50th Anniversary

   Mosman Parks & Bushland Association
invites you to our
50th Anniversary Celebration

from 4 pm on Saturday 25th October 2014
Rawson Park
Cross Street
Mosman NSW 2088
Bradley Bushland Reserve
Middle Head Road
Mosman NSW 2088

The Mosman Parks & Bushland Association, originally the Ashton Park Association, was formed in 1964 when bushland at Bradleys Head was threatened with destruction. The Association invites you to join us in celebrating 50 years of protecting parks, bushland and open space and the development of a system of bush regeneration known as the “Bradley Method”.

Our celebration will begin at 4pm with conducted walks around the Bradley Bushland Reserve.

Formal proceedings will commence at 5pm on the grassy knoll overlooking the Bradley Bushland Reserve (or in the Drill Hall if raining).

Cr Peter Abelson, Mayor of Mosman, will introduce our guest speakers.


Robyn Williams AM, the ABC’s Science Show and Ockham’s Razor

Jeff Angel, Executive Director, Total Environment Centre


There will be wine and cheese in the Drill Hall and an exhibition of highlights from 50 years of bushland regeneration in Mosman.

Mosman Parks & Bushland Association is grateful to Mosman Council for its support of this event.

For directions to join a walk and to the venue for speeches, please come to the Drill Hall, Rawson Park, Cross Street, Mosman.

RSVP by email please to help us with catering: mosman.parks@gmail.com

For more information  

Kate Eccles, President, 02 9968 1336
Libby Manuel,                0418 401 238


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Bush Regeneration Founders

The Mosman Parks & Bushland Association had its gestation due to the work of Eileen Burton Bradley (1911-1976) and Joan Burton Bradley (1916-1982).

The story of these 2 remarkable women is reproduced here in full in an article authored by Heather Radi, and published online at


Bradley Sisters

Figure 1. (Kate please identify who this is, and possible date?)

Eileen Burton Bradley (1911-1976) and Joan Burton Bradley (1916-1982), bush regenerators, were born on 14 August 1911 and 2 September 1916 at Neutral Bay, Sydney, third and fourth daughters of native-born parents John Houghton Bradley, dentist, and his wife Caroline Mary, née Drummond. Both sisters attended Wenona School. Graduating from the University of Sydney (B.Sc., 1938), Joan was employed as an industrial chemist. Eileen helped at home and also worked for a dentist.

After World War II they bicycled around England, Wales and Scotland, taking particular pleasure in woodlands and forests. They later ran a small decorating business from their Mosman home, where their widowed mother joined them. All three were keen gardeners. Joan was also a skilled carpenter and a black-and-white photographer.

Systematic observers of the natural environment, the sisters studied the habits of three families of the Superb Fairy-wren, Malurus cyaneus, which frequented their garden and nearby Ashton Park. They used colour-coded rings to identify individual birds. Their ‘Notes on the Behaviour and Plumage of Colour-ringed Blue Wrens’ appeared in Emu (1958). When numbers fell dramatically in 1966, Joan alerted the press that minute doses of organochlorines over long periods caused sterility in small birds.

Eileen and Joan walked regularly in Ashton Park and on Chowder Head. Observing that attempts to control weeds by slashing and clearing resulted in rampant regrowth, they formulated an alternative strategy. The sisters hand-weeded where they walked, doing less than an hour a day and being careful to replace the bush litter which—they believed—contained the seedbank for new growth. They waited for the bush to regenerate.

In Weeds and their Control (1967) and in Joan’s Bush Regeneration (1971) they developed the three principles of the Bradley method of bush regeneration: work outward from less infested to more seriously infested areas; minimize disturbance, and replace topsoil and litter; allow regeneration to set the pace of the work. Selected hand-tools were the only implements permitted. The Bradleys opposed the use of chemicals and criticized the controlled-burning programme begun in 1971 by the State’s Forestry Commission.

From 1962 the sisters had kept records of their work. Following an experimental burn in Ashton Park in 1966, they noticed the introduction of weeds and began to watch regrowth after other controlled burning. By 1973 they proclaimed that regular ‘cool fires’ did more damage to bushland than the wildfires which it was intended to control. In contrast, intense fire stimulates regrowth.

By 1975 bush regeneration was gaining public support and the value of their work was becoming acknowledged. That year the restoration and landscaping of bushland in suburban North Sydney was funded as a National Estate project. Next year money was available to the State branch of the National Trust of Australia for an experiment in weed-control at Ludovic Blackwood Memorial Sanctuary, Beecroft. The trust adopted the Bradley method, employing Joan to supervise the work and to develop its training programme.

The sisters had been supported in their work by the Ashton Park Association (later becoming Mosman Parklands and Ashton Park Association), formed in 1964 to oppose a projected car-park for Taronga Zoo within Ashton Park. Members of the association joined the Bradleys as volunteer weeders. As their method became more widely known, similar organizations of volunteers formed and local government authorities began to employ bush-regeneration teams. The sisters did not seek to re-create pristine bushland, but waited to see what returned. Sometimes there was no regeneration. Retention of natural litter inhibits germination of some species. The Bradley principles have been modified in practice as knowledge of conditions for germination accumulates: the prescription of small hand-tools has gone and the limitations on regeneration in seriously degraded bushland are better understood. A science has been refined since the Bradleys established its bases.

Eileen died of myocardial infarction on 24 February 1976 in Sydney Hospital, Joan of the same illness on 18 May 1982 at Clifton Gardens; both were cremated. Joan’s notes for a revised edition of Bush Regeneration were used for Bringing Back the Bush: The Bradley Method of Bush Regeneration (1988), edited by Joan Larking, Audrey Lenning and Jean Walker.

Select Bibliography

  • Wenonian, 1948
  • National Trust of Australia (New South Wales), Bulletin, 1976-77
  • Mosman Daily, 6 July 1966, 8 Nov 1967, 24 Oct 1970, 9 June 1972, 25 May 1982, 20 Sept 1985
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 1972, 2 Feb 1973, 16 Aug 1980, 21 May 1982
  • E. Bradley, Control Burning and Wildfire (manuscript, 1972, held in Mosman Municipal Library)


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Where bush regeneration all began – Mosman NSW 2088

Bradley Bushland sign

The Bradley Bushland Reserve is on Middle Head Road, a corner of harbour side Sydney wedged between the road, tennis courts and playing fields.  Volunteers have been helping restore this locally unique patch of sandstone heathland,  which honours the Bradley sisters, Eileen and Joan, who invented the concept of bush regeneration in this area in the 1960s.

These days Mosman is better known for its zoo, breathtaking views and some exorbitant property prices than as the home for thirty years of two women who helped to bring grassroots environmental activism into being. It was in their local bushland that these unlikely and ladylike eco-pioneers, working with other members of their local resident action group, got down on their middle-aged hands and knees and carefully, systematically, began to weed out the plants they believed to be out-of-place among the native flora.

After Joan Bradley’s death in 1982 The Mosman Parks and Bushland Association lobbied to have the hectare of bushland dedicated as a memorial to the Bradley sisters. At the opening of the reserve in 1988 Milo Dunphy, then director of The Total Environment Centre, spoke persuasively of the importance of community groups.

Today as the implications of the Greenhouse Effect are beginning to occupy us we need the sort of minds that regard an acre of natural bushland as precious, that can nurture it in the tiniest detail and draw general principles from it applicable to millions of acres up and down the country.

Fast forward and much has changed for the better. Land managers like local councils have money to spend on bushland management. Bushland is considered precious, not as available space for which a use has yet to be found. Great initiatives started by the Bradley Sisters, then taken over by Mosman Parks and Bushland Association means bush care in busy urban environments is still  moving in the right direction, by involving community volunteers in the care of their local patches of bush.

Mosman Parks & Bushland Association

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Bradley Sisters and Bradleys Head

There is an excellent guide written by the Mosman Historical Society in 2010,  about the Bradleys Head area,  which encompasses Sirius Cove,  Athol Bay, Bradleys Head itself and around the point to Taylors Bay.

The Bradley Sisters developed their famous techniques for bushland regeneration while fighting the many invading species of imported exotic flora that were dominating the native flora in that area.

The community group formed in 1964 that became closely identified with their work was originally called Ashton Park Association,  after the regeneration work done in Ashton Park on Bradleys Head.


The Ashton Society morphed into the Mosman Parks & Bushland Association in 1982.  (check date with Kate Eccles)

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