We Found the Ripper and Mounder – Waiting…… 

Sometimes I feel as if the song “doing it again” should be our mantra. Here we are three years later  heading out of the farm gate on our way to picking up the same Forestry Products Commission mounder from one of their properties in Moodiarup. With the goddess Jezabelle in the back of truck on the sleep bed we headed out from Bellalee hoping to be able to load it onto the truck. The farm it was located in was some distance from Bellalee thus we did not have any friends nearby that we could call on to assist us.


However the good old fashioned farm network where one person know another who knows another led us to Rob Hewton. Rob generously said he was happy to help us out luckily for us his dad was visiting from town; they actually took the tractor over to the FPC property and left it there for us.

Jorn’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he spotted the near new John Deere tractor just gleaming waiting for him. He had a great time testing it out and changing all the settings – as Jorn does to any machine he jumps into. It made loading the hefty ripper and mounder a breeze. He was expecting something a little older and not as heavy duty.

With the equipment tied down we headed over to Rob’s property just around the corner (about 3kms away) to see if he was home and to say thanks. Rob generously said he and dad would collect the tractor later. Very handy as I do not have a truck licence, not to mention Colin’s old faithful truck has a few nifty tricks to change the gears.


We luckily have time on our side with this project as once again the Ripper and Mounder needs a little tender loving care work done on it. You may recall it broke down several times last outing. With the luxury of time Jorn dismantled the “broken bits” and we shall take it to the city to have a gift of new bearings and a smoothing out of the nicks of usage.

Once again a big shout out to the Collie Foresty Products Commission for the loan of the equipment, to Morton Neilson who located it for us and asked FPC on our behalf and to Rob Hewton for the generous use of his John Deere tractor. Not to mention our neighbour Colin Ednie-Brown for the use of “old faithful” the truck.


Corridors of Power – 25th ALG

Yes everyone knows don’t they that the real business in done in the corridors, not the main house! Thus it is that we move onto the 25th Landcare Anniversary Grant. This grant allows us to connect our existing regeneration areas together into seamless corridors all heading towards the water systems on the property.

We are simply delighted that we have been afforded the opportunity to work with multiple authorities since we have started our regeneration projects on Bellalee. Once upon a time Jorn passed a comment that Bellalee, down by the river used to look beautiful back in the early 1970’s. Our initial two regeneration projects have fired on all cylinders with an 80% strike rate and plenty of natural regeneration to boost the sites assets. We are very proud to see projects on the Atlas Of Living Australia. With the work we will undertake with the 25th ALG we will connect remnant vegetation from differing parts of the farm and create seamless corridors down to the Creek and River. These corridors will provide regenerated amazing pathways for fauna to be able to move and flora to spill out from down to the river.

We are delighted to have spotted not only the red tailed Black Cockatoo on the property in Kayla’s Woodland (that will be be linked by one of the corridors to the River) but also the rarer white tailed Carnaby’s cockatoo. What a delight to hear them call. They are nesting in the woodland and we are simply delighted that they call Orchid Valley home.

The photo is of Jorn using Christie the superstar star picket rammer and Colin looking for a spot to put a strainer post. This is rocky country and one of the first of the areas to be fenced under the project.


Southern Dirt Sign Off

Southern Dirt Sign OffA big thank you to Southern Dirt, Kojonup who have supported us in our regeneration work here at Bellalee. With their assistance we able to put away some remnant vegetation that contains a diverse range of flora and an abundance of beautiful jarrah. Without the sheep it will prosper. In this and an adjacent woodland we have noted both the red tailed and rarer white tailed Carnaby cockatoos nesting. This has added greatly to the importance of the overall aims of the work we are doing. 

Once again we are indebted to our neighbour Colin Ednie Brown who has helped us with both the physical work and the use of his equipment. We are very privileged as we lease the farm, live and work mostly in the city of Perth and come down to play. Both of us are ardent environmentalists and happy to give back land to improve biodiversity in Orchid Valley and beyond. Okay fencing is tough going, especially this time as it is in a rocky ridge however it is very satisfying knowing that the area is now protected. We each have businesses in Perth with fabulous staff who keep everything going in our absences, the best of both worlds! 

Ridgey didge we need a light sabre errr life saver

“You do know where it is don’t you”, said Jorn as I happily announced we had been successful in obtaining funding from Southern Dirt for more re-generation work. “Yes, Land for Wildlife site 5”, says I, not really knowing where it was. Okay, over there as I clearly point to the map of the farm. Not really knowing exactly where, you know over there…

Apparently it is rocky ridge country, blink of eye lashes, and this means? River views? Location location in real estate parlance. Good Internet connection potential? Certainly none down at the house.

“How are we going to IMG_2022get the posts in”, clearly I think Jorn is having a lend of me, I am after all country born but lived most of my life as a city girl, I bring a smile and enthusiasm however very little practical knowledge….. I am good at the paper work and writing submissions for grants (apparently). My answer clearly, we do it the way we always do, with the Donnybrook donger Jorn made back in early 1980’s. Here is Jorn out one of the areas to be fenced under the 25th Anniversary Landcare project. Easy, flat, no rocks. We apparently need a little more that old faithful.

As luck and a few telephone calls would have it we have found our saviour in the form of Orchid Valley fencing contractor Kim Sanders. Over we went to visit with some test poles in hand. We use former electricity poles, a bit more work as we have to cut them to size however cheaper than commercially available poles and quicker than finding wood to use from the farm.

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Kim has opted in to rescue us! All we need is a little patience (something that I do not possess). Kim is in demand,very, very busy. However he along with his hydraulic post rammer and tractor are spot on for the task to ram the strainer posts into the very rocky ridges that is “Kayla’s Woodland”. (And yes there are views.)

Action plan implemented! The poles aka strainer posts, are all laid out ready to go. We just need to wait for a window of opportunity for the light sabre!

We could never have undertaken any of the work we have done without the unfailing generosity of friends and neighbours. Bellalee has been leased since the year 2000, thus the majority of the equipment used is begged and borrowed. We feel very blessed to have been able undertake this work.

Bridal Creeper and South African Reed given their exit orders

IMG_1095Six months ago we added Bridal Creeper to the list of weeds to eradicate/control at the farm. Kayla Ringrose from Southern Dirt was a fabulous teacher on the various ways to control Bridal Creeper. Six months later I walked through the areas we are targeting to check out the progress. (Keep in mind here this is a seven year programme!). Along the creek line luckily there was only one small patch, however not so lucky in other areas. Once again of I went, spray pack on my back on a murderous spree with the prescribed dosage of weed killer for the problem. Delighted to see very little re-growth after the long summer. Kayla stressed diligence was needed! The Bridal creeper here is in one of the areas soon to be fenced under our 25th Anniversary Landcare agreement.



Spiny Rush is in an increasing problem in the local area. It can be found along drainage lines and low lying areas. Spiny Rush favours areas where its tolerance to salt allows it to out compete other plants and dominate. Choking waterways and providing harbour for foxes and rabbits, we have been working to control spiny rush before it can form into dense infestations. It can be easily confused with native rushes however once you get you eye it in it is easy to spot. Yes I spent a few days mattock in hand digging up spiny rush, section by section.

Like the Bridal Creeper this is a long term project to rid Bellalee of the invading pest!

Tis a wet wet winter

We arrived back in Oz after two months away. We headed straight down to Bellalee to recover from our jetlag. It was wonderful to wake up to a misty cold morning, looking out at the rolling hills and trees on the farm.
Later we ventured down to the regeneration projects. Some of the plants had been ring barked by cheeky cockatoos. Jorn expected them to die. I was insistent that the young bushes and trees wanted to live. Live they have!
We dropped into Blyth Tree Farm in Katanning on our way down to pick up three trays of seedlings, about 90, just a few less than the 16,000 we planted last year. It was great to catch up with Steve Blyth and see how his business has expanded.
We planted the newbies out along the road, our third regeneration area.