Seeding the Hillridge Site

In South Australia, Land Life is working hard to restore degraded land. One project Land Life is working on with Cassinia Environmental is the Hillridge site. This area sits within the lands of the Bangalrla people, the traditional owners of this part of South Australia. It also sits in a stretch of the Eyre Peninsula with excellent biodiversity linking potential, making it possible for animals to travel from the coast to the magnificent Gawler Ranges and back again.

Migratory routes up and down the country are becoming increasingly important as the weather becomes increasingly extreme and unpredictable. They are essential so species can find refuge areas in the more challenging times of the year and repopulate parts of the land in good times. Nationally threatened birds like the illustrious Malleefowl call this corner of Australia home, and we look forward to this bird’s first sighting once the Hillridge plants start to grow.

The seeding for the Hillridge Site for this year was just recently completed. The site has had 450 hectares of previously cleared paddock seeded back with some 30 species of native trees and shrubs to restore the land to the Mallee forest it once was. Amazingly, the area received some excellent rainfall straight after seeding, meaning the germination rate is expected to be good. The typically Australian method of landscape restoration through direct seeding of the native seed into the ground depends on good rains for success, so the project has already gotten off to a great start thanks to this splatter of hydration.

To celebrate this large tract of previous marginal farmland going back to “native bush,” Bangarla elder Anita Taylor welcomed Land Life’s Jeroen van Veen and Paul Dettmann from Cassinia Environmental an official ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony. Here, the new managers of the land were invited to mix the soils together with Anita so the Bangarla ancestors could also welcome the change of the land. Anita Taylor also had gifts for Paul and Jeroen to give them protection on the land and to make sure the restoration project will be successful. 

The discussions following the ceremony resulted in an agreement involving the reintroduction of various traditional land uses by Bangarla on this site. This added a fantastic yet simple example of reconciliation to the day.

Phil Barron of Cassinia Environmental, who has supervised this seeding project, followed the ceremony with a demonstration of how this reseeding of native bush works to all the local farmers, environmentalists, neighbours and other parties present on the day. He explained that as some seeds from some species were still missing from this year’s seeding, there will be one or two more rounds next year so no areas will miss out on the restoration process and the full set of different trees and shrubs restore the site at the correct ratios. Another 100 hectares will also be added to extend the whole site further.

Land Life and Cassinia Environmental would like to thank Cecilia Woolford, Randall Cliff, Phil Barron, Anita Taylor, Lyle the Tractor Man, our colleagues at Greening Australia and the team at Succession Ecology for all their help and tremendous effort in making this project happen.