As of 2017, the Poll Hereford cattle are no longer at the Kooragang City Farm. As of 2018, the area is managed as part of Hunter Wetlands National Park where volunteers continue to be involved in revegetation work. Kooragang City Farm has been an integral part of KWRP and has played an active role in managing the wetlands. It has demonstrated sustainable agricultural practices that improve productivity while looking after the health of the river and its catchment. The Poll Hereford herd were fenced out of all wetland, revegetation and other sensitive areas. Lightweight, solar powered fencing allowed frequent, flexible cattle movements between some 40 paddocks (varying in size from 0.3 to 4 hectares). The frequent cattle movements prevent overgrazing and allow pasture recovery.
For 100 years some 17 dairy farms were worked on Ash Island. Crops of sorghum, maize and millet were grown as winter feed. Where City Farm now stands, the Milham family established a productive farm from 97 head of `well-bred Alderney’ milk cows imported from Germany. The farm, like the rest of Ash Island, suffered from periodic flooding of about 30cm every seven years and about one to two metres every 50 years. A major flood in 1893 wiped out Milham’s entire herd.
After a devastating two metre flood in 1955, the NSW government resumed Ash Island for future industry. The land was leased back to farmers who ran beef cattle. By the 1980s uncontrolled grazing and little land improvement had degraded the land.
For various reasons the industry planned for Ash Island (western end of Kooragang Island) did not eventuate.
City Farm has been managed using sustainable grazing methods and features:
- 39 ha, comprising 23 paddocks, allowing for rotational grazing of Kikuyu pasture
- Off-stream watering and shade to take grazing pressure off the riverbank
- Restored riverbank, wetlands and floodplain forest of local native plant species providing habitat, windbreaks and shelter
- Wet pasture management and reduced nutrient run-off
- Community gardens run by volunteers to diversify production, complement natural ecosystems and encourage social well-being.
- Farm forestry using local native eucalypt species
Natural vegetation on Kooragang City Farm includes mangroves, saltmarsh and freshwater wetland plants, lowland floodplain rainforest and other trees and shrubs. All these help to complete wildlife corridors elsewhere on Kooragang Wetlands and ensure natural areas on City Farm are large enough to be viable habitat for the various species of bird, frog, reptile and mammal that once flourished in this area.
While exploring Kooragang City Farm please:
- keep to roads, walking and cycling tracks
- leave gates as you find them
- take your rubbish with you
- no fires, no camping
- no dogs, in accordance with National Parks and Wildlife Service dog policies. People with disability may be accompanied by a trained assistance animal, such as guide dogs, in areas open to the public. Click here for a list of regional parks with dog walking areas.
- remember— taking without asking is still stealing
- report any problems to National Parks on 4946 4100
The community gardens were established in 1998 to encourage more visitors to the City Farm and to give them a greater awareness and appreciation of the surrounding wetlands. Interested in learning more about the Community Gardens? Click here.
The rich farming history of Ash Island is still evident.
An example is the ruins of Milham’s farmhouse and dairy built in the 1860s. You can find out more about it here.