MEMBERS of the Tarwin Landcare Group (TLG) finally got the opportunity to check out the amazing rehabilitation work done over the past 17 years by Karen and John Fuller at their Middle Tarwin property, including their “2020 COVID project”.

While some people were binge watching Netflix, Karen and John (and Dave Harris’ team of earthmovers) spent lockdown transforming a “scalped landscape” at the top of their 30ha block into a wetland.

Previously a municipal gravel quarry, the site was bare, badly eroded and was sending damaging flows of water down the hill, onto their neighbour’s property and ultimately into the Tarwin River.

But now, just a few months after completion of the final restitution works, it is a totally different story.

The newly created ponds are, as hoped, doing an excellent job of slowing the water flow, reducing the amount of run-off, and trapping the silt and sediment that would otherwise have ended up in Andersons Inlet.

They are also rapidly becoming a haven for wildlife. Karen has spotted various new species of birds in and around the ponds, as well as “every type of wildlife, including frogs, lace monitors, kangaroos, wallabies and koalas”.

Matt Bowler from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) who was also present, was not surprised, saying that adding (or returning) water to an environment is a sure-fire way of encouraging biodiversity.

“Animals like frogs, for example, are remarkably adaptable,” he said.

“Blocking previously drained areas is just like putting the plug back in. When the water comes back, it will be retained on the site and begin to transform naturally into a wetland with animals and plants quickly responding.”

This point was of particular interest to the group, as much of the Tarwin landscape is, or adjoins, floodplains that have been drained for agriculture.

The potential for small and large-scale creation or recreation projects is enormous, and several hectares of wetland restoration are currently being planned by members.

John and Karen were assisted by surveyor Steve Kurec who developed the detailed plans that guided the earthworks.

John told the group: “Steve’s understanding of hydrology was critical to us being able to construct a system to combat the serious erosion caused by the quarry.”

Help and advice were also received from TLG member and keen botanist, Lorraine Norden, Birdlife Bass Coast and WGCMA.

Tarwin Landcare Group and South Gippsland Landcare Network have access to several resources that people interested in biodiversity restoration projects may find useful. Contact Ray Saunders at Tarwin Landcare Group (tarray49@gmail.com) or Jillian Staton at SGLN (jillian@sgln.net.au) for more information.