Bringing back the bush one tree at a time

By Geoff Adams

The birds love this stretch of bush along the Goulburn River.

And after John Pettigrew is through with his small patch beside the national park, they should love it a lot more.

Last week a crew from the indigenous Woka Walla organisation finished planting several hundred silver banksia seedlings on the former farmland near Loch Garry, north of Shepparton.

Mr Pettigrew — a farmer, landowner and environmentalist who lives in nearby Bunbartha — bought the 8 ha property for his family's use last year and will not be intensively farming it, just "enjoying it".

He marvels at the bird life, evident from the raucous bird calls on this winter's day.

Both he and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority landscape restoration officer Jim Begley name some of the birds flitting from one box tree to another.

Mr Pettigrew has signed a 10-year landholder agreement with Goulburn Broken CMA in which he will protect the native species planted out last week.

“It’ll take a few years to get established, but I’m looking for results within my lifetime,” he said.

”We had the direct seeders through yesterday, so within a month or two I’m hoping for signs of germination.

“We hope the family can enjoy this.”

Mr Begley said the banksia chosen for the site was a threatened species and fitted well with the vegetation in the neighbouring Lower Goulburn National Park, running along the Goulburn River.

“We've got a sandhill here and flats-woodland country as well,” he said.

“The difference in species and diversity is quite impressive here. We're trying to improve the diversity of species on this site.

“It’s about getting the species back into the landscape, particularly the grey box woodland.”

Woka Walla team leader Graham Weston had his back bent for most of the day, planting the banksias, driving stakes for the tree guards and dropping the first dollop of water onto the seedlings.

His group, part of the Yorta Yorta Nations organisation, delivers contracted revegetation services and he loves working the landscape on his Country.

“You're outside all the time and I think we are really making a big difference,” Mr Weston said.

The project is funded by the Federal Government’s National Landcare Program.