In 2011, in my then role as a gorse project officer for the St Helens Landcare Group, I was contacted by a farmer who wanted to get some action on gorse adjoining his land at Koroit. The land in question was a 37m wide strip of former railway line. If I had known what a window into my future employment and project works this meeting would have – I might have taken more photos. But as it was then, I went through the process of confirming who the landholder was (Victrack) and seeking a control on the gorse that was at that time over 9 feet tall and infesting over 10 ha of crown land set aside for railway purposes back in 1890.
Gorse has a long history in the district of Koroit. An almost equal measure of gorse was present on the private land to the west of the railway land. Arguing about who was responsible for infesting what would have been pointless. The issue was how to control what was there and work a plan to keep it controlled over time.
Looking back at the photos I did take (especially one where the farmer demonstrates to senior Victrack staff who visited the site in 2013 how he used the prevailing wind to drift his spray across the top of the railway gorse to keep it off the fence line) I see a moment in time when people from many parts of the issue came together and agreed to resolve a problem that requires a long term effort. Since 2011 Victrack have paid for ongoing control of the gorse on their land at Koroit. As an organisation they have also made it very easy for people unsure about where Victrack managed land is to identify it by using the free Google Earth layer available following the link below the article.
But more importantly, the gorse site and a further 30km of former railway line running north between Koroit and Minhamite has become a significant biodiversity project of my employer since 2012 The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network. This project called “The Green Line” represents a milestone in many ways. First it established a connection between problem solving and Landcare in Moyne Shire with Victrack. That effort then resulted in The Green Line becoming one of Victracks’ foremost investments in biodiversity protection under their sponsorship of Landcare.
While Lot 36 Koroit will never be free of gorse, it does now have a chance of becoming what many thought it would never be – an integral part of restoring degraded land so other can learn how to do that using Landcare methods.
My thanks to Victrack for being involved and staying involved.
Rail land in geographic data form. This downloadable KMZ file is a snapshot of VicTrack’s land holdings in geographic data format viewable in Google Earth. To use it, please install Google Earth first, then download our KMZ file, unzip it and then install. The data shows only the rail corridor boundaries and does not show any lease boundaries, title references, buildings and platforms, third party utilities, tracks or bridges. It is a correct record as at July 2015. Please contact VicTrack directly to clarify any issues related to land use within the rail corridor.
Lisette Mill, Facilitator for The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network, SW Victoria.