Yesterday, I went on a full-day bus tour of Loddon Shire, northern
Victoria, visiting a number of Landcare projects.
First stop was at the Kamarooka Project, 35km north of Bendigo (Vic) where
a small number of families run large cropping and sheep farms in an area
suffering from salinity. 40 acres of badly salt-affected land which carried
just 10 sheep per acre was planted out to farm trees and indigenous plants,
mainly wattles and salt bush, by local farmers (Northern United Forestry
Group). Carrying capacity has increased tenfold to 100 sheep per acre and
the number is expected to double again this year. Bird life is flourishing
on the revegetated country. Various agencies have worked with the farmer
group to produce a CD on the Kamarooka Project.
Second stop was at a nearby property where the farmer has planted several
kilometres of indigenous plants in wide strips on his property. Again, much
use has been made of wattles. There were many old Box trees along the roads.
We stopped at the Loddon River. Much of it has already been fenced. We
observed how wattles, casuarinas and other shrubs are being planted amongst
the remaining Box and Red gum trees. The old trees had lots of hollows. A
noisy mob of Sulphur-crested cockatoos screamed their concern at our
presence. The owner of the strip we visited has long been revegetating his
properties and doing something special at nearby Bears Lagoon.
We observed the restoration of Powlett Swamp (which has been dry for many
years) between Kooyoora National Park (Melville's Caves) and the Loddon
River. The swamp we stopped at has been fenced and some indigenous species
planted to supplement the existing vegetation by local land-holders. Since
cattle have been excluded, some rare and endangered plants have been found
in Powlett Swamp.
A belt of trees and shrubs about 50 metres wise has been planted, and more
plantings are under way, to link Kooyoora National Park and Inglewood to
We stopped off alongside East Loddon P-12 school where the students and
locals are involved in the restoration of a very degraded area of public
and private land between the school and Bendigo Creek. The idea is to
involve students from planning to implementation in a restoration project
which may take generations to complete. it is hoped that the students,
almost all of whom come from surrounding farms, will implement projects on
their own properties if and when they get a farm of their own.
We visited Mt Buckranpunyal which is smothered in Wheel Cactus. The cactus
has rampaged out of control since the demise of rabbits. Locals spend
several hours each week injecting the cacti with Glyphosate. Much
cactus-infested land on nearby Mt Egbert and Mt Kerang has been reclaimed;
indigenous vegetation and bird life are recovering.
Our guide, Loddon Landcare Coordinator Trevor Barker, pointed out the
wildlife corridors being created by Timbercorp around their olive
plantations at Boort. He also showed us revegetation works between Little
Lake Boort and Big Lake Boort, now home to crakes and quail.
We observed several other projects before visiting a property at Bears
Lagoon (locality). The farming couple have spent thousands of inherited
dollars converting flat farmland into a large billabong and ponds suitable
for specific indigenous birds. Old trees have been brought in and placed
upright and thousands of indigenous shrubs (including Eremophilas and
Acacias and trees planted to created a completely natural appearance. Brown
Tree-creepers have appeared, climbing up the old dead trees. Reed Warblers
sing in the rushes. A Singing Honeyeater (not at all commonplace on these
plains) was filmed in a Box tree. Welcome Swallows have taken up residence,
gliding over the water. Farm owner Bill reckons the birds are thrilled with
his creation and birds he has never sighted in the area before have moved
Bill has also planted tens of thousands of indigenous shrubs and trees on
the remainder of his large property, plus alongside many kilometres of
public roads. His property is venue of the annual Bears Lagoon dog race
often mentioned on Australia All Over (ABC local radio, Sunday mornings).
The entire bus tour was filmed: a CD about the projects is to be
distributed to northern Victorian Landcare groups.
Most wattles are presently in full flower. It was inspiring to learn of so
many projects involving revegetation. I know of many other similar projects
in the Shire of Campaspe and in Murray Shire and have previously reported
to this forum on the marvellous work being undertaken by irrigators with
guidance from ecologist Mat Herring.
A lot of great work is being done by farmers despite the terrible and
prolonged drought afflicting the area. The tour illustrated to me how a few
individuals can have a dramatic impact on landscapeand inspire others to
follow their lead. Everyone on the bus seemed inspired to do more Landcare
Keith Stockwell, Echuca-Moama.
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