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By Neville Passmore

The Peel Harvey Catchment Council is an active community group which appears to me to have the ability to influence and mould activities in an area with a huge footprint. While a small team they cover a huge area, nearly 1.15 million hectares from Cockburn in the north to Harvey in the south and way out into the wheatbelt to Cuballing and Pingelly.

Their new office will be officially opened in mid November and I had a small hand in the design of the gardens. Andy Gulliver a director of C-Wise, and the Deputy Chair of the Catchment Council, arranged for me to look over the property which is located at 58 Sutton Street Mandurah. The old house is owned by the City of Mandurah and has been leased to the Catchment Council at a community rate. Funding from Lotterywest, the PHCC, City of Mandurah and other kind sponsors enabled it to be renovated and fitted out.

My concept was to design the front garden area to reflect landscape forms found in the catchment but with a Noongar bush food bias. For example we are looking to use advanced coastal paperbark trees under planted with sedges. The paperbark has many food related uses in the local aboriginal culture. Sedges will be planted under the paperbarks. The rear garden will be modelled around a settlers garden with Mediterranean plants, most of which are edible. There will also be some examples of the magnificent local plant communities.

The plant selection criteria I was asked to consider was that all plants were local natives from the Peel-Harvey Catchment, edible, waterwise, low maintenance and non invasive. Mandurah City Council have undertaken to do the actual landscape plan for the project. C-Wise has not only donated $1000 to the planting but is also contributing composted soil conditioners and mulch to the project. PHCC staff and members, family and friends have all helped out and the FLEEC students from Pinjarra High School, that I wrote about a few weeks ago, have offered to help with the planting.

The planting commenced in early July and will be staged over the next 6 months.

What does the catchment council do? You can have a look at their Facebook page or website but here's a few examples, from last years project list:-

A Ramsar Management Plan was officially launched for the Peel - Yalgorup System. This provides an agreed and endorsed structure for community, government and everyone in between to protect the Peel-Yalgorup system as part of Australia’s international obligations under the Ramsar Convention for International Wetlands which was founded 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Essentially this convention seeks to protect migratory wading birds from the Arctic Circle as they make their annual migrations.

The internationally important wetland covers 26,500 hectares and is a highly significant destination for these birds that have travelled up to 17,000 kilometres to get here.

Migratory birds are particularly vulnerable when they first arrive. They have expended so much energy and food resources that they must eat within an hour of arrival or they can die.

One objective of the Ramsar plan is to reduce the issues of disturbance when the birds are coming in. Another is to improve water quality by reducing nutrients entering the waterways.

Water bird monitoring and education plays an important role in bird protection. Last year 130 students from 5 schools received shorebird education including the use of scopes and binoculars, bird identification and habitat requirements.

Landscape scale restoration is a priority for the Catchment Council. This includes habitat restoration on private and public land, with landowner agreements for things like fencing, weeding, habitat restoration, rural drainage modification and stock exclusion along rivers.

Spraying and crushing invasive exotic bulrushes around Lake Meelup and Lake McLarty was undertaken and then a follow up revegetation project at Lake McLarty saw 3352 local area native seedlings planted.

At Lake Clifton, with the help of a dedicated local community, a project to care for the ancient and irreplaceable thrombolites has been initiated. This included restoring Tuart forest habitat in Yalgorup by seeding and planting more than 23 hectares of the National Park. There is a great YouTube video showing the seeding process including lighting the ashbeds with the help of 14 Department of Environment and Conservation fire officers.

The "Filtering the Nutrient Storm" project is making a positive improvement in the quality of storm water. An example is the million dollar project at the Town of Kwinana’s Parkfield Lake storm water management site which is aimed at reducing nutrients entering the Peel Main Drain and ultimately the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

Nutrient stripping basins have been set up including Banksia Terrace in the Shire of Murray for reducing stormwater pollutants entering the Murray River.

PHCC works very closely with community, industry, NGO’s, Universities, schools and all levels of government. Not only does this help to implement on-ground projects but also to influence best management practices, land use planning and increasing community capacity. Last year funding of $1.9 million was secured and spent to try to protect and enhance the natural assets of the Peel-Harvey Catchment.

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Ribbon cutting ceremony with C-Wise proprietor Andy Gulliver at far left


Original grape vines are now thriving on a little TLC


A herb garden dresses up the Pioneer food garden out back.




The bright cushions represent thrombolites found within the catchment area.