Annie and Ian Mayo have been spending the last couple of months removing fences around reserves in WA. On the weekend they reached a huge milestone by reaching 100km of fenceline removed!
Our first volunteer stint at Hamelin was in 2017 – two years after it was purchased. We stayed for a few weeks and pulled out lots of fences (our speciality) and some old stockyards. While it was exciting to see a new purchase, it was clear there was a lot of work to do both on the land and the heritage buildings.
Three years later we’ve returned to caretake, while Reserve Managers Ken and Michelle Judd take a holiday. We’re also pulling over 9km of the northern boundary fence, which is to be replaced by a new dog-proof fence. This will keep the neighbouring station’s goats and sheep from entering the reserve.
On arriving we almost thought we’d driven into the wrong place – it looked so different!
The entry road has been re-aligned so those coming to holiday at the on-site ‘Station Stay’ drive directly there instead of inadvertently ending up at the homestead. The heritage buildings have been upgraded with new roofs, gutters, relocated water tanks and a new solar power system generously supported by Bush Heritage partner, Jord International, plus much more.
Islands have been created in the seasonal bore-fed lake, to provide safe habitat for nesting birds. It’s clearly worked as there were two young Red-kneed Dotterel chicks running around.
70 endemic eucalypts have been planted around the homestead and Station Stay while a big hedge of invasive tamarisk has been removed.
There’s also lots of restoration work on areas of extensive erosion out near the coast.
And there’s less ‘stuff’ around – a lot less! It looks great and is a credit to those who have done the work, both Bush Heritage staff and volunteers.
Our working day begins with a 16km commute to the northern boundary to remove the ratty old fence. While other folk may deal with cars, buses, trucks and pedestrians on their commute, we drive sandy tracks while avoiding scuttling lizards and admiring darting chats and soaring raptors.
We can usually clear about 1km per day of fence wire as well as clean up stray wire and pull any star pickets. Usually the wooden fence posts are left for habitat, but in this case there’ll be a follow-up trip to collect them since the new dog proof fence will be going in their place.
There are 1000s of km of fence lines to be removed across Bush Heritage Reserves. In our time we’ve seen dead Emus, Kangaroos, Wallabies, raptors and small birds killed by tangling with or hitting fences.
It’s such satisfying work to look back and see the land free of wire. You can almost hear the earth breathe a sigh of relief.
More volunteers are needed to get out there and do it. It’s not a hard job, you just need to be fit and able to confidently walk a couple of kilometres a day on uneven ground and have reasonably strong hands.
You also need to enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere for the day. Have we sparked your interest? If we have but you would like a chat with someone before making a commitment, contact Katie Ronald at [email protected]. Maybe we’ll see you on a fence line!