My first Intrepid Landcare experience

Sarah Cantwell from Inverloch reflects on her experience at the group’s first tree planting day in Woolamai.

I heard about the tree planting through Facebook, and thought it was a cool initiative. Landcare is a great movement and to see the Gippsland Intrepid Landcare group aimed at young(ish) people was pretty exciting. I jotted the date down in my diary and looked forward to seeing how the day went. The tree planting ticked all these boxes: volunteering, free food, meeting new people, getting my hands dirty and taking practical steps to care for the environment.

So I headed along to my first tree planting day at Woolamai, run by Gippsland Intrepid Landcare. We spent a bit of time doing a 12 point turn to get the car parked, then walked down the hill and rounded the corner to see a heap of gumboot clad volunteers hovering at the food table.

Being the shy and retiring type, I had an uncomfortable moment of ‘Oh, I haven’t mentally prepared for this – I’m going to have to talk to people!’ Any social anxiety was quickly calmed as Kathleen nabbed us, offered us delicious cake and tea, and introduced Derek, one of the organisers of the day. He ran us through how to plant the trees.

The vibe of the day was relaxed, friendly and hardworking with tree planters coming from Melbourne and all over Gippsland. We planted 4,200 trees on the side of hill, with amazing views over Westernport.

Eventually it was time to call it at day for lunch and we headed back down the hill where we got delicious food supplied by Udder and Hoe. The food was super tasty and abundant – exactly what you would expect from Udder and Hoe, and exactly what you need after getting some serious Woolamai windburn. Baked potatoes were satisfying and a decadent array of cakes, scones and hot drinks were on offer.

The day was super rewarding for me as I believe our environment is what sustains us – both in a practical and physical sense, but also emotionally, spiritually and mentally for a lot of people. Our natural spaces have an intrinsic value, not just in terms of what we can take. I’d like to achieve the vague goal of creating and maintaining a happy, healthy, connected Gippsland. If that’s a bit too abstract, I’d like more opportunities to stand with my hands on my hips, surveying the fine work of volunteers who have made a small yet practical difference. What else did I learn from attending the day? That I really enjoy tree planting!