NGT’s Long Point Reserve near Dunkeld: A place of picnics & preservation

Last Saturday, a group of very enthusiastic volunteers gathered at NGT’s Long Point Reserve, Dunkeld, to help both Nature Glenelg Trust (NGT) and the Friends Of The Forgotten Woodlands (FOFW) recreate a masterpiece. 

Long Point lies north-east of Dunkeld and is named after the peninsula of land that the Wannon River winds right around. It has magnificent views of Mt Abrupt, and was a popular picnic spot for the local community in the early days of European colonisation.

Mt Abrupt, The Grampians – an oil painting by Nicholas Chevalier, c. 1864. Hamilton Gallery.

The FOFW is a volunteer group that is working to recreate the woodland communities that were once a keystone in the ecology of the volcanic plains. These communities were based on three main species – banksia (known as honeysuckle on old parish plans and survey maps), bursaria (known as box on the old maps) and sheoak. The group identifies and records remnant populations of these species and seedlings are propagated from these ancient plants to replant back into the landscape. 

They are also planting seed here from specimens collected from northern parts of Victoria, to study the success of their establishment, and their ability to establish and/or thrive in changing warmer climatic conditions. In time, seed from these new plants will be collected and made available to local nurseries, enabling these plants to be re-established in greater numbers throughout this landscape – on farms and other privately owned sites. 

These three species feature in many early artworks, such as the oil painting by Nicholas Chevalier shown above, and the really special part of this planting day was the opportunity to help recreate this painting – by planting the trees back in the same position they were in 1864. It was a wonderful feeling to find the exact spot where the artist had sat to paint.

Our day started in constant drizzle and we couldn’t even see the mountains for thick fog. But as we stretched our muscles in yoga poses (the Nesting Brolga and Twitcher’s View) invented specially for the days’ work ahead, the moisture cleared and we had a great day.

Twitcher’s View – A nice fun way to loosen up before planting!

Bill Weatherly (FOFW) ably demonstrated planting a tree, as some of us hadn’t done that before. And Tom Sheehan (NGT) discussed the best ways to set up the roo guards. By the end of the day, we were all fantastic at it!

The roo guard demo with Tom

All trees and shrubs planted have had their location recorded by GPS units, and we will revisit the site next year to replace any as needed, fix guards, and do some weed control.

This event was the first in what will become a long-term, ongoing activity – working with people keen to help NGT re-establish native flora on sites across the Southern Grampians landscape.

Very few people in this group knew each other beforehand, but by the end of the day that had definitely changed. And that is what we hope will happen, that people from all walks of life, and all corners of the world (maybe getting a little bit ambitious here!!) come together to help create and conserve masterpieces all over this part of the country.

The group reflect on a great day out

If you are interested in hearing more and perhaps participating in other similar events in the Dunkeld area, please get in touch with me here or copy the email address below. 

We are roughly planning to hold monthly events at NGT Reserves in the southern Grampians area, with the next one to take place in mid-November at Walker Swamp. It won’t all be planting days on the schedule either; we are hoping to erect fences, remove old fences, conduct weed control, perform some basic maintenance, hear from ecologists, and undertake flora & fauna surveys, just to start with!

If you’d like to hear more about the plans, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Lisa McIntyre