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The Great Landcare Long Weekend

Home > Adelaide > Community Events | Environment | Escape the City | Family | Long Weekend
by Bernhard Sayer (subscribe)
A freelance writer living in suburban Adelaide, taking his first tentative steps. You can see some of his past work at
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The Tarcowie Landcare Group are inviting you to join them
There are many places in South Australia that are so rich in natural beauty that they tend to bring a warm glow to your heart when you're there. Add this one to your list the mid north township of Tarcowie.

If you haven't heard of it, you wouldn't be alone. About 250km north of Adelaide, Tarcowie is nestled in a valley between the Pekina Range and the Narien Range. On an autumn or winter's day, there are few more beautiful spots to sit and watch the clouds get blown towards the south-east, over the patchwork quilt of paddocks, scrub, creeks and distant hills. Whilst these days Tarcowie's population has dwindled, it's also become home to an active group who are doing their best to retain and enhance the area's natural beauty.

The Tarcowie Landcare Group is busy preparing for its major planting weekend on the June long weekend, and is inviting anyone interested to join them in their work to revegetate the beautiful mid-north.

Officially founded in 2005, the Tarcowie Landcare Group has actually been planting in the area for 18 years, with recent years prominently showing the fruits of their initial labours, most visibly for anyone driving on the Orroroo Laura road.
Tarcowie Landcare tree planting
Before - 2004 plantings taking place on Bob Arthur's property

Group Chairperson Chris Grabczewski says the thriving vegetation planted by the group alongside this road is a strong visual indication of the group's success to date. "When you initially plant a seedling, it's only six inches high, and that will be almost invisible when you first drive past. But now, when you look at our early plantings some 15-16 years later, we regularly hear people saying to us 'gee, I'm impressed', with a number of them wanting us to work on their property. And that's what we've been doing."

The group has undertaken plantings every year since their initial inception, and group member Kieran Brewer says that this is directly linked to the group's primary objectives. "It's about revegetation, and to achieve this, we tailor-make a set of plants for a specific site, because we're trying to recreate the pre-European vegetation communities that existed on that site specifically. The reason we do that is because that's what's going to give us the best success rate, the greatest long term viability, and a sustainable planting. What we're hoping to achieve is to establish a planting that then drops seed and regenerates spontaneously on that location. That's only going to happen with the right material in the right place."

With students from the Orroroo Area School participating in a planting day on Friday the 7th of June, the Tarcowie Landcare Group continue their planting activities across the weekend on the Saturday and Sunday (the 8th and 9th of June).

Brewer describes the value of the group's work in this way. "I think that there's a perception that what we're doing in re-greening the landscape is contradictory to good farming, whereas I feel it's synonymous with good farming. For example, we've been putting in shelter belts that stop wind erosion and help to retain moisture in the soil, and which protect stock in inclement weather and also stop any locusts in their tracks. There have been other advantages for farming from the biodiversity outcomes of our activities there are more sleepy lizards that eat more hoppers during a hopper plague, for example, and more birds of prey have been attracted to the habitat we've planted which has helped to control mice. There's so many things, but a lot of them are hard to measure and take a long time to establish themselves. However, some of them are really starting to show themselves."
Tarcowie Landcare tree planting
After - fifteen years on, despite the drought conditions, the plantings have established with strength and vitality.

"We saw bustards here last year, which we've never seen in this area before. We've noticed an increase in parrot numbers too. The trees and plantings also have the effect of lowering the water table, which in turn improves ground salinity levels."

Grabczewski says that all interested people are welcome to attend on either or both of the Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend. "We're like any group doing anything, we're always looking for new and younger members. We'd like our group to be sustainable and go on for many more years to come because the job of repairing the landscape is a massive one."
Tarcowie Landcare tree planting
2018 planting weekend at the foot of the Hogshead

"While the main planting activity starts on the Friday with the school planting, the work for the weekend starts well before then, so if anyone wants to come up early, they are most welcome. The current membership is mostly Adelaide based, some of whom have links to the local area. Anyone is welcome to join us, and we're especially keen to encourage families to join us".

The group also undertake other activity weekends throughout the year, including site preparation and maintenance, weed control, fencing, making guards and sourcing stakes, and removing pest growth to stop competition which then allows plantings to get more moisture and grow better.

The group is keen to emphasise is how relaxed and casual they are, and how welcome anyone will feel upon arrival. Grabczewski adds "We had a number of families come to our planting last June and they had a great time. It's a great way to spend time in the outdoors, and in years to come the kids will have the thrill of driving past the planting sites and saying 'I did that'."

Whilst not essential, the group would appreciate interested people contacting them ahead of the June long weekend via their Facebook page, particularly to assist with catering. "The Friday school activity is catered with a BBQ, and we usually hold another (BYO) BBQ on the Saturday night to celebrate the work done to date. Then on the Sunday, we are blessed with (group member) June Jenkins' homemade pasties and pies!"

Whilst there are no commercial accommodation options in the Tarcowie township, the group is very happy to help people in this regard. "There's always room for caravans and tents, and we can provide access for electricity for example. There are multiple opportunities for camping." Alternatively, nearby towns of Booleroo Centre, Orroroo, Laura and Jamestown provide accommodation options as well.

Please contact the group via their Facebook page.
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Why? Tree planting
When: Friday 7 June to Sunday 9 June
Where: Tarcowie, South Australia
Cost: Free
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