Protecting the treasures of this land

    Graham Connell with Gardening Australia's Millie Ross.

    Have you ever seen a platypus in the Campaspe River, or a koala at Black Hill Reserve?

    Sadly, sightings of these iconic animals are becoming rarer and rarer, but a group of landholders whose properties stretch from Greenhill in Mount Alexander to Black Hill Reserve north of Kyneton are working to change that.

    The first phase of the Greenhill to Black Hill biolink involves the collaboration of 37 landholders with Biolinks Alliance, a central Victorian organisation that coordinates community driven conservation on public and private land in pursuit of a thriving future for people and nature.

    Graham Connell, a landholder in the biolink who is driven by the adverse changes in the landscape that have happened in his lifetime, said it was the size and ambition of the project that drew him in.

    “I’ve been working on my own property for years, and I’ve found that if you provide the required habitat and control feral species, the native species will return, and this really can enhance the quality of your life forever,” he said.

    “But we have to enhance our landscape. It can’t just be a dot here and a dot there, it has to be linked up – and it’s this ambition of scale that the Biolink Alliance is coordinating. You can’t do much on your own, but as a group you can.”

    Working together across over 3000 hectares of diverse land, this community-led ecological restoration project is working to:

    • improve the water quality of the Campaspe to provide refuge for platypus

    • protect large old trees to see increased populations of koalas and the brush-tailed phascogale

    • improve remnant native grasslands along the Campaspe

    • stabilise and increase the growling grass frog population

    • work with Traditional Owners to integrate First Nations culture and wisdom

    Mr Connell sees this work as vital to seeing the return of native animals such as the koala back to our local area.

    “If people want to see a nice surprise when they do go to Black Hill one day and actually see a koala, where they should be now, then these links must be provided to link up with the greater environment, from the river to Greenhill and right across to Mount Alexander,” he said.

    The community can support this vital work through getting involved with the Treasures of this Land fundraiser, which includes a raffle, exhibition and art auction in aid of animals and plants facing an uncertain future across the Macedon Ranges.

    The Treasures of this Land exhibition is on show until November 6 at Kyneton Ridge vineyard and winery and features artworks from nationally and internationally acclaimed artists including Mary Barton, Daniel Butterworth, Matt Butterworth, Peter D. Cole, Helen M. Cole, Oliver Cole, Ian Drummond, Flynn Silver, Karan Hayman, Mark Howson, Tim Jones, Amanda Marburg, Angelina Pwerle, Cameron Robbins, Sam Slicer and Jason Waterhouse.

    Mr Connell is hopeful that this project, and the exhibition, will help the local community understand more about the threats to native wildlife including feral animals, weeds and over development.

    “If people understand what the environment is, then they will be inspired to work to protect it – and If I can just do something for my local area, then that would make me happy.”

    For more information about the exhibition, art auction or raffle visit

    Sam Slicer’s ‘Black Hill’.