workshops: unpacking bushtekniq's KITT
Learn how bushtekniq ticks, with a look into bushtekniq's KITT: Knowledge, Inspiration, Tools & Tekniq!
Many of us have grown up in a learning environment somewhat disconnected from our true environment: land, earth, country. This can leave us in a space of uncertainty or discomfort when we find ourselves in natural surrounds. Through the art of bush regeneration, tali and jono demonstrate how to be both active and passive learners in the bush - how to ‘be’ in the bush whilst helping to tip the balance toward healthier bushland. This is the ‘bushtekniq’.
bushtekniq facilitates workshops for anyone ready to step out of the concrete jungle and into country, out of university and into biodiversity, taking a breath from technology to take a breath in ecology. Truly engaging with the collective knowledge and experience through discussion and practical Q&A sessions means that bushtekniq workshops are for everyone, celebrating diversity and ability, whilst acknowledging equity.
As budding 'bushteknishns', participants learn how to:
- warm and stretch body and mind using Qigong-inspired practice and deep ecology
- broaden botanical knowledge with plant ID, investigating habitat and niche
- get practical, learning tekniqs with tools, site assessment skills, caring 4 country and the 'bushtekniq'
- tune in through engagement with Indigenous frameworks, Permaculture Principles and the Bradley Method, learning the importance of ‘keeping it local’ .
Register your interest here: contact >>
school program: BE:LEaF
Welcome to BE:LEaF: Bush Energy in Land, Earth and Forest! This program offers a relevant and authentic learning opportunity for our younger generations to immerse in their local natural environment (LNE), through a variety of learning experiences. Able to be adapted to every environment, from P - 12, BE:LEaF has something for everyone!
This program meets Australian Curriculum Standards in strands across HPE, Sciences and Humanities And Social Sciences (HASS), as well as integrating current cross-curricula priorities of Sustainability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. By broadening awareness of, and deepening connections to their local surrounds, students will develop curiosity and a solutions-based approach to their learning.
The BE:LEaF nine week program fits comfortably into a school term, or if so required can bridge across two. For 90 minutes per week students engage in their LNE, using a multi-modal approach. Please use the enquiry form for further details: singular presentations are also available, designed to suit specific units of learning.
BE:LEaF's primary objectives and associated key concepts:
- AWARENESS: Students will develop a sense of awareness and curiosity about the world around them. Features: deep acknowledgement of country, cultures and Indigenous perspectives; Nature Museum and learning corner; Mindfulness meditations and body awareness, Origins of Life theory, Elemental comparisons and sense of belonging.
- CONNECTION: Students will find a connection to their local natural envronment (LNE) through play, art, story-telling and history; Investigating concepts of stewardship, mapping; opportunity for special guest visitors.
- ACTION: Students will develop, implement and maintain strategy to conserve, protect and enhance their LNE. This focus task may involve connecting with their fellow school students, school community and local community - environmental groups, council, citizens and businesses - through project proposals, presentations and celebration.
Register your interest here: contact >>
plant files: leafy locals & significant others
We love to get to know plants not just by their names and habitats, but also by their niches, and the myriad of ethnobotanical stories that they tell.
If you have a favourite tale to add to these plant files, use the contact >> form and we will do our best to include it below. Please revisit this page regularly as the list and gallery grows!
The order of the following local beauties are roughly from largest to smallest (or thereabouts).
Eucalyptus propinqua or Small-fruited Grey Gum: grows to 40 metres, and apart from koalas enjoying its leaves, stands fairly inconspicuously in the bush until… the smooth grey skin sheds (February) revealing an apricot trunk. It becomes a glowing, orange ‘Power Tree’ especially after rain or on a hot afternoon.
Elaeocarpus grandis, otherwise known as Blue Quandong is indeed a grand tree. You can find it standing tall in a rainforest or by a river, dressed in its glossy green skirt dappled with red leaves (commonly chomped into lacy patterns by grubs). In autumn its white flowers are like fairy petticoats, growing into brilliant blue bushtucker fruit. Quandong teaches us patience, with seeds taking between 2 and 5 years to germinate.
Eucalyptus microcorys or Tallowwood: Its twisting and reaching limbs bend in the wildest of winds, sheltering many animals on its branches and in the furs of its rusty, stringy bark. Often seen in parks and along riverbanks.
Lephostemon confertus or Brushbox is such an unusual gum tree, with its broad glossy leathery leaves and pinkish-brown smooth upper trunk aka half-bark. In spring its pretty white fluffy blossoms attract bees, nectar loving birds such as the honeyeater and flying fox.
Waterhousea floribunda (think: its home is by the water, and it puts on an abundance of flower!) or Weeping LilliPilli: the shady canopy peppered with lime, pink and red is generous for resting and picnics. As it grows old its branches and trunk often hollow out, providing habitat for owls, sugar-gliders and other creatures. It holds out well in the dry times,whilst having great roots for creek-soil stabilisation. Rushing floodwaters can cause it to become gnarled, yet its cambium and bark layers remain strong: check out some great specimens along Ithaca Creek at Bardon. Bees, butterflies, birds and ants (polyrachus) use its flowers, fruit and sap for food - look out for wallabies chewing its fresh shoots when young.
Ficus coronata, F.opposita or Sandpaper Fig is an interesting riparian tree, as its name suggests its leaves are rough and were used traditionally to sand wooden tools. When growing ‘just right’ on a fertile creek bank, it will produce delicious mini figs. Birds, water-dragons (moggill) and the zebra-legged purple moonbeam butterfly love this tree.
Mallotus phillipensus or Red Kamala is a medium sized butterfly-attracting, pioneering tree. It is indigenous to many parts of the world and has extensive medicinal uses. Its fruit is covered in a bright red powder, traditionally used as a dye. It has green, white & yellow cousins.
Acacia spp. or Wattles, one & all! Pioneers, fast-growing, leguminous, so many different species from coast to mountains to desert. Prostrate, shrubby or tree, acacias attract all manner of insects to its sweet yellow/ cream pompom or fluffy-spike blossoms, all kinds of birds to its nutty nutritious seeds (& yes, some species good for humans too!). Watching pink galahs feast & chat for hours amongst the silvery foliage in our Queensland wattle (Acacia podalyriifolia) last winter was simply lovely.
Alphitona Excelsa or Soap tree.. With such a DRAMATIC sounding botanical name, this is one tree that could star in an opera - try singing it! Otherwise it has the potential to star in the laundry as its leaves saponify. It is an important bush medicine, used for muscle pain, sore eyes, headache, sore tummy. A small tree with distinctively mottled bark, and leaves often seen chewn by the iridescent small green-banded blue and indigo flash butterflies.
Callicarpa pedunculata is such a fun name to say! Its worth getting your memory around this shrub though, and plant Velvet Leaf in a shady or sunny position. It will reward you with velvety leaves and pretty magenta/ purple berry clusters - tantalising bird food! Found in forest margins (‘ecotone’), often on hillsides and growing near lantana. Good to be aware of this as they are in the same family so can look very similar when young - do the leaf crush’n’smell test every time whilst weeding (lantana is pungent).
Psychotria loniceroides or Hairy Psychotria is another ecotone (transition between biomes) rainforest shrub that bears small creamy flowers attractive to the blue-banded bee and pale edible fruits.. and has a great name to boot!
Hovea spp. is a pretty leguminous shrub that attracts bees to its purple pea flowers from winter to spring. Its pointed leaves have a furry brown underside. It has pillow-like seed capsules.
Lomandra - hystrix, longifolia, multiflorum, spicata.. We love em all! This popular mat rush is a master at holding alluvial soil matter together and is tough generally. Its name means edge or margin, as you see it forming natural borders along creek-banks. The base of each stem is good to chew, and it attracts the Silver Studded Skipper and Whitespot Skipper butterflies aswell as hosting frogs and insects. Bush-kids can make an effective mini sling-spear to catch passing dragonflies with them.
Dianella caerulea is famous for its purple, plump delicious fruits, awesome to sprinkle over a fruit salad or eat straight off the stem. It has strappy leaves and will sucker, making it easy to divide and replant.
Themeda triandra or Kangaroo Grass was the dominant grass over much of Australia pre-invasion, but it is sensitive to prolonged grazing and trampling. Dividing a clump may be more successful over planting seed: the majority of seeds set are infertile, and those that are viable can take up to 12 months to germinate..
Cymbopogon refractus or Native Lemongrass grows red and blueish-green slender leaves that can be steeped as tea for coughs, colds and fevers, or simply ‘crush’n’sniff’ for an arometherapeutic pick-me-up on a hot day in the bush. Flowers late summer.
Smilax australis or Barbed Wire Vine grows abundantly in eucalypt scrub or in ecotones, protecting small birds with its spiny stems. Its blossoms are like fireworks, either creamy or [pictured] rarely pink.
Cissus antarctica or Kangaroo Vine grows similarly to Smilax but its stems are smooth with rusty-hairy new growth. It has many cousins in the Vitaceae family: C. hypoglauca (giant water vine), C.sterculiifolia (long-leaved water vine), C.oblonga (smooth water vine), Caryatia eurynema (soft water vine), C.clematidea (slender grape), Clematicissus opaca (forest grape) and Tetrastigma nitens (native grape), all with greenish-creamish-yellowish small flowers that develop into edible black spherical or oblong fruits.
Commelina diffusa is easily confused with its weedy cousins, C.benghali and Tradescantia spp., but has a more slender habit. Its delicate flowers bloom blue through the warmer months in shady, rocky or sandy areas.
Pseuderanthemum variable or Love Flower is indeed lovely to see growing sparsely amongst the deeply shaded forest leaf-litter and along stony ridges, its flowers white, mauve or pink and often with a purplish underside to its leaves. It is loved by the leafwing butterfly and its spectacular blue-dotted caterpillar.
Ottochloa gracilima or Graceful Grass: who could forget this soft, pretty, grass? Often hanging out with another local beauty, Oplismenus aemulus (or Creeping Beard Grass), together forming dense mats under established shady trees and shrubbery.
‘Weeds’ that bushtekniq perceives as significant in Brisbane & why:
Before going on a weeding frenzy, consider the bigger picture: acknowledge the benefits as well as the imbalances weeds may place in an ecosystem. When weeding, constantly shift your perspective to take in the many elements at play. It is useful to focus on immediate surroundings (keep it ‘local’, find a rhythm) whilst maintaining a positive awareness of the larger scale. Finding a balance of these helps keep overwhelmedness at bay. Learn from your observations, explore with all of your senses & have a sense of curiosity about: roles of weeds, history/ origin/ habitat, look-a-likes (CAUTION! If u can’t i.d, let it be!), soil, seasons, rainfall. Be inspired by the Bradley Method of bush regeneration - it has 3 basic principles:
1. work outwards from good bush towards areas of weed: native seed & spores are already there.. weeding takes the pressure off & tips the balance towards natural regeneration..
2. make minimal disturbances to the environment: both above & below ground, undisturbed bush soil under its natural mulch layer is superbly resistant to weed invasion.. cherish it.. work with extreme care..
3. do not overclear: let native plant regeneration dictate rate of weed removal.. there are 2 kinds of time: working time & waiting time.. a team should spread out to weed small amounts in many places..
Use a variety of quality tools and look after them. Lastly, remember to work sustainably - listen to your body, stretch often, take breaks, drink water, use PPE and have fun - music is an excellent tool too!
BALLOON VINE Cardiospermum grandiflorum: climbing smothering vine, seeds prolifically via papery capsules; easy to snip stems before seeding and pull root
CADAGHI Corymbia torelliana: sap and bud-cups stick to foraging stingless bees, causing them to fall, & can also collapse their hives; green-trunked gum tree local to Northern Queensland, though there is evidence of hybridising with local species C.henryi; remove by hand when young or with a tree-popper as saplings
CAMPHOR LAUREL Cinnamomum camphora: large tree can be mistaken for Waterhousea due to similar leaf colour, habit and locale - important habitat in cleared farming areas; useful antibacterial timber e.g. chopping boards; remove by hand when young or with a tree-popper as saplings
CATS CLAW CREEPER Dolichandra unguis-cati: extremely difficult to remove once established in an area, likes shade, and can grow massive woody tubers; the trick with this weed is vigilance: once mature vines are cut, never let it climb to flowering height (at the top of trees) again, if possible pull out new sprouts (short viability & no need to bag) and exhaust by frequent low-level cutting
CHINESE ELM Celtis Sinensis: suckers & readily germinating seed can form monoculture forests; popular bird & butterfly food; remove by hand when young or with a tree-popper as saplings
CLIMBING ASPARAGUS FERN Asparagus plumosus: thorny vine smothers trees; large tips eaten as garden asparagus; snip & ’crown’ with weed knife or mattock
COCOS PALM Syagrus romanzoffiana: produces prolific seeds; flower spikes can tear wings and nuts can jam in the jaws of young foraging flying fox; best to remove when young
CREEPING INCH PLANT/ ‘CRAZY WEED’ Callisia repens: give this creeper an inch, & it will take a mile - surviving aerially, aquatically, in sun or shade; each piece reproduces; smothers & dominates; still sold as an ornamental!; vigilantly remove by hand and liquid-compost
DISCO WRISTY Dyschoriste depressa: grows in thick mats in riparian zones; sun, shade and aquatically; butterfly food; widespread by mowing equipment in parks and near waterways, it is said to have first established in the Ferny Grove area; easiest to remove by hand post-rain; stems will resprout so be sure to heap and/or turn regularly once removed
DUTCHMAN’S PIPE Aristolochia elegans: vine with pungent ear-shaped leaf; the rare Richmond Birdwing butterfly is tricked by its form similar to the local host but leaves are lethal to its caterpillars; easy to snip stems and pull root
EASTER CASSIA Senna Pendula: woody growth with golden yellow flowers in the autumn, leaves are rounded with entire margins; very similar to the many local cassia & senna species - learn the differences before weeding
GLYCINE Neonotonia wightii: smothering vine - worth noting its a legume (nitrogen-fixing); easy to snip stems before seeding and pull root
LANTANA Lantana camara: dominates bushland; habitat for small birds & is an excellent soil conditioner; use brush hook or similar to find base and pull manually or with mattock - be sure to revisit as stems can resprout in fertile conditions
MADEIRA VINE Anredera cordifolia: extremely prolific tubers after pendulous flowers, produced on this climbing vine; snip stems and carefully bag all parts of plant to liquid-compost; when established this plant holds a real mental challenge: patience, consistency and determination will help!
MILE-A-MINUTE Ipomoea cairica: as the name suggests, this purple-trumpeted flowering vine seems to grow fast; its twining vines are elastic & snap when pulled, making it difficult to locate base; snip stems before seeding and pull root
MOCK ORANGE Murraya paniculata: popular garden shrub due to its screening habit and fragrant citrus-like flowers, now common in the bush thanks to bird food; easy to spot with white woody growth and glossy rounded leaf-form; dense wood makes it difficult to remove once mature - use a saw, mattock/ tree-popper; best to pull when young by hand
MOTHER-OF-MILLIONS Bryophyllum delagoense: extremely brittle succulent, each piece reproduces so be sure to bag when removing - extreme establishment can involve many steps, including topsoil scraping and solarisation.
OCHNA Ochna serrulata: prolific seed producer, forming dense forests; strong taproot & dense wood; remove by hand when young post-rain or with a tree-popper as saplings
SINGAPORE DAISY Sphagneticola trilobata: forms thick deep mats along waterways, stems snap & reproduce; once thick this holds a long-term challenge but can be overcome using shade, grass species and consistency; stems will resprout so be sure to heap and/or turn regularly once removed
SMALL-LEAVED PRIVET Ligustrum sinense: forms dense monoculture forests in waterways, often becoming dominant bank-stabiliser; consistent chopping back with saw whilst planting local riparian species nearby is a good approach
TRAD Tradescantia fluminensis: in the same family as Commelina diffusa and C.benghalensis (below) but has white flowers and forms dense mats; said to hold & release water back into soil in dry times; remove by hand - stems will resprout so be sure to heap and/or turn regularly once removed
WANDERING JEW or CREEPING CHRISTIAN :o Commelina benghalensis: similar to trad and the local C.diffusa, this perennial herb tends to be larger and more vigorous than its local cousin, and has distinctive orange hairs along the sheath of the leaf base - think ‘orange like a bengal tiger’; remove by hand post-rain - stems will resprout so be sure to heap and/or turn regularly once removed