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.

Return visit, only took 25 years!

Anna with a glass of champagne waiting for yet another glorious Western Australian sunset overlooking City Beach.

Anna Ringborg last visited the farm 25 years ago when Jörns parents were still farming there. It was fabulous to show her around. Here is Anna at the coast (we didn’t have one of here at the farm…..). Anna travels DownUnder most summers, she is a renowned equestrian specialist who fell in love with our long hot summers and the Indian Ocean many moons ago.  besides it is winter and sooooo cold in Sweden whilst she is here.  Yes it was raining (something she was not used to seeing here) when we embarked on the farm tour with Anna.                   Above is a photo in the driveway looking back. Great to see the older trees in the background with our babies in the foreground. This is our own personal little regeneration area.   A great shot by Anna looking at Cockatoo Creek. There is a lot of water there for this time of the year. Plus we have noticed that the trees and bushes around the creek and river are looking healthier.

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Yes the dogess Jezabelle supervising the farm tour, unusually from the back seat of the van. She prefers the front seat….. naturally …. and a beautiful tree I call the sentinel as it overlook sees our regeneration projects on the farm. The tree is truly majestic and a powerful presence helping our dreams for the farm   IMG_2036 IMG_2037

Jorn looking busy!

Looking back towards the road this is the driveway into the property.

yes she is heavy…. and unwilling

no the plant has not died – it lives on!

out for a walk in the countryside!

Christmas came early for Bellalee

December 18th almost 300 community groups and individuals across Australia received a wonderful Christmas present. An email that let us know will we share in $5 million to enable communities to take practical action as part of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. Yes we were one of the privileged successful individuals given the go ahead.

We are still pinching ourselves. This funding will allow us to neatly finish most of the regeneration recommendations we received in our original Land For Wildlife Report. That report marked the official start of this journey.

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Growing growing growing

Jorn has just returned from the farm. He decided to take a short video showing how well our plants are going. It is very exciting watching them thrive. Jorn has just returned, the new project underway at the farm it to rebuild the bridge crossing over the start of the Tone River. Jorn has started to construct a log bridge over the River. This will greatly assist the flow of the Cockatoo Creek into the Tone River. Our dream from a few years ago about restoring the bio-diversity, depth and beauty of the waterway and its local environment are coming true.

Stay tuned – bridge building posts will soon follow!

Happy days

Happy days

Everywhere we have planted is growing beautifully.

Everywhere we have planted is growing beautifully.

Remember this is how they started. There are 30 plants per tray. You are looking at many trays!

Remember this is how they started. There are 30 plants per tray. You are looking at many trays!

The long and winding road……

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Just over twelve months ago we started fencing of land to prepare for our biodiversity projects at Bellalee.

Some said it will never work, others advised they had tried and not a single plant had survived. Others helpfully suggested we were being foolhardy and to expect nothing. Another high ranker suggested that if we had a 20% stick rate after the first twelve months we will done done exceptionally well.

All very disheartening.

We listened however took no heed.

We have a 90% strike rate……. Every where we planted there are wonderful healthy little plants dreaming of becoming big plants. They have survived the long summer and are looking forward to some steady rain. 

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Plants, plants everywhere there are plants

We would load up our buckets full of a variety of differing species and head down a mound.

We would load up our buckets full of a variety of differing species and head down a mound.

Carol and Cassie back at the trailer for more plants. Sometimes it seemed endless, head down and off we go - again....
Carol and Cassie back at the trailer for more plants. Sometimes it seemed endless, head down and off we go – again….

Yes we could always rely of Jezabel the dogess to cast her knowing eye over the proceedings.

Yes we could always rely of Jezabel the dogess to cast her knowing eye over the proceedings.

We fed everybody a hearty lunch. A combination of red lentil and spicy carrot soup, and a harissa soup with sourdough garlic bread, followed up with fruit and Evelyns fruits and nut cake. Yum!

We fed everybody a hearty lunch. A combination of red lentil and spicy carrot soup, and a harissa soup with sourdough garlic bread, followed up with fruit and Evelyns fruits and nut cake. Yum!

An old machine swings into action

Over to the other side we go! We are now on the other side of the Tone River. This area will not be re-planted. It will however be scarified to help the natural regeneration of the area. This area joins up with pristine bush that has never been farmed. The land was locked away over 40 years ago, it contains a diverse range of lower, mid and upper story plants. It is hoped that the diversity of flora in this block will spread to the area you see below.

You get a good view of the grass lands, the area we hope will, now the soil has been turned over, produce a diverse crop of new native seedlings

You get a good view of the grass lands, the area we hope will, now the soil has been turned over, produce a diverse crop of new native seedlings

This old scarifier hasn't been used for over 13 years - it need a lttle tlc before being taken out for a spin

This old scarifier hasn’t been used for over 13 years – it need a lttle tlc before being taken out for a spin

Site preparation – looking towards the Tone River

One of the ares in front of the start of the Tone River that was subject to a slow controlled burn.

One of the ares in front of the start of the Tone River that was subject to a slow controlled burn.

The overcast day gave Jorn a chance to slowly burn out the grasses of an area that will be regenerated. The thickness of the thatch meant that is could not be ripped and mounded without being burnt first.

Two farmers fire trucks were on standby, shovels and two ways just in case the day did not go as planned.

Fire is taken very seriously down here, all the farmers look out and support each each other.

The big SWCC trip into town

ImageOk this is certainly not station country, however it is an 80 kilometre return trip. None of my city habits of lets just pop down to the shops for a litre of milk gig out here.

This week we are working on the SWCC major regeneration project on the property.  This has been an ambitious project to fence over 4 kilometres of land including all the waterways on the property. It creates a significant corridor for wildlife and links up with neighbouring farmers regeneration projects on the south east side and nature reserve on the north east flank.

This morning we went to pick up the fencing ordered from Kojonup Ag Supplies.

This trip we aim to fence a large area including Muir’s Brook and the Tone River.

There is an access way across the Creek for the farmers however with the way we are managing the project stock will be totally excluded from the creek/river system for the first time since the land was cleared.

We are indebted to the expertise and time given to us by Terry Brooks from SWCC

Jezabel the doggess showing the way.  Below – Jorn Ramel working – again!! still!!!

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The humble beginnings

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It was many moons ago back in 1971 when the desire for adventure brought three members of the Swedish born Ramel family to Western Australia. Jorn, Maj and their youngest son also called Jorn, then eight. Jorn senior was in search for adventure and new lands to farm. The family has over a 500 year history farming in Sweden which continues today in Skane, Sweden.

Bellalee is actually an aboriginal name for place of the two eagles. The property is blessed with Cockatoo Creek and Muir’s Brook that marks the beginning of the Tone River which is a tributary running into the renowned Warren River. Even today at summers end the Tone has water.

In 1971 it was a magnificent waterway, heavily treed with an abundance of flora. The Ramel’s were not the first to farm Bellalee. Move forward 40 years, the flow of Cockatoo Creek and Muirs Brook is a little sad, the Tone River still deep but shrunk from its original banks. However it has water even at the end of summer but pleading for help.

Jorn mentioned how beautiful it once was this marked the start of our efforts to return it to what it once was or at least give it our best shot. It took over a year just to get started, we lucked out in meeting Mr Phil Worts from Land for Wildlife. This marked the turn to not one but two regeneration projects this year.

Whilst we have been down several times tinkering around the edges of the projects the Easter long weekend we got serious. As we had secured funding from the Department of Conservation’s 2012-13 Enviornmental Community Grant we moved efficiently and installed just under 4kms of fencing for the first phase of the project.

Today we have confirmation that SWCC – (the South West Catchments Council) have given pre-approval (contracts are yet to be signed) for the second phase of the project. We are in grateful to Mr Terry Brooks from SWCC for his site assessment to assist us is obtaining grant number two.

With these two grants all of Cockatoo Creek, Muirs Brook and the Tone river that are on the property will be fenced and regenerated creating a significant natural corridor for the local flora and fauna. The Tone River has permanent pools that provide refuge for water fowl and aquatic fauna during seasonally dry summer months

To date we would like to thank the follow people:

Mr Phil Wort, Land for Wildlife whose expertise an amazing report has proved invaluable assistance.

DEC and the ECI for granting us funding for the first phase.

Mr Terry Brooks from SWCC and the panel grant number two.

Jane Kowald, Southern Dirt for her expertise in local flora.

Kojonup Agricultural Supplies for  the use of the small post rammer

Mr David Lee for the loan of the post rammer for the strainer posts.

Mr Colin-Ednie Brown for the use of his tractor (to fit the strainer post-rammer) and his diesel 4

WD ute to house the small post rammer.

Mr Steve Blyth, Blyth Tree Farm for his knowledge and assistance re local flora

along the start of the Tone River at the end of summer

along the start of the Tone River at the end of summer

Jezabel the doggess, looking from the creek line over towards part of the first project regeneration area

Jezabel the doggess, looking from the creek line over towards part of the first project regeneration area

Tone river this week after a little last a fortnight ago

Tone river this week after a little rain a fortnight ago

The humble beginning

the start of the Tone River

the start of the Tone River at summers end

looking towards Cockatoo Creek

looking towards Cockatoo Creek

Woodenup Pool, a haven for fauna during the summer month's

Woodenup Pool, a haven for fauna during the summer month’s

Jorn hard at work on the back of the trailer

Jorn hard at work on the back of the trailer