Fran shares her thoughts on community and volunteering at Kurrawonga, Nelson

Frances Thompson and her partner Rick moved to Nelson from the NSW Hunter Valley where they owned a large bush block and enjoyed birding. Since they moved to our region in 2018, they have become regular volunteers at NGT’s Reserve in Nelson, Kurrawonga. Fran recently had some thoughts about volunteering and the Nelson community that she wanted to share:

Recently, at Nature Glenelg Trust’s (NGT) Kurrawonga Reserve at Nelson, Victoria, a small group gathered to tackle the tough grass, kikuyu, and slow its progress into native vegetation. Sue is a frequent NGT volunteer who lives in Mount Gambier, South Australia. She’s primed for this kind of work being an active south-east SA field naturalist and said she didn’t want to spend her retirement playing golf or croquet. Helen, also from Mount Gambier, is often at NGT’s nursery getting seedlings ready for planting. At Kurrawonga, she loves the birds.

I’m there because I live in Nelson.

Kurrawonga, which is covered by a conservation covenant, was donated by the Moore family in 2018. The reserve is somewhat different from others in the NGT portfolio; Kurrawonga is on the edge of a town and (being bushland) it is not a restoration project, such as the 2018 award-winning Walker Swamp in Victoria, and Mount Burr Swamp in SA.

Nelson has been a place of pleasure and recreation for European settlers dating back to the 1850s. Even among today’s big holiday population are many families who have visited generation after generation. They have strong bonds to the town, the river, the forests and the sea.

The 2016 Census shows that 190 people live permanently in Nelson. About 35% of those had carried out voluntary work in the 12 months before the Census was taken. Nelson’s Litter Ladies are well known and together with Coastcare, help keep roads and beaches as clean as possible. The reasons why Australians volunteer are as many as there are volunteers. In 2010 more than six million adults in Australia worked without pay.

Research by Volunteering Australia (VA) shows volunteering creates connections between people, strengthens communities, improves communication and helps solve problems. A VA 2015 report found volunteering develops political and negotiation skills and can improve community life. It is regarding this latter point that I believe Kurrawonga could play an important role – in regenerating community spirit in Nelson.

The Long Swamp project (where community members helped fill, move, and install more than 7,000 sandbags to create a trial structure to begin the restoration on this site) showed how Nelson residents can pitch in and make a difference. I hope to see more regular volunteers and community members making spending time at Kurrawonga a natural part of life in Nelson.

Volunteers Martin, Helen, and Sue with Nicole (formerly of NGT) relaxing after working on the kikuyu. (photo: Fran Thompson)

We hold regular working bees at Kurrawonga and the next one will be Friday, 18th of June. No prior experience is necessary, and all are welcome.

For more information or to register get in touch via the email address below. We look forward to seeing you there!

Volunteer Coordinator