Category Archives: Inspiration from the Land- Members’ stories

Land for Wildlife in Katherine

We are very excited to announce that this year our “Land for Wildlife Top End” program welcomed an 888 Hectare property just outside of Katherine into the program. The property is on Gorge Road and is managed by Mick Jerram for the owners who recently acquired the property. Mick is a very knowledgeable tour guide in the area who operates “Gecko Canoeing and Tours”.

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The beautiful property is now our largest Land for Wildlife property in private ownership and includes the Maude Creek. The landholders have appointed Mick to be their land manager and would like to manage the land as a wildlife refuge and possibly run an eco-tourism enterprise that would support the upkeep.

Land for Wildlife coordinator and botanist (and former coordinator) Greg Leach headed down to Katherine to assess the property and look at its wildlife habitat assets. This was done over 2 days and being such a large property only some of it was visited on the accessible tracks, which is why we ended up down there in the steamy build up- trying to catch as much of the property before it was too boggy!

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The property includes rocky sloping hills with open Eucalypt woodland and a variety of stunning Bloodwoods, hosting many birds and lizards and further diversity of creatures within the rock crevices and floodplain areas. Maude Creek keeps water in it all year with lush riverine plants along its banks, and there are additional wet season creeks and overflows throughout the property.

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There is a likelihood that the Gouldian Finch could populate the area, with its grassy lower areas and rocky hills, and Mick is looking for assistance to try and document what fauna species are definitely found within the properties. Major priorities include the eradication of wild Buffallo and cows.

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The fabulous tract of land joins surrounding properties which are intact and vast in size, including the Nitmiluk National Park, which is managed and protected under conservation legislation; it is also actively managed. All of the above set the property as a very significant area for wildlife conservation and an important tract of land which connects and creates large scale conservation corridors.

There are a couple of LFW registered properties in the Katherine area, from the days when Greening Australia had an office in the town. With this most recent membership LFW has a significant representation, so we have set about to see how we can get more Land for Wildlife involvement in the area and held an information session for interested others.

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Mick would love to have management based training on the newly joined property and many landholders and the Landcare group were interested in getting involved. There was a call out for information on native plant propagation, fauna likely to be found and fire management information. At this stage we hope to host workshops next dry season and team up with the Landcare group to carry out new assessments, the idea is to set up a Katherine interest group made of community members..… so watch this space.

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Schools for Wildlife

Local Rural Artist and Land for Wildlife member has been working with Howard Springs Primary School to create a giant wildlife mural. The beautiful mural is in the bold and colourful style typical of Marnie’s work and depicts a woodland and billabong habitat with many well known and loved native animals of the rural area making an appearance in their own funky style throughout the painting.  These include dingoes, wallabies, brolgas, emus, Comb-crested Jacanas, and Magpie geese and the lagoon is based on Girraween lagoon.

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The mural is 7m x 2mto and was made to encourage the appreciation and preservation of our local environment and animals that live around us. 5 students were chosen to assist with the project and went to the Wildlife Park to research our wonderful wildlife and a series of workshops were undertaken for them to draw and paint their selected critters for the scene.

The mural took 5 months to create and was opened on the 30th July by Gerry Woods. There were great local craft stalls, and Land for Wildlife had an information stall.

It is fantastic to see a school embrace such fantastic projects to pass on the message to love and appreciate the wildlife around us. The principle, Julie is very supportive and further art and wildlife projects are being designed.

img_9597The school has also joined up to Land for Wildlife as an educational member in the Growing Towards Category. Next year the students will be taking part in the Trees for Wildlife program and planting trees to restore and create Black-footed Tree-Rat habitat and learn all about these fantastic creatures and how to enhance habitat for mammals and other wildlife.IMG_9593.JPG

We are looking for other rural schools to join in with Land for Wildlife activities, particularly tree planting and creating nest boxes- so if you are involved in a school and would like to get everyone involved get in touch and we can provide more details of how this can work.

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The Connection of Seasons

Walking with season's cover
The connection of seasons
by Di Lucas, Land for Wildlife member and local author
It is Yegge, the seasonal name given to this time of year, by the Gun’djehmi speaking Aboriginal people of Kakadu and Western Arnhem Land.  It is the time of year when the climate starts to cool down, the humidity should drop soon and the nights will be noticeably cooler.  Wattles bloom, filling the air with a thick blossom scent.  Unfortunately for some people wattles bring sneezles!  I’m not one of those people, I like to peer into the flowers to see what insects visit and then I take deep breaths to pick up the strong scent of these flowers. It seems to be a time of celebration in the woodlands. With sprays of yellow flowers from various wattle species, Kapok flowers  – ‘andjed’ (Cochlospermum fraseri);  orange flowers of the Grevillea pteridifolia – ‘andjandjek’,  Eucalyptus miniata – ‘andjalen’; pink flowering shrubs of Turkey bush  – ‘anbandar’ (Calytrix exstipulata),  ‘angodjmong-mong’ Gomphrena canescens (papery daisy shrubs). The woodlands are in song with the calls of many birds and insects.  If you happen to camp around these trees you are in for a treat. The bees are working hard collecting nectar to make honey and birds and bats are busy gathering nectar and insects from the flowers.
 The spear grass fuel loads are getting burnt, which makes way for new growth as well as leaving an important feeding ground for animals and birds.  Goannas, Bandicoots, Kites, Falcons, Night birds, Bustards find victims of the fires, whilst Black Cockatoos feed on spear grass seeds and fruits now the grass has been burnt.
 Near the floodplains, early morning or late afternoon one often hears then sees a large flock of Sulphur crested Corellas, cackling amongst themselves and almost greeting everything they fly across.
 There is still plenty of water on the floodplains but as the dry winds blow the water begins to recede. At the edges, delicate yellow lilies and the white fringed lilies reappear.  The larger waterliles ( Nymphaea species) are also in bloom, over the next couple of months they flower on mass across the floodplains and billabongs, a wondrous sight and scent to be experienced.
Brilliant sunsets depart the day across the floodplains now the dry season fires are with us.  In Kakadu the Yellow-water boat cruises allow you to experience this, or just standing at the boat ramp and floodplain viewing platforms at Yellow-waters or Fogg Dam and Darwin beaches, anywhere really, the sunsets are beautiful!
The migratory birds have moved on. The Magpie geese have young babes, as do the Partridge pigeon (red eye pigeons).  Wedge-tailed Eagles are ready to breed.
If you are out walking in Woodland country, or just around your block, look out for Billy goat plums (Terminalia ferdinandiana) they still have lots of nice fruits to collect off the ground.
During Yegge treat yourself to some walks in the bush to see what is going on; smell the waterlilies across the floodplains and billabongs; Catch some fish; Watch the birds eating nectar, you could even dip your face into a low flowering Grevillea flower and lick the honey nectar to see why the birds go crazy for this food, I think it is delicious.
For more details about birds and animals of this season, look at Ian Morris’s book, “Kakadu”, Yegge section pages 77-99, and Diane Lucas’s book. ‘Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu’

More Land for Wildlife near Adelaide River

A few months ago we welcomed Ingrid and David to the program who are added to the collection of Land for Wildlife properties in the Adelaide River and Robin Falls region. They have both spent their life-time as wildlife ecologists with a focus on macropods and  Ingrid managed a region of National Parks in NSW. First moving to the area in 2009 they are now committed to managing the incredible landscape they reside on permanently. Ingrid could not imagine living without a vast protected area of natural bush around her, as she has got so accustomed to this through her work. They have hosted wildlife studies on their property and hope to host LFW workshops in the future and build a network of like-minded people in the area.

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Below are a few words that David has written about their property:

Our 427-ha lifestyle block is on scenic Dorat Road in the Robin Falls region near the township of Adelaide River in the NT. It comprises natural tropical woodland savannah that frames our multi-building habitation at the confluence of two Wet-season creeks. These are fed from the backdrop, a sandstone escarpment. We are remote and off-grid. Our challenges are wildfire, weeds and the variability of the intensity and duration of the Wet and Dry seasons.

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We cycle annually from drought to flooding rain. The severity of Dry-season drought on land management is compounded by the frequent threat of wild fire from arson, whether malevolent or misguided, or failure to contain management burns on some neighbouring properties. We have therefore strengthened our bounding fire breaks by grading and annual control of overgrowing vegetation with some strategic early Dry-season burning along the inner edges. We sacrifice a broad strip of ground-cover along our exposure to Dorat Road to reduce its attraction to arsonists. As this strategy has matured we have been able to exclude fire from most of our block and aim for a fire frequency of no more than once in five or more years. The floods of the Wet-season bring a burden of weeds, including WANS like Gamba and Mission grasses. We target Gamba and Perrenial Mission grasses across the block and remove these and other weeds from a large buffer around habitations. Our success in the latter endeavour has restored riparian vegetation and improved biodiversity in flora (mid-storey vegetation) and fauna (especially birds).

Our long-term goal is to provide wildlife-friendly habitat across our block by sustaining its natural diversity bred by a variable terrain, enhancing the diversity of ground cover and mid-storey vegetation by suppression of wildfire and weeds, and protecting wildlife from harm from hunting or adverse land uses.

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More Land for Wildlife in Adelaide River

We are welcoming more members every week who manage their land for native wildlife. Before we covered the story of Lloyd Beck from Adelaide River. Also in the region we have welcomed 2 other LFW properties in The Robin Falls region. Here are their stories-

Keith and Rick joined land for Wildlife late last year and shared with us their story-

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Our place ‘Marumba’ ( good place ) its an Aboriginal word from the Jagera  (Yagera) people of  SE Qld where Rick was born.

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 We purchased the land 3 years ago after seeing a it advertised in the classified section of the NT News. Its outside Adelaide River near Robin Falls. Just under 140acres (63 hectares) of native bushland and no evidence of being farmed which appealed to us. There is a rocky ridge that crosses the block from north to south and from the top we look over the flood plain to the east and toward Litchfield NP in the west. We have a sheltered valley between the two long rocky ridges. There is a good mixture of habitats from treed areas to open grassland, hills, flood plains and numerous wet season billabongs.

Red leaves Keith and Rick's to house

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We are setting up an off the grid life from scratch, building using recycled materials as much as possible, we are always after old corrugated. iron, collecting rain water in tanks and using solar power. making as little impact on the planet as possible. We like to think of our place as a sanctuary for wildlife so no longer allow domestic pets such as dogs.

0ver the last 18 months we have been hosting volunteer helpers from around the world through Helpx and Workaway websites its been a fantastic experience to share our place, meet some amazing people from 18 to 68yrs and have the extra help.

One of things we love about being in nature with no neighbours is that we can spend all of our time not wearing clothes, which feels the more normal to us and allows us to feel more in tune to the surroundings

We recently started a Facebook page. ‘ Marumba – a good place’ if you want to see more of our place.

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Mike is another newly joined member of Land for Wildlife in the Adelaide River region. He manages a beautiful piece of rocky Warrai country with a small creek running through it, and it is his primary residence in the Robin Falls regionMike sign

The vegetation is continuous with uncleared bush that eventually joins Litchfield National Park to the west. The 150 hectares is managed for wildlife conservation and includes stunning plants typical of the region including  Corymbia dichromophloia,(small fruited boodwood) Corymbia dunlopii, Eucalyptus tectifica, Eucalyptus tintinnans,(Salmon Gum) Owenia vernicosa, Calytrix brownii, Gardenia megasperma. Erythrophleum chlorostachyus (Ironwood), Corymbia foelscheana.

Gardenia megaspermaThere are also plenty of fruiting plants on the lower slopes and lush riparian flora on the creek edges. The creek edges have been enhanced planted to restore the riverine margins and the inner 20 acres of the block is burnt with a documented fire strategy of patchwork burning, but beyond this fire is harder to manage due to unprescribed burning.

Wrigley Creek 98.7% of the land is calculated to be remnant vegetation with a small area around the house assigned to productive plants and a dam. Only a few problems with Mission grass remain and a cane toad population which is being managed. There are regular sighting of water monitors, echidnas, dingos, wallabies/ wallaroos, fruit bats and many reptile and bird species; but unfortunately it seems the mammal species has declined in the last 8 years; very occasionally a pig or cow may wander through.

Mike trees

 Land management activities are often assisted by an informal group of friends and nearby landholders who enjoy being part of the process of conserving a valuable landscape.

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Land for Wildlife near Adelaide River

At the end of last year we are lucky to welcome  some new LFW members near Adelaide River- there is some beautiful country in this region and some wonderful people managing their land for wildlife!

Here is one new member’s story, Llyod Beck, who is a fantastic long term Territory fella who cares an awful lot for his country and this wonderful Top End Landscape-

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I bought my block 8 years ago and have been actively managing it. It’s 80 acres (25 hectares) and backs onto the Adelaide River, just outside of the Adelaide River township- with Mount Bundey station original homestead on the other side of the River and is mostly intact vegetation.

I love our landscapes and I was born in Darwin and have always lived here. I lived for a long time at Howard Springs and then moved to Adelaide River, to be further out in the bush. I even tried to move away from here (to FNQ), when I felt all the development and growth was getting too much in the Darwin region but nowhere else felt like home. Now I feel it is better to be here trying to make positive change than not and I help out with environmental campaigns where I can. I love being on the land, fishing, exploring and we all need to look after it.

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My block had massive Gamba grass issues and many of the blocks around here are still covered in Gamba grass. It was half way up the hillsides and all down to the river. I slashed it and sprayed patches several times in a season, a massive job and after several years of going hard at it last year for the first time no Gamba grass reappeared. When I started managing the Gamba grass fire also stayed off the block and I don’t burn it and other plants are coming back (like fern leaf grevilleas). When you achieve something like that it feels good. Although I don’t pay too much attention to plant and animal names I have counted 74 different bird species here and love the variety of plants.

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Sometimes when we think about what we should do for the weekend, we end up relaxing under the trees by the River and realise there is nowhere else better to be.

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Jacinda Brown, Bachelor wildlife photographer shares her story.

JB_Parrot_Red-winged_Aprosmictus erythropterus_20141129_04Jacinda Brown, wildlife photographer and Land for Wildlife member shares her story-

Jacinda is a well-known photographer, who captures beautiful images of our native plants and wildlife. She has been a Land for Wildlife member since 2011 and lives on a bush block, 20 kms west of Bachelor with her family. The block is just over 50 acres (22 hectares) and the Finniss River runs through it. Jacinda describes the block as a biodiversity haven amongst surrounded by Gamba grass.

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The property has been cared for, for the last 15 years by Jacinda’s partner who has avidly managed the Gamba grass and other weeds like Hyptis and Mission Grass. Now the property is pretty weed free, but it is a continuous process to maintain it. They also use mosaic burning for fire management.

Jacinda moved to Darwin from the Yarra Valley in 2002. She lived in Darwin for a couple of years before moving out bush where she works from home, making children’s books in her beautiful bush studio to educate and showcase, the beauty of nature.

The land that Jacinda and her family care for acts as habitat for a huge array of wildlife species, including reptiles, birds, mammals and insects.

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“It is always a joy when the huge olive pythons visit especially since the cane toad invasion.” Jacinda says one interesting thing in this area is that bandicoots haven’t been seen for 7 years. There are various theories why – one being that bandicoots are really sensitive to fire and Batchelor has many hot fires because of all the Gamba Grass. That and the toads, are a huge knock back for all wildlife.

She adds “I am amazed at the amount of money spent on the recent Banana eradication, when none can be found to get rid of toads and very little for Gamba grass.”

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Jacinda loves the constant learning experience, encountering new wildlife and discovering which call belongs to which creature, “Our most recent residential discovery is the oh so cute, Owlet-nightjar.” She says “Artists are always trying to represent nature, but nature is the greatest artist. Having a bio-diverse property is a true inspiration and there are daily rewards for the work required in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

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Jacinda has just launched a new website, where you can view a wonderful movie about her block http://www.jacindabrown.com/movies.html , choose the film “Nowearji, a celebration of biodiversity” and also check out the wonderful photo galleries.

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