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Mt Gibson malleefowl volunteering report

The story below is from Maryann and her experiences volunteering on Malleefowl surveys!

“This was my second year at the Mount Gibson Mine Malleefowl monitoring. I had not been at a mine site so it was eye-opening the first year.

We had to complete a block of Induction forms about safety and mine procedures before arriving and on our arrival, we had a drug and alcohol test. Interesting! We woke at 5am every morning for a 5:30am pre-start which included details of the mine’s daily output, the weather and other ‘news’ and then a set of morning stretch exercises with our Environment Supervisor Ben. Enjoyed by us all and lots of fun.

I am not a morning person but I managed to get up and going by 5:30 am each day. A bit brain dead and grumpy until after breakfast. The mine provided each of us with a comfortable donga with ensuite shower. Nothing fancy but more than adequate. All our meals were provided. Full bacon and egg with everything breakfast and dinner was the best meat feast imaginable but there were plenty of healthy alternatives.

Monitoring started after breakfast when we split into teams and after allocations of sites to visit that day we were driven to the start point. We all had full PPE including clothing, first aid kits, GPS and 2-way radios along with all the equipment necessary for the actual monitoring once we got to the mound.

It was a lot of walking through the most amazing environment within the mine site and in the surrounds, sometimes through very open areas but also very thick bush. It was the perfect time for wildflowers. So many plants I hadn’t seen before. The monitoring of the mound once found is a standard procedure done on a smartphone as well as a hardcopy backup. This assures all data is reproducible and sound and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Although many mounds were not active it was a treat if you found an active one. For me, the best part of monitoring is enjoying being in the bush in areas seldom seen by many others.

I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group; people from many walks of life. We changed team members each day to get to know everyone. Highlights included The Bush Chooks (my team) winning the Trivia Quiz night and each coming home with a pair blue tooth headphones….noice! Ben the Enviro managing through sheer luck to dribble a golf ball into the bucket to win the Hole in One competition. His other shots sprayed all round the ground missing lights, gas bottles and workers.
Harriet developed Covid-like symptoms after the first couple of days which set up an amazing set of responses from the mine and saw Harriet room-bound until she left to return to Perth for a Covid test.

For me, revisiting an active mound close to the campsite to see the changes in the mound from morning to night was very rewarding. Although we didn’t see the bird it was astonishing to see the volumes of soil they shifted each morning and evening.
The morning we were to leave I left my room to go to breakfast. The Campsite was enveloped in mist, a glorious sight and a great opportunity to take an unforgettable photo.

It was a challenging, interesting, stimulating and really rewarding experience.