Bill Matheson’s Memorial Planting Day

Rockleigh Saturday and Sunday, 7–8 July 2018

We have decided on the weekend of July 7th and 8th for the annual planting day at Rockleigh, which this year is in memory of our much loved and respected Bushland member and Director, Bill Matheson.

We welcome you all to come to our Rockleigh property to help with the planting and celebrate Bill’s contribution to our company. Bill and Doreen’s friends and fellowship group from the Magill Uniting Church will be joining us on the Sunday.

*We will meet at the old campsite.

*For those able to assist with planting please bring your tools and other suitable equipment, and your lunch. Long-handled (post hole) shovels and mattocks or hoes are best for the sandy ground at the planting site.

Saturday 7th July

Planting will commence from about 10 am at the old campsite. Lunch around 1 pm. Please bring your lunch, the billy will be boiling and we will provide tea, coffee, fruit and cake.

 Sunday 8th July

Planting will commence at 10 am at the old campsite. Lunch around 1 pm. Please bring your lunch. Doreen and friends will come around 1.30pm for the brief commemoration and afternoon tea. The billy will be boiling and we will provide tea, coffee, fruit and cake!

Seed growers

Please contact Bren (on Bren’s phone: 0430 595 947 or Bis’s phone: 0400 254 350) as soon as possible so we know how many seedlings we have for planting.


We hope as many of you as possible will join the directors camping at the new campsite on Friday and/or Saturday nights.Do feel free to come even if you are not able to assist with the actual planting work. Hope to see you there.

Bren Lay        (on behalf of the Rockleigh Management Team: Graham White, Tom Reeves, Marg Brown and Bren and Bis Lay)

Newsletter March 2018

2018 AGM

The Board met in February and set the date of the AGM as the 6th October. This is the Saturday of the middle weekend of the school holidays. As reported in the last newsletter it will be held on our property on KI. As it is school holidays you may need to book the ferry early but it does not clash with the long weekend which is the weekend before, Monday 1st being Labour Day. For anyone able to come but not wishing to take their car, arrangements can be made to collect you when the ferry docks or to organise a ride all the way with some-one else.

Tree Planting

We are hoping to arrange a tree planting weekend at Rockleigh during the period 22nd June and 9th July. Just when will depend largely on how the season develops and may well be earlier or later. On the Sunday Doreen Matheson is hoping to scatter Bill’s ashes but more on this later. The planting will be a memorial to Bill and take place below the old campsite. Apart from planting, we hope to be able to remove and reuse a lot of guards from dead plants or those big enough to do without. Several of us will be camping over the weekend. We encourage you to join us and invite family and friends to either camp with us or join us for the day. We would encourage the younger people to enjoy our property and learn more of our Company’s vision to restore and conserve our land.

Management Plans

The updated Management Plans have been completed and copies delivered to those who requested them. Digital copies have been made available as attachments to newsletters over the last 12 months. The revised “History” is attached to this one. Again, many thanks to all the people who contributed to make this possible.

KI Land Sale

As you may well be aware by now, Minister Hunter stopped the sale of the coastal fringe to the Company wishing to establish the golf course. Thank you to all those who sent submissions and for the positive response from many members to the Company’s submission. The Minister acknowledged the fact that it was the receipt of so many submissions that was the key to his decision.

My Absence

I am going to be away for a large proportion of this year as follows:

March 11th to April 15th;        April 24th to June 17th;           July 13th to approximately Aug 27th

For the first lot I can be contacted by phone and email; for the second email only and for the third I will have no communication other than by satellite phone. If you have any issues, please contact our chair, Bill Blessing.


AGM report

The recent AGM (7/10/2017) in the Tothills was a great success with 25 people at the meeting and a really good feeling of friendship and “belonging”. Seven people camped on the Friday and they were joined by a further five on the Saturday night. Some interesting conversations were had amid the smoke around the campfire.

John took those interested on short walks to see orchids and to investigate the differences in the two Pultenaea species and many other species came under scrutiny as well.

Our guest speaker for the day was Denzel Murfet, Company member and botanist extraordinaire. Denzel outlined the history behind the establishment of the website He then talked, with the use of charts, on how to navigate through the website for the information it holds. After 5 years of dedicated work by some very keen volunteer botanists (including Denzel), the website now has some 2800 of SA’s 3500 plants listed with detailed information/ photographs of each, maps of distribution and links to other useful botanical sites. This site is well worth a look.

New members, though absent, were welcomed to the Company by the Chair (Bill Blessing) who later gave a brief summary of events over the past year. Among things mentioned were the death of Bill Matheson and the generousity of the family in naming Bushland the beneficiary of any donations (which came to $845); the possibility of fossil footprints on our KI property after they were found 2 km west of Mouth Flat; the successful working bee held at Rockleigh and the completion of the update of the management plans (though still at the printers).

In his property report for the Tothills, John mentioned the completion of a cull of kangaroos and the need for a further cull as numbers are still damagingly high. The Rockleigh report included information on the memorial planting for 2018 in Bill Matheson’s honour. We have had an excellent response to the appeal for growers, many thanks to all concerned, and hope for an equally good response next year when a working bee will be called to plant the trees and shrubs.

In general business the Board wanted to inform the meeting of its decision to set a minimum entry into the Company of $10,000 when a spare shareholding is used to split a large sale, but otherwise the entry price is that of the shareholding being sold. The Board also gained the endorsement of the AGM for the following

. “that access will not be granted to Bushland properties for commercial ventures except under exceptional circumstances as approved by the Board”.

This motion had arisen as a result of Bushland being approached by a private concern for permission to film a commercial at Black Point and was arrived at after much discussion.

Next year’s AGM will be held on KI, hopefully on the middle weekend of the holidays (6th Oct). Once the date is finalized early next year I will make it official in a newsletter. John  and Reiko  have offered accommodation at their nearby property if you do not wish to camp.


Newsetter August 2017

  1. Call

The annual call of $100 is now overdue. Many thanks to the 36 who have already paid. If you have any problems paying at this time please let me know.

Management Plan Question

Those of you who have not as yet said whether you would like a printed copy of the updated management plans, please do so by the end of next week (Friday 18th Aug). My thanks to those of you who promptly replied.

If you don’t receive emails you will get a copy of the plans.


As reported earlier, the AGM this year is to be held in the Tothills at 1:30 on Saturday 7th October at the usual site in the regrowth at Webb Gap. Several of us will be camping on at least the Friday and Saturday nights so please feel free to join us. (A ‘not very long drop’ loo will be in position! )

Denzel Murfett will speak of his work photographing and collecting the seeds of rare plants. See ( Retiring Directors are myself, Alison Bullock and Bren Lay. All three of us have renominated . If you would like to become a Director, and particularly if you would like the challenge of being secretary at some stage, please nominate yourself by letting me know by the end of August or have someone nominate you at the meeting.

Rockleigh Working Bee

A very successful working bee was conducted over the last weekend of July despite some very unpleasant weather. The track to the old campsite which had been overgrown by all the regrowth was tamed and the track itself repaired and upgraded to ensure water causes less erosion. The netting on the northern boundary fence was reattached where necessary and kangaroo runs filled in to prevent access by sheep. Some 50-60 plants were planted and many guards removed or replaced. Much weeding around plants was carried out. The invading false caper, Euphorbia terracina, was hand pulled but is an ongoing problem. Quite a bit of veldt grass was removed from the campsite area and around established plantings.

Due to the high winds and some rain we were unable to do the spraying of the slashed area of veldt grass or remove overhanging limbs along the southern fence line. That will be done in the next few weeks by the Rockleigh management group. See below for more details.






Working Bee at Rockleigh July 2017- notes from Graham and David

Weather wise it was a miserable weekend with very strong winds and quite a bit of rain. Cosequently, campers were at a minimum but much was achieved.

On the Saturday we had 11 people present, Bren and Elizabeth, John and Reiko,    John S, David, Tom R., Tom B., Barbara, Margaret and me.

The overgrown track leading to the old campsite was cleared and the track itself repaired. (The problem with the track is water running down and eroding it. Banks have been formed to direct the water away from the track.) Lots of false caper was pulled up from the roadside and in our property nearby and the northern fence line was repaired and kangaroo “runs” blocked where they gave access to sheep. Some 40 odd plants were put in the ground, some guards removed and others replaced. Several of the young Casuarinas had been damaged by kangaroos as they grew above the smaller guards. Larger guards, those made by Ross several years ago, were put over these. Lots of veldt grass plants were removed at and near the campsite. This is an area where the veldt grass is not so prolific and provides an opportunity to manually remove it. Marg’s wish is that everyone who goes to Rockleigh makes a point of removing at least 6 plants in this area each visit. The campsite area is looking really good with native grasses now predominant.

Lunch on the Saturday was a sausage sizzle and salads which was enjoyed by all as we sat around out of the wind. There was plenty of discussion as we also enjoyed tea and a variety of cakes. Many thanks to our small Rockleigh Management Group for their supplies and preparation.

On Sunday we had 5 on deck; new member Michelle, Janet, Andrew, Marg and me.

Andrew had 14 Accacia argyrophylla plants which we put in on the sandy rise at the back of the old camp site. We spent the rest of the morning removing the remaining false caper plants from the roadside.

After lunch, eaten while sheltering from the rain, we spent the time removing guards, weeding seedlings and upgrading guards where possible.

Many thanks to all who helped out. Despite not being able to do the spraying of the Veldt grass as planned because of the inclement conditions, I think everyone was pleased with just how much was accomplished.



Figure 1: E. fasciculosa (pink gum)


Those of us who helped at the working bee at Rockleigh on the wintry weekend of July 29-30 were well rewarded by seeing the results of all the hard work that had gone before. In particular, the sustained revegetation of the previously cleared cropping land along the road is now a delight. The range of species planted over many years, their recovery from the bushfire, and the appearance of spontaneous seedlings show how worthwhile it has been. Two standouts were eucalypts in full bloom, the pink-flowered blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp.leucoxylon), and the white-flowered pink gum (E. fasciculata). The blue gum drops a carpet of pink blossoms from mature trees along the roadside just to the east of our block, and it is great that it is natural in the area. Such coloured forms are sold in nurseries as E. leucoxylon ‘Rosea’. The pink gum is close to the northern limit of its range at Rockleigh. It is “almost” a South Australian endemic, with a few stands in the Little Desert of western Victoria, just over the border from the South East population. Its name E. fasciculata comes from the bundles (“fascicles”) of terminal flowers so prominent when it is in flower (see photo). The lack on anthers on the outer long stamens is also characteristic of this species.



Figure 2 : Pittosporium ‘invading’  the veldt grass

July 2017

As many of you will know, Bill Matheson, one of our greatly respected shareholders passed away in May. Bill was instrumental in the management of our Rockleigh property and a Director for 14 years. Our thoughts and best wishes go to Doreen and family.


John Smyth recently organized the filling in of the well near the ruin at Webb Gap in the Tothills. The well was collapsing and a potential risk for youngsters in particular. Our thanks to shareholder Greg Schmall and son Jared for carrying out the work.


A reminder that the AGM this year is to be held in the Tothills on Saturday 7th October. Further information will be supplied in the next newsletter

May Newsletter

Greetings All,

Two down and one to go! Attached is a copy of the updated Tothills Management Plan. Many thanks to all contributors whether in rewriting out of date sections, updating details, proof reading, supplying photos or putting it all together. We all hope you enjoy the finished product. One tricky bit is what to do about printed copies? Can you print a coloured version for yourself or are you like me and have a black and white printer? I would be interested to hear from you whether you would like the Company to print copies for everyone (once all plans are complete) or whether to leave it to individuals to do their own. The Company will need to print copies for the half a dozen members without emails and we will continue to supply new shareholders with a printed copy.

It seems that we will not have a tree planting weekend at Rockleigh this year. For the growers with left overs from last year I would suggest that if you can get your plants to me, Bren Lay, Marg Brown or Tom Reeves that we will ensure they get planted.

John recently hosted a good gathering of the Friends of Private Bushland group on our Tothills property. The weather was great and John conducted a short and interesting walk in the Webb Gap area after giving the group a rundown on the history of our Company. The highlight was the mass of yakkas growing on the rocky ridge above the campsite. Despite having finished flowering they provided a spectacular scene. (See the first photograph in the Management Plan taken a few weeks prior to this outing). Thanks John.


February newsletter


I hope you have all been coping with our new weather system. While it has been excellent for some people regarding crops and hay some I know have had their hands full coping with fly strike on sheep and clearing fallen trees. Rockleigh has had above average rainfall which has possibly helped furnish us with new weeds, certainly helped the veldt grass to a bumper season and hopefully helped our seedlings and established vegetation through the summer. Whether the weather had anything to do with it or not I don’t know but a koala made a brief appearance on the property back on 20th December which adds another species to the mammal list.


The Rockleigh Management Group has been busy. We have carried out a trial mistletoe removal taking all the mistletoe from 5 E. porosa and 5 E. fasciculosa trees, all very heavily infested. Five similarly infested trees of both varieties have been marked and will be observed as a control. There are many reasons for not doing this and some previous trials (not on our property) have proved ineffective, but such is the prevalence of mistletoe we thought it worth a trial. We have also poisoned the veldt grass in the slashed area north of the ford. We have done this in a series of blocks trialling 2 chemicals at different concentrations. The other slashed area (below the old campsite) will be treated in winter as recommended by the chemical manufacturers. How we go about revegetating these blocks will depend largely on the outcome of the poisoning. Seeds have been collected of various native grasses and suitable plants for revegetating.

The Tothills have also received good rains. Thankfully fences at creek crossings have not been affected but John has been kept busy keeping other fences clear of fallen trees and branches. John also successfully applied for a grant from the Northern and Yorke NRM’s Burra to Kapunda project which covered the costs of volunteers’ travel and fencing materials when 1.2 km of fencing on the western side had to be upgraded.

The grant also included money for soursob and fox control. An appreciable part of the grant was donated back to the company by our generous volunteers and shareholders and this can hopefully be used to reduce John’s work load.

The update of the Tothill Management Plan is near completion and will hopefully be delivered to you as an email attachment in April.

At a recent directors meeting Anthea Howard and Aidan Galpin from DEWNR talked about Fire Management on KI and their efforts to develop a Fire Management Plan for the Dudley Peninsula with an invitation for us to join in the planning. At this stage we have declined but the communication lines are open. Should we as a group decide that some controlled burning on our property was desirable it would be in our interest to be a part of the scheme as it would automatically give us Native Vegetation clearance permits. If you have any views on this I would be happy to hear them.

Friends of Private Bushland

John Smyth will be leading a group from FoPB on a walk in the Tothills on April 9th.

New Shareholders

We welcome Michelle Denny and the Ragless family (David, Lorraine, Ruth and Kathryn) as joint shareholders and farewell Andrew Crompton whose shareholding they have acquired. We look forward to meeting them soon.


2017 AGM

With apologies to football followers, the date for the AGM has been set for Saturday 7th October. We have tried to tie it into SA and NSW school holidays and avoid the long weekend. The AGM will be held in the Tothills, probably at Webb Gap but not necessarily. As usual, members will be camping probably from the Friday to the Monday at least, so feel free to join us for any of that time.


The AGM Weekend

The Al1120528GM went very well with the weather being very kind until late Sunday morning when it blew us out of the place. Eight people camped on Friday and Saturday nights, 14 helped out at the working bee and 25 attended the meeting.

A display of photos courtesy of Bren and Elizabeth Lay and Kerry White showed various aspects of Rockleigh taken before and after the 2013 fire. Kerry  threw in a mystery photo of several white splodges in the creek with a prize for the best explanation of the situation. There were many interesting ideas but the actual scene was the Adelaide Hunt Club’s hounds on an outing with their brightly clad followers. And “No”, they should not have been there and “Yes”, the Hunt Club did receive a follow up letter.


 The working bee group managed to remove a large number of guards and weed many young plants while Bren, Elizabeth and Marg found a couple of pre Bushland photo points and re-photographed the scenes. This very interesting comparison between 1997 and 2016 will hopefully appear in the revamped Management Plan.

Our guest speaker at the AGM was Grace Hodder who is doing her PhD on diamond firetails in the Mt Lofty Ranges and has 2 sites on our Rockleigh property. She gave a very interesting talk on her methods and possible findings. Grace is investigating the finches food sources and how this affects their survival. Unfortunately many firetails at Rockleigh do not survive the winter and her study suggests at this stage that by encouraging native perennials we may be able to help them.

Grace addressing the AGMl1120580


  l1120567Our Relaxed Chairperson, Bill


We have a new director in Steve White who has a lot of practical experience in environmental matters . He replaces Tom who has given Bushland valuable service and will no doubt rejoin the Board at some future stage. Marg Brown, the other retiring director, was re-elected.

In an endeavour to increase the participation of members in working bees we are calling on anyone with an interest in helping to send me their name and phone number (mobile if possible) so we can call people up at very short notice to inform them of a working bee. Possible options at this stage are seed collection, removing guards and / or weeding within guards, summer watering and fence repair.

After the AGM John attempted to clear debris from the fence where it crosses the creek on the eastern boundary but due to the depth of water was unable to do it all.Meanwhile another group tackled the blocked pipes under the ford. With the help of much shoveling and a plumbers snake both were cleared with a consequent large drop in the water level over night. This will limit erosion of the ford from over flowing water.

On the Sunday morning 8 of us tackled the invasion of False Caper on our southern boundary. It was a much bigger job than anticipated and took a good 15 volunteer hours with the north wind increasing all the time. Many thanks to all involved, particularly Denzel who made a very early start and to the youngsters, Kimberly and Brodie, who worked tirelessly throughout.

 l1120542 Rockleigh -Looking good .

JS update from KI

My recent 12 day camping trip to our KI land coincided with a burst of very wet and windy weather. With the help of the sheltering scrub at my 2 campsites, at the “ring of stones”, and the Simpson Track crossroads, plus my big Falcon wagon to sleep in, plus a weather proof tent for my gear, plus a LARGE umbrella, plus a certain acquired skill in improvising a campfire using jealously protected eucalyptus- oil- rich dry kindling leaves (the first day was dry) and saturated wood, I quite enjoyed the experience. When I say that the Cape Willoughby lighthouse 15 km NE of where I was, recorded 120 mm of rain over the 12 days, with 104 mm in total over the 4 consecutive wettest days and 41 mm and a gust of 106 kph on the wettest day, you will appreciate the conditions. The sea was fierce at times; the Willson River at Mouth Flat ran a banker, and the “ring of stones” at one stage was in a puddle! 
The scrub is looking fresh, the vehicle tracks are good, all our signs are un-damaged and the orchids are having a good year. Too cold for goannas, but I did see one in a rare period of sunshine, down at Mouth Flat. I saw 3 echidnas, including one that the locals call a “blonde”, with cream coloured spines and pale fur. Plenty of ‘roos, their wet fur looking almost black, and a few wallabies too. One solitary Osprey on the coast at the end of our track; I suspect its mate would be brooding at the Black Point nest. Lovely big Shelducks in pairs were circling overhead, honking and keeping an eye on me at the crossroads campsite. The small birds were “lying low”, but special sightings were of pairs of Scarlet Robins, Golden Whistlers and Blue Fairy-wrens; the males all very colourful. Lots of Western Whipbirds singing and I managed to get a couple of quick sightings. They are exceptionally shy birds and it is always a thrill to see one. I heard Bassian Thrush calls in Simpson Conservation Park only a few metres from our land but couldn’t see them in the dense scrub and rain. I have seen pairs previously on our land only twice, and at least 20 years ago. Their call is like a quiet version of the introduced Blackbird.
I  met 2 DEWNR  fire officers in the Simpson CP quick response firefighting vehicle (in the rain!). They were assessing the Simpson Track (fire access track) and will trim a few over-hanging limbs before the summer fire season.