Community spirit worth its weight in gold

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Community members braved the weekend’s wet weather to plant one thousand native shrubs and trees to celebrate the official opening of the Golden Whistler Reserve.

Named after the native bush bird regularly found in the area, the Golden Whistler Reserve is located between Drouin’s McGlone Road and the Princes Highway and is the location of the latest of several successful collaborations between Baw Baw Shire Council and the Friends of Drouin’s Trees.

The location of the reserve has played a key part in its rehabilitation, and the ongoing work undertaken by the local community group.

After identifying a grant for environmental projects on properties adjacent to Department of Transport owned land, Council’s Natural Environment Team approached the Friends of Drouin’s Trees, encouraging them to apply for the grant, and supporting them through the application process and delivery of the project.

Two years and countless hours later, the local volunteer group has worked hard to transform the reserve, which culminated in Saturday’s official opening and community planting day.

Coordinator of Friends of Drouin’s Trees, Judy Farmer, was thrilled to celebrate the group’s hard work, dedication, and partnership with Council. “It would be true to say we have had some challenges along the way, but the outcome today is marvellous and testament to collaboration and working together,” she said.

The one thousand native shrubs and trees planted by community members, volunteers, and Council staff will improve the natural habitat for the plant and animal life found in the reserve, which includes Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Ring Tailed Possums and Krefft’s Gliders, to name a few.

To date, the Friends of Drouin’s Trees have used the $24,626 grant to remove weeds, plant two thousand seedlings appropriate to the region, design and install four interpretive signs and bench seats, install, and monitor twelve thermal haven nest boxes, complete bi-annual bird surveys, protect fragile orchid species and host the official opening event.

Although it has been the past two years that the group has spent working on the reserve, the initial vision for what it could one day become, came well before that.

In 2004, Green Corps Project Manager, Jeff Marriott, identified the site as the perfect location for young trainees to work and learn in. The team spent five days working to complete a walking path through the reserve that allowed visitors to meander through a wildlife experience on the edge of town, sowing the seeds for a project that would one day grow into something much bigger.

Nearly 20 years on, Jeff and members of his team were on hand to help celebrate the project and see their vision coming to life.

“I encourage you all to visit the reserve, learn about the flora and fauna of the place and enjoy the efforts and dedication of the people who have graciously volunteered their time here over many years,” said Deputy Mayor, Michael Leaney, following the official opening.

“We are proud to continue our ongoing partnership with the Friends of Drouin’s Trees, who have given so much to protect our environment and educate our community. They are a shining example of what we can achieve when Council and community work together,” added Mayor, Annemarie McCabe.

“I encourage all community groups to get involved with our grant programs, which are there to help fund the vital work groups like the Friends of Drouin’s Trees and many others do in our communities.”

The name ‘Golden Whistler Reserve’ was submitted to Council’s Place Names Advisory Committee by The Friends of Drouin’s Trees and unanimously endorsed by Council in October 2022.

How to get involved with the Friends of Drouin’s Trees

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