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Gardening Australia visits Fairy Meadow’s Puckey’s Estate

TUNING in to Gardening Australia this Friday? If you do, you might recognise some familiar faces and places.

This week’s episode sees Gardening Australia’s presenter, Clarence Slockee, travel to Wollongong to visit Puckey’s Estate.

For those who aren’t in the know, Puckey’s Estate Reserve in Fairy Meadow is an annex of the Wollongong Botanic Garden and consists of a rare coastal habitat of rainforest, dunes and marshland.

As a big fan of Gardening Australia and an avid gardener himself, Greg Fikkers — Natural Area Officer at Wollongong City Council — will be keeping an eye out for this week’s episode so he can spot his cameo on the program.

Mr Fikkers had the privilege of joining Clarence Slockee and the Gardening Australia team in a special segment that looked at the important vegetation in our region and the dedicated Bushcare crews working hard to protect it.

Bushcare is a Wollongong City Council volunteer program that invites community members and businesses to join forces with Council staff to care for natural areas on community land.

“I love watching Gardening Australia reruns on a Sunday afternoon, so to be on the program was a lot of fun,” Mr Fikkers said.

“Clarence was amazing. He has such a huge presence on screen, so it was great to work with him and get to know his larrikin side even if I had to put up with some terrible ‘Dad’ jokes.

“Filming for the episode took place over two days and honestly on the first day I didn’t feel natural at all. The second day was a lot easier as we had the Bushcare crew on site and we could just do our thing and get to work.”

The program also looks at a partnership between Council’s program and the Yours and Owls Festival.

Yours and Owls joined Bushcare in 2018, with the decision to offer incentives to Illawarra residents who volunteered as part of a rejuvenation day at Puckey’s Estate. Since then, sustainability has become a core focus with Bushcare days becoming a regular part of the festival program.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said that Wollongong was privileged to have such beautiful natural coastlines, beaches, parks and green spaces.

“Our Bushcare crews work year-round to maintain our natural environment so that our community can continue to enjoy these spaces now and into the future,” he said.

“There’s a lot of effort and enthusiasm that goes into protecting areas like Puckey’s Estate Reserve.

“It’s wonderful to be able to see the hard work of our Council Bushcare crew and community volunteers being recognised by a well-respected, Australian television program and shown to viewers who also share a love of nature across the country.”

You can tune into the Gardening Australia program this Friday, March 19 at 7.30pm on ABC TV or catch the re-run on Sunday, March 21 at 1.30pm.

The episode can also be streamed from the ABC website or watched on iView after the first broadcast.

This year marks 50 years since Wollongong Botanic Garden opened daily to the public, and to celebrate the Council have a full year of activities planned.

There are plenty of great activities to get involved in. Keep an eye out for ‘The Ghost of Courtney Puckey’ walking tours coming later this year which take guests on a tour of the Garden to uncover the history and magic of the important site. Find out more by visiting the Wollongong Botanic Garden website


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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