Skip to content

Annie Mayo's happy place

Published 13 Jan 2023

Where the King River enters Oyster Harbour in Albany, Minang Country, Western Australia, is a slim stretch of bush that leads to an age-old Osprey nest. For Ian and I, this is our happy place.

We don’t have to hop into the car to get to it, we just walk from the front door and are quickly immersed in nature.

A small unsigned walking track meanders high up along the edge of the harbour and offers glimpses of the water beyond. We rarely see other humans on the trail but do see plenty of birds. Within the sheoak, eucalypt and melaleuca understory wrens, robins and whistlers flit amongst branches. As keen birders, time spent here is very rewarding.

The Osprey nest is the grand finale, especially if one is enjoying a recently caught fish. Watching them gives me pure joy, a deep, visceral feeling. Our turn-around point is the Minang fish trap a little further along, where we get to watch the ducking and diving of cormorants, pelicans, perns and darters.

Annie & Ian Mayo volunteering at Hamelin Station, Malgana Country. By Annie & Ian Mayo

Our happy place is a microcosm of the wider continent’s diversity, something that piqued my curiosity when I first travelled in Australia. Walking to the fish traps reminds us of nature’s beauty and the incredible memories we’ve shared enjoying and helping to protect it.

Ian and I grew up in two very different geographic areas. I was born in northern England, in a small chemical-producing town where if you fell into the river you’d be poisoned before you drowned. What little nature existed there fascinated me, but it wasn’t until coming to Australia that my connection to it truly flourished. Lucky for Ian, he had spent the first 20-odd years of his life in Bendigo, where the bush was on his doorstep and an important part of daily life.

When we met, we recognised our common interest and together we’ve fostered a shared love for the natural world. Nowadays this interest consumes much of our spare time and, importantly, how we give back to the world.

After leaving Perth in 1990, we moved to the south-west corner of Australia for work, where we witnessed our old-growth forests being destroyed by clear-felling and decided we needed to do something to protect them. We started financially supporting the young activists who were putting themselves at risk to save our forests. We bought cement to concrete old cars into logging trails to stop the trucks, timber to build platforms up in the treetops and food supplies. Despite all these efforts, nothing changed.

When we heard Bob Brown had established Bush Heritage, we thought it was a brilliant idea, a conservation no-brainer, so we began supporting the organisation.

In 2000 we wrote our wills, including Bush Heritage and other charities. Then we visited some of the reserves in the south-west and consequently increased Bush Heritage’s share. When I began volunteering in the Albany office, we decided Bush Heritage deserved the lot. A decade later we moved to Bendigo to look after Ian’s Dad. I volunteered at the Melbourne office and was then offered paid work in the Gifts in Wills Team. It was not what I had planned but an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and where I stayed for two and half years.

After Ian’s Dad passed, we decided to travel Australia for a few years. Being retired allowed us to embrace longer-term volunteering opportunities out on reserve, and spend months at a time in remote landscapes. Since then, we’ve have been fortunate to have wonderful experiences volunteering at ten of Bush Heritage’s Reserves including Pilungah, Ethabuka, Hamelin and some of the Fitz-Stirling reserves.

Initially, we didn’t think we had the most relevant skills to offer as Ian’s an accountant and I’ve done lots of work sitting at desks. I’d heard that removing fences was needed but it was not a very popular job amongst other volunteers. So, we put our hands up for it and were sent to Ethabuka Reserve, Wangkamadla Country in Queensland.

Together we’ve now removed over 130km of fence. Plain wire, barbed wire, ring-lock, star pickets, wooden posts, we’re up for it.

Ian and Annie Mayo with stacked coils of removed fence wire at Hamelin Reserve

Ian dismantles the fence and I roll the wire by hand. Whilst it’s physically strenuous, it is extremely rewarding and keeps us fit. As you remove a fence you can almost feel the landscape heave a deep sigh of relief, and it’s also satisfying to see how quickly the land recovers.

We both believe that in life you need to give back. Helping to protect our natural world is how we plan to do this. We wouldn’t exist without nature, so that’s why we decided to bequeath everything we’ve accumulated to Bush Heritage. For us, our world’s future is brighter knowing that Australia’s biodiversity is in safe hands.

More stories in this edition of Bushtracks

Yajula from above. By Benjamin Broadwith

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Ngapa Kunangkul – Living waters

A long-awaited return to sacred water sites on Karajarri Country provides Elders and rangers with the chance to preserve knowledge and protect country for future generations.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

A station with a vision

The future of farming looks different when you step closer at Napperby Station, where the mission is to “feed the world with a system that lasts forever”.

Read More
Pandanus on the Robinson River. By Will Sacre

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Learning Garawa

“I think to read and write in Garawa out in the bush is everything,” says Nancy. “You’re on the land to learn about your culture.”

Read More
Grasstrees on Yourka Reserve. Photo Scott van Barneveld

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Call of the woodlands

Sound could hold the solution, according to Bush Heritage eco-acoustic researchers on a mission to save Australia’s birdlife.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Annie Mayo's happy place

When we heard Bob Brown had established Bush Heritage, we thought it was a brilliant idea, a conservation no-brainer, so we began supporting the organisation.

Read More
Loading...
{{itemsInCart}} Items - {{formatCurrency(grandTotal)}}