Above: Deep Creek Landcare Group Member’s (from left) Hayley Goodman, Donna Buckley-Foster, Stephen Hendy, Robin Ford and John Blamey after a successful revegetation project at Doggetts Bridge, Lancefield.
The Deep Creek Landcare Group was one of the first Landcare groups to be established at the beginning of the Landcare movement. Since its inception it has been an active group in the communities of Lancefield, Romsey, Goldie and more recently Monegeeta.
Originally the group also encompassed the Rochford, Newham, and Cobaw areas, which have been included in the Newham and District Landcare Group since it formed in 2004.
The group’s area of 24,000 hectares is on the edge of the Victorian volcanic plains. The Wurundjeri people are the traditional owners and the area has a rich Indigenous cultural heritage with significant archaeological sites including the Mt William stone axe quarry. Early European land clearing had led to fragmented remnant vegetation.
“After 30 years of dedicated work, the Deep Creek Landcare Group has a long list of successful projects behind it.”
In late 1986, or early 1987, a public meeting arranged by local councillor Kevin Tully and founding member Robert Green was attended by 40 people, and led to the formation of the group.
A Rabbit Busters Program in the early 1990s was one of the group’s first projects. An area of Mt William had a significant rabbit plague with spotlight counts showing as many as 77 rabbits per spotlight or transect kilometre. After three years of warren ripping, fumigation and regular monitoring, rabbit numbers were successfully reduced to two rabbits per spotlight or transect kilometre.
After the rabbit results were published locally, many new landowners joined the group to learn the strategies for successful pest control.
Weed identification and education workshops and publications to assist landholders and community members to get on board with pest and weed control were the next priority. Other early projects included the release of the dung beetle and assisting livestock farmers to control nutrient run off into waterways.
As land degradation was repaired and better farm practices were adopted, the health of the Deep Creek, which is a major tributary of the Maribyrnong catchment, became a significant issue for the group.
Much negotiation and education was required to encourage landholders to revegetate their stream frontage and restore biodiversity to areas whose loss and fragmentation of habitat due to land clearing and overgrazing were an issue.
The group also developed a project to preserve the endangered pygmy perch in Deep Creek. The group worked in partnership with Melbourne Water and Western Water to survey isolated populations and target habitat protection and revegetation projects to protect this vulnerable species.
Revegetation has been a long-term focus for the group. Tens of thousands of trees and shrubs have been planted through extensive revegetation projects on public and private land. A significant number of these plants have been purchased through TreeProject – a not for profit organisation where volunteers propagate native tubestock from seed, and these plants are sold at low cost to landholders and Landcare groups for revegetation projects.
Critical funding support has come from Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage Management Program that has assisted landholder and group projects along the Deep Creek and its tributaries. Support from the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA, Western Water, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, and our Community Bank has also helped us to deliver successful projects.
Some of our recent projects include a Landcare anniversary garden showcasing native plants in the grounds of Lancefield Park, a collaborative project to revegetate the Romsey Wastewater Treatment Plant, support for Junior Landcare, helping to protect a local site of archaeological significance, and community education workshops on bees, monotremes, Indigenous food and fibre, plus the threatened native plant species Dianella amoena.
The Port Phillip and Westernport CMA awarded Deep Creek Landcare Group the 2012 Caring for Public Land Award for the revegetation and stream frontage protection works conducted at one of our major project sites, Sheehans Crossing.
The project at this six-hectare public land site started on Clean up Australia Day with the removal of a massive volume of illegally dumped rubbish. We then removed weeds by brush cutting and spraying.
The final stage of the project saw local community groups and volunteers plant 700 tubes of understorey and overstorey plants and trees. Sheehans Crossing is an ongoing project with much effort placed
on maintaining pest control and replacing plant losses. It is also a pygmy perch habitat site monitored by Melbourne Water and the group.
“It’s a community-wide effort where everyone involved is appreciated and respected.”
According to founding member Robert Green the demographic of the local area has changed a lot since the group first started.
“It was a farming community when the group started, but it is now primarily a community of residents commuting to Melbourne and other places for work.”
Robert believes the group’s success has been underpinned by its reputation in the community.
“The community view has been, and continues to be, that the group is doing a good job and that it gets things done. The Rabbit Buster Program at Mt William and the tree planting projects on public roadside land are good examples of big impact projects.
“We could have done more publicity or promotion work in the past to inform the community and get people involved. The group used to have a stall at the monthly Lancefield Farmers Market, which helped it connect to the local community. In recent years we’ve had a Landcare marquee at the annual Lancefield Show, which attracts a big crowd. Our regular columns in the Romsey and Lancefield town-based local papers have also been good for spreading the word,” Robert said.
After 30 years of dedicated work, the Deep Creek Landcare Group has a long list of successful projects behind it. The group is keen to continue its work of enhancing the region’s natural environmental values and agricultural productivity. It’s a community-wide effort where everyone involved is appreciated and respected.