Blog: Down The Track monitoring Lake Cargelligo’s big backyard

At Lake Cargelligo in western New South Wales, a local youth group helps with ecological monitoring of the big lake and the islands within it by camping out at least four times each year.

Down The Track Island trip February 2023

The monitoring is run by local biologist and Landcare Coordinator Adam Kerezsy, and local farmer (and chair of the not-for-profit Cargelligo Wetlands and Lakes Council) Peter Skipworth. Adam and Peter always try to get extra experts along to share the fun, and in February 2023 this task fell to Thomas Munro, an ecologist with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Thomas Munro from the Biodiversity Conservation Trust discusses plant identification on Robinson Crusoe Island. Photo credit: Adam Kerezsy

Tom made the long trek across from Dubbo and showed the Trackers how to identify plants using maps, books and identification keys.

With the temperature up over 40 degrees, they then hit the water with a combination of techniques including dragged seine nets and funnel-shaped fyke nets that were set overnight.


Retrieving the overnight fish samples. Photo credit: Adam Kerezsy

Unfortunately, the results were as expected: thousands of carp, from youngsters around 50mm long to monsters up over 500mm. As most people are aware, the recent flooding has resulted in a massive boom in carp numbers. This is in contrast to Down The Track results over the last two years, where carp were only one of six or seven species that were sampled.

Catch of the day. Photo credit: Adam Kerezsy

The camp was as happy as usual, despite the arrival of at least one brown snake and a quick trip to Lake hospital when the treble hook on a lure ended up embedded in an ear. It seems there was no major damage and the unlucky patient returned within an hour or so and resumed fishing.

Hopefully the Lake system will return to normal as the effects of the flooding subside. There’s no doubt that Down The Track will be there to monitor these changes, especially given they are now supported by a wide range of organisations, ranging from Landcare to the University of Canberra and government agencies.

Peter Skipworth helps Jimeal Thorpe with a lifejacket. Photo credit: Adam Kerezsy


Fishy business. Photo credit: Adam Kerezsy




This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.

Community in Action – Landcare responding to Landslides

When the extreme rainfall events on the Northern Rivers in February and March 2022 hit it resulted in widespread landslides and devastating impacts across the Northern Rivers. Numerous landholders had internal roads cut off, fences wiped out, paddocks disfigured, hillsides slumped, and forested areas collapsed. This was beyond the scale experienced within living memory leaving affected people completely shocked and perplexed as to what could be done to address the damage.

With the spotlight through this disaster largely on the flooding impact in high population zones, the devastating impacts of landslips in rural areas was largely missed by the media and fell through the cracks of the recovery grants and services.

This is where Landcare stepped in.

Supported by the Local and Regional Landcare Coordinators, the Border Ranges Richmond Valley Landcare Network (BRRVLN) and Richmond Landcare Inc formed a partnership to mobilise on this issue and within a few weeks had mustered together a suite of experts to speak to landholders affected by landslides at a forum held at the Southern Cross University. Attended by nearly 200 people and with a waiting list, this event identified and amplified the need for further support to this issue.

With a rapid turnaround provision of funding from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation, BRRVLN was able to facilitate 28 site inspections with geotechnical engineers and soil conservationists to help landholders understand the dynamics of the landslips, the ongoing risks and the potential for remediation.

This included a field day demonstration of hydro-mulching to support rapid cover to a landslide affected area to stabilize the slope and reduce the risk of further sheet erosion.

Out of tragedy has come learnings and opportunity for growth. The 2022 Northern Rivers floods has brought attention to a poorly recognized element of unsustainable land management. As importantly, it has highlighted the need for resources and expertise to be made available to landholders to better understand landslip risk, adapt land use towards prevention and know where to turn for advice when landslips occur.

Further collaborations and opportunities between all Landcare networks across the Northern Rivers are underway to expand the Landcare response to this need.

This activity was supported by the NSW Landcare Program (2019-2023). This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.

Blog: Healing Country & Community with Good Fire Practices in the Upper Shoalhaven

Mosaic Burning

Supported by the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Local Landcare Coordinator (LLC), Erin Brinkley, this project was born from the Black Summer Bushfires which burnt over 250,000ha in the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare region. The fires caused significant biodiversity loss, removal of critical habitat, extreme soil erosion and reduced water quality. In addition, there was a major physical, mental and emotional toll on the community, with people fighting the blaze on all sides and businesses crippled by necessary road closures during the prolonged hazardous conditions.

The ‘Healing Country & Community with Good Fire Practices’ project aimed to deliver an educational experience that increased local knowledge and leadership in fire management practices specific to the region with over 80 participants taking part in the workshops.

With funding from the NSW Government’s Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Community Grants Program, Upper Shoalhaven Landcare ran a series of cultural engagement workshops in Broad Gully, Mongarlowe.

Under the guiding eye of an Aboriginal woman, their first workshop focused on training local Rural Fire Service (RFS) in flora identification, surveying methods, and understanding the best times to burn based on species’ cycles.

The second workshop was a two-day practical demonstration of cultural burning in action. The demonstration involved members of Landcare, Mongarlowe Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade, and local landholders who saw cultural burning in action with 10ha burnt and had the opportunity to listen and learn from a team of Walbunja Fire Practitioners.

By bringing together local RFS brigades, botanists, landholders, Landcare and Aboriginal groups, Upper Shoalhaven facilitated vital knowledge sharing and demonstrated how good fire practices can be used as a tool to reduce fuel loads and help mitigate the impacts of our changing climate. The workshops proved burning can be conducted in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere and improved community confidence in using fire as a tool, at the right time, to manage the land and reduce bushfire risk more broadly.

In addition, participants learnt that by adopting these cool burning techniques they can improve landscape health and reap huge biodiversity benefits in the process. Growing in understanding that cool-burning enhances the natural environment, but is also extremely beneficial for the community, giving people a chance to come together and do something positive post-bushfires.

A healthy landscape lends itself to a healthy community, and the locals involved in the project came away with a positive sense that, together, we can help address the impacts of climate change and extreme bushfires in our region.

This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.

Future change makers found in Western Landcare with schools programme

On the Western Rangelands the next generation have been busy engaging with the change maker that is Landcare and communities and environments are flourishing due to it.
Focusing on growing knowledge about environmental sustainability, healthy environments, the human impact on the environment and more, the community is helping guide the next generation to a diversity of view and options that help empower young people to make a change.

Landcare and community groups have been investing in school-based programs to ensure that young people are invited to have conversations about how to build a more sustainable world and in a way that’s accessible and understandable.

“Introducing activities such as gardens to schools and communities can help tackle several problems potentially faced in rural towns. School and community gardens in rural towns play an important role in addressing a multitude of issues, including food security, nutrition, education, sense of ownership, community, and the protection of our soils as a valuable natural resource,” says Western Landcare Executive Officer Louise Turner.

“School and community gardens have helped to bring people with like-minded interests together. Early education helps to provide context for understanding seasonality and life cycles while giving people the opportunity to work cooperatively on real tasks.

“Many schools have expressed interest in using gardening activities to incorporate other learning opportunities such as cultural diversity, Aboriginal uses, sustainability issues, plant identification, creating worm farms, habitats of native fauna, and history into their education programs.

“Integrated education into the ethos of Landcare provides students with tools to educate pupils about environmental issues and articulate their vision for a sustainable future. They then go home and start the discussion and understanding of environmental issues with their support network and families and that can only be a good thing,” Louise said.


The 2022 NSW Landcare and Local Land Services Conference was held on Thursday 17th March and for the first time it was an entirely online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing three-day program was condensed into a single day of inspiring, informative and innovative presentations and discussions attended by over 250 attendees from across the state.

“Despite the challenges we have faced in the lead up to this conference, we were able to all come together. If we have learnt one thing in the last two years, it has been resilience and adaptability,” Landcare NSW Chair Ms Stephanie Cameron said.

Landcare NSW Chair Stephanie Cameron opened the conference.

“Landcare is needed now more than ever. It was so inspiring to see Landcarers from flood affected areas online and sharing their knowledge. Our thoughts and well wishes go out to those who have been and are still being impacted by the devastating floods.”

Hosted by War on Waste’s Craig Reucassal, the event was engaging from the very beginning with an incredible keynote address from Dr Chadden Hunter, producer of the wildlife series Planet Earth.

The day featured concurrent sessions around the theme of the conference: Rethink – Engaging Community; Recharge – Regenerative Agriculture/Land Management; Renew – Biodiversity/Regeneration.

The conference concluded with Landcare NSW CEO Turlough Guerin and NSW Landcare Program Assistant Manager Deb Tkachenko asking the big questions of the over 250 delegates online with their interactive presentation, ‘Rethinking Landcare – Ask the big questions and get answers’.

Landcare NSW CEO Turlough Guerin asking the big questions!

“Thank you to everyone who presented at the conference and shared their knowledge, learnings and insights,” said Ms Cameron.

The conference was followed by a free, online awards ceremony for the prestigious 2021 NSW Landcare Awards where the winners for each of the eight Landcare Award categories were announced.

Acting Local Land Services Board Chair, Allison Harker said, “The quality of the nominations from all across the state were outstanding and after an extensive judging process we have been able to pick our finalists and ultimately the Grand Champions for the eight award categories.”

“The nominees should be proud of their achievements, particularly in the wake of cumulative natural disasters and tough seasonal conditions.

“These nominees have shown tremendous resilience in the face of adversity and these awards are an excellent opportunity for us to say thank you to them and the wider Landcare community,” said Ms Harker.

For a full list of finalists and award winners for the 2021 NSW Landcare awards visit,

Grand champions of the NSW National Award categories will now go on to represent the whole NSW Landcare Community at the 2022 National Landcare Awards in Sydney.


Coordinators from across NSW have been busy taking up the Professional Development component of the NSW Landcare Program to better support the Landcare communities and groups they work with.

The bursary allows coordinators to access funds for courses and training opportunities to upskill in their role and is available to all coordinators employed by the NSW Landcare Program.

Based in the Central Tablelands, Watershed Local Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes said the bursary allowed her to explore something more substantial to improve her leadership skills to help support her committee and build skills for the future.

“The professional development bursary has enabled me to take a different approach than the usual courses. I didn’t feel a short course or technical course was the best use of the opportunity. After doing some research, I settled on the Advanced Leadership Program, delivered by Women & Leadership Australia – a 12-month development program for senior and executive leaders.

“With 32 Australian and New Zealand participants from a broad cross section of industries, the program is delivered online with a series of group discussion webinars, virtual workshops, executive coaching and ‘leader as coach’ sessions with a partner, as well as an adaptive leadership challenge.

“While the bursary only covered a portion of the cost, this course and the opportunity it has provided has already helped me tackle different issues and challenges that I am working through in my role. I now have a set of new strategies and a different approach and perspective,” Claudia said.

In the North Coast Region, Border Ranges Richmond Valley Landcare (BRRVL) Local Landcare Coordinator Emma Stone said her professional development opportunity came in the form of recognised qualifications in working safely at heights, safe methods of ladder use and other equipment, awareness of legislation and the policies and procedures to ensure work at heights is undertaken in a safe manner.

“Qualifications such as these ensure that my involvement in providing nest boxes for arboreal dwelling species are conducted in a safe manner in line with current legislation. We have so many of these projects and the opportunity to understand and learn what we can and can’t do is essential.”

“Whilst my training was comprehensive and excellent, the course content was largely tailored towards working at heights in the construction industry as opposed to the context of a natural environment. The bursary also provided me with a day’s mentoring / training event in Bowraville with Nambucca Valley Local Landcare Coordinator Logan Zingus where Logan shared his experience in designing and implementing instream erosion management and structural works.

“Cross collaboration and peer-to-peer training between Landcare groups and volunteers is so important. It builds skills and a supportive network to help deliver projects across a broad geographical area.  And, further strengthens capacity and confidence for staff and volunteers,” Emma said

Emma also took part in Mental Health First Aid Training with Landcare NSW’s partner Gotcha4Life in order to better support her community in these uncertain times

Regional Community of Practice Coordinator, Melanie Tyas, says she strongly encourages Coordinators to utilise the opportunity to provide stronger support for the communities and networks the coordinators support.

“We have a fantastic array of opportunities and connections, and this bursary allows our Landcare community to build their professional profile for now and into the future,” Melanie said.

To find out more contact

Cultural immersion for Greater Sydney Landcare – Learning about the history and traditions of our First Nations peoples

Recently, the Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Coordinator used a “Working Together” small grant to fund a cultural immersion day, facilitated by Den Barber from Yarrabin Cultural Connections.

Held in the lower Hunter Valley, the day included visiting and interpreting several Aboriginal sites, a smoking ceremony and a dance performance.

It was a popular and successful event, said Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Coordinator, Madeline Florin with 29 people attending with a waiting list.

“There was plenty of discussion that was both informative and, at times, challenging. All who participated found it valuable with about half the participants taking something away that they could use with their own Landcare group.

“A moment of communal comprehension and understanding was when our group was unexpectedly denied entry to a site we had planned to visit. This was confronting and provided a moment of reflection on the fact that many Aboriginal people are not able to access their Country.

“This opportunity was great in that our Landcarers across Greater Sydney are working with varying degrees of knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal culture, history and land management techniques and there is a need and thirst amongst the Landcare and Bushcare communities to learn and better understand Aboriginal culture. This will promote more respectful and culturally sensitive engagement from the Landcare and Bushcare community.

Madeleine said each participant learnt a great deal and the day’s impact was personal with different reflections from different participants.

“It made everyone think more deeply about the day and we can all take something unique away from it. The co-presenters of Den and Aboriginal Landcare Coordinator from the Cooks River Alliance, Ciaron Dunn, helped give different perspectives, knowledge and views.

This day was just the beginning of a learning journey and many participants reported that they will go away and continue learning.

The “Working Together” Aboriginal Communities Engagement Program is an initiative made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration of Local Land Services NSW and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.

Caring for our Cultural Heritage

Hunter Regional Landcare Workshop 2021

Information courtesy of Hunter Region Landcare

In 2021, Hunter Region Landcare began working collaboratively on a number of cultural projects and programs to help them better understand Aboriginal culture in the Hunter region past and present, and to see how they could incorporate this knowledge into their everyday Landcare operations.

By hosting workshops and field days, they found that it would provide them with practical knowledge and skills about places and artefacts of significance that may be find on Landcare sites or farm property. Topics such as how to recognise artefacts such as stone tools by participating in a stone napping activity; what to do if we do find an artefact such as a scar tree, stone tools, middens, etc; the legislation around places and objects of cultural significance were covered with all participants helping grow local knowledge about the significance.

“It was important for us to share, learn, and understand our Aboriginal cultural heritage within the Landcare community, and these workshop provided a way to get started. We had 30 participants in our first workshop field day.”

“Landcarers and farmers that we work with share a genuine interest and passion in caring for our land, rivers, sea and sky, caring for country, so already we have a shared bond with our local Aboriginal community,” says HRLN representative.

The workshop is funded under the “Working Together” Program which aims to increase opportunities to consciously develop stronger connections and partnerships between Landcare groups and Aboriginal Communities.

The “Working Together” Aboriginal Communities Engagement Program is an initiative made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration of Local Land Services NSW and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.

This story was originally published as a report via the NSW Landcare Program Website – NSW Landcare Gateway. To view click here

Working together the key to the future of Landcare

From the northern rainforests of Gumbaynggirr Country to the open plains and rocky ranges of the Wiljali, stretching across the largest Country in NSW, the Wiradjuri, and up to the alpine landscapes of the Maneroo, the original Landcarers have been working with Country and on country for millennia.

Across NSW, traditional and new Landcarers have been coming together to celebrate, heal and work on local landscapes through funding from the NSW Landcare Program’s Working Together Program.

In the Upper Snowy Landcare region and Maneroo Country, the local Landcare community have been busy building stronger connections with the local Aboriginal community networks.

“We recently held a two-day on-country theory and show and tell workshop which helped bring adults and children together and aimed to develop an understanding of Maneroo country, its people, practices, perspectives, special sites and artefacts,” said Upper Snowy Landcare Network Local Landcare Coordinator, Lauren Van Dyke.

Upper Snowy Landcare Network workshop

“The Upper Snowy Landcare Network recently commenced a lease on a significant part of the Gegezerick Travelling Stock Reserve – a grassy woodland overlooking the Monaro Plains and the little village of Berridale. While we were aware of the Aboriginal significance of this place (with anecdotal stories) we were informed during this workshop of its purpose as a traditional training ground.”

“Led by Aboriginal cultural heritage expert’s Aboriginal elders, Glen Morris, Chris (Snappy) Griffiths and Graham Moore, the knowledge that the Gegegedzerick Hill being a training ground for young indigenous people was welcome news indeed. Especially as on the second day we had more than 40 school children join in from the Trakz Program – an established program consisting of activities and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Cooma to learn about cultural beliefs and practices on Country.

“The event helped us all begin to understand the land from an Aboriginal perspective and the key information gathered will assist in the future management of the Landcare site. Opportunities to build and strengthen the connection with local people and the local landscape is at the core of what ‘Landcare’ is”, Lauren said.

Upper Snowy Region ‘Working Together’ Workshop

Up in Gumbaynggirr country, North Coast Regional Landcare Network held a three-day event that included developing and exploring cultural knowledge within the region, and ways to move forward in line with the work Traditional Custodians have been undertaking for generations.

North Coast Regional Landcare Coordinator Josh Keating said the event and outcomes were a chance to identify opportunities to initiate and strengthen ties between the local Landcare community and Aboriginal groups and organisations.

North Coast Regional Landcare Network RCoP participants viewing coastal fish traps

“Our event was part of our annual Regional Gathering and we weaved together the theme of Working Together: past, present future throughout the event. It was a opportunity to focus on what work has been done in the past between Landcare groups and Aboriginal communities, what is currently being jointly delivered and what we would like to do in the future.

“It was great to see that there is a common goal by participants across the region to embrace the opportunity to learn how we can better work with Aboriginal communities in our local areas. Additionally, at a regional scale, to learn about people’s connection to their country and take those learnings away and inform how we can work with local Aboriginal groups in our area.

“The North Coast Region follows Landcare NSW’s recognition that Aboriginal communities are the original Landcarers and we are all focused on caring for the land, environment and communities in our region and building a sustainable approach to the future.

“One of our strongest outcomes was the acknowledgement that our work will be strengthened with an application for funding put forward for a Regional Aboriginal Engagement Officer who will help local networks and groups connect with relevant groups, organisations or Traditional Owners.

“Both communities have a great opportunity to engage with one another and share one another’s knowledge and experience for mutual learning. The things that Landcare can offer to Aboriginal communities include capacity building and increasing knowledge of technical skills regarding environmental management. Whereas Aboriginal groups can provide cultural knowledge and locally specific information that helps Landcarers understand how they can better manage their land. This will strengthen all our works in supporting our local environment and communities.

“This is one of the most valuable things about community connection; it is about getting people together to connect and seeing how we can evolve from there,” Josh said.

NSW Landcare Program Community Aboriginal Engagement Officer, Craig Aspinall, said the 2021 theme of ‘Healing Country’ and the wider theme of seeking greater protections for our lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from harm, highlights how Landcare and Aboriginal community organisations have a joint purpose and can grow together to care for country and the communities that live on the land and waters.

“Across the state NSW Landcare groups and community organisations have been working with Aboriginal community organisations with the shared objective to build knowledge and understanding and work for the betterment of our environment. The Working Together Program is just one way Landcare NSW is supporting and connecting with traditional landholders.

“Continuing to grow together through cultural and environmental understanding will ensure that future generations will have the knowledge and understanding of the connection between the health of our environment and our communities and how it is all intertwined,” Craig said.


This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program.
A collaboration between the Local Land Services and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.