Mount Mutton is one of two hills on the northern edge of the town of Uralla. The Mount Mutton Reservoir and Lookout includes the upper part of the western hill, a small remnant basalt cap surrounded by sandy granite soil. Mt Mutton got its name from early European settlers who grazed their sheep on its flanks.
The Reserve hosts a look-out, a water reservoir and a communications tower. It is managed by Uralla Shire Council on behalf of Crown Lands for public recreation and water supply. An electricity line corridor runs down the southern flank of Mt Mutton, this corridor is maintained by Essential Energy who keep it clear of vegetation. A walking track loops around the hill and links Mt Mutton to the Uralla Business District via Alma Park while a vehicle access track leads to the summit. While the Reserve has a service function, the combination of native vegetation, a look-out, picnic facilities and walking/vehicle infrastructure engages community use and enjoyment of the Reserve through walking, nature study, and picnicking. A number of Uralla residents visit Mt Mutton on a regular basis while signage on the Uralla - Bundarra Road invites visitors to detour to the summit for a rest break.
Given the multiple functions of the Reserve and its surrounds, management of the public land asset needs to balance community access, maintenance of infrastructure and security of electricity supply, community safety, bushfire hazard, while accommodating historical and cultural importance of the site.
In the last decade, there has been increasing recognition of Mount Mutton’s natural value and local conservation significance. Council and the community have been more involved in improving amenity and access: the construction of the walking track and painting by local young people of a mural on a water reservoir. In terms of the conservation value of the Reserve, in 2011 the High Country Urban Biodiversity Project engaged the first bush regenerator, Chris Whackett, to lead weed control efforts on Mt Mutton. Chris was assisted by participants of the Path Finders program (Department of Juvenile Justice). In 2012 Council engaged a bushland regenerator, Kate Boyd, to continue that work.
Mt Mutton Map
|Mt Mutton Map|
About the Management Plan
The Mt Mutton Bush Regeneration Plan provides guidance for managing, restoring and conserving the ecological values of the Mt Mutton Reservoir and Lookout Reserve, along with other tracts of public land on the slopes of the hill. Private land on Mt Mutton was not surveyed for the purposes of this management plan, therefore no specific recommendations regarding the scope of bush regeneration work required on privately held land are made.
The authors strongly recommend that Uralla shire Council and its partnership agencies work with surrounding private landholders as an integral part of all bush regeneration activities in order to maximise the gains made to weed control and other works on public lands.
This plan uses the principals of Bush Regeneration as its framework. This approach relies principally on strategic weed control using techniques that focus on enabling natural regeneration of indigenous plants and minimising opportunities for weeds to re-invade.
As no resources are guaranteed to be available, this plan proposes actions and bush regeneration priorities that can be implemented as and when funding and/or skills and knowledge become available.
Finally, while no specific community engagement and communications recommendations have been made in this plan, the authors recommend that such techniques are employed as a given part of any bush restoration and management plan for the Reserve.
Mt Mutton Bush Regeneration Plan (pdf 1322kb)
Mt Mutton Vegetation Report (pdf 1052kb)
Activity to date: 2014
2014 has been a busy year for Mt Mutton. Council in partnership with community volunteers, supported by funds from the Northern Tablelands LLS and Crown Lands have been able to complete the following works:
- Weed control: spraying, hand weeding, cut and paint techniques used to control 3, 038m2 of weeds. Species targeted include: privet, cotoneaster, honeysuckle, blackberry, hawthorn, thistle, firethorn, Chilean needle grass, St John’s Wort.
- Removal of 90 pine trees threatening stability of infrastructure, posing a risk to safety and regeneration of key woodland sites.
- A monitoring and evaluation program.
- Working Bees, representing approximately 100 hours of volunteer effort.
- Two Spotlight events in April and November attended by approximately 40 members of the public.
Weed control and working bees will continue into 2015, which will also see some works to maintain and upgrade infrastructure.
What can I do as a resident?
Weeds and feral animals (including domestic cats) remain a threat to the potential of native bush land on Mt Mutton to return to a natural state. As a resident there are a number of things you can do to support Councils program.
Any plant in your garden that is not native to the region has the potential to become established on Mt Mutton. Plants such as privet and blackberry are, due to their highly invasive and resilient nature, are identified as weeds under the Noxious Weeds Act. As a landholder you are legally required to control their spread.
- Don't dump weeds, prunings or grass clippings in the bush - they introduce new weeds and allow established weeds to spread further. Shred and compost garden weeds instead.
- Keep weeds out of the waterways. Don't sweep or hose garden waste down the drain - it only ends up in our rivers, which can become clogged with exotic vegetation.
- Grow natives, rather than introduced plants, in your garden. Popular plants like nasturtium, lantana, honeysuckle and morning glory can all spread easily into native bushland. Other garden plants are equally dangerous.
- Protect open spaces, both on your property and in public places. Keep these places weed free, and stop soil erosion by encouraging native plants to grow there.
Pest animals including domestic cats
Cats are capable of killing between 5 and 30 native animals a night. As with dogs, cats must be registered and micro-chipped.
- Keep your cat or dog indoors at dawn, dusk and night. Native animals are most vulnerable to attack at these times, when they do most of their feeding.
- Attach loud bells to your pet's collar, to warn wildlife when they are around.
- Make sure pet cats are de sexed. Large numbers of feral cats already live in bushland areas, preying on native animals.
- Pets are not allowed in national parks and other conservation reserves (such as Racecourse Lagoon). Please keep them out.
- Give lizards and small marsupials a refuge from cats and dogs, by placing terracotta pipes and piles of stones around your garden.
- If you own a large property, fence off bush corridors for wildlife so they can safely move through cleared areas.
Volunteer for the Mt Mutton Working Bee
Council regularly holds a Working Bee on Mt Mutton. To date volunteers have dedicated 100s of hours of their time to help in the fight to control weeds and replant native vegetation.
As the date and time of the Working Bees can vary depending on weather conditions, season and the schedule of works, we recommend that you contact the Environmental Management Coordinator to register your interest.
Funding and support
Uralla Shire Council wishes to thank and acknowledge financial support provided for the Mt Mutton Management Plan by Local Lands Services and Crown Lands during 2014 – 2015. Monies from these agencies paid for pine tree removal, to support the Bush Regeneration team in a program of extensive weed control program, planting, monitoring and evaluation and upkeep of infrastructure such as tracks, bins and picnic tables.