During the third week of May, approximately 30 people gathered in and around Corryong to plant trees along the Nariel Creek, to assist in its restoration after the 2019-20 bushfires.
The joint operation included the North-East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA), the Department of Water, Environment, Land and Planning (DWELP), the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), Corryong Angling Club, and the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF). Planting volunteers came from the local area as well as the greater North-East and Melbourne, all coordinated by the ATF.
Andrew Briggs (commonly known as Briggsy) planned the operation to coordinate with significant in-stream stabilisation works on the Nariel, funded out of Bushfire Recovery funds. A total planting of 10,000 trees is planned over the next 12 months, season dependent. Approximately 3,500 of these trees were planted over four days, mostly by an older brigade of planters, although the average age was lowered on the Sunday with participation from some local families and their children.
All the planters were grateful for the two power augers utilised to create planting holes. Big Dave was the standout digger, handling the petrol-driven auger for a number of days. It was difficult to tell which was going to wear out first, Dave or the auger! Brad also supplied an electric auger which certainly accelerated the plant rate over the four days. Big Dave was quoted as saying his wife (ex) had told him that he may not be that bright, but he sure can lift heavy things. To top off a sterling performance, Big Dave won the meat tray in the Corryong Hotel on the Wednesday night. We think he was going home to eat it in one sitting to replace all the energy he used!
Briggsy was a master of coordination and certainly managed to look busy all the time – coming and going, setting up the lunchtime BBQ and sourcing vegetarian sausages for fussy eaters. Some still dispute that Briggsy actually planted a tree, (although photographic evidence hereabouts seems to suggest that he might have!). Mick, Briggsy’s stand-in on the Wednesday, excelled with not only sourcing vegetarian patties to compliment the meat fare and operating the BBQ, but also distributing and planting trees. None of this should be seen as a reflecting poorly on Briggsy, who operated under the delegation model of leadership. We were all glad to follow his lead!
During the Wednesday planting, Choco suggested that since there was three members of the VFFA volunteering, a sign should be erected saying, ‘This planting undertaken by the VFFA.’ Others from the planting team suggested good-naturedly that gratuitous recognition should be discouraged!
Many friends were made, and fun conversations had in the pub at night. One conversation undertook a serious study into what quantity constitutes a ‘sh**load’? It was determined that the crew had planted a sh**load of trees, meaning anything over 3,500 trees constituted a sh**load. It was further agreed that a huge collection of salvageable logs collected in the Nariel Valley also constituted a sh**load, while Neal Bennett confirmed that NZ fishing guides suggest anything over ten fish a day is a sh**load of fish. A red herring introduced into the conversation was that a truckload was more than a sh**load, but this should be discounted due to the fact that it was not possible to load all the aforementioned the logs in the Nariel Valley onto one truck. All agreed a truckload was far more definable than a sh**load, although this was dependent on the size of the truck.
A couple of days of fishing was possible for those interested, with two celebrated anglers heading over to the Gibbo River on the Thursday and catching far more than a sh**load.
The week was not only a great win for the bushfire recovery effort and the environment, but also very enjoyable for all those who participated. Many thanks to Briggsy for his great organisational effort (notwithstanding the above commentary) and for all those who participated as volunteers. We only have 6,500 trees to go, so stay tuned for further invitations to make a difference with the ATF Trees for Trout program.