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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)

Article

CMA funding programs help farmers vision become reality

Sep 27, 2017
 
Michael Overington Michael Overington
 
Waterway fencing Waterway fencing

When people drive past the Moyston property of Michael Overington it’s not uncommon for people to stop, get out, and take photos of his sheep grazing, his neighbour’s canola paddocks in flower and big skies against the backdrop of the Grampians range.

But when fires tore through the district on January 2, 2015, it was a completely different view. The fire burnt through Michael’s property, which has been in his family since the early 1850s, plus eighty percent of a neighbouring block owned by the Polland family who’ve also been in the district since that time.

Michael lives at Creswick and works full-time travelling across Victoria and NSW. He spends weekends at the farm which he manages with his brother Wal. Since completing a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management at Melbourne University in 1992, he has been working towards his farm plan’s vision of making his property productive while improving the land for future generations.

“I just love being on the farm, we look straight into the eastern side of the Grampians ranges and it’s just one of the most beautiful places on earth. What we’re doing now will have long-term benefits, and I want to get it back to its pristine state while keeping the land productive. This place is very valuable to me and to our family, it means a lot. To be able to have it pristine and hand it down to future generations is very important,” Michael said.

The brothers are striving for the balance between running sheep, introducing cropping and improving soils while fencing off creeks and planting shelterbelts to stop the spread of erosion and salinity. Michael said they were also keen to benefit properties downstream and ultimately the Wimmera River.

“These are bare hills, which have been cleared significantly, and there are a lot of eroded gullies which deposit salt and sediment into Salt Creek at Moyston, which then ends up in the Wimmera River. Whatever we can do here will have a lot more benefits than just how it improves our place.”

After the fire, the Overingtons purchased the neighbouring property from Pat Polland and set about incorporating the extra hectares into this long-term vision.

With the fire burning most of the boundary fences on both properties, and needing to keep sheep in, it was going to be a long time before they could get back to their waterway fencing and tree planting projects. To add to the challenge, the area was experiencing drought conditions, and Michael wasn’t sure where to focus his energy or who to turn to for help.

In early 2016 he got in touch with Project Platypus, who had helped him with erosion control work several years earlier. “I had erosion scales 26 feet deep and after the work we did with Project Platypus, that’s all gone. I could see the impact of improving the gullies and I really wanted to keep some focus on this. They referred me to Wimmera CMA and that’s how I first found out about the funding programs they have available.”

Wimmera CMA helped him develop a rehabilitation plan for two sites which involved 3.5 kilometres of fencing and planting around 4000 trees, shrubs and grasses on a 9.5-hectare project area.

“Without the support of a joint partnership with Wimmera CMA, this project would not have gone ahead. The area was ravaged by fire and with all the external fences lost we had to focus on that first. We could not have attempted this work for a number of years,” Michael said.

The timing coincided with the Wimmera drought employment program, part of the Victorian Government’s Drought Response Package, which meant a work crew was available to help Michael with his fencing.

Wimmera CMA operational delivery manager Luke Austin said Michael’s property was in a high priority area for improving waterways and riparian areas. He said the new areas of trees and shrubs would help create a corridor for birds and wildlife, linking the Grampians National Park.

“Michael has been really enthusiastic and we’ve really enjoyed working with him. It’s been a really great partnership and we have achieved some great results all round, for both Michael and the environment as a whole,” Luke said.

Michael said it was one of the best programs he had been involved with.

“A lot of people ask me if a project like this is worth doing. I can say whole-heartedly, any farmer or landowner that’s got the ability to take up a chance like this, grab it 100 percent. It will improve the environment plus improve your farm as well, I recommend it. The whole process for me has been a joint partnership where everyone is involved. It is also adding value to the property, no doubt about it.”

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