The country’s most dedicated and passionate landcarers have been recognised tonight in front of more than 2,400 people at a virtual National Landcare Awards. 

Key points:

  • COVID-19 forces the National Landcare Awards and conference online
  • A dorper sheep stud in NSW is recognised with a Landcare Farming Award
  • A Victorian grazier wins the $50,000 Bob Hawke Landcare Award

The biennial awards, hosted by ABC TV presenter and Landcare champion Costa Georgiadis, were due to be held in Sydney last November, but COVID-19 forced the event to 2021 and eventually online along with the two-day National Landcare Conference.  

Landcare Australia’s CEO, Dr Shane Norrish, said it was an honour to recognise the great work carried out by the Landcare champions.

“This past year has been incredibly challenging for the Landcare community who continue to exhibit extraordinary stoicism in the face of adversity,” he said.

This year’s Landcare champions were selected from 69 finalists in nine categories, with another six nominees up for the inaugural General Jeffery Soil Health Award – in honour of Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, the late Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery – and the Bob Hawke Landcare Award which lists Colin Seis and Charlie Arnott among its alumni. 

‘Outstanding results’

Lynette Abbott in her soils lab.

The inaugural General Jeffery Soil Health Award has been presented to Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott from the University of Western Australia. (

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A soils expert from the University of Western Australia, Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott received the General Jeffery Soil Health Award, and Victorian grazier Andrew Stewart won the Bob Hawke Landcare Award – and $50,000 – for his work increasing woody vegetation and planting 50,000 trees and shrubs on his farm in the foothills of the Otway Ranges.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud praised Mr Stewart for delivering outstanding results on his grazing and agroforestry property.

“His commitment to delivering the Yan Yan Gurt Creek Catchment community revegetation program, which has restored nearly 18km of creek frontage and formed a wildlife corridor to connect several farms across the district, has been impressive,” he said.

“This is in addition to his work bringing more than 5,000 people to his farm to show what is possible and educate them about sustainable land management practices.”

Innovation in agriculture

man stands in paddock

Michael Nichols from Redbank Farm in Tasmania has received the Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award at the 2021 National Landcare Awards.(

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Western Australia’s Basil Schur was named the Individual Landcarer of the Year, and mixed crop and vegetable farmer Michael Nicols from Sisters Creek in Tasmania was recognised with Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award. 

Landcare Tasmania’s acting CEO Peter Stronach said the Nichol’s Redbank Farm was a successful example of linking biodiversity and innovation in the farming sector. 

Farming champion

Justin Kirkby standing in a paddock holding a plant and roots.

Justin Kirkby and his wife Lorroi of Amarula Dorpers have been recognised with the 2021 National Landcare Farming Award.(

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This year’s Landcare Farming Champion is Amarula Dorpers, a sheep stud run by Justin and Lorroi Kirkby at Gravesend near Moree in northern NSW. 

Since buying the farm 16 years ago, the couple has revegetated the degraded property of rundown cropping blocks – with scarce ground cover and poor nutritional grasses — to revitalise the land to 100 per cent biodiverse grasslands. 

Justin Kirkby said while regenerative farming was now becoming common practice, early on, their changing methods raised a few eyebrows. 

“We’ve been doing what we’re doing on our farm for quite some time with no intent other than just changing things, but quite a few people were looking over the fence early in the part and thinking we were mad,” he said. 

“We did what’s technically called deep inversion tillage, which is otherwise deep ripping, and that was trying to break up the hardpan and the scalded patches in the farm cultivation paddocks.

“Then we subdivided a lot, 2,200 acres, and I think there would have been about 10 paddocks on the place, and we’ve now got 46, and we’re continuing to cut it into smaller paddocks, and that allows us to manage our grazing and ground cover.

With 20 per cent of the property now revegetated with native trees specific to the region, the farm’s carbon footprint has decreased.

Work by Indigenous groups recognised

A Dhimurru Ranger with turtles on a beach.

The Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation from the Northern Territory has won the Coastcare Award at the 2021 National Landcare Awards.(

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The Wunambaal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation’s work on Wunambaal Gaambera country — which covers 2.5 million hectares of key cultural and ecological land in Western Australia’s Kimberley — secured it the Indigenous Land Management Award.

The Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in the Northern Territory was recognised with the Coastcare Award for its work protecting marine wildlife — including turtles and sea birds —  from plastic debris.

Newham Public School in Victoria won the Junior Landcare Team Award, and Dhani Gilbert from the ACT received the Young Landcare Leadership Award. 

‘Shifted conversations’

Dhani Gilbert leans on a fence post on a farm.

Dhani Gilbert from the ACT is the recipient of the 2021 Young Landcare Leadership Award.(

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Ms Gilbert, a Kalari Wiradjuri woman, has been involved with the fundamentals of Landcare since a young age. 

Ms Gilbert said that the 2019–2020 bushfires changed how we look at First Nations’ ways of caring for country.

“They shifted some of those conversations we have towards or how can we integrate these methods of looking after the landscape to protect country in the best possible way,” she said. 

“I think conversations around that are starting to happen more and more frequently, which I think is something that’s really worthwhile.”

The Red Hill Bush Regenerators in the ACT picked up the Landcare Community Group Award, and Floating Landcare from NSW was recognised for its work restoring weedy hotspots in national parks and other public land in the Hawkesbury estuary, Pittwater and Central Coast waterways with the Partnerships for Landcare Award.

National Landcare winners recognised for their passion, environmental excellence
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