Hammock Hill Reserve Bushcare

Hammock Hill Reserve lies in East Bowral , the area has a long history of various land management and since 1993 has been managed by Wingecarribee Shire Council and supported by a small but active Bushcare group.

Hammock Hill Reserve lies in East Bowral not far from the Scottish Arms. It covers 12 hectares of trees and grassland at an altitude between 690 and 725 metres above sea level. There are 5 pedestrian entrances from encircling streets. It has a flat western section while in the east the path goes to the top of a hill and to a lookout. In 1822 3030 acres of land was granted to Edward Riley who subdivided it in 1880. The Hordern family bought 1600 acres, renaming it Retford Park, where they operated a successful cattle breeding venture. Since the 1950s King Ranch cattle company owned land on the edge of Bowral including Retford Park and Milton Park and continued cattle breeding, specifically the Santa Gertrudis breed. When the company left Australia in the 1980s, the subdivided land was bought by a number of grazing interests. In 1988 the Wingecarribee Shire Council rezoned land on the edge of Bowral for residential subdivision. A total of 330 acres of grazing land was then owned by Loris H Hassall Pty Ltd who prepared to develop the rezoned land into a ground breaking residential scheme providing opportunities for residents to live close to nature with habitat for flora and fauna on their doorstep. A design was drawn up by Campbell & Anderson Surveys after a visit to Davis, California, a university town known for cutting edge subdivision design. Close attention was paid to public amenity, and Hammock Hill and the David Woods Playing Fields were some of the results. The land that became Hammock Hill was improved pasture with scattered large remnant trees, predominantly Eucalyptus cypellocarpa. Wariapendi Native Nursery carried out extensive plantings of shrubs in the reserve. In 1993 a public meeting was held which set up Management Committees for Hammock Hill, and also for Mansfield, Gibbergunyah and Mount Gibraltar Reserves. An early project was to invite residents to take part in a survey of vegetation. Three sites were picked to assess plant health, and it was found that the level of regeneration was very low, with few native ground covers or shrubs surviving the pasture improvement and weed invasion. Discussions were held about a children’s playground. It was decided to commission some large wombat statues for small children to climb on. The artist was Neil Dickinson of Canberra. They’re set in a circular space surrounded by trees and shrubs close to the main path with seats nearby. The Hammock Hill Reserve Plan of Management was adopted by Council in 2009 providing for passive public recreation and protection of the flora and fauna of the area. Hammock Hill Bushcare Group for volunteers was set up and has fluctuating numbers. The group has a small core of regulars with some others interested but uncommitted. The Council’s Bushcare Team carry out weed reduction work one morning a month with the volunteers, and they provide excellent training and support. The vegetation of the reserve is the endangered ecological community of Southern Highlands Shale Woodland, grazed for many years. The soil is Wiannamatta Shale with patches of red volcanic Mt Gibraltar soil. There are large eucalypts including Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, amplifolia, macarthurii and radiata, with Acacia melanoxylon also common. Understorey is made up of many Solanum aviculare, olearia sp Pittosporum undulatum, some small brachychiton, Acacia falciformis and casuarina sp. Groundcover is mixed grasses, native and exotic, lomandras and dianellas, occasional brachycomes, wahlenbergias, hardenbergias. There have been plantings over the years, not necessarily local species. Recently the Bushcare group has concentrated on weeding, but has also planted trees and shrubs provided by the Council Nursery. The difficult challenge faced by the Bushcare group is pseudocapsicum, which is hard to kill. Other weeds are thistles, inkweed, blackberries, ivy and garden escapees. The group is small but under normal circumstances keeps the reserve in good shape. Currently, in 2020, after an exceptionally hot and dry summer there has been some damage. Small trees died, and some smooth-barked eucalypts developed deep longitudinal cracks in their bark. Some large specimens may not recover. The animals commonly seen are rabbits, also reduced over the summer. There are wombat holes this year, the animals unseen during the day. Echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos and koalas have been reported. The reserve is rich in tree hollows claimed by sulphur-crested cockatoos and little corellas. There are resident populations of galahs, rosellas, kookaburras, mopoke owls and noisy miners. Few small birds are seen. Hammock Hill Reserve is popular with walkers, the occasional cyclist and cubbyhouse builder. It’s a reserve valued by local people, glad to have a large and peaceful area of mature woodland on their doorsteps.