Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Audrey Lenning, Patricia Harris & Beryl Randall

Interviewed by Donna Braye on 1 November 2000

Donna Braye. Perhaps you could say something about the Bradley sisters and how they….

Audrey Lenning. …..yes, well they moved to Mosman in the late 1940s from Neutral Bay and they lived in Iluka Road which adjoined Ashton Park overlooking Taylor Bay, and they used to take their dog for a walk twice a day – one sister in the morning and the other in the afternoon, and sometimes Stuart Graham who was another founding member went with them. All being interested in gardening – at the entrance to Ashton Park they would occasionally pull out the odd weed, and then they noticed that where they’d been pulling out weeds, native plants were coming in and taking their place, and they thought – aaah! So they started getting serious about this and so they were more or less weeding twice a day for however long it took to walk the dog. This was the start of their interest in bush regeneration.

Beryl Randall. Was it not that birds were disappearing that really alerted them to the fact that the native habitat was disappearing. Was not that their original…..

Audrey Lenning. …..their original interest when they came to Iluka Road was in the bird life and particularly the superb blue wren.

Donna Braye. Is that why at the bottom of the brochure, it says, ‘And it’s all because of the significant blue wren’.

Beryl Randall. Blue wrens were there but they were fast disappearing because the food blue wrens eat was not there. I’ve just recently been down to Mosman1 and there were lots of blue wrens in the bush up there, and we don’t see them in Sydney anymore.

Patricia Harris. When did they start doing bush clearing in Ashton Park?

Audrey Lenning. Round about 1966/7, June and I used to go for a morning walk with whoever was walking the dog, because my daughter went to the kindergarten next door to them, and I’d drop her off there and go into the Bradley’s and walk round with them. So it began as early as that, and then Mosman Parks and the Ashton Park Association decided on Saturday day mornings they’d have weeding bees. So we started off on Saturday mornings weeding. In the course of doing that, it was possibly Joan who said, ‘You know this a rather negative thing’. We had weeders at work and people would come along and ask what we were doing, and wherever we went we put this wooden board up. We talked about it – we were doing something positive, we’re trying to re-establish the native bush. What would we call that, we’re not weeders, so one Saturday morning while we were having a break we came up with this term, ‘regenerating’. So we altered it to read as ‘Bush Regenerators’.

1 Beryl meant to say Narooma.