Image: David King with Farley, Iris and Jim Moen Dawes near some of their tree plantings at The Gully.

Kids learn to Care for Country with Bushcare

29 Jan 2021

When the Moen Dawes family moved to their home by The Gully in Katoomba four years ago, one of the first things they did was join the Garguree Swampcare Group.

The group meets on the first Sunday morning of every month to help regenerate the bush and swampland at the site.

Gundungurra man and Swampcare co-ordinator, David King, whose mother was born in The Gully in 1926 and whose knowledge of the native flora, fauna and the many thousands of years of Aboriginal history in the area is phenomenal, helps run the group with other Gully Traditional Owners.

In 1957, bulldozers were sent into the site to make way for a racetrack. This not only destroyed the environment but it also led to the forced removal of the Aboriginal community that had made this a permanent campsite, and their home, since the late 1800s. With this painful legacy, there is much work to be done at The Gully to restore it to its former beauty and new volunteers are always welcome.

Since being part of the group, David has taught Farley (10), Iris (7) and Jim (3) about what it means to connect and care for Country.

The kids have planted trees at the site which they have now seen grow to be taller than themselves. In fact, their great work and commitment to Bushcare earned them a special award, the Junior Rian Strathdee Award, at last year’s Bushcare Awards.

The children’s mother, Jocelyn Moen, said: "Living on Ngura/Country where so much has been taken, it just feels like it’s the least we can do. Putting a little something back and learning from our Aboriginal elders gives our kids the best and healthiest sense of home."

Kids and families are always welcomed to the group. As David says “with kids you need to take the intensity out. You’ve got to let kids be kids. Some of the parents might only last half an hour and that’s totally fine. My mum, Aunties and Uncles always said they wanted this to be a community group, it’s about community and learning to have that connection to Country”.

Swampcare is run by the Bushcare program. There are 60 Bushcare groups across the City, from Lapstone in the Lower Blue Mountains to Mount Victoria in the Upper Blue Mountains and across to Mount Wilson. There are a wide range of meeting times and days to suit everyone.

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Image: David King with Farley, Iris and Jim Moen Dawes near some of their tree plantings at The Gully.

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