Raymond Island is well known as a relaxing holiday destination with the promise of easy koala spotting and a leisurely lifestyle. Working to improve the bush outlook that visitors travel hundreds of kilometres to enjoy, is a year-round job for the Raymond Island Landcare Group.
For over a decade the group has been systematically improving the health of the island, home to an abundance of wildlife and migratory birds, one plot at a time.
Pam Williams-Wright, the president of the group notes how popular the island has become, “Melbourne is just so busy now that people are looking for somewhere else to retire to and we’re finding that people are moving up having visited the region only a handful of times.” It’s this regeneration of people and enthusiasm and seeing the transformation in real time that keeps the group inspired to continue making a change.
With funding from Victorian Landcare Grants, the group have been working on eight separate sites for over 20 years.
Rob Wright has helped to regenerate 30 acres of bushland since he first moved to the island five years ago. “It’s not complicated” he says, “It’s going to take many years to see the benefits of our hard work but it’s not hard to see what’s already popping up. We’ve got to give back and get it back to something like what it was.“
“Our works have made a huge difference already, especially in the community. People are getting enthusiastic about it, they can see the effects of what we’re doing and that makes a huge difference.”
The Victorian Landcare Grants have recently opened for 2019-20 with grants of up to $20,000 available. If you are a member of a Landcare group or an environmental community group with a great idea for a project on your patch then you should consider applying.
Gabo Island might be a remote parcel of land in the most remote pocket of eastern Victoria but it is also home to an ambitious project to remove a highly invasive weed, Mirror bush.
Through funding from the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, the Friends of Mallacoota group are working to get rid of the shrub, a native of New Zealand.
Mirrorbush is often planted in coastal gardens because of its tolerance to sea-spray but it is also capable of forming dense clumps that don’t provide any room for native plants to grow and restricts the habitat of native critters and birdlife.
Martyn Hiley, a member of Friends of Mallacoota and regular visitor to Gabo Island recalls “In the past, I’d visit and see the weeds there and think wouldn’t it be nice to do something about that?” And now he is. Three times a year, eight volunteers charter a boat to the island and stay in accommodation provided by Parks Victoria. In four day stints the team use a grid pattern to remove weed from an area around the Lighthouse and they hope that in 5-6 years they will have completed the entire 154 hectare island.
Max Elliott moved to Mallacoota 18 months ago, and he is impressed at the willingness of the community to dig in and lend a hand. “Our Friends group has 130 members which isn’t bad for a town of only a thousand or so people. If somebody wants to get something done then they know they just have to ask, and that’s true of getting weeds off Gabo or removing rubbish from Betka Beach or anything. Town folk are just willing to get in and do and that’s a lovely thing.”
“People can ask why we care about the weeds on Gabo Island” says Martyn, “The people of Mallacoota love Gabo Island and the nice thing about an island is that it’s contained. If we can remove Mirror bush entirely off the island then it may not come back, and that’s a good thing.”
“Because of the hard work of the Friends of Mallacoota, the township is relatively weed free, we’re surrounded by wilderness and it would be nice to see Gabo weed free one day too. “
East Gippsland is known for it’s beautiful rivers and waterways from Mallacoota to Bairnsdale. Funding through the Victorian Government’s Regional Riparian Action Plan (RRAP) has enabled the Authority to work in partnership with landholders, community groups and traditional owners to enhance recreational fishing, maintain sites of cultural significance and reduce impacts from stock grazing. Some examples are described below.
On Tonghi Creek (flowing into the Cann River), landholder Chris Nixon has recently completed works on his property. Upgrading fences and installing water troughs will keep stock off the creek and provide an alternative water supply. These measures will improve water quality and support the regeneration of native plants improving the health of Tonghi creek.
GLaWAC’s natural resource management crew provide services including fencing, weed control, growing seedlings, revegetation and cultural awareness training in Gippsland. Recently the NRM crew have been working to improve public access points to the well known fishing spots at the mouth of the Tambo River. These works are part of a coordinated effort to improve the access points and health of the Tambo River where many people like to visit.
The Twin Rivers Community Group are currently improving public access points at five popular fishing sites on the Tambo River around Swan Reach. Funded through the RRAP Angling Grants, the project will make significant contributions to restoring and maintaining the health of the Tambo River, improving recreational fishing access and re-establishing vegetation along the river.
Landcare Groups across East Gippsland will share in $146,000 of funding for community projects as part of the latest round of Victorian Landcare Grants.
The funding, distributed through the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA), supports on-ground works and community projects including weed control, pest animal control, protection of habitat, revegetation, and community education.
Graeme Dear, CEO of EGCMA said “the grants will help contribute further to the significant efforts made by our Landcare members in East Gippsland.”
This year the program has funded 12 projects and 11 support grants.
Groups that will receive project funding include:
Bruthen & District Landcare Group
Eastwood Landcare Group
Friends of the Upper Nicholson Catchment Inc.
Snowy West Landcare Group
Tambo Bluff Landcare Coastcare
East Gippsland Landcare Network
Far East Victoria Landcare
Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee
The Victorian Landcare Grants are helping to implement the Government’s long-term biodiversity plan – Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037.
The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has been working with a number of its partners to control weeds along the Timbarra River.
Sections of the Timbarra, north west of Buchan, were recently burnt during a bushfire and large areas along the rivers edge are now seeing weeds such as willows and blackberries emerging.
Forest Fire Management Victoria and the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) NRM crew are working to remove weeds, particularly within the popular camping sites in the vicinity.
Further downstream, GLaWAC have also partnered with the Lake Tyers Beach Angling Club in controlling weeds to improve access to popular fishing spots.
These works aim to reduce the extent of weeds along the river, encouraging the regeneration of native vegetation, and to improve access for the local community and visitors alike to enjoy.
“We enjoy a close working relationship with all of our partners.” said the EGCMA CEO, Graeme Dear. “Projects like these are about people working together to improve the health of our waterways for all of the community to enjoy.”
The works are part of the Labor Government’s $222 million investment in improving the health of waterways and catchments, outlined in the Water for Victoria plan.