Wet wonderland

Mt Barker’s Laratinga Wetlands have grown from a council’s solution to a wastewater treatment problem to a hugely popular community facility.

The wetlands were established in the late 1990s as the Mt Barker Council looked for ways to treat the wastewater of its growing population.

The council took a flood plain and paddocks heavily infested with weeds and constructed an artificial wetland made up of three large ponds, with an abundance of native vegetation which assists in cleaning and filtering the water for re-use.

The result of many years of work by the council was an award-winning wastewater treatment facility which has also become an important centre point of the Mt Barker community.

But the purpose of the wetlands is not what draws locals and visitors to the area.

It is the walking trails, picnic areas and the abundance of native wildlife.

Laratinga is a popular destination for bird watchers with over 150 species recorded at the site, including a number of threatened species.

The walking and cycling trails provide an important link through the town of Mt Barker and will eventually continue through to Nairne as the trails network grows.

The popularity of the wetlands shows the value of the environment in uniting communities.

And as the region continues to grow and become more urbanised, this will become increasingly important.

The formation of a Laratinga Wetlands volunteer group by the council will no doubt prove successful in harnessing the passion for the wetlands and preservation of the natural environment evident throughout the community.

It will be great bonding tool and could be the start of something much bigger as the trails network extends throughout the region.

Timely reminder

The blaze at Aldgate last Saturday is a timely reminder that the Hills is a highly flammable place, even outside the official fire danger season.

Authorities hammer home the message every year but it seems that some are still surprised that the bush burns.

That’s why bushfire action plans for different scenarios are extremely important.

Fire doesn’t always break out on a catastrophic day with plenty of prior notice.

It can happen late in the afternoon on a mild day while everyone is going about their business.

Now would be a good time to revisit your household plan to stay safe this season.