Friends of Koolunga Reserve

Friends of Koolunga Reserve

Friends of Koolunga Reserve has been Volunteer for Knox’s most popular service in the past 12 months with 70 people expressing interest in roles as Environmental and Conservation Assistants.

Friends of Koolunga reserve are a group of volunteers who help to restore the bushland at the reserve, on Forest Road, in Ferntree Gully. They plant back local indigenous species (trees, shrubs, grasses, herbs, etc.) and remove weed species and work closely with Knox City Council.

Koolunga Native Reserve is owned by the City of Knox and is based at the bottom of the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and the flora reflects that of the ranges and also the surrounding lowlands.

Koolunga was obtained by Knox Council in 1967 as a recreation reserve. The area had primarily been used as a daffodil farm, and by the locals as a rubbish dump along the creek. Daffodils still appear each year but the rubbish has largely been dealt with. The six hectare (15 acre) area of Koolunga now consists of some remnant bush land and areas of mown grass where orchids appear despite the previous intensive horticulture use.

In 1994, a Friends Group was established which has been active ever since.

The majority of volunteers expressing interest in the positions are aged in their 20’s and usually completing a university degree in environmental science or simply have an interest in the natural environment.

Friends of Koolunga Reserve registered with Volunteer for Knox in 2019.

They have six regular members who contribute at least two hours a month and three additional members who often contribute another 4-20 hours a month each.

Co-ordinator Moyra Farrington said many of the volunteers attend for short term projects but some have stayed on.

When the volunteers are referred from Volunteer for Knox they are asked to contact Moyra who welcomes them into the group and gives information about their activities and educates them about the local plants, birds, animals and specific projects.

“We plant, weed, take surveys of birds and wild life and engage closely with the local community via Facebook and run community events,” Moyra said.

“One of the biggest issues we face is getting volunteers to attend on a regular basis.

“Some are only available at times when it isn’t convenient for us to hold working bees.

“We have been operating for 25 years and have always tried to attract new volunteers and when Volunteer for Knox offered us assistance we gladly took it.

“Volunteer for Knox has provided extra assistance and introduced many new and interesting people to our group.

“Volunteers enable us to accomplish much more work in planting and weeding and generally maintaining our reserve. Most adapt quite quickly. The tasks aren’t complicated or too demanding.

“We love to welcome new volunteers and make the experience interesting, friendly and rewarding in learning new skills and try to give them the feeling that their efforts are very much appreciated.”