The field survey consisted of targeted survey of the private lands which adjoin the GBMWHA and parcels of land which were identified within the priority conservation mapping as being in the highest conservation priority categories within the Cessnock LGA.
The field survey concentrated on the western section of the Wollombi Valley and the eastern portion of the Cessnock LGA where high priority conservation lands adjoined private property.
The major land use within the northern section of the Wollombi Valley is for grazing of cattle, horse riding, vineyards and the small village of Wollombi is also a tourist attraction. The field survey confirmed and identified several threats that currently occur within the inholdings and adjoining lands to Yengo National Park. The following is a summary and each of these threats is discussed further in Section 5.3.6 in more detail:
Weed infestations particularly along roadsides (Paynes Crossing Road and Stockyard Creek Track) and creeklines. Includes, but not limited to, Lantana camara (Lantana), Rubus ulmifolius (Blackberry), Bidens subalternans (Greater Beggar’s Ticks), Ligustrum lucidum (Large-leaved Privet), Chloris gayana (Rhodes Grass), Salix babylonica (Weeping Willow), Salix fragilis (Crack Willow) and Verbena bonariensis (Purpletop).
Wild horses in land adjoining Yengo National Park along Stockyard Creek Track.
Wollombi Brook in some locations has little riparian vegetation with sandy banks, these have been worn down by major flood events. Sediment control measures have been put in place at Paynes Crossing at Wollombi Brook, to help mitigate sediment from the road crossing entering Wollombi Brook.
The small creeklines which occur further up the catchment have good riparian vegetation with high banks. These include the upper reaches of Bagnells, Stockyard and Yengo Creeks.
In addition to the threats the following provides a summary of the high conservation values of the vegetation and infill lands adjoining the GBMWHA:
Stockyard Creek Road and valley traversed several land uses, with again the main land use being cattle grazing. Further west towards Yengo National Park the condition of the vegetation increased with good habitats in the form of open eucalypt forest and warm temperate rainforest observed. Minor weed incursions along the unformed tracks were observed.
Finchley Track which adjoins Yengo National Park had good condition sandstone escarpment Yellow Bloodwood open forest on the west of the road; however the eastern valley adjoining this track had evidence of previous clearing, is currently being grazed and contains high weed incursions from Blackberry.
Boree Track which adjoins Yengo National Park is in very good condition with this track having minor clearing works for cattle grazing and some rural hobby farmers. This track provided good buffer lands to GBMWA and would currently be under threat from further subdivision for hobby farmers.
Settlers Road contains good condition vegetation which adjoins the GBWBMA; the vegetation here is comprised of Scribbly Gum woodland in good condition.
The following sections are a summary of the general land uses and threats from the tracks and road traversed during the field survey.
Land uses along Paynes Crossing Road are general cattle grazing with some small vineyards (Photo 6.) at the northern end of the road. Common weeds occurred along the road including Lantana camara, Rubus ulmifolius, Chloris gayana and Bidens subalternans. The vegetation was generally cleared around Wollombi Brook to the foothills of the surrounding ridgelines to the east and west of Wollombi Brook. A small linear section of riparian vegetation generally follows Wollombi Brook. Vertebrate pests, such as rabbits and foxes were observed as road kill along Paynes Crossing Road. The priority conservation mapping agrees with this assessment of the current condition of the lands surrounding Wollombi Brook, as being of moderate conservation significance due to the current land use practices occurring. Sites 1–7 on Figure 2.1 were in this location.
Photo 6. Vineyards at Paynes Crossing Road, Yengo National Park in background
Stockyard Creek Track, Paynes Crossing
This road was an unformed track from Paynes Crossing Road and extends westward up to Yengo National Park through private land. The cleared land generally had pasture weeds, with severe blackberry infestations occurring in the upper reaches of the valley. Dense Bidens subalternans infestations occurred along the track (Photo 5.8). Salix fragilis (Crack Willow) infestations occurred in some places along Stockyard Creek.
Vegetation which adjoins Yengo National Park along Stockyard Creek Track has minor unformed road edge effects with pasture weeds being associated with creeklines and unformed tracks. The native canopy is intact in the majority in vegetated areas, however the understorey has been significantly affected by cattle and horse grazing, with the shrublayer generally absent and containing a grassy understorey. This type of disturbance varied in its severity depending upon the land use. The lands closer to Paynes Crossing Road were generally cleared, compared to partial clearing further west up towards Yengo National Park. One landowner (Site 8) is actively undertaking weed control and these lands were generally in better condition having fewer weeds than adjoining lands and more complex floristic structures resulting from good land practices. These land holdings in some places directed adjoined Yengo National Park, with some Warm Temperate Rainforest observed in good condition adjoining Stockyard Creek (Photo 6.). Vertebrate pests such as wild horses, foxes and rabbits were observed and/or scat as occurring along this track.
The field survey has validated the priority conservation mapping in the fact that in general the lands along stockyard creek adjoining the GBMWHA are of importance for conservation as they are in good condition and can provide buffer lands to the world heritage area.
Sites 8–13 on Figure 2.1 were in this location.
Photo 6. Warm Temperate Rainforest at Stockyard Creek adjoining Yengo National Park
Photo 6. Bidens subalternans along Stockyard Creek Track
Yengo Creek Road, Laguna
Yengo Creek Road land use consists generally of cattle and horse grazing, with minor olive groves occurring along the alluvial floodplains of Yengo Creek, along Upper Yengo Creek Road. In the upper reaches of the valley which adjoins Finchley track (Photo 6.) the valley to the east of the track has been previously cleared and contains weed invasions, with the canopy generally consisting of acacias. In contrast Boree Track which is at the southern portion of Yengo Creek Road is in good condition with few disturbances on the ridgetop (Photo 6., Site 15 Figure 2.1). Only one small section at the foothill of the ridge top has vegetation clearing occurred (Sites 16 and 17) for cattle grazing. The adjoining valleys to the east and west of Boree Track are in similar good condition. The vegetation surrounding Boree Track is in danger of being subjected to further subdivision and therefore further fragmenting the vegetation. At site 17 Salvina molesta was present choking a dam with the potential to spread to adjoining uninfected creeklines.
The field survey have validated that the lands to the west of Finchley track are in good condition, however the infill lands to the east of the track are disturbed, containing limited conservation value. The lands surrounding Boree Track are of high conservation value and could provide good buffer lands to the GBMWA. Sites 14–16 on Figure 2.1 were in this location.
Photo 6. Disturbed Valley to the east of Finchley Track
Photo 6. Good condition vegetation along Boree Track
Settlers Road, Bucketty
Settlers Road traverses Yengo National Park and heads south to St Albans. The vegetation to the south of the road is in good condition with very few weeds adjoining the road (Photo 6.). This area could be under threat from subdivision in the future and intensification of land use.
The field survey has validated the priority conservation mapping at Settlers Road are providing good buffer lands to the GBMWHA with the vegetation in good condition with few threats. Site 18 on Figure 2.1 was in this location.
Photo 6. Good condition vegetation adjoining Settlers Road