A few hundred Melburnians bus into the desert…
No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. It’s the truth. This annual migration has occurred every year for the past two decades. ‘City slickers’ are bussed en masse to Victoria’s Wimmera country where, tools in hand, they plant trees and enjoy the country air. Through the leadership of the Hindmarsh Landcare Network, volunteers have reconnected the Big and Little Deserts in a landscape ravaged by historic land clearing.
By restoring roadside vegetation and creating habitat corridors – or Biolinks – these Community Conservationists have given Victoria’s Wimmera fauna the means of traversing the landscape once again. Having achieved this goal early on in the project, they decided to move off-road and begin restoring areas on private land. Here, they are creating ‘islands’ of habitat to act as refuges for wildlife amongst a sea of agriculture.
But as board member, Darryl Argall, will tell you, this project is about more than putting trees in the ground. In addition to the connections being formed across the landscape, this annual planting weekend allows people from the city to connect with people from the country. When hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds come together in a shared spirit of collaboration and conservation, lessons are learned, friendships are made, and we are reminded what it really means to be a community.