It was not your standard day on the green, but rather a day on the proving grounds for the 100? Bass Coast and South Gippsland Landcarers who, on Sunday 20 November, celebrated 30 years of Landcare in Victoria. The high-quality remnant bushland at the Holden Proving Ground in Lang Lang offered the perfect setting for a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the work the Bass Coast Landcare Network has done in this special site.
The day began with a rigorous security check on entering the Holden grounds, but once the formalities were over it was straight in to delicious lunch at the ‘Chalet’ within the grounds. A speedy Bass Coast Landcare Network AGM was followed by the customary speeches. Mike Cleeland, the outgoing and incoming Chair, does not mince words unless it’s in rhyming verse, so we were treated to one of his very amusing poems.
David Buntine of the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA chose not to compete with the brilliance of Mike’s rhyming verse, but nevertheless ‘waxed lyrical’ about the performance of the Bass Coast and the South Gippsland Landcare Networks and the professional way in which they have conducted their business over the years. Darrel Smales, Manager of the Proving Grounds spoke of the long history of the land and the pride he and the staff felt for their work place which is such a unique environment of virgin and re-vegetated bush. Kellie Nichols of the Bass Coast Landcare Network followed with more information on the site and the relationship which has been developed between the two organisations to foster the preservation of the site for future generations.
It was time for action after the speeches, and a convoy of cars snaked its way from the civilization of the ‘Chalet’ near the rather spectacularly cambered track, towards the ‘bush’. Landcarers were treated to a number of stops on the way around the 880ha bush site to take in the views, vegetation and signs of wildlife. Darrel from Holden and Peter from Landcare both assisted with their historical and botanical facts and figures in the ecologically diverse landscape.
A delicious afternoon tea back at the ‘Chalet’ and more words of praise, but no more prose, put an end to the day. Landcarers signed out at the gate as they left this highly secure site after enjoying an amazing experience.
The juxtaposition of the proving ground for fast cars and the unique native bushland that supplied the setting was appreciated by all. The chequered flag at the Holden proving ground on Sunday may have celebrated the end of the first thirty years of Landcare in Victoria, but the proof of the value of Landcare was right beneath our feet and in front of our eyes. It is just the beginning of the next thirty years racing towards the environmental winner’s line with corporates and communities working together.