Above: Jacqui Wandin and her son James from Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation planting trees at Coranderrk.
Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation are the owners of the historic property Coranderrk in the Yarra Valley.
Coranderrk was an Aboriginal Reserve of almost 5000 acres between 1863 until its forced closure in 1924. In 1998 the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) purchased 80 hectares of the original property and handed it to Wandoon Estate. However, without funding for farm equipment and lacking the necessary land management skills, the property was leased and poorly managed for the past 20 years.
The restoration of Coranderrk has come about through the combined efforts of Wandoon Estate, volunteers from the local community, Yarra Ranges Council, and partnerships with organisations including Melbourne Water, the Port Philip and Westernport CMA, and the ILC. The goal is to rejuvenate Coranderrk as a working farm, providing important habitat for native fauna, and as a place to bring Wurundjeri people together on Country.
The partnership has introduced sustainable farming practices for productive beef cattle grazing, and conservation advice and expertise on habit restoration and waterway management. The partnership has enabled Wurundjeri people, through the Narrap land management team, to be employed to work on traditional Country while gaining new skills.
The partnership has fostered the development of positive relationships with eight different natural resource management organisations. Other outcomes include the participation of 100 volunteers in three planting days, the establishment of 10 hectares of revegetation involving 20,000 plants, the construction of five kilometres of fencing to protect waterways from stock and more than 27 hectares of weed control works.
The Caring for Coranderrk Country partnership has linked to other programs that are creating native vegetation links between existing parklands and reserves in the Yarra Valley and Yellingbo areas. These links will assist with the preservation of the threatened helmeted honeyeater and Leadbeater’s possum.
A partnership with the Melbourne Water Stream Frontage Management Program will help to support work to protect and enhance Coranderrk’s riverbanks through weed control, fencing and revegetation. The Melbourne Water Rural Land Program will assist with works to keep soil and nutrients on the farm and out of waterways.
Jacqui Wandin, a director of Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation, says the partnership is an opportunity to honour and respect the ancestors who lived and worked at Coranderrk.
“Simon Wonga and his cousin William Barak led their people here in 1863. They worked very hard and transformed Coranderrk into a productive and self-sufficient village. Unfortunately this time of security and prosperity for our people was short lived.
“But here we are, starting again. Coranderrk gives us an opportunity to bring modern sustainable land management practices and Indigenous land management practices together. And we get to reconnect with Country.”
The judges of the award were impressed by the innovative, powerful partnerships that the project has fostered. They judged the project to be an outstanding example of leadership in Indigenous natural resource management that is delivering tangible on-ground outcomes as well as social
and economic value too.