Victorian Landcare Magazine - Summer 2019, Issue 74

A passion for nature

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Above Elizabeth Fraser on a walk at the Mt Elephant Trust for Nature property.

By Elizabeth Fraser

Name:

Cardinia Environment Coalition

Looking back at my interests in nature and conservation, I can see that it was in my blood. I was raised in the Dandenong Ranges in the family home built in 1889 by my great-grandfather. My grandfather was Chairman of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Looking back at my interests in nature and conservation, I can see that it was in my blood. I was raised in the Dandenong Ranges in the family home built in 1889 by my great-grandfather. My grandfather was Chairman of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

My father was the third generation to take on the property with its wet and damp forest vegetation. When my father returned from the war in 1946, he decided to live permanently in what had been a holiday home for his Melbourne based parents. The whole family loved trees and were keen to introduce anything English. 

In the early 1970s both my father and his sister realised the loss of Australian native trees and plants was affecting the wildlife. They became champions for bush preservation through Trust for Nature. When I had completed my nursing qualifications, and my husband and I decided to buy the property, our first task was to remove the hollies, sycamores and pittosporums. This involved obtaining permission from Cardinia Council as they were considered significant trees.   

During my working life as a nurse, and while raising children, I completed a degree in botany. When my aunt donated Harbury, 20 acres of bushland in Pakenham Upper, to the Trust for Nature, I helped to manage it. We had an active friends’ group, working bees, open days, scientific studies and fungi walks and talks. Forty years of activity went by very quickly.

Once I retired from nursing, I was looking forward to a second botanical career and became involved as a volunteer with Deep Creek Landcare, then Bessie and Ararat Creek Landcare, as well as the Cardinia Environment Coalition (CEC). I took great delight in the outdoor activity, the sense of making a difference and mixing with other people who enjoyed getting their hands dirty planting trees with these Landcare groups and also with Toomuc Landcare Group. Ten years passed, including six years as President of the CEC. It has been a very satisfying experience.    

I feel proud that Harbury Reserve is still a haven for lyrebirds and that our property now has regenerated and revegetated bushland. The CEC is also making an important contribution. It manages seven parcels of public land within Cardinia Shire and assists Landcare groups with project management.

For six years the CEC has celebrated every second international women’s day with a very successful Cardinia women in conservation dinner at which three local women speak about the dedicated energy and innovation they bring to local conservation work.    

I have also been fortunate to lead a united CEC committee working with Cardinia Shire, Pakenham Golf Club and Ecolinc Bacchus Marsh on a project to build an eco-centre and indigenous nursery on a reclaimed wetland site for conservation, community and teaching purposes.
This project is supported by many local community groups and is set to open in 2019.  

Gardens for Wildlife has become a recent interest. The vision of having urban, developed landscapes also acting as havens for native insects, reptiles, birds and animals is appealing indeed.

Nature volunteering is very satisfying due to the people you meet and the general wellbeing it brings. I just love that everyone is doing it because it’s a passion, and not because they have to.

 

Once I retired from nursing, I was looking forward to a second botanical career and became involved as a volunteer with Deep Creek Landcare, then Bessie and Ararat Creek Landcare, as well as the Cardinia Environment Coalition.

Elizabeth Fraser is proud of the achievements of the Cardinia Environment Coalition.

Above: Elizabeth Fraser is proud of the achievements of the Cardinia Environment Coalition.

Elizabeth Fraser is a member of the CEC and Bessie and Ararat Creek Landcare Group.

For more information on the CEC go to www.cecinc.net.au