'The greening of Killara' ~
In 1970 there were plans for KHS school grounds to be developed with gardens, rockeries and shrubs.
In 1971, nine working bees were held at KHS. The activities included: general cleaning up of grounds; grass cutting; top dressing; and 30 trees planted and maintained. Ku-ring-gai Council around this time were holding 60 trees until such time as it was possible to plant some of them.
Two ladies donated Iris plants, and donations were asked of jasmine and wisteria to beautify the school. A lady also donated 26 trees. A donation of a large quantity of black polythene was given for such purposes as laying under the river stones in the courtyards to keep the weeds from growing. A plea also went out for any spare pot plants for the proposed “fountain” in the main lobby, and for the library.
'A master plan'….
Each class at KHS raised money to buy trees, and by mid 1971, the total was $44.77!
A landscape gardener was asked to draw up a master plan for the school grounds. Mr A Strom, who was a well-known conservationist, was also to visit the school to assist in KHS Ground Committee’s general plan of conservation on the School site.
By November, 1971, acting on Mr Strom’s and a Mr Brandt’s recommendations (from Ku-ring-gai Council Parks & Garden), a stage 1 master plan for the school grounds was prepared.
Soil was ordered for the 15 trees still awaiting planting at this time. These trees had been purchased by the students. Also, two staff members helped to water the grounds.
The plan for a Japanese garden planned for Black A or B was prepared by a Mr Suzuki, assisted by a Mr Eric Williams. Mr Suzuki was the landscape gardener commissioned by the NSW Government to plan and lay out 1½ acres of Japanese Gardens in the Royal Botanical Gardens. The plan was due to be viewed by parents at the next P&C Annual General Meeting. In early 1972, there was concern that the Japanese Garden needed to eventuate as soon as possible, as Mr Suzuki had to return to Japan very soon. There was a need for a work force of about 40 people for over two days.
In 1971, KHS became the proud owner of a 25-inch heavy duty 7 H.P. self propelled mower purchased by the P&C Association. It was hoped that this would decrease the reliance on domestic mowers from working bee fathers.
In 1972, the Grounds Committee decided not to use pesticides because of the concern that they would prove fatal to the bird life in the area, which they had aimed to keep as natural as possible.
In 1972, KHS P&C purchased a Rover Mower, and another mower was supplied by the Department of Education. By the end of the first year of use, they had to be sent off for a major overhaul due to their constant use on the school grounds.
In late March a working bee was held, and 15 fathers – an all-time record – planted another 19 trees – including deciduous trees, pines and natives. These trees were donated by Ku-ring-gai Council.
The “George Washington Tree Felling Co. Pty Ltd” were the successful tenderers for the dropping and removal of the dead scribbly gum in front of Block A. Two of the Company’s Senior Directors were on hand to direct operations.
Future plans included the removal of lantana; the turfing of the area to the side of Block B; the planting of several more trees – mainly flowering trees, Japanese cedars, white poplars and with a little bit of luck – Suzuki San’s Japanese Garden.
In 1972, tenders were accepted for turfing the area ‘behind the canteen’.
The area between E Block and the house was cleaned up and mown in 1977 by a group of yr 12 KHS students. The aim was to create a pleasant lawn area for senior students.
In 1979, KHS organised a poll for students to provide ideas for a school improvement project. A master list was complied for the Grounds Committee. This list included:
A call was put out to parents to volunteer professional assistance and two offers were received from a relative of a KHS student. Both gentlemen were qualified to help with the plans, and one was a professional landscaper. ‘Many thanks to both, and we look forward to working on this project which we hope will have a beneficial effect on the grounds for the next 30 years,’ said the Grounds Convenor.
At the Committee meeting, the plan was to prepare plans to incorporate these ideas as much as possible, as well as some additional thoughts to add to the ‘store of ideas.’ These ideas would be presented to the Principal, Mr Bradford to see if he agrees, then shall be presented to the students for inspection, comment and approval. A display of the plans for comment was also planned. After this, working groups would be set up to implement the plans.
By November 1979, KHS’s P&C Associations’ major project – the landscape and beautification of the school grounds - was well under way. A tree planting day occurred in October 1979 and turfing of the amphitheatre was to be completed by volunteer parents and students under the supervision of KHS’s landscaper by November 1979.
In 1979, teams of parents helped each month with worked in the grounds – mainly grass cutting, edges and pruning. This complemented the work done by the permanent staff in the broad areas. Parents felt this was not enough, and that their time could be better spent if a number of projects were undertaken. They were aware of how small KHS’s grounds were, and that the school was only allowed to be built on such an area due to the park opposite which could be used for sporting activities. Thus, they believed their efforts needed to be intensive rather than expensive.
They also knew that a lot of areas were very rough due to washaways from steep slopes and especially near the cottage where the ground had never been properly levelled. The so-called ‘ecology area’ seemed to be hardly ever used and there was a call for suggestions for how its use could be improved.
For 1979 incoming volunteers (that were to be called for in March at the Annual General Meeting of the P&C) it was proposed that the following objectives be set:
To this end, it was proposed that the prefects consider conducting a poll to establish views and discussion ideas.
It was also proposed to buy a motorised edge cutter to keep the extensive lengths of edges maintained, as staff could not cope with this, and parent’s attempts to use spades etc were inadequate.
The Prefects also cleared out the introduced plants from the Ecology area in the school. Before the school was built, the ecology area was a haven of native trees and shrubs. When houses were built, it became choked with introduced noxious weeds. Because 1982 was the Year of the Tree, KHS Prefects wanted to give the land back to the native trees. The seniors dug, cut and pulled out all invading plants.
They also entered the State Pollution Control Competition for planned tree plantings in a school, and over 32 students helped in the program. For 1982, the yr 12 prefects had as their project, ‘environmental improvement’.
With continued maintenance and new plantings by each new group of yr 11 students, it was expected that KHS would have a native plant study area for use by the school.
In 1985, $36,000 was allocated for the purchase of school equipment. Estimates totalling $20,000 were approved for ground development.
The “greening of Killara” was proof positive of the success of the Ground Committee’s efforts to make KHS’s environment an amenity and an asset for the total community.
In 1989, a few loads of topsoil were obtained for the oval, and a small group of parents spent a few hours on successive Sundays spreading it across the area close to the courts. A quotation was also obtained to extend a water pipeline to the oval and install a low cost, low maintenance watering system.
In 1990, a KHS Social Science teacher and a number of interested students from senior and junior years worked on a program of bush regeneration at the school.
[Source: Killara High School Green Years and newsletters 1970-1990.]