Wollongong Council, Botanic Garden, Bushcare and volunteers lending a hand

REGENERATE: Say goodbye to lantana and hello to native plants like lomandra, saltbush and Warrigal Greens at Puckeys Estate – thanks to environmental advocate Lyle Hunt (above) and Colin Beaton. Also shown are volunteers Nathan Browne, Eliza Beed and Molly Wharfe. Picture: Adam McLean
REGENERATE: Say goodbye to lantana and hello to native plants like lomandra, saltbush and Warrigal Greens at Puckeys Estate – thanks to environmental advocate Lyle Hunt (above) and Colin Beaton. Also shown are volunteers Nathan Browne, Eliza Beed and Molly Wharfe. Picture: Adam McLean

Free tickets to a music festival have been used to entice green thumbs amongst Illawarra residents on Thursday.

Lyle Hunt and Colin Renton wanted to help regenerate Puckeys Estate Reserve, Fairy Meadow, and boost the ecology of the area with more than 550 plants – while encouraging people to care about the local environment at the same time.

The pair had applied for a government grant to get disadvantaged youth in a similar project but missed out. Though Mr Hunt said there were so many “in kind” donations the second phase of their project could still go ahead.

“It was silly not to run the program as a not-for-profit,” he said. “The response has been amazing so we’re looking at continuing these practices from now on because there definitely is an intrigue.”

They partnered with Wollongong City Council, Wollongong Botanic Garden and the Yours and Owls Festival to bring in tools, plants, volunteers and festival tickets for people happy to help.

It comes after Bushcare volunteer Vasilios ‘Bill’ Kazepidis (the lantana-slayer) made it his mission to rid Puckeys of invasive and non-native weeds.

Vasilios ‘Bill’ Kazepidis, 67, has single-handedly cleared out large amounts of weeds along the creek and foot path area at Puckeys Estate in Fairy Meadow. Picture: Adam McLean

Vasilios ‘Bill’ Kazepidis, 67, has single-handedly cleared out large amounts of weeds along the creek and foot path area at Puckeys Estate in Fairy Meadow. Picture: Adam McLean

Mr Hunt hoped Thursday’s regeneration day would spark some of the volunteers to join Bushcare.

“There’s a discussion to be had,” he said. “You give a slight incentive and you get 20 ‘Bills’ here for a day.”

In July, Yours and Owls organisers announced they were making an effort to be kind to the environment with the September going plastic free.

The two-day festival, where about 9000 people a day will converge on Stuart Park, will be free from single use water bottles, straws, cutlery and food containers

Instead, punters will be asked to buy reusable – and refundable – cups and bottles, and – after the event – rubbish will be sorted into recyclable and compostable piles instead of being sent to landfill.