A farm that was once owned by the father of permaculture, Bill Mollison, will join a growing movement which is setting aside land for a permanent safe koala corridor from northern New South Wales to the Queensland border.
- The current owner of Mr Mollison’s farm will plant more than 4,000 trees on 10-hectares of the property
- Bangalow Koalas have planted nearly 54,000 trees since February last year for wildlife corridors
- Its president says many farmers are approaching the group directly to plant out on their property
Last year, Bangalow Koalas president Linda Sparrow met with the current owner of Mr Mollison’s farm, retired vet John Quayle, to team up in coming months to plant more than 4,000 trees on the 67-hectare property near Tyalgum, at the base of The Pinnacle.
“I think we live in God’s heaven out here,” Mr Quayle said.
Since last summer’s devastating bushfires, Ms Sparrow said there was a surge in farmers wanting to create wildlife corridors on their land.
Experts estimate at least 30,000 koalas across Australia died in the fires.
“It’s actually the farmers that are coming to us,” Ms Sparrow said.
“We’re getting more and more farmers that want to plant out on their property.
From February to September last year, Bangalow Koalas planted nearly 54,000 trees.
The group successfully applied for a federal government bushfire recovery grant covering the planned 10ha koala zone on Mr Quayle’s property, and more on a neighbouring property.
The group has now planted trees in every shire in northern NSW.
“As a result our corridor is going from Byron Bay and surrounds … out towards Tenterfield, Grafton, and up to the Queensland border,” Ms Sparrow said.
“Most of our time is taken up with people who have already contacted us, and when there’s a lull then we go out and chase up other people.”
From logging to wildlife haven
The planting project is yet another reincarnation for Mr Quayle’s farm, now named Mariefields Organic Farm.
The land was largely logged in the 1900s for native cedar and turpentine trees before becoming a dairy farm.
In the late 1980s Mr Mollison bought the property, then called Tagari Farm.
He implemented his then-trailblazing methods, creating a sustainable forest farm that had minimal impact on the environment.
Mr Mollison’s key concept, permaculture, is based on finding creative solutions to live a more sustainable life by growing local organic food, reducing energy consumption, recycling waste, and creating habitat for other life around us.
Bitter legal battles ensued, Mr Mollison returned to Tasmania, and the property was closed for 20 years.
After Mr Mollison’s death in 2016, Mr Quayle decided to buy the farm and rebuild the permaculture legacy.
“It’s all operational now. It took a long time,” he said.
As a result the farm ecosytem is “unbelievable”, Mr Quayle said.
They often see dingos wander through from the national park.
“A lot of people don’t like the dingoes, but as far as I’m concerned they are part of the natural ecosystem,” Mr Quayle said.
There are black cockatoos, echidnas, and elusive platypuses in the farm creek.
Mr Quayle is adamant the conservation measures on the property will continue.
“As long as I’m alive. The property’s in a family trust, so hopefully they will continue on,” he said.