1991 – Present
Wollombi Landcare came about following severe flooding in the Wollombi Valley in February 1990, thought by long-time farmers to be the largest since the catastrophic flood of 1949. Dairy Arm was particularly badly affected with lots of people not able to get in or out. When the waters finally receded, a way to ‘flood proof’ the area was sought by landholders. They sought help from the government, but the answer was – no grants to individuals, only organisations and Landcare was actually suggested as an appropriate organisation. A local Progress Association meeting held on 1st March 1991 mandated the formation of Wollombi Valley Landcare which became an active and forceful community organisation. Denis Mahony did much of the work which led to the founding of Wollombi Landcare. He became president for the first few years and then handed over to Bill Hicks, better known for the development and promotion of ‘long stem’ native plants.
A major interest from the outset was a desire to ‘audit’ the environmental health of the Valley, initially by accessing all the available information from community and expert sources.
This culminated in the joint publication of The Way of the River – Environmental Perspectives on the Wollombi by Landcare and the University of Newcastle Department of Community Programs in January 1994.
Getting NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to produce Your Land has Rights.
Auditing the health of the land is a good starting place.
Numerous community projects have been undertaken by Wollombi Landcare, most recently revegetation along stretches of the Wollombi Brook and Watagan Creek. Landcare has always maintained a strong emphasis on education for the residents of the Valley via regular themed meetings linked to properties and demonstration sites, field days and the provision of information to the community. Topics covered have included soil erosion, riparian plantings, pest and weed control, biodiversity, grasses and pastures, farm forestry, property planning, sustainable housing, extreme weather and climate change, seed collecting and plant propagation, flora and fauna.
In 1999, Wollombi Landcare in conjunction with Mt Vincent, Burralong and Mulbring Valley Landcare groups requested the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to produce Your Land has Rights, a guide to the legal rights and obligations of landholders in the form of a booklet for distribution to residents and landholders. The EDO has since republished this booklet as Rural Landholders Guide to Environmental Law in NSW.
With many new landholders having small acreage, in 1999 we published a Directory of Goods and Services to assist new residents in the Valley.
In 1998, Wollombi Landcare and the Wollombi Valley Water User’s Association secured funding from the National Heritage Trust to undertake a benchmark study and plan of management for the Wollombi Brook including both the North and South Arms down to the confluence with the Hunter River. The 77-page Plan of Management and annotated aerial photographs were published in June 2000. Rivercare 2000, an initiative of the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation recognised the efforts of Wollombi Landcare with a Gold Award in the category of Rivercare and Total Catchment Management.
In the early 2000s, we conducted a series of public meetings seeking input for what later became the Wollombi Valley Catchment Management Plan prepared with the assistance of the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation. Comprising 110 pages, it was published in 2003 with copies provided to landholders and all those that attended the public meetings.
In recent times, Wollombi Landcare has actively promoted mange awareness and treatment programs for wombats.