Millicent Field Naturalists Club turns 60!

Volunteers are worth their weight in gold! Hence, when I was invited to speak at the Millicent Field Naturalists Society 60th Birthday celebration I was chuffed, as this group contributes so much, in so many ways.

The celebration commenced out at Millicent’s beautiful Lake McIntyre, with a wander about the fabulous ex-quarry come high value wetland, where many waterbirds were recorded, including Great-crested Grebe, Royal Spoonbills, Musk Duck, Spotted Crake and White-necked herons. The group then retired to the Men’s Shed for a cooked lunch and presentation, including a welcome to country by Uncle Doug Nicholls and congratulations from Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll.

When Rosey asked me to say something about the group, I thought long and hard. What was inspiring for me was that the Millicent Field Nats back in the 1960s were instrumental in pressuring the then Woods and Forest Department to stop clearing and keep some areas of bushland for conservation. At the time large areas of bushland were being converted to pine plantations. The group rallied to stop grazing in Honan Native Forest Reserve (in 1965) which is the most significant flora reserve (for its diversity) in SA (yes, in our backyard). They have been involved in a multitude of other conservation related projects ever since, including Boneseed control at Kay’s Native Forest Reserve, biodiversity corridor plantings, Powerful Owl surveys, and many other important plant and animal observations.

I was humbled by the presence of Neville Bonney, Tony Beck and Geoff Aslin who have been with the group (or their families associated) almost from the beginning and have seen it change over time and – although not necessarily active participants – are still supportive of the philosophy and history created by dedicated volunteers.

I managed to speak in the end but rather than giving the usual powerpoint presentation, we changed the format at the 11th hour to a ‘wandering mike’ where I in a sense MC’ed for the group as the microphone roamed the room to hear from the experienced members about the past, and the things we used to see and do. It was brilliant to hear from everyone and their stories. On a personal note for me, having involvement with Neville Bonney shortly after university (mid 1990s) helped direct my passion for nature, especially in plants, seed collecting and revegetation.

A sobering comment towards the end of the session revolved around the need to engage with the younger generation as the average age was quite high with few new members coming through the ranks. The group goes on some fantastic (free of charge) forays, and, as well as learning about nature you’d be contributing to some important survey work. Please get in touch via the group’s facebook page if you’re interested in joining this fantastic group of dedicated and knowledgeable people.

Sue Black (one of NGT’s hard working volunteers) is cutting the cake with other members of the Millicent Field Naturalists watching on.
Bryan Haywood