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STEP is a community-based environmental organisation with over 400 members from Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby and surrounding suburbs. Our primary aim is to work for the conservation of bushland in northern Sydney.

In 1978, an area of bushland in South Turramurra was threatened with destruction by plans to build a netball complex. Residents were galvanised into action to try to save this natural area and so STEP was formed. That particular fight was lost, but from this small beginning STEP has grown to become a vital force in conservation in northern Sydney. Click here for more details about our history.

STEP questions the conventional wisdom. Urban environmentalism is much more than fighting against loss of natural areas. It is essential to look many decades ahead and to educate and inspire the community to appreciate what we have if the battle against the unthinking and destroyers is to be won. Natural areas may be maintained by regeneration and maintenance but they can only be saved if they are not lost, piece by piece, to our ever increasing need for housing, schools, roads, playing fields, hospitals and all the other developments our governments are imposing upon us.

By joining STEP you will demonstrate that you are concerned about retaining the local environment for the future. We draw our members from far and wide but we are primarily concerned with Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby and surrounding suburbs. Each year we organise walks and talks, produce newsletters, make submissions to government and award prizes and grants to students to support environmental education. We've published position papers, books and maps of walking tracks.
Aims and Objectives

To work for the conservation of bushland in northern Sydney
To ensure proper management of this bushland
To promote participation of members through walks, talks and other activities
To promote environmental education by:
publishing newsletters, books, maps, position papers and information material
conducting meetings, public lectures, conferences, seminars and debates
providing grants to support research
writing submissions and lobbying people in public office
To exchange information with, and support, other environmental groups
To provide representation on environmental committees, proceedings and inquiries

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group

Incorporated Association

Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity


Primary location

Turramurra, New South Wales

Known address

PO Box 5136, Turramurra, NSW 2074

Website link/s

Founding Year


History of group

In 1986, STEP incorporated with the name STEP Inc. STEP is not an acronym.

STEP was originally the South Turramurra Natural Bushland Conservation Society, formed in 1971 to fight Ku-ring-gai Council's plans for a garbage tip in the Lane Cove Valley between Canoon Road and Cove Street. This proposal was defeated but later morphed into a development proposal for a complex of community halls, sports ovals and courts.

Click here for a copy Out of STEP: An Account of South Turramurra's Opposition to Ku-ring-gai Council's Proposal of Building a Major Netball Complex in the Area in 1978 (Dokulil, 1984).

In 1978 Ku-ring-gai Council pressed for a complex of netball courts. The South Turramurra Natural Bushland Conservation Society assembled to form South Turramurra Environment Protection (STEP). In 1986 STEP became an incorporated association with the name STEP Inc and its objectives were enshrined in its constitution.

In 1999 KUBES merged with STEP followed by the Thornleigh Area Bushland Society (TABS) in 2007. TABS was established in 1987 out of concern about threats to, and degradation of, the bushland around Thornleigh. TABS brought to STEP two new committee members and strong ties with Hornsby Shire Council and bushcare in the Thornleigh area.

In 2018 STEP celebrated it's 40th anniversary. To commemorate the event, Graeme Aplin collected some oral histories and wrote a history STEP Forth Boldly: STEP Inc from birth to 40.

Click here for the oral histories:

John Burke (committee member from 1984–96 and 2005–12 and president from 1990–93 and 2006–08)
John Martyn (committee member from 1990–2018)
Michelle Leishman (committee member from 1996–2009 and president from 2000–06)


A key player in the formation and functioning of Ku-ring-gai Council’s Bushland Management Working Party in the early 1980s – this led to the first bushland plan of management and transformed the way our bushland is appreciated and managed
Campaign against freeways through the Lane Cove Valley, including the protection of the bushland along the B2–B3 road reservation
Protection of, and adequate funding for, the bushland within Lane Cove National Park is ongoing and has had mixed success
Preventing destruction of bushland in a proposal to greatly alter the alignment of Arterial Road north of Koola Avenue, Killara, by proposing an economical and effective alternative
Reduction of sediment, litter, nutrients and the velocity of stormwater entering the Fox Valley section of Lane Cove National Park, made possible by the acquisition of an EPA Stormwater Grant
Influencing many environmental decisions through membership of committees such as the NPWS Advisory Committee, the Lane Cove Valley Catchment Committee and the UTS Lindfield Committee
Involved with the formation of the Blue Gum High Forest Group to preserve the Blue Gum High Forest in St Ives for perpetuity
Protection of bushland at the University of Technology Sydney (Ku-ring-gai Campus)
Protection of bushland at the Sydney Adventist Hospital site
Development of a method of selective hand clearing for bushfire hazard reduction
Implementation of modern bushland management techniques in the field until they became generally accepted
Achieving the respect of the community and government departments generally so that STEP is often asked for input on issues and is able to influence decisions for the benefit of the environment
Environmental education by giving grants to university students and schools, and by supporting the Young Scientist Awards and the Threatened Species Children’s Art Competition
Publication of books:
Rocks and Trees (2018)
Understanding the Weather: A Guide for Outdoor Enthusiasts in South-eastern Australia (2013)
Field Guide to the Lane Cove Valley Bushland (2010)
Sydney's Natural World World (2007)
Field Guide to the Bushland of the Upper Lane Cove Valley (1994, out of print)
Publication of maps of walking tracks:
Walking Tracks of Middle Harbour (North) (2004, revised and reprinted 2009)
Walking Tracks of Middle Harbour (South) (2004)
Walking Tracks of the Lane Cove Valley (2000, revised and reprinted 2016)
Walking Tracks in the Upper Lane Cove Valley (1990, out of print)
Publication of position papers and submissions to government

Item sets