pix). The wattle is a key habitat species planted at The Fair.

Give native plants a head start! Come and help preparing National Tree Day 2017.

When: Sunday, 16 July, 1-4pm; give as little or as much time as you want.
Where: Meet at The Fair, nature park access Tay St, North Watson, view this map
What: Preparation for National Tree Day 2017.
Bring: Sun protection, long sleeves and pants; garden gloves if you have them. Tools and hot drinks will be provided.
No previous experience required, just an interest in making a difference!
Inquiries: or 6247 7515

Assisted regeneration of native diversity.  About planting at The Fair.

The site adjacent to the The Fair is one of the four modified and heavily degraded areas in the nature reserve where the Friends of Mt Majura (FoMM) run long term projects to reclaim and improve grassy woodland (other sites are the old sheep camp at Majura ridge, Majura paddock east of Rivett Street and the associated drainage line at the lower Hackett water tank, and a cleared section of the west slope). These sites have in common that much of the original vegetation was cleared and replaced by weeds. In addition ongoing overgrazing prevents natural regeneration which in turn benefits the weeds. Other issues are the loss of the surface crust that holds the top soil together, compaction of soil, and erosion and loss of topsoil which affects the ability of plants to establish.

The Fair project site in April 2014; view to the south (W. Pix)

As with all FoMM projects, work at The Fair began with an initial assessment in 2011/12, taking into account present introduced and native plants, the impact of rabbit and kangaroo grazing, the soil condition such as compaction, large bare areas, active erosion, and the lack of structural habitat elements such as fallen trees and logs.

We started treatment of weeds in 2012 at the least weed infested southern part of The Fair project site, removed large Briar Roses in the tree cleared area and conducted a mass planting on National Tree Day. Work continued in the past years and included collecting seeds of native ground cover plants on Mt Majura and direct seeding, tube stock planting of native shrubs and grassland forbs on National Tree Days, measures to protect the plantings against grazing damage, help with rabbit control and the reintroduction of structural habitat, many hours of weed control, and monitoring weeds, rabbits, signs of natural regeneration and the progress of assisted re-vegetation, and work to improve the compacted soil and control erosion.

Silver wattle, Acacia dealbata planted @ The Fair and damaged by grazing (W. Pix)

A great challenge is to replace woody and herbaceous weeds with local native plants under the present grazing pressure without compromising ecological values of the area such as wildlife habitat.

For instance Hawthorn, Briar Rose and other woody weeds that replaced the native shrubs in the area provided shelter for little woodland birds however on the other hand the weeds prevented native vegetation to re-establish and thrive. Our solution was to plant local native shrubs that provide the similar habitat value in a staged process, superseding and accompanying the removal of these woody weeds.

Blue Devil, Eryngium ovium planted @ The Fair. The species is intolerant of heavy grazing when the young leaves appear in spring (W. Pix)

Seeds of many grassy woodland species do not persist in the soil seed bank and are unable to re-establish without assistance once they are lost from the standing vegetation through clearing, weed competition and overgrazing. We planted, and continue to plant, clumps of native understorey species at strategic sites and hope that the seeds of these “living seed banks” will spread out and one day will take-over sites which are currently weed infested.

The staged process of weed removal, assisted re-vegetation (tube stock planting and direct seeding) and protecting the plantings from being grazed is a much valued contribution of volunteers, and supported by the Canberra Ornithologists Group and the authorities charged with the management of conservation areas in the ACT such as the Mt Majura nature reserve.

The re-establishment of diversity improves the integrity of the grassy woodland and the drainage lines. It is a long term process and hard work and it is only sustainable if Government backs up our efforts and manages the grazing pressure that detrimentally impacts upon the grassy woodland and the native species within this endangered ecological community.


Establishing native plants under heavy grazing pressure is a challenge @ The Fair. Native grass fails to flower and set seeds and will be replaced by introduced species if overgrazing continues at the current rate (W. Pix 28.04.2014).

May 292017

Speckled Warbler, Chthonicola sagittata spotted in the nature reserve by Dusty (CNM)

Give a hand on Sunday, 18 June and help transform Mount Majura’s weedy woodland east of The Fair into native wildlife habitat; enjoy the little woodland birds foraging among planted trees and shrubs and learn about the work of volunteers to reclaim grassy woodland in the area.

When: Sunday, 18 June, 1pm – 4pm; give as much of your time as you want; please come early for an introduction if you can.
Nature park entrance Tay / Ian Nicol Streets, The Fair, North Watson; view this map
Bring: Sun protection, sturdy shoes and appropriate clothes; tools and afternoon tea will be provided.
Download this poster to promote the working party

Flowering Kangaroo grass, Themeda australis (W.Pix). The iconic species once common of grassy ecosystems has been almost lost in the Mt Majura nature reserve.

Help with these tasks
Spreading wood chip mulch.
Mulch reduces erosion and works as a soil conditioner that helps native plants to establish.

Direct seeding Kangaroo grass and installing protective wire mesh guards. Much of the native ground layer has been lost and replaced by herbaceous weeds as a result of overgrazing and other degrading activities. The reintroduction of native grass and local wildflowers complements weed control, increases plant diversity, reduces erosion and provides habitat for local invertebrates, lizards and birds.

About The Fair Project
Since the start of The Fair project in 2012 volunteers replaced hundreds of woody weeds with local shrubs and trees to provide food, nesting and protective habitat for declining woodland birds that visit and live in the nature reserve east of The Fair. We hope our work ensures vulnerable species such as Scarlet Robins and Speckled Warblers will be visiting the area for many years to come.

Starting in the south and working towards the north volunteers spent 1000s of hours to improve the ground cover layer by controlling herbaceous weeds *, manually loosening compacted soil, spreading wood chip mulch and woody debris – making best use of removed woody weeds, collecting seeds, direct seeding various local grasses and planting wildflowers.

*The most common herbaceous weeds are Paterson’s Curse,  St John’s Wort, Saffron thistle, Scotch thistle, Slender thistle, Spear thistle, Variegated thistle, Hirschfeldia, Horehound, Serrated Tussock.

Work in Progress
The photographs below show northwest and northeast views of an area in the reserve east of The Fair taken over 4 years from May 2014 to April 2017. The most noticeable weed, Paterson’s Curse formed dense carpets in autumn 2014. Many volunteer’s hours later in autumn 2017, this weed occurs in a few scattered stands hardly visible among the native grass that had been direct seeded in a cover of wood chip mulch.

The 2 sets of 4 photographs shown below were taken on 13 May 2014, 2 June 2015, 31 May 2016, and 11 April 2017. The first set shows a northwest view downhill towards gully in the north from close to the big conifer (visible on the left hand side) and the second set shows a northeast view from close to the conifer (the water container visible in the photograph sets is the same)

Northwest view

May 2014

June 2015

May 2016





April 2017

Northeast view

May 2014









June 2015









May 2016









April 2017



Mar 022017

Suckers of English Elm, Ulmus porcera, on a dug-out root (W. Pix). Suckers develop from root buds.

Please give a hand on Sunday 19 March and help remove Woody Weeds in the nature reserve east of The Fair. This working party follows-up extensive work carried out in 2016 to remove English Elm, Briar Rose, Hawthorn and other woody weeds at the northwest corner of Mt Majura nature reserve. English Elms are hard to control due to extensive suckering. Follow-up control work is crucial to remove this invasive weed.

When: Sunday, 19 March, 9am – 12noon, give as much of your time as you want.

Where: Nature park east of The Fair, North Watson; access nature park entrance Tay / Ian Nicol Streets; click on this map to view the work area.

What: Follow up woody weed control using the cut & daub method.

Bring: Sun protection, sturdy shoes, body-covering clothing; tools will be provided.

No experience required however novice weeders are requested to come early for an introduction.


Mobile phone during event: 0435 357 172

Woody Weeds @ Mt Majura’s northwest slope south of Valour Park.

Since 2012, FoMM volunteers work in an area on the northwest corner of Mt Majura east of The Fair, North Watson to reclaim degraded grassy woodland. One of the many tasks is the removal of woody weeds and their replacement with local native shrubs to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Our focus in 2016 was removing woody weeds in the gully that runs along Valour Park, a memorial park situated south of Federal Highway and on the adjacent land south of the gully. The most prevalent woody weeds were English Elm (Ulmus procera) and Hawthorn. They are the off-spring from plants cultivated in the Valour Park from where they spread by seeds (bird droppings) and from root suckers. There were also many Briar Roses, some formed thickets over 2 m in height and diameter.

English Elm re-sprouting from the base of a previously cut stem (W.Pix)

A number of English Elms north of the gully had been cut before (not by FoMM volunteers). We discovered that basically all the cut trees re-sprouted and hundreds of suckers grew from a massive root stock as shown on the photographs. Suckers develop from root buds often in response to stress.

In order to treat the suckers we lifted the roots with the suckers, cut them on both sides and daubed each end with glyphosate. It was a huge amount of work! More suckers grew since last year however the good news is that they are less than expected. We hope to treat those at this working party.

View pictures of treated English elms at the Canberra Nature Map sightings 2727246 and 3343416.

Control of woody weeds using the cut and daub method.

Cut stems close to ground level and immediately treat cut surface with herbicide glyphosate (Roundup or equivalent product) applied at high concentration e.g. 1 part glyphosate : 2 parts water; apply herbicide mix with spray or dauber.

The plant’s natural protective mechanism acts very quickly to seal-off the cut surface which stops herbicide penetration into the sap stream. It is therefore important to treat the cut surface immediately, i.e. within a few seconds after the cut; the longer the treatment is delayed, the poorer the result will be. If necessary cut and treat each stem of a multi-stemmed plant such as Briar Rose separately to avoid delayed herbicide treatment.


Briar Rose (front) and Hawthorn (background) removed in 2016 east of The Fair (Photo W.Pix).