Water entering property, about a metre wide
Thankfully, it has rained a lot since then, so we've gotten to know our dry creek bed rather well in the wet too. Above you can see the water run-off, 24 hours after a lot of rain recently. This water is coming from our neighbours land. They have a concrete culvert, cutting across the creek bed so they can drive to their house. Being concrete however, it creates a lot of turbulence and velocity when the water flows through it.
If the rainfall is steady, like it was a few days ago, it will drop silt in a sheet (above) where the water drains away. In heavy rain though, the water can cut up the creek bed and even eat into the slopes at the sides. We knew it needed some restoration work, if we are to return stability to this particular area of the property.
So whenever we had tree branches or lantana to pull out, we placed them across the creek bed, to act as a silt trap. Above you can see a thicket we constructed, which has been there for about twelve months or so. Grass has grown through it in the dry weather, and then it gets pushed over when the water passes through in the wet. The grass dies, but creates even more matting to catch silt with.
We had some pretty bad erosion from the flood in 2011, it created a deep saucer that kept scouring deeper whenever we had more rain. Since placing the thicket here however, the deep saucer has gradually filled with silt. What's even more interesting, is seeing how the water flow has changed through our property.
Reduced water flow
This is water flowing after the thicket. It has a reduced flow compared to the sped of what was entering. You can also see how the width of the water has changed. It went from about a metres width, when the water first entered the property, to 30 centimeters now. Grass is also able to survive closer to the water, because its not being pushed over and starved of sunlight. This strategy has reduced erosion throughout the creek bed.
After the water has passed through yet another thicket we constructed, it has virtually no flow at all. This water has been retained 24 hours after rainfall has ceased. These are very small modifications we've made, but over the seasons it gradually changes how the water flows.
We will continue with this work, because it's important to help drought proof and reduce erosion on our property. In the full circle of things, it will also help lower bush fire risks. By taking the dead wood and strategically placing it to capture and retain water now, it will help to grow plants less likely to ignite in a fire. Less likely, doesn't mean bullet proof, but its still a step towards not living in a tinder box either.
Bare patch where lantana formerly was
In other restoration work, we've (er, David) cleared some weedy lantana, to make way for a native plant I finally managed to track down. It's called Bursaria spinosa, and shares similar properties to the lantana. There is a special reason for wanting this.
When we first stepped foot on our property, all those years ago, and stood in our dry creek bed, we suddenly noticed we weren't alone. There was a chorus of birds, calling to one another; darting from lantana bush to lantana bush. They were tiny flock birds: finches, wrens, robins and the like. We fell in love with this place from that moment on.
So when it came to removing weedy lantana bush, which is mandatory under law, I wanted to give these remarkable flock birds something similar to nest in. I could never imagine evicting them from their homes, just because we decided to purchase the land they live on. You have to nurture a love affair, not erode it with possession.
It's one of our greatest joys, doing this slow restoration work. Every season it changes a little more.