Gabo gets a friendly hand

Carolyn Cameron from the EGCMA with Martyn Hiley and Max Elliott from the Friends of Mallacoota

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. “

Bass Release

Last week saw the release of 25,000 Bass fingerlings into East Gippsland’s waterways, with 15,000 released into the Nicholson and 10,000 into the Brodribb River as part of a project undertaken by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA), Bairnsdale RSL Fishing Club, Marlo Angling Club and the Victorian Fisheries Authority.

As a passionate fisherman, David Ballinger President of the Marlo Angling Club understands the importance of a healthy waterway and is eager to boost Bass numbers. “This is all about the protection of a species by supporting and building of a healthy population. This is so important to us as a club and we are all very proud to be involved.”

“Our club is always eager to play our part in promoting a healthy fishery.” said Russell White, President of the RSL Fishing Club. “Australian Bass are an iconic fish to this area and we want to keep them here.”

Graeme Dear, CEO of EGCMA said “Working together with our local angling clubs benefits both the health of our rivers and the fisherman who love to catch Bass.”

Shellebrating Turtles

Students from Lindenow Primary spent a delightful day with members of Turtles Australia, Greening Australia and the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) last week learning about all thing turtles.

You might not think of the Eastern Long Neck Turtle as a predator, but in the swampy world of Aussie wetlands – home of waterbugs, tadpoles and small fish – the turtle is king! “They do a great service to the rivers” explains Dylan Hill from Turtles Australia. “They eat just about anything and keep the bugs down which really helps to promote healthy waterways”.

Greening Australia and the EGCMA are currently working together to improve the biodiversity of the Skull Creek wetlands near Lindenow. Martin Potts from Greening Australia thinks that connecting our local young folk with the catchment right on their doorstep is a pretty good idea. “These guys have all seen turtles around but today they’re learning different things about their habitats and their lifecycles; and how they can help to protect them and be aware of them.”

Grade five teacher Danae Murrell thinks that helping kids to get out and explore their own backyard and what’s happening in their local area promotes a healthy lifestyle and a sense of stewardship. “It’s going to be up to these students to create change in the future and to help protect our special places and pass them on to future generations.”

Promoting Diversity

Promoting diversity in leadership was the theme of the 3rd annual Gippsland Women in Leadership Forum held in Traralgon last week.

Organised by the Gippsland Environmental Agencies (GEA) Women in Leadership team, the forum encourages women to be great leaders, no matter their position, through a culture of growth and empowerment.

The GEA includes the Department of Environment, Land , Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, East Gippsland Water, Southern Rural Water, Gippsland Water, the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, the Environment Protection Authority, Trust For Nature, Sustainability Victoria and the East and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authorities.

Guest speakers Doris Paton and Harriet Shing spoke about their leadership journey’s while non binary author Nevo Zisin discussed gender acceptance and inclusion in today’s society.

A Q&A panel led an insightful discussion about equity and diversity in the workplace before professional coach Maree McPherson talked about unconscious biases that hold people back.

The GEA Women in Leadership team Chair, Bec Hemming, said “With 100 people from 13 agencies in the room, today was a great event to build connections and promote finding, making and taking opportunities.”