Eurobodalla Champions

On Wednesday the 19th of June, Eurobodalla Landcare hosted their Champions of the Catchment event at Batemans Bay NSW.

The wider community learned about the variety of successful projects being delivered in the Eurobodally region.

Winners included:

Deua Rivercare

The Deua River rises in the Deua wilderness area, flows west and north before swinging in a large arc to continue south and east and enter the ocean at Moruya Heads.

On its course, it travels through wilderness and national park, historic grazing properties, state forest and private land.

Many creeks feed the river on its course, one of the largest being Araluen Creek, which joins the Deua about fifty kilometres from the sea.

The Deua is home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna. However, the impacts of farming, forestry, roads, introduced weeds and mining require ongoing management.

Deua Rivercare is a group of local residents committed to enhancing the ecological health of our beautiful home.

The group was formed in the early 1990s and completed several erosion control projects. Since the early 2000s, our group of about twelve regular volunteers has focused on controlling invasive weed species including Privet, Willow, Sycamore, Tree of Heaven, Wild Tobacco, Cape Ivy, Blackberry, and Japanese Honeysuckle along the river and up its feeder creeks.

Over the past ten years, we have been successful in attracting significant grant funding, with two Envirofund grants, three Fish Habitat Action projects, a Landcare NSW Borland Bequest grant and most recently a large Environment Trust grant for a six year project.

We have developed a good working relationship with Eurobodalla Shire Council, which acts as our auspicing body for grants and assists with project officers from their capable Environment Team. We have also worked closely with Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority personnel who provide us with excellent technical support and advice as well as material contributions to joint projects.
Deua Rivercare is also working with National Parks NSW and Forests NSW, who are our river neighbours, to coordinate our weed control efforts. The LHPA assist us with traps and training for feral animal control.

We have developed a long term relationship with some local weed control contractors. This allows us to build trust with landholders. Also, working with a stable team allows us to monitor the success of our weed control techniques and be strategic in our follow-up work.

Through our grant funding, we have held a series of field days to encourage and educate landholders on various aspects of natural resource management such as identification of native grasses, weed control techniques and fish habitat restoration.

The group holds monthly work mornings either on private property or public lands along the river and we enjoy the impact that many hands can make in a short period of time. Our volunteer hours are substantial, with 715 hours recorded between June 2012 and May 2013. We have a monthly email newsletter which circulates to more than sixty households and keeps people informed about upcoming events as well as reporting on matters of interest.

Our aim is to make the Deua the cleanest river in NSW and along the way, to enhance the habitat for indigenous species, improve our skills and enjoy our beautiful environment.

Friends of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens

The Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens is a Eurobodalla Shire Council community facility. The Gardens is a 100 acre (42 ha) property set within the Mogo State Forest, five kilometres south of Batemans Bay. It is run by three full-time Council staff and two casual staff, assisted by volunteers. Council’s first Gardens Management Committee was set up in 1987, so we celebrated our 25th birthday in 2012.

Our Gardens is unique in a number of ways

1.    The Gardens was conceived by the community, with a specific aim in mind, to display only the local flora, and limit the range that plants are collected from to the catchments of the 3 major rivers which flow through the Eurobodalla Shire, the Clyde River, the Deua (Moruya) River and the Tuross River.
2.    The original aims of the Gardens, Recreation, Education and Conservation, have not changed materially from those agreed to from day one. Ours is the only Gardens in the world which displays only the plants of the Eurobodalla region. It is this point of difference which will ensure our place in the world of botanic gardens.
3.    The community provided the initial impetus and continues to provide the bulk of the labour. About 120 volunteers assist the staff in a wide variety of jobs including gardening, construction and maintenance, public interaction, in the Herbarium, the Nursery and Education.

The Gardens is set out in remnant bushland to explain the flora of the region in walks and themed garden beds. There are two kilometres of wide, easy-grade gravel paths, suitable for every visitor to use. For the more adventurous, about 5 kilometres of bush tracks with interpretive signage have been established through a range of ecosystems. An Arboretum includes most of the trees found in the region, including rainforest species. The Herbarium provides the scientific backing for the living collection.

The IMB Children’s Walk with its model animals attracts a younger audience with its message of the interdependence of plants and animals. The Aboriginal Heritage Walk, completed with a grant from the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, shows uses of local plants. A Children’s Play Space, funded by $75,000 from the Friends, $50,000 from the NSW Government Community Building Fund, and $75,000 from Council, was available for use in December 2011 and officially opened at Easter 2012.  It has put the Gardens on the map for many families, who are enjoying the other attractions including walks enhanced by children’s puzzles.

What is the role of the Friends of the ERBG?

The Friends is a support organisation for the Gardens. It works to increase community awareness of the aims of the Gardens, raises funds for Garden’s projects and supports the volunteers with equipment and social activities.

As interested members of the public, the initial members of the group that became Friends of ERBG were responsible for persuading Council to set up the Gardens on State Forest land.

The early Friends were very hands on. They were the volunteers. This included the building of the Visitors Centre in 1999-2000, and the surrounding landscaping.

Changes came with the Occupational Health and Safety legislation in 2000 which outlined the responsibility of employers for all workers, whether paid or not. After 9/11, public liability insurance became difficult to obtain and very expensive so the Friends did not have that cover for some years. Council took responsibility for those who worked on the site and provided induction. We now talk about Friends who volunteer, and note that more than 80% of the Gardens’ volunteers are members of the Friends.

The Friends organisation provides a social matrix for volunteers and supporters. It holds quarterly meetings, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and offers a discount on plant purchases to members. It raises money through sales of plants and merchandise including home-made preserves, and organising fund-raising events. It maintains a Trust Fund for tax deductible donations. As decreed in the Friends’ Constitution, all money raised is for the Gardens. In 2012 the Friends signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Council which sets out roles and responsibilities. The Friends also agreed to its Strategic Plan. These documents assist the continuing good relationship between Council and the Friends, especially as Council has moved from a supervising Management Committee, to an advisory Management Committee and is about to put a Draft Strategic Plan to Council to cover the next five years.

The Friends organisation has been a partner in grants for Gardens’ purposes, and can be very useful in cases where local government is not eligible to apply. The most recent grant obtained is for $370,000 over three years from the Federal Government’s Biodiversity Fund, for a regional seed bank. This grant has taken the Friends into new administrative responsibilities, including subcontracting Council to employ the staff member, and seeking legal advice on the effects of the grant on the Friends’ present GST-free status.

The Friends took on the Gardens project to conserve the natural environment and to create a beautiful public amenity. These are still the reasons that see us involved today.

Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla (SAGE)

Broulee Mossy Point

Akolele Coastcare Group

Download full winner profiles here