Mt Burr Swamp – summarising a special community celebration
What a memorable time we had over the second weekend in October!
It kicked off on Friday the 7th of October, with a gathering at Joann Fife’s Chapel Studio on Suttontown Rd in Mount Gambier, for the Cross Border art exhibition. Over 70 people came along to see the works of 21 of our finest regional artists – inspired by wetlands – all in the same place; while listening to a set of live music by Brenton and Sandra Manser from Nelson.
Our guests consisted of a wide range of people from all over the region, including the previous owners of Mt Burr Swamp, Neil and Helen Ellison. During brief presentations about the project and exhibition, I thanked them for their generosity and incredible patience given that our discussions about the property first began back in February 2012! After all, without this critical support, the project could never have succeeded.
Next up was a busy day of on site preparation on Saturday – when the glorious photo at the top of this newsletter of (an even fuller) Mt Burr Swamp was taken by Lachlan Farrington.
One of the many tasks involved in getting ready was carefully moving and rehanging the exhibition artworks to the shearing shed at Mt Burr Swamp, under the watchful eye of artist and exhibition curator Megan Nicolson – who generously coordinated the art exhibition from start to finish. Thanks Megan!
While NGT staff got to enjoy a perfect sunny day on site on Saturday, our luck ran out with the weather unfortunately, and a wild and windy morning greeted our guests for the main event on Sunday the 9th of October.
But 150 people were not to be deterred, coming along to see and experience the special place they had helped us secure (to be restored and permanently protected) for the first time.
Among those people was our volunteer Gordon Page who single-handedly turned what was a regular, dark shearing shed, into a bright room with a spectacular view for all to enjoy. Thanks Gordon!
After the formalities and some introductory talks about wetland ecology, a great BBQ lunch prepared by the Millicent Lions Club ensured everyone was well fed and able to withstand the even more rugged weather that was just about to hit, with heavy showers and 90km/hr wind gusts on the way!
However, just as the weather was turning, NGT’s Nick Whiterod and a couple of intrepid young helpers (Angus and Patrick Langsmith) who weren’t going to let the rain put them off, headed down to the swamp for one last look and were certainly rewarded for their efforts.
In a catch that included frogs, yabbies and a turtle, they also turned up three Little Galaxias. This nationally threatened species has never been recorded in the swamp before and (given the breeding condition of one of the fish caught) is likely to respond quickly and favourably to our initial, highly successful, wetland restoration works.
This means that in addition to a breeding pair of Brolga with young spotted on the property and recent confirmation of a nationally threatened Growling Grass Frog population in the main swamp, the project is off to flying start!
And so after lunch, to the sounds of wild wind and rain on the roof, our very special guest Louise Adams performed in the rustic and intimate setting of the shearing shed; while the audience enjoyed the experience of being surrounded by great live music, beautiful artworks and a stunning view over Mt Burr Swamp.
A fitting end and truly memorable way to close out our campaign for Mt Burr Swamp, with a large number of the people from the community that helped us get the project over the line.
In the almost five years since NGT began, this is the first time we have asked the community to directly invest in our on-ground restoration work and the response has been truly amazing – with almost $93,000 now raised of our $110,000 target.
Despite keeping the Mt Burr donation page active until our funding gap is bridged, we’re going “back to normal” with our regular communications from here. Proactive (campaign style) fundraising is something that we only intend to do over short periods for specific high-priority projects, like Mt Burr Swamp.
But I do hope you now feel energized, as I do, by the fact that this proves we can do fantastic, positive things for our environment, when everyone chips in and we work together as a community.
With sincere thanks for your support,
on behalf of the Committee and Staff of Nature Glenelg Trust