Encompassing a significant portion of Bronte Park, Bronte Gully occurs directly inland from Bronte Beach and is one of the largest areas of urban bushland in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

Bronte Gully (‘the Gully’) supports approximately 3.5ha of mixed native and exotic vegetation on the north and south-facing slopes surrounding Bronte Creek. The vegetation is bounded by residential Bronte to the north, west and south (including the historic Bronte House), and to the east by Bronte Park and Beach.

The original native vegetation that once occurred over Bronte Gully would have been a mixture of Coastal Heath and Scrubland vegetation on the upper slopes and more open areas to the east, with Wet Sclerophyll Forest / Gallery Rainforest vegetation present within the riparian zone of Bronte Creek.

Bronte Creek remains a viable watercourse with a natural base flow and also serves to channel urban stormwater through an open concrete watercourse from the base of the waterfall to the western extent of the main grassed section of Bronte Park. From here it is directed to its discharge point at the northern end of Bronte Beach via underground pipes.

Land management practices over the past 100 years have resulted in the great majority of the remnant native bushland being lost from the Gully, with vegetation currently existing as native and exotic plantings (historic and recent), exotic weeds and restored / reconstructed native bushland communities.

Vegetation clearing and the introduction of large exotic trees to create a European-style park resulted in the loss of the majority of the native open forest vegetation on the gully slopes and the gallery-rainforest type riparian vegetation surrounding the creek.

Vegetation on the southern slopes, once part of Bronte House’s “wild garden”, supports a number of native species, some of which may have established from remnant soil-stored seed, and a range of exotic species, both invasive weeds and ornamental plantings. Native species occur on the banks surrounding the waterfall at the head of the Gully, though the vegetation on the “yet to be restored” northern side dominated by invasive smothering ground cover and mid-storey species.

Further north of the waterfall between the gully floor and Murray Street a steep slope previously used as an unofficial tip site, supports a diverse suite of dense exotic vegetation growing on the unconsolidated fill and rubble. This diverse and heavily weed infested slope supports species such as Giant Reed (Arundo donax), Tree of Heaven (Alianthus altissima), Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica), Coral Trees (Erythrina x sykesii), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), Climbing Asparagus (Asparagus plumosus) and Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis).

The northern gully slope is dissected by an informal walking track running east-west from the end of Hewlett Street to the recently undertaken terracing and revegetation works. Above the track a number of native tree plantings have grown to maturity, however the shrub and ground cover layers are dominated by dense exotic species infestations. Below the walking track the vegetation is dominated by large mature Coral Trees (Erythrina x sykesii) over an exotic groundcover of shade tolerant herbs.

Along the eastern most section of the northern gully slopes approximately 0.5ha of restored native vegetation exists as a result of ongoing bush regeneration works undertaken by the local Bronte Bushcare group over the last 15 years. This restoration work, augmented by Waverley Council funded revegetation and weed control projects, has resulted in vast improvements in ecological heath and serves as an example and benchmark for what can be achieved within Bronte Gully.

Bronte Gully provides a large habitat resource for a wide range of native fauna species as both a temporary refuge for transient bird species and a permanent home for native frogs, reptiles and small to medium sized birds and mammals.

Ecological restoration of Bronte Gully will increase the quality of the habitat availability for native fauna and attract more species into the area. It will restore and increase the occurrence of a locally uncommon natural resource; healthy native vegetation in the Eastern Suburbs. It will provide higher quality passive recreation and educational opportunities for the local community and those visiting the area, greatly increase the visual amenity of the area and reduce a major source of exotic weed seed spreading into surrounding remnant native bushland patches, under threat of being permanently lost.

(Text from the Bronte Gully Ecological Action Plan 2014 - 2037. Prepared by C Warfe, Total Earth Care Pty Ltd for Waverley Council)

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