Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary was nestled in the peaceful suburb Duffy’s Forest of Northern Sydney in the state of New South Wales. It’s only 28 picturesque kilometres from the centre of Sydney. The suburb of Duffy’s forest got its name from the locally famous timber cutter Patrick Duffy, who in 1857 was given the rights to the land. He immediately began clearing a path through the thick shrub and lantana to the vital water source of Cowan Creek. After many years of intense labor he finally made it to the place now known as Duffy’s Wharf, which he built in order to transport his timber to Sydney central and beyond.

Although it has such a close proximity to Sydney, Duffy’s Forest still has a substantial ecological community with a diverse range of flora and fauna species occupying the area. The area is characterised by some distinct plant species which are found in only a few sites throughout the ecological community. Some of those plant species include the Acacia linifolia, Acacia myrtifolia, Actinotus minor, Allocasuarina littoralis, and the Angophora costata just to name a few. However as Sydney grows, the Duffy’s Forest region has become more populous, leading to increased land clearing, habitat degradation by refuse disposal, and extensive weed invasion thanks to the urban runoff.

As sad as the facts may be, it was only a matter of time before the expansion of Sydney began having an effect on the wildlife in the areas surrounding Waratah Park. The effects the urban sprawl is having on our native fauna can be seen with the reduction in kangaroo and wallaby numbers around the north side of Sydney, and the increasing number of home invasions from possums as they seek new shelter for refuge.

With the safety of local wildlife in mind it was decided it would be better for the animals to be relocated to other areas rather than being stuck inside a tiny earth sanctuary, landlocked by suburban expansion. This important lesson has taught us to be mindful of our furry friends as well as the plant species around us. Rather than invading the precious habitats of our native wildlife, we should do like the aboriginals and learn to live in harmony with them.