Atimber mill operated in Foster Road for many years. It was established by the Thorburns in the 1880’s. The Dyers took over from Thorburns and Kevin Tyers took over from Dyers. The lease expired in the 1990’s and the land reverted to the Department of Sus­tainability & Environment (DSE). The mill site occupies 5 acres and is bounded by State Forest. There were a number of popular walking tracks through the bush but these had been covered in regrowth since the fires and so the area was not being used. The Boolarra South Landcare Group (BSLG) had done some planting on the site before the fires but many of these trees had been burnt. We decided to re­plant and began removing weeds and collecting seed so we could establish local plant species.

In February 2010 we were fortunate to have the help of 5 Korean volunteers with a supervisor from Conservation Victoria. They routed-out lots of blackberries and made a significant contribu­tion to our seed bank.

As work progressed at the site we realised we had a wonderful asset right on our doorstep. The bush is a beautiful area with some lovely fern gullies and a dam. As the terrain is relatively flat we decided we could make walking tracks, a picnic area and car­park which would be of benefit to our community. 

It is quite a big area to develop and so we needed some funds to get things underway. The DSE ad­vised they were happy for us to develop the area and will provide advice, clear dangerous trees and put up signs. We made a submission to the Bool­arra Community Development Group (BCDG) and they kindly agreed to provide $6,000 which we will use to construct our first track. We earned $1,500 from planting the Monash Way/Bastin Street intersection and this enabled us to pur­chase a 5 hp mower to mark out the track and will also be used to maintain the area. We also bought crushed rock and gravel and the pipes to go un­der the track. Mick Schiller, Mick Crowley, Tony Minter and Geoff from GEST began the work, surveying the area and marking out the first track.

There was some preliminary clearing needed, so David O’Brien organised the removal of old car bodies and other metal that went into the CFA recycling skip. On 26th October the DSE burnt two big fires for us. Brent O’Brien of Prosper Val­ley Excavations has had his big machines at work to begin the transformation by forming the first track which links Foster Road to the cemetery. It is approx one kilometre in length and will have drains, pipes and crushed rock to create an easy walk through the bush. Our ultimate aim is to

create a circular walk with a picnic area and al­ready locals are using the track and have plenty of suggestions for ways of further developing the area. We want this to be an area for walking and passive recreation and hope that motor bikes and horses will not use this particular part of the for­est. There are several other tracks in the bush that will be more suitable for these activities.

We have been looking at Gazebos and have sub­ mitted funding applications to see if we can have one erected. We would like picnic tables, a mead­ow area, an arboretum, beautification of the dam and ultimately a composting toilet included in the project.

Andrew Wolstenholme, the Landcare weed expert has again helped us identify plants in the area we have marked for tracks. We do have some signifi­cant plants and two or three quite unusual species. He was amazed at the profusion of beautiful pink Trigger plants at the cemetery and identified three species of native orchids and some native grasses, in particular Wallaby grass, Weeping grass and Vernal grass. If we can create an arboretum and a meadow these could become an educational ex­perience. We hope to find funds for signage and plant identification tags.

The Boolarra South Landcare group is very grate­ful to the Foundation for Rural & Regional Re­newal (FRRR) for enabling the group to purchase a laptop computer, screen, projector and printer. We would also like to recognize the Foundation for its contribution to funding our library.

How quickly improvements appear will depend on funding. Linda Minter, our secretary is always on the look out for sources of money and has been very successful so far. We had glowing letters from 14 groups from the town to support funding ap­plications and Linda has quite a few of these in the pipeline. Preparing these submissions is quite onerous so we hope that her work is fruitful. We envisage this area being a significant asset to our town which could be used in conjunction with the Rail Trail to attract visitors to this beautiful set­ting.

Denise Schiller - BSLG