BRP Remnant Rescue at Yandoit – a landholder story
Posted on 4 February, 2021 by Jacqui
Connecting Country has been privileged to oversee a three-year project in collaboration with our project partners: local landholders, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Trust for Nature, Parks Victoria, and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), funded through DELWP’s Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP). The project will finish at the end of June 2021. We hope you enjoy this article about participating landholders Rocco and Sue Montesano, and their caretaker Steph Towner, who spoke to Connecting Country’s Bonnie Humphreys recently.
Rocco and Sue Montesano’s property at Yandoit is managed for agriculture and wildlife. For the past 29 years, the property has been managed with the assistance of Steph Towner, who lives on site as caretaker. Previously home to horses and cattle, the property contains expansive paddocks, remnant trees, areas of bushland and is lucky enough to have the Jumcra (Jim Crow Creek) running through the property. Steph often sees Rakali and Platypus swimming about in the creek.
‘It’s so special to see animals around the farm and to be able to look after the land and improve it for all the animals.’
Steph loves learning about the local flora and fauna that inhabit the property. She has a special spot for the big trees amongst the regeneration, with her favourite a very old and large Yellow Box. She says has been lucky enough to see wildlife of all kinds using this habitat, including eagles, Sacred Kingfishers, Crested Shrike-tits, and Brush-tailed Phascogales.
Working full time meant that she didn’t have much time to explore the property, but more recently life has allowed her time to walk around and get to know it better. With the help of her very knowledgeable friend, Robyn Higgins, she has also been getting more familiar with her plants.
‘The property is already home to lots of special plants such as Dianella amoena, blue devils, remnant bottlebrushes, lilies and orchids. The diversity of the landscape, from rocky hills to valleys and creeks, make it a prime habitat.’
‘I’m privileged to be able to work on the land helping the regeneration and repair process.’
She found out about Connecting Country through friends and local media, and although she didn’t know if the property would be eligible (as it is just outside of the Shire boundary) she contacted Connecting Country to enquire!
Steph notes, ‘Rocco and Sue were greatly interested in how we might be able to work together with Connecting Country for the greater benefit of the flora and fauna as well as continuing cattle side of the property.’
With Connecting Country’s help through the BRP Remnant Rescue project, fencing was built to exclude stock grazing, planting to increase understorey presence and diversity, and rabbits and weeds treated.
‘It was amazing to see how the works crew (Djandak) operated, they were like a well-oiled machine, and they just got the work done in a few days.’
Within the project areas, all the fallen trees are being left on the ground for wildlife. These are especially important for a number of woodland birds, and for animals such as reptiles, echidnas and brush-tailed phascogales. The rest of the property is currently lightly stocked to give native plants the chance to regenerate.
Connecting Country’s project on the property has enabled lots of new native plants to be established on-site. It aimed to regenerate and repair the land through the project activities and existing management practices. Steph is looking forward to watching the plants grow and seeing what animals use the habitat.
While there is still lots more work to be done, Steph says this project has been a great step forward.
‘We would like to extend thanks to Connecting Country and their project partners.’
Thank you Rocco, Sue, and Steph for all your work to restore habitat, and for sharing your story.