Last Saturday morning, a small convoy of vehicles traversed ‘Hawkhill’ in what was a very successful Boorowa Landcare Members excursion to view a range of plantings spanning almost 35 years.
Visitors then watched locally produced drone footage of past plantings in the Boorowa district and enjoyed a barbecue lunch supplied by the BCLG committee.
Elizabeth and Peter Mason have a wealth of knowledge about tree establishment, largely based on trial and error over many decades.
They answered questions about site preparation, fencing techniques, species selection and even which species suit different parts of the landscape.
We observed how active gully erosion had been effectively halted, by soil conservation work including diversion banks, fencing out livestock and extensive tree planting.
We were able to compare sites established by direct seeding and others by planting tube stock.
“Although there have always been good numbers of paddock trees, there was only one very small patch of remnant veg on ‘Hawkhill’,” Elizabeth said.
Some of their earlier planting sites were part of a series of local 'Saltshaker' projects, designed to mitigate the effects of dryland salinity.
These high-profile catchment-based projects, attracted a lot of attention and Boorowa came to be recognised for its innovation and early establishment of community Landcare groups.
Although the Mason's now buy commercially grown plants, Elizabeth had propagated a huge number of the plants herself.
Her early successes and failures helped inform a variety of government bodies, as to what could grow in the Boorowa region.
Elizabeth insists she doesn't 'garden' her tree lanes but has been known to water some very young plants if it looks like they may not survive until rain arrives.
A comparison of two adjoining sites, planted exactly one year apart, with the same site preparation, highlighted the effect that variable weather conditions can have on revegetation efforts.
In recent years Peter and Elizabeth have been hosts to North Sydney Bushcare group, who have assisted them with their planting.
The most recent sites were planted in 2017.
Despite very dry conditions; thorough site preparation and successful exclusion of both livestock and kangaroos, have helped plant survival.
Hawkhill now has an extensive network of tree lanes offering habitat for wildlife and protection to livestock in almost every paddock.
A drive to the top of Hawkhill (a Transgrid tower) provided a wonderful view of the extent and connectivity of plantings on Hawkhill, neighbouring properties and across the region in general.
If you have some historic plantings or landcare activities you would like to share for a tour, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0459 681 018.