Coastal Landcarers Field Trip - Conf 23

25th October 2023 |

On the Coastal Landcarers Field Trip we encountered a series of remarkable conservation efforts, met an extraordinary detection dog, and connected with rich cultural heritage in a landscape of boundless beauty and significance.


Fonzi the invasive weed detection dog

Photography by Yimin Liew

The trip began with a demonstration by Fonz, Australia's pioneer serrated tussock detection dog, showcasing his ability to detect not only serrated tussock but also Orange Hawkweed and Chilean Needlegrass. Accompanied by handler Mel Kelly, Fonz's expertise is attributed to the guidance of renowned conservation dog trainer Steve Austin. The trip participants were impressed by Fonz's hard work and enjoyed seeing him rewarded with his favorite toy for successful scent detection.

Okehampton: conservation, cultural preservation and sheep farming

Photography by Yimin Liew

Okehampton, a 3,500-acre site managed for conservation, cultural preservation, and sheep farming, was a focus of the visit. Participants learned about innovative grazing trials and their impact on soil health. Challenges such as weed control were discussed, including issues with gorse, box thorn, and thistle. The wetland beach has also been protected from stock through Landcare funding.

Luke warmly welcomed the group to ancestral lands and discussed the potential synergy between cultural burning practices and agriculture. He emphasized the importance of integrating cultural knowledge and research, particularly in relation to the management of native and introduced grasses.

Morrigan Guinnane from the Tasmanian Land Conservancy provided insights into quoll monitoring, using 30 cameras placed 500 meters apart to study quoll density and cat activity. Pitfall traps were employed to monitor invertebrates, and the group is working on testing theories through translocations. The camera system used allows for individual identification through multiple images.

Bec and Magali Wright from Enviro-Dynamics shared details about their Eucalyptus morrisbii gum recovery project, which aims to save a threatened species with a long-term conservation plan. The project includes experimental designs to test different seed provenances and plans for translocations. The planting locations were chosen based on climate modeling for future habitat.

During our time at Okehampton sea eagles soared above us, which Luke took as a good sign. 

Orford Bird Sanctuary

Photography by Yimin Liew

The Orford Bird Sanctuary, an internationally significant breeding site, was discussed in-depth with our hosts Jane Wing and Gary Whisson. Management complexities were highlighted, including the challenge of securing formal recognition as a reserve. Changes in land structure, including a larger sandspit area, were observed. Community efforts have been vital in preserving this important site, which hosts various bird species.  Trip go-ers were all lucky enough to receive a copy of of 'The State of Tasmania's Birds 2022- Tasmanian Endemics'. 

Wind Song

Photography by Yimin Liew

The group's visit to Wind Song, a breathtaking landscape, was a trip highlight. The land, managed by Tom and Jane Tenniswood, serves as an outdoor education site with a focus on plant propagation and gorse control. The Tenniswoods showed us the document they had made up to officially recognise part of the land being given back to its original owners. Gathered in a natural circle of trees palawa cultural educator Linton Burgess performed a traditional dance, explaining the meaning of the dance deepening the experience for everyone there. Linton also emphasised the importance of caring for the land: "Country needs carers" he said.

Thanks to all of the field trip hosts, attendees and organisers 



Photography by Cynthia Schaap

Photography by Yimin Liew