Conf23 Field Trips

Our unique field trips traversed across the East Coast region of Tasmania, visiting sites where Landcarers have been doing amazing things. 

Field Trip Highlights

Maria Island

We learnt about:

- What makes Maria Island special - it's history and conservation values.

- The work of volunteers and the important role they play in partnering with PWS to identify, monitor and address conservation threats to the biodiversity and conservation values of Maria Island.

- How Wildcare Tasmania works to support and enable volunteer groups around the state, including those who work on Tasmania’s offshore islands.

- The work of the Friends of Maria - both the impact of this work in protecting the biodiversity of Maria Island and the long-term commitment and consistent effort that has gone into achieving it.

Read more in this article about the work of the Friends of Maria Island, written by Anne Booth in 2021.

This Field Trip was sponsored by:

Maria Island Field Trip Hosts

Kim Willing - Wildcare Tasmania

As Wildcare Tasmania’s Volunteer Services Manager, Kim Willing supports Wildcare group leaders and volunteers to work together to deliver on-ground conservation outcomes - building and sustaining a community of members and partners through enjoyable and collaborative relationships.

Kim is one of the original Landcare Officers, working with graziers in Western Queensland before moving to Tasmania to take up the role of Landcare Officer with the Local Govt. Association of Tasmania. She then coordinated the development of the cooperatively managed ‘Tasmanian Trail’ before spending 8 years as the Coastcare Facilitator for Southern Tasmania.

Kim has been with Wildcare Tas. in a part-time role since 2017 and also runs Groundwell, her own business of over 20 years as a facilitation consultant.

Anne + Peter Booth - Friends of Maria Island

Discovering Sea Spurge on Maria Is. in 2003 at Riedle Bay, we began a twice-yearly clearance which continues today.

In 2005 Ranger Richard Koch initiated a volunteer program to control Montpellier Broom, (Skipping Ridge/Bernacchis Valley) and established a mapping grid. He also tagged the S. heath site near Haunted Bay.

FoMI became a Wildcare group in 2007 to target these species; Wildcare has given ongoing support throughout. 

Primary control was completed in 2014 with monitoring occurring on a 2 to 3 year rotation. The aim is to prevent seed drop. Animal browsing of maturing plants is important; a psyllid (biological control) also has some effect. Seed bank life can be 16 years; sites are becoming weed-free and the proliferation of native species and ground litter has suppressed germination. In many areas, we are well on the way to eradication.

The inaccessibility of the Spanish heath near Haunted Bay made it unsuitable for commercial control. Volunteers, in two camping trips to Haunted Bay in 2008-9 (boat access), completed primary control, thanks to outstanding assistance from Parks in transport, logistics and direct support. Subsequent biennial checks have found little regrowth; burgeoning native species now make the site unrecognizable; it is now effectively clear. A smaller infestation, found in 2009 near Robey’s farmhouse, is monitored annually.

With up to five working bees a year this has been a major preoccupation for the last 18 years

We now find it very rewarding to reflect on our achievements.

Katherine Hitchcock - Parks and Wildlife

Parks and Reserves Manager (usually Ranger in Charge Triabunna-Maria Field Centre), Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. 

Katherine manages Tasmania’s Parks and Reserves estate to ensure they are sustainably managed for the community to enjoy today and for generations to come. To actively engage with volunteers and community to gain an appreciation of the parks and reserves on their doorstep and develop a sense of wonder in their value and what they protect to inspire engagement and participation.

Cat Davidson - Birding and Ecology Guide

Cat is a birding, wildlife and botany guide with Inala Nature Tours in Tasmania and currently leads ecology tours around Tasmania and Australia.

As part of the field trip to Maria Island, Cat will assist with informing the group about the wonderful Tasmania birds that call Maria home, including eleven of the twelve endemics. She will assist you with learning their calls and identifying their diagnostic features. She will illuminate some of their fascinating behaviours and inform you about the challenges that face them and their habitats.


Read the blog here 



Spring Bay Mill and Sea Forest

We learnt about: 

- Spring Bay Mill and their horticulture journey and sustainability mission.

- Sea Forest and their research and cultivation of Asparagopsis and its use as a feed supplement - greatly reducing the production of methane from livestock.


Commencing at Spring Bay Mill, we were guided on a horticulture journey that showcased Spring Bay Mill’s sustainability mission - where they are practising ecological regeneration and promoting sustainable living for a new positive effect in the world. Since its inception as a sustainable events venue, Spring Bay Mill has planted and grown over 20,000 local native plants including dozens of rare and threatened species, built habitat opportunities for local wildlife, and propagates over 10,000 plants annually at their on-site nursery.

After a spot of morning tea we enjoyed enjoy a leisurely coastal walk down to the neighbouring cultivators of climate solutions Sea Forest, who showed us their research and cultivation of Asparagopsis, a common seaweed native to the waters of Tasmania. Asparagopsis is included in low quantities as a feed supplement and greatly reduces the production of methane from livestock.

This Field Trip was sponsored by:

Spring Bay Mill and Sea Forest Field Trip Hosts


Meet Mark Fitzgerald, a seasoned horticulturalist with over two decades of expertise in Landscape Design and Installation.

Currently serving as the Head of Horticulture at Spring Bay Mill (SBM), Mark and his dedicated team have undertaken an extraordinary mission over the past five years. Their goal was to revive the 43-hectare site of the former wood chip mill, transforming it into a sustainable habitat for various local wildlife species, (including wallabies, echidnas, possums, birds, lizards, and insects). This monumental effort involved planting more than 20,000 native grasses, shrubs, and trees endemic to the area.

Mark takes pride in his role as the host of SBM’s horticultural tours, where he shares insights into their meticulous plant selection process. Visitors actively participate in habitat

improvement initiatives, including preparing and replanting areas to promote native re-wilding. The success of SBM’s sustainability efforts hinges on their careful choice of plants with local provenance and the ability to thrive in the coastal climate, native soils, and alongside indigenous plant species. The site features a range of commonly planted species such as Coastal Tussock grass, Kangaroo grass, Tasman Flax Lily, East Coast / Silver Banksia, and Coastal Spinach, while also focusing on conserving rare and threatened species like the Silver Peppermint Gum and Morrisby’s Gum. To minimise their ecological footprint, SBM practices responsible land restoration, erosion control, weed management, and efficient rainwater harvesting, showcasing their commitment to environmental stewardship. 

Mark’s leadership and the collective efforts of the horticultural team at SBM stand as a testament to the positive impact of responsible horticulture and its significant contribution to environmental preservation and the well-being of native wildlife.


Sam Elsom is a passionate environmentalist and entrepreneur, he began his career in fashion, building the apparel brand Elsom around sustainable design and ethical manufacture. Today he is CEO of Sea Forest, a Tasmanian environmental technology company developing the scaled cultivation of the native red seaweed, Asparagopsis. 

Sea Forest is a science-based environmental technology company cultivating seaweed as a natural solution to climate change and global food security. 

The company is the largest seaweed producer in Australia. Its 1800-hectare aquaculture facility at Triabunna and an additional 30-hectare waterfront site at Swansea comprise the largest marine lease in the Southern Hemisphere.

The facilities comprise onshore algae ponds and an underwater farm that enable Sea Forest to cultivate different life stages of Asparagopsis taxiformis, a miracle red seaweed that is able to abate methane emissions from cattle and sheep. When included as a fraction of an animal’s regular diet, Sea Forest’s seaweed-based animal feed supplement, named SeaFeed, can cut the amount of methane each animal produces by up to 90%.

Methane is the most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, accounting for around 20% of global emissions. But methane is also 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping atmospheric heat. In its first year in the atmosphere, its global warming potential is 120 times that of CO2.

Around 15 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock production. So Sea Forest’s innovation, SeaFeed, can help bring down these emissions significantly.

According to the CSIRO, if just 10 per cent of global cattle and sheep producers adopted Asparagopsis-based supplements as an ingredient to feed their livestock, it would have the same impact for our climate as removing 100 million cars from the world's roads, and potential increases in livestock productivity could create enough food to feed an additional 23 million people.

Sea Forest is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact on sustainability. Through the non-profit Sea Forest Foundation it is also working with the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania to restore Tasmania’s endangered giant kelp forests.

A 2021 report by the Australian Seaweed Institute says the seaweed industry presents Australia with a high-tech and high-value economic opportunity. It predicts the domestic seaweed industry could generate $1.5bn annually by 2040 and create 9,000 jobs, while reducing greenhouse emissions by 10 per cent.

Read the blog here

Coastal Landcarers


We learnt about:

- Australia’s pioneer serrated tussock weed detection dog, Fonz.

- Okehampton - a 3500-acre conservation, cultural preservation, and sheep farming property. 

- Orford Bird Sanctuary - an internationally recognised haven for shorebirds.

- Wind Song - the recent Peace Forest Project to the Private Forest Reserve gifted to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in February 2019


The trip adventure commenced with a demonstration by Fonz, Australia’s pioneer serrated tussock detection dog, trained to detect the invasive Serrated tussock grass, Orange Hawkweed, and Chilean Needlegrass. Accompanied by handler Mel Kelly, Fonz’s expertise stems from the training and guidance of renowned conservation dog trainer Steve Austin.

Next, the tour ventured to the sprawling 3500-acre expanse of Okehampton, managed for conservation, cultural preservation, and sheep farming by Cape Herbert Pty Ltd. The visit begins with a heartfelt Acknowledgement of Country, honouring the ancestral lands of the Laremairemener and Paytirami people. An 800-meter stroll to the beach unveils ongoing projects, such as vegetation and cultural site protection, and a regenerative grazing initiative.

Subsequently, the journey continued to the Orford Bird Sanctuary, an internationally recognised haven for shorebirds, including the vulnerable Fairy Tern, Hooded Plover, and Red-capped Plover. This coastal oasis safeguards precious avian populations and fosters biodiversity conservation.

The final stop, Wind Song, invited us to walk through the tranquil Peace Forest Project to the Private Forest Reserve gifted to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in 2019. This remarkable reserve captured the attention of botanists from TMAG in 2017, yielding 885 specimens, including 10 previously unidentified species. With botanical artists from Botaniko accompanying TMAG’s botanists on their Expedition of Discovery, Wind Song emerges as a sanctuary of untold natural treasures and profound cultural significance.


Coastal Landcarers Field Trip Hosts

FONZ - at Spring Bay Mill. Detection Dog Fonz is the first dog in Australia to be trained to find the highly invasive perennial grass Serrated tussock (Nassella trichotoma).

This ‘nasty’ grass is considered one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.  It can also be very challenging to identify, especially in amongst native grasslands. Serrated tussock is a significant issue in southern Tasmania, on the east coast, the northern midlands and spreading throughout the state.

Fonz and his owner / handler Mel Kelly were trained by the internationally renowned conservation dog trainer Steve Austin.  Fonz has also been trained to find Orange Hawkweed, another highly invasive Weed Of National Significance (WONS) and Chilean Needlegrass, another ‘nasty’ grass of the Nassella genus.

Mel is an Environmental Consultant with Enviro-Dynamics who specialises in invasive plant management and has a passion for conservation detection dogs. 

Dogs are increasingly being used for a broad range of conservation and biosecurity work all across the world. 




The land at 536 Okehampton Road (Okehampton) is a 3500 acre area managed for conservation.

(including two Conservation Covenants areas under the Nature Conservation Act), as well as cultural values and sites, and as a sheep farm - by the current Tasmanian owners 'Cape Herbert Pty Ltd'. 

At the first bus stop the field visit begins with an Acknowledgment to Country. The area of trayapana and surrounds (including Okehampton), are the traditional lands of Laremairemener and Paytirami people of the Oyster Bay Nations.

This will be followed by 800m walk to the beach for morning tea and will feature some projects occurring here (vegetation and cultural site protection, and a regenerative grazing trail). A return to the bus, and short drive and walk 200m will enable discussion about Eastern Quoll monitoring and Eucalyptus morrisbyi insurance population and research.



The Orford Bird Sanctuary (OBS), nestled north of the Prosser River mouth in Orford, encompasses a sandy coastal section and tidal backwater, once part of the river’s lower reaches. Despite its size, it’s globally recognised as an Important Biodiversity Area (IBA) for shorebirds, housing resident and migratory species like the threatened Fairy Tern, southernmost colony for this species.

The Orford Bird Sanctuary is also home to Vulnerable Hooded Plovers, Red-capped Plovers, and diverse wildlife.

While the OBS is recognised as a ‘sanctuary', this is not yet reflected in the land tenure of the site, part of which is a Public Reserve leased to Council for management, and the remainder is Unallocated Crown Land.



Achieving reservation of the area as a reserve for conservation, and effective conservation management of this small conservation jewel is a large part of the ongoing fight that the Friends of Orford Bird Sanctuary has taken up. The recent endorsement of the Orford Foreshore Master Plan by Council and the Parks and Wildlife Service, which recognises the significance of the OBS and proposes that it be reserved for conservation, is a major step forward, but statutory protection of the area is still likely several years away.



Jane Wing and Gary Whisson from the Friends of Orford Bird Sanctuary (FOBS) will conduct the site visit at the Orford Bird Sanctuary

Jane is a passionate conservationist and has spent over two decades at the forefront of environmental efforts. She not only campaigns for OBS recognition but also established and led the Orford Community Group for many years. Jane’s commitment extends to coordinating on-site management actions and conducting weekly bird surveys within the sanctuary.

Gary Whisson, the Secretary of FOBS, is a seasoned biologist with nearly three decades of experience and played a key role in Western Australia’s conservation efforts with the Environmental Protection Authority. His responsibilities encompassed establishing national parks, crafting biodiversity policies, and offering essential advice on the conservation impacts of developmental proposals. Since moving to Tasmania in 2010, he has remained devoted to conservation, actively participating in FOBS for several years, and sharing his vast expertise. In collaboration with Jane, Gary tirelessly advocates for OBS protection, emphasising its critical role in safeguarding biodiversity for future generations.



Walking lightly on the land - a forty-five-year journey

Jane and Tom Teniswood along with Linton Burgess and Ben Rea will walk you through the recent Peace Forest Project on 'Wind Song' to the Private Forest Reserve, which was gifted to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in February 2019.

In 2017, staff from TMAG spent a week collecting flora and fauna in this reserve. 

Gintaras Kantvilas, manager of the Herbarium, described the land as remarkable. Among the 885 specimens collected, 10 had not been identified or described previously. 12 botanical artists from the group Botaniko accompanied TMAG’s botanists on their inaugural Expedition of Discovery to Wind Song.

Hear from Linton, palawa cultural educator and Ben Rea, outdoor educator on their collaboration with First Nations cultural knowledge holders to engage young people in ecological and cultural regeneration.

Tom has a background in farming, community development and business and was Landcare Coordinator for Glamorgan Spring Bay Municipality from 1996 to 2003. Jane has a background in teaching, counselling, community development and business. Twenty five years ago they established Wind Song Bed & Breakfast on their 220 hectare property.

Read the blog here