Intermittent showers on the day of the Lion’s Club picnic day at Shannon Creek on May 2 did not disrupt the enjoyment of a nature walk, led by Clarence Environment Centre’s John Edwards.
For 44 years John and Patricia Edwards have lived near Shannon Creek, with the rugged sandstone landscape as their back yard. Jointly, they became responsible for identifying virtually every plant species that occur within a 10km radius of their home, and by this and ongoing work, Mr Edwards has become a recognised leading Clarence Valley botanist. This knowledge of plants, as well as the local terrain, meant Mr Edwards was well placed to ensure an enjoyable and informative day.
The first things the group asked to see was the endangered Shannon Creek Boronia (Boronia hapalophylla –Edwards/Edwards/Duretto). This striking shrub is easily recognised by its year-round flowering habit and strong scent emitted by its leaves. This latter feature was clear when all the gathered 20-strong group could easily smell the not unpleasant odour from a single small-crushed leaf.
The group were also given a hands-on demonstration of how the steep sandstone ridges act like a giant sponge, soaking up the rainfall, then filtering it gradually downwards to sustain the diversity of plant life that seemingly exist in that arid landscape without a drop of moisture.
Mr Edwards also talked about the large number of plant species that exist only at Shannon Creek, several discovered by the Edwards themselves as significant range extensions or accepted as threatened species by their nominations to the NSW Scientific Committee. A unique Brown Bloodwood-Sandstone Mahogany tree combination was also explained, as were the endangered Brush-tailed rock-wallabies that inhabit the numerous sandstone caves in the vicinity. The group was even treated to a taste-test of certain bush tucker species as they made their way across the rugged ridge slopes.
The Edwards’ lengthy time in the valley became most pronounced, however, when the climbers moved onto a historic dray track, cut along the ridge at the end of the 19th century by early settlers to Shannon Creek, to transport their produce to the distant township of South Grafton, then known as The Settlement.
The Edwards rediscovered the historic “cutting” while researching families for the History of Coutts Crossing & Nymboida Districts (CCND Historical Society1986). Recognising the historical significance of the old trail the Edwards worked with the Dept of Commerce and NC Water to ensure its protection during construction of the Shannon Creek dam. This status remains in place today.
The Clarence Environment Centre strongly supports the work of the recently formed Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental, in particular the koala tree planting projects getting underway around the Lawrence region through their generous funding.