Wildflowers - Biodiversity
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History

The area was known as Sorrento as early as 1914 but was not declared a townsite until 1957. It was extended with a new subdivision named Seacrest in the mid 1980's. The park is named after Mr Keith Porteous who ran the Sorrento Caravan Park, located between (what is now) Ross Ave, Robin Ave and West Coast Drive, during the 1950's and 1960's.

In the late 1970's, a resident at that time living in Porteous Road prepared a petition to get all the bushland at Porteous Park totally cleared for a reticulated grassed park. He claimed the bush harboured criminal activity and was a fire danger to the surrounding houses. The issue was beat up, even appearing on TV, when a school boy allegedly assaulted a school girl in the park. Several residents refused to sign the petition arguing that they understood there were rare orchids in the park and some residents had purposefully built at this location because of the bushland in Sorrento, which at that time stretched unbroken from just north of the park all the way to Mullaloo and beyond.

The petition to clear the bushland was not strongly supported, but as a compromise, the (then) City of Wanneroo decided to clear the verge and the centre of the bushland, particularly to open up a "safe" east-west pedestrian route through the park. The cleared area was established as a "dry" park, that is, no reticulation was installed. This was somewhat fortunate because in those days, reticulation was installed in a manner to "water" the bush, meaning in many other bushland parks the edges become rapidly degraded (due to water and fertiliser) with thick weed invasion and dead Grass trees and Banksia trees. Play equipment was located in the cleared area in the centre, but was regarded by many residents as an eyesore and was removed only four months later.

Unfortunately, the "turf" within and around the bushland at Porteous Park is no more than veld grass and other weedy species which have invaded the bushland, and the City of Joondalup has not mowed it sufficiently each September/ October to stop it becoming a continual weed seed source for the adjacent bushland (see photo taken in October 2004). The Friends Group first asked the City of Joondalup in 2003 to find a solution to this problem.

The landform and soils of Porteous Park are "Spearwood Dunes" and "Tamala Limestone", in fact, limestone outcrops appear through a lot of the bushland. The vegetation complex is called "Cottesloe Complex - Central and South".

In December 2007, Porteous Park was included in a list of 37 parks within the City of Joondalup's "District Planning Scheme No 2 (Schedule 5)", being; "a place having significance for the purpose of the landscape or environment."

A post and wire fence was installed around the bushland in May 2008 to prevent uncontrolled trampling of the bushland, and deter the dumping of garden rubbish, particularly grass clippings, which can be another source of weed seed.


Restoration

The bushland in the park has been burnt on numerous occasions in the past, particularly since the area has been urbanised. The Fire Brigade attending many of the fires did not attempt to put them out, and when questioned while attending a fire in 2001, one replied; "well we won't be called out again this year!"

The 1st photo (Feb 1980) shows the north side of the park after a burn the year before, which promoted grassy weed growth (hence the straw colour seen in the bushland, because the weedy grasses dry off completely during summer), the native shrubs, such as Parrot Bush are mostly absent because they are just starting to re-sprout or germinate. Contrary to popular belief regular burning is not good for fauna habitat or biodiversity as some flora species do not set seed for many years

As can be seen in the comparative present day photo (Nov 2008), the park is now in a healthier condition with thick parrot bush on the west side and the return of many native species. There has been no burn on this side of the park for 8 years and with the vigilance of the Friends Group it is hoped it will be many more years before there is another. If or when the bushland is burnt again, an extra effort will be required to attack the weeds the following winter/ spring, as fire will cause dormant weed bulbs and seeds (as well as dormant native species seed) to spring into life.

Through education of local children it is hoped that they will learn to appreciate the biodiversity of the park and not cause damage by building cubbys and making destructive tracks and paths through the bush.

As can be seen from the photos damage can be rectified but it can take many years. This areas of the park was damaged by a large cubby which was removed and the area was replanted with native species by the Friends of Porteous Park - after 5 years it is almost back to its natural state.



Help Save Porteous Park !!!

 

Dear Sorrento Resident,

 

Porteous Park is a small remnant of coastal banksia bushland that was once common in the Sorrento area. Now there are very few such remnants left. Porteous Park has been partially cleared for amenity purposes but still has a significant area of bushland remaining.

 

Twenty years ago, when I first moved to Sorrento, the bushland at Porteous Park was in a near pristine condition, with large numbers of native orchids appearing in springtime. Now, due to lack of active management of the bushland over the years and the numerous fires lit by vandals, the bushland sections have become heavily invaded with weed species, particularly South African Veldt grass, which dries off completely in summer making the area look very dry and brown, and even more fire prone. Further fires will just cause the Veldt grass to become even more thickly established, ultimately replacing all the native plants in years to come if nothing is done.

 

You will have noticed some good work has been recently undertaken at the park by bushland regenerators contracted to the City of Joondalup; this was done at my request. They have removed a lot of weeds and rubbish but there is still a large amount of weed seed stored in the soil, so the weeds will be back again next year, and as thick as ever if the park is burnt again.

 

So the time has come for local residents of Sorrento, particularly those surrounding Porteous Park, to take an active interest in its future, otherwise it is likely to become just an unsightly “weed reserve” with a total loss of aesthetic and ecological values. The park will be of more value, and more highly prized by future generations, if the natural bushland can be saved from weed invasion.

 

Local residents can help save Porteous Park bushland from further weed invasion and neglect by –

  1. Being aware that fire in not good for urban bushland, as fire just opens it up for more weed invasion and displacement of native plants. If a fire is started, phone 000 for a rapid response.
  2. Not dumping garden rubbish into the bush, even lawn clippings, which can introduce more weed species into the bush.
  3. Picking up rubbish occasionally when walking through the reserve. This signals to others in the community that the park is really valued by local residents
  4. Speak to your local Councillor about the City of Joondalup retaining a budget allocation to maintain local bushland remnants such as Porteous Park – this is the first year that a budget allocation for this purpose has been made.
  5. Forming an informal group of residents i.e. a “friends group” to help look after the park and, working in conjunction with the City of Joondalup, progressively eliminate the invasive weed species. I can provide guidance in forming such a group, and show how the weed elimination can be tackled efficiently. Phone or email me if you are interested – I hope some of you are! I will be contacting local residents to start another informal group to do similar work at nearby Robin Reserve

Regards

 

Mike Norman

Friends of Porteous Park

To the right is the notice that Sorrento resident Mike Norman letter dropped to about 70 houses in the area surrounding the park.

Mike was concerned that the condition of the bushland was deteriorating, especially following frequent fires caused by arsonists, and wanted to do something about it. About eight people responded quickly with many others joining later. This led to the formation of the "Friends of Porteous Park" as an informal (non incorporated) organisation in November 2001.

As the co-ordinator, Mike maintains an email group of all Friends Group members to advise them of upcoming work at the park, and other news of interest concerning the park. Upcoming events will also be posted onto this website to encourage others to attend and help out on a regular or occasional basis

Newspaper Articles

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Joondalup Times, Nov 4th 2008


Joondalup Times, Aug 12th 2004