Volunteers weed and plant at Bobermien Creek - image by Gay Liddington

Volunteers weed and plant at Bobermien Creek – image by Gay Liddington

It’s good to know there are groups out there who are keen to give their time and care to our wild land and wildlife. Roving Restorers is such a group, who are managing to improve wildlife corridors and re-establish natural connections for bird, beast and flower. HT’s Gay Liddington joined them on a mission in the bush.

by Gay Liddington

It seems that in the world of Roving Restorers there are weeders and planters mixed with an incalculable amount of zeal.  It was certainly the case when I joined eight volunteers on an excursion to the Witta property of Sally Douglas and Ian Jones.

“There’s a lot of work being done nationally and internationally on the importance of linking up blocks of bush so wildlife has greater access to habitat. It’s also about the migrations…birds following the fruit and the blossoms,” said Susie Duncan, team leader of Roving Restorers.

On arrival, enthusiasm was palpable in spite of inclement weather. A winding track led to the house that overlooks the Blackall Range. Susie introduced Sally who had worked in Brisbane until 1am then drove to Witta. Such is her passion for the 11 ½ acre property.

Sally shared with the group: “When we first saw this place last year, Ian fell in love with it straight away and I fell in love with the creek. I didn’t know anything about caring for the land and feel very emotional about you all being here.”

A safety induction, busyness in sorting tools for the job, bags for weeds, hats and hugs, the team set off carrying trays of lomandra, a hardy native known as one of the best river or creek bank stabilisers.

I trailed the group down a sloping track to the creek carefully watching my step, noting that one volunteer was supported by a walking stick.

Bobermien Creek meets the Obi Creek below the dam and flows into Kondalilla National Park. Sally and Ian’s property is part of a key east-west wildlife corridor across the Blackall Range. It is home to some at-risk species including the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly, Lewin’s Rail, Cascade Tree Frog and Pink Underwing Moth.

There was a flurry of activity on the creek bank as volunteers gained momentum. A cascade of water spilled over rocks. The white noise emanated a feeling of calm while birdsong entertained and drizzling rain left workers unfazed.

The team moved along the bank then shifted further up creek to complete their morning’s work. Then came time to head back to the house for a cuppa.

Susie enlightened me as to the history of Roving Restorers which began in 2011. It is an initiative of Hinterland Bush Links which receives core funding from Sunshine Coast Council.

“I used to do walks for Barung Landcare. There was a lot of enthusiasm among people wanting to explore the bush, but were not always comfortable in taking themselves off the beaten track.

“I encouraged this group to do some bush regeneration work and gradually others joined. We called it Roving Restorers because we go all over the place.

“Over a period of time we’ve had about 100 people ranging in age from 20s to 80s come and go. We can cater for people of different capabilities.

“Usually about 12 members turn up and we’ve had up to 32. When we’re doing tree plantings we encourage landholders to invite their friends and family to increase the workforce.”

During morning tea, I gained an insight into why people would volunteer for such work. A young man first-timer said he just wanted to learn. Some had retired from their property and Roving Restorers gives them an opportunity to continue working with the land. I overheard a woman say, “We came off land and into suburbia. We need this. All care and no responsibility.”

During the morning tea wrap-up, Susie mentioned upcoming events including a weed-vine workshop and projects such as the building of nest boxes.

She reassured the group and Sally, who feels overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task: “The work that Sally’s doing is really valuable because a lot of our work is focused on making the forest healthier. The plantings to make those connections is a key part.

“Things are well on the way here and there’s a framework. We can come again. This is a very valuable bit of rainforest which leads onto the eucalypt forest. It’s an important part of the landscape.”

Speaking with Sally Douglas, a former investment banker working Sydney, London and New York, gave me insight into her love of this area.

“I fell in love with Mary Caincross Park when I was a kid. Mum and Dad used to bring us up here from Brisbane once a year. Then, when I returned from overseas I’d always come up to Maleny for weekends.

“I absolutely had no idea how hard it is to maintain a property. The previous owner did a lot of regeneration, but because it used to be cow pasture the paspalum grass is everywhere. I’m completely emotional about it. If you care then it’s a big job.

“I’ve learnt about interconnectedness. What I do on my patch impacts what happens in someone else’s area because of the creek. It’s a water source for all the landholders downstream on the Mary River so it is important to protect it.”

I asked Susie Duncan how Roving Restorers choose their projects.

“Sometimes I hear about properties and think that’s a critical link, it’s particularly important to wildlife so I might contact the landholder. People also ask for support. Networking is fundamental to our work.

“This project is run on a shoestring budget but with willing volunteers people are rewarded in many different ways.”

Roving Restorers meet twice a month and welcomes new members.

Contact Susie Duncan on 5429 6622