Coolbinia Primary School Bushland Conservation Area

Northern Suburbs Branch Golly Walk: 27th July 2022

If every school had adjacent bushland and dedicated teachers like Coolbinia Primary School, we probably wouldn’t have to be so concerned about finding our next generation of Nats members.

School Ambassadors Hudson and Luke greeted the eight members who came along. They spent the first half hour with us explaining how the entire school, from pre-primary to year six, is involved in understanding and practising sustainability, including caring for the bush. After explaining how each class competes to have the best vegetable garden, they showed us signs which had been compiled from research projects undertaken by different classes. These included matching butterfly species to specific native plant species, identifying native ladybirds and understanding the biology of mistletoes.

Dr Elaine Lewis, whose role is described as Cross-Curricular Co-ordinator, also joined us, and explained how the school was encouraging students to utilise the knowledge and skills they learnt in STEM subjects. This included students building their own equipment to measure soil moisture and pH:

Coolbinia PS is committed to continual improvement in digital technologies and STEM learning. In doing so, we support our students in developing the skills, knowledge and understandings required to access 21st Century learning tools and the opportunities to use them in finding solutions to authentic, real-world problems.

Coolbinia Bushland is a biodiverse remnant of Jarrah and Banksia woodland on a limestone ridge among the inner northern suburbs of Perth. It is home to around 90 species of native plants, many different birds, and animals, including a small number of recently observed Quenda.

Naturalist Club member Pat Latter, who is also a member of Friends of Coolbinia1 Bushland, had a plant list with her, so we spent the next hour wandering along informal paths, identifying most flowering plants. These included Greenhood Orchids, Native Wisteria, Yellow Buttercups, Scarlet Runner, Lemon-scented Darwinia, Native Violet, and Pearl Flower. Not so easy to work out was which Daviesia was beginning to flower, and no one could identify the “chook wire” grass 2.

Despite the recent rain, we found only four species of fungi. These included a large bolete which showed the characteristic colour change to blue when bruised, and a few Limacella pitereka. Ian Abbott recorded 14 species of birds in the bushland and heard the calls of a couple more in nearby gardens.

While we did not see any of the butterflies studied by the students, Willy’s observant eyes caught sight of a newly emerged Vine Hawk-Moth (Hippotion celerio), which was still drying and flexing its wings.

Don Poynton

  1. Coolbinia is the Aboriginal word for mistletoe.
  2. Later identified by David Pike as Corynotheca micrantha, commonly called Sand Lily.