Volunteers are the unsung heroes of communities across Australia and the work they do helps organisations such as Centennial Parklands operate. Across the Park, there are a variety of volunteers that come from all walks of life that have contributed to more than 10,000 volunteer hours clocked.
Some of the most unique opportunities to give back while in a natural setting can be found in the Park including birdwatching, fishing and bush regeneration. Over the past 130 years, some incredible people have put in time and energy to help restore meaningful ecological sites, revitalise our ponds, native vegetation and our heritage.
A volunteer favourite
Our volunteers know the Parklands like the back of their hand and they want to share their knowledge with visitors. One of our long-term Bird Surveying volunteers, Steve, encourages visitors to reconnect with nature to learn more about the birds that live in the Park. One of his favourite birds is the shy Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis).
This secretive bird can be found in the marshlands and pond margins within Park. If you are lucky, you may see the bird early in the morning or late in the afternoon to feed near the mud-flats and lawns, walking slowly with its tail raised and flicking. The majority of the time this bird is glimpsed moving between dense wetland vegetation.
The Buff-banded Rail is smaller than the more commonly seen, Dusky Moorhen, and has a mottled brown and black back with heavily barred black-and-white underparts. A distinctive deep-buff band across the breast is matched by a chestnut streak along the face beneath a white eye brow.
Australian Buff-banded Rails
The species inhabits most of coastal Australia and extends from the Philippines down to New Guinea, and out to Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands and New Zealand. On some of Australia’s offshore islands, particularly in the Great Barrier Reef, they have become quite tame, but within the Park, they retain their wild wariness.
Buff-banded Rails are omnivorous, taking crustaceans, molluscs, insects and frogs, as well as fruit and seeds. The Park environment provides plenty of natural options, so the Rails do not need our leftovers.
Breeding has been recorded in spring and summer, most commonly around Lachlan Swamp and nearby ponds. A pair build a simple unlined cup-nest of grass and leaves within long grass, tussocks or reeds. Both parents incubate the eggs and accompany the newly hatched chicks, which leave the nest within 24 hours. The chicks generally feed themselves with some assistance from the female. If the season is good there may be two broods raised.
Where to spot them
The Buff-banded Rail is most commonly seen found on the muddy edges of any pond in Centennial Park close to reed beds or long grass cover. Early morning walkers may find them around the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden. The inlet running from Lily Pond into the Lachlan Swamp is a favoured location where you can stand back on the lawn at the picnic area and look into the swamp for a flash of black, white and chestnut.
National Volunteer Week (21 – 27 May) is the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. Read more about our volunteer programs on the blog here or sign up here.