Can you imagine 2 people living in a townhouse in Sydney, working in the corporate world, spontaneously falling in love with 30 acres in the hinterland of Noosa and then wondering what to do with it?
Well…that was us. We had a romantic idea and I certainly had little knowledge of anything rural, though Greg had been brought up on a sheep farm in Central NSW.
What we loved about the property was the ambience; located at the foot of Cooroy Mountain, with 2 creeks running through it, it definitely had possibilities.
We sought advice about what do with the land and were advised that cattle would keep the grass down and growing some kind of crop could make us some money. Neither of these scenarios appealed but when someone mentioned in passing that we could create a forest, our eyes lit up as we had both previously worked in the timber industry.
We bought the property in 2002 which was the year the first trees were planted but with both of us still living in Sydney at that stage we had little to do with the inaugural plantings.
When our house was finished in December 2004 we arrived to overgrown trees and paddocks full of weeds. Our bright idea seemed to be a bit overwhelming …so much for a forest.
Not to be deterred we bought some pruning shears and a whipper snipper and out we went into the paddocks to wrestle the grass away from the little trees. It felt good to be exhausted at the end of the day, feeling like we were achieving something, however I can still remember our aching backs and wrists, the insect bites and my concerns about rustles in the grass.
In truth we had no idea, we were novices. It wasn’t until someone told us about Landcare at Pomona that we started to make some real headway. We were introduced to Phil Moran and he came out and visited the property and this was our turning point.
Little by little we started to learn about how to build canopies, weed properly, create carpets of natural grasses and get rid of the ‘evil camphors’.
I will always remember the day that 3 guys from Landcare and I crawled around the creek for a whole day. I was taught how to recognise certain weeds and how to properly manage them. It was such fun and I was hooked.
15 years on, the wildlife is back. The wallabies, hares, an abundance of bird life, cat fish, goannas, and even a platypus in the creek. There are now trails around the property where the wallabies roam and many bird nests can be spotted in the trees. Beds of natural grasses surround the creek and are expanding out into the forest. That is not to say there is not always work to do. The birds love dropping those camphor seeds.
To see the forest grow and develop really brings us joy. Towards the end of last year I was sitting quietly in our forest, it was late in the afternoon and I had escaped to do some weeding after a rather long day at work. To my surprise I looked up to see only a few metres away from me a wallaby eating a native plant in its little paws. It was a special moment for me, and hopefully for both of us. There we sat, in harmony with each other, cocooned by nature and our fledgling forest.
As with Landcare, we then discovered Sunshine Coast Council’s land For wildlife. A program that cared about the environment and helped people like us continue to learn and improve our knowledge.
This time it was Stephanie who arrived and walked us around our property providing us with knowledge and advice. We were surprised to be the 1,000th property to join land for wildlife and absolutely delighted that so many people had been before us.
Article by Jenny Brice, Land for Wildlife member