The Hovells Creek Landcare Group (HCLG) was formed in 1995 mid way through the Decade of Landcare, established and strongly supported financially by the Hawke Federal Government. The group was initiated when the secretary of the Graham Bushfire Brigade, Mrs Sam Dobner, posted a survey to all her neighbours seeking interest in establishment of a local group. The survey indicated shared concerns for the local landscape, the environment generally and interest in receiving assistance for on-farm rehabilitation work. At that time funding support for projects was only available through a Landcare Group. Founding member, Mrs Muriel Abraham (Gidgall) recalls seeking support to address badly washed erosion along Maryamma Creek. When asked which Landcare group she belonged she replied, “Maryamma Creek Landcare Group”. “And how many members are in your group Mrs Abraham?” Muriel replied, “Just one – me!”, “We’re sorry Mrs Abraham but no support is available for your case”. The reason to form a group was apparent and the first meeting was held at ‘Jerringomar’ on 12 October 1995. The Group soon acquired local networking and social roles as members gathered for the bi-monthly meetings and seasonal on-farm tree planting.

An early member, Mrs Judy Refshauge, an experienced horticulturalist, played a key role in teaching other members to identify and collect local seeds, propagating endemic trees and shrubs and guiding initial plantings. Muriel Abraham was relentless in her efforts to support Judy and they proved to be a relentless team in identifying appropriate and rare native species worthy of propagating and planting across the group’s area. For 10 years Judy, until her retirement, would collect and grow seedlings at the nursery she established at Grasmere, providing them free of charge to the local members. Through Judy’s efforts, thousands of plants were distributed to the area. Initially, little knowledge was available on the suitability of the wide range of shrub species to the area and much trial and error was undertaken. The collective experience with the range of suitable trees and shrubs, how, when and where to establish species continues to grow.

The shared experiences, and differing background of members have been valuable contribution to Group discussion on the broad range of Landcare issues from the importance of a deep rip or a double rip for site preparation, weed control, species site preferences, erosion control techniques, alternative phosphate fertilisers for our low P granite soils, rotation or continuous grazing and management of the endemic parasitic mistletoe in our environment. Some members are ‘retired’ and live on small 40 hectare, or medium size, 500 hectare blocks. Other members are second or third generation full time farmers managing in excess of 2,000 hectares. The strength of the Group has been bolstered by generational change and the arrival newcomers to the area, some with professional qualifications in agriculture, engineering or land management and bring new experience and project management skills with them.

Since establishment, the Group has relied mainly on its volunteer membership to organise field days, guest speakers and workshops, to apply, manage and report on landcare project funding and to host the annual Christmas function for members, neighbours and friends.

However, the operational environment for the group is changing and it now acts as a professional body to organise field trips, on-farm workshops and field days, as well as managing funding support for important environmental projects. Some regional activities are organised in association with our, Boorowa, Crookwell or Cowra based Landcare associates. Landcare project funding bodies have become more demanding in their project application and reporting processes and consequently the Landcare Group has upgraded its operating systems to be more publically accountable for its use of public or private sponsorship funding. The Landcare support network has also changed with reduction, new structures and new roles for government research and advisory services, and the appointment of regionally based, part-time (one day per week) Landcare Support Officers.

From humble beginnings, almost 20 years ago, the Hovells Creek Landcare Group Inc. has grown into an important self-help, local area, support body of some 100 current farm family members. Five of the original farm families remain members, albeit with some generational change in their roles. The diverse and changing nature of the Group’s activities, including management of regional environmental, in addition to on-farm, projects is reflected in the associated past and current project listings on this website.