As part of Maryknoll TC’s Community Programs, our residents take part in Landcare groups across West Gippsland and beyond. Their work is transformative – not just for the landscape but for personal physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Richard Price (Maryknoll’s Recreation and Community Development Officer) explains how through Landcare partnerships, good things grow.
“At one of our plantings this year, we managed to plant 2000 seedlings!”
At Landcare events organised by Friends of Mt Cannibal Reserve, Friends of Kurth Kiln, Friends of Bunyip State Park and other groups in the region, residents play a powerful role in getting the job done.
“Our engaging and energetic teams are always excited to be welcomed and included in these rewarding activities,” Richard said.
Residents roll up their sleeves and throw themselves into the work. The goals for Landcare projects include regeneration of native ecosystems, preservation of remnant vegetation, bushfire recovery and creation of safe natural habitats for wildlife and more. Depending on what a particular area needs, tasks can include removing exotic vegetation, planting native species, installing deer fences, collecting rubbish, clearing safe trails for visitors and cleaning up local properties affected by bushfire.
Residents attend events as ‘Intrepid Landcare’ members. Each resident chooses whether to share their Windana story with others at an event. The day before, staff work with residents to develop skills as to how to lead these conversations.
“Residents generally share their recovery stories as they meet and work with other volunteers during the day,” says Richard.
“It’s a positive experience to offer something that others find valuable, and can often relate to through personal, family and wider social relationships in their own lives.”
This type of connection can spark an ‘aha moment’.
“It can change the way a resident sees their time at Windana – learning to view it as a time in life where they can share their story and be welcomed by the wider community regardless.”
The benefits of Landcare work to a resident’s physical health are also significant. Trekking to sites, pulling weeds, digging holes, carrying equipment and getting close to the earth is great exercise – helping to boost endurance, strength, flexibility and overall fitness.
Residents can also request written references from the leaders of partnership organisations (usually the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network), for use when gaining employment after graduating from the TC. These references recognise their initiative and collaborative skills (often found in volunteering) – things employers look for in new staff.
Back at the Maryknoll TC, residents also perform Landcare at home, protecting the health of the property’s natural watercourse and bush.
“We’re very lucky to have Back Creek flow the full length of our 40-acre property. Along the creek is some of the area’s best remnant bushland,” Richard says.
Windana works directly with Friends of Back Creek and Maryknoll locals to remove weeds and replant native species along the creek, supported by grants from Melbourne Water.
Cardinia Shire Council and Melbourne Water grants have also helped Windana residents develop Powerful Owl and Eastern Ringtail Possum bush corridors that traverse the TC.
Richard explains how Landcare work is an opportunity for residents to use practical skills developed during their time at Windana.
“Residents find that the structure and routines of the program help develop a transferrable skill set like problem solving, teamwork and leadership.
When each Landcare event draws to a muddy close, the Windana group enjoys a bush or coastal walk nearby to the project’s site. Everyone else who participated in the day’s event is invited to come along too.
Richard says these peaceful walks are an important time to debrief and reflect.
“Each person has an opportunity to talk through what the day meant to them.
“What comes up most often is the connection people have felt to one another, to the environment and the significance of their accomplishments.”
Groups to support:
- Friends of Mt Cannibal Reserve (Garfield North)
- Friends of Kurth Kiln (Gembrook)
- Friends of Bunyip State Park (Gentle Annie)
- Back Creek Landcare Group (Nar Nar Goon North)
- Western Port Catchment Landcare Network (Koo Wee Rup)
- Cardinia Shire Council – Conservation and Landcare group directory