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Environmental Restoration of the Tambo River Old Course

Bushfire impact that followed four years of drought may have been enough to see others throw in the towel, but East Gipplanders are a tough breed, none more so than local Mossiface farmer, Patch Calvert. During the Black Summer fires, Patch and his family fought hard to save the family farm – land that has been continuously farmed by seven generations of the Calvert Family since 1852. While they managed to save the house, not much else survived, apart from an area of land on the flats of the Tambo River Old Course. It was to these flats that Patch and family moved their cattle during the fires as an area of refuge – a move that saved the stock – and it was this that sparked an idea for environmental recovery on the farm. In Patch’s words, this river flat was a ‘relatively safe place’ during the fire – and if the stock could survive, then it was most likely an ideal place of refuge for native flora and fauna. Now that they are in ‘recovery mode’, Patch brought this idea to his local Landcare group and the rest, as they say, is history!

Bushfire impact

Patch Calvert

The East Gippsland Landcare Network (EGLN) are assisting with revegetation on the property through a Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Project which has been supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat. It’s no secret that these lands were extensively cleared to make way for agriculture during early settlement, and the health of the river has been impacted by sediment run-off and introduced weeds – which are a big problem on the site, especially in some of the steeper areas. However, as Patch explains; “the overall concept is to improve the property, to get biodiversity up and make amends. While it is still valuable farming land, the cows will benefit from the additional shade, and if we selectively plant on steep country and riverbanks and fence these areas off, we can increase biodiversity and decrease erosion whilst maintaining agricultural productivity – it’s a win-win. We want to work with nature, not against it.”

The area is already a haven for birds. Early in the project, a survey by Birdlife East Gippsland members found a staggering 49 species of birds on the property, including a significant number of small birds. A figure that Patch hopes to see growing as works continue, weeds are removed, and new vegetation becomes established. The next survey will be undertaken in December, and it will be great to monitor the bird species using this area in different seasons.



The environmental project outcomes will be undertaken alongside a desire to preserve the historical significance for the family and local community. Onsite, the old hop kiln survives (hops from this site won first prize on the commonwealth market in its day!), and, whilst it may not be native, an heirloom hop plant which stems from the original hop production from the 1860s-1880s will be saved.

An important aspect of this project is also the potential for the involvement of the local community – something that the family are passionate about. EGLN Project Officer Phil Vaughan explains, “We have 30,000 seedlings to plant on this site, and it would be great if we could get Landcare and Community volunteers together to assist with the planting. We’d love to see inter-generational community involvement – with grandparents, parents, kids all coming together for a couple of hours to help out and do a small part for our local environment. If you, your family, or your community group are interested, then please get in touch!” You can contact East Gippsland Landcare Network via email: philv@egln.org.au

Funded by the Australian Government, the $14 million Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants are supporting projects in regions impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20. For further information visit landcareledbushfiregrants.org.au

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