On Saturday April 24, nine members of the Gloucester Environment Group met on a glorious day to hike on Raelands Dairy Farm on the western side of the Bucketts. Owner, Chris McRae had just finished the morning milking, and gave a talk about the farm and the efforts of the family to reduce the farm's impact on the local environment.
We walked to a fenced off gully where 600 native trees were planted around four years ago to protect the water catchment and stop the gully eroding (partially financed by MidCoast Water). It was wonderful to see how well these trees had survived the drought and were now thriving as a result of the recent weather. We also passed a more mature gully, which had been replanted around 12 years ago and now also provided some lovely shade alongside our walking track. Chris explained that the plan was to continue re-vegetating the gullies in order to make the farm more sustainable.
Chris also spoke about a new project the farm was undertaking, the result of an energy grant to reduce the demand of power from the grid. It involves using a solar pump to pump water to a headwater tank, then gravity feeding water troughs and the dairy from there.
Following this insight into the farm and listening to his wishes about reducing its impact on the environment, the group continued with its exploration. Fortunately, the walkers had heeded advice and worn long trousers and sleeves. A lot of the upper reaches of the Bucketts, having enjoyed the recent weather, are now very overgrown with long grass and weeds. With no obvious trail to follow, it was a case of making our own path, which was marked with ribbons to make our return route easier to find.
The group slowly made their way up, enjoying some expansive views and pretty forests along the way to a lookout over Gloucester. Having managed the arduous climb, three walkers continued on a little further to scramble onto some rocks that overlooked the farm and its surrounds.
Following lunch, a chat and a bit of a rest the group made their way down remarking on how lucky Gloucester is to have such beautiful surrounds.
The group's next walk is Saturday May 15, to Diamond Head near Laurieton (wonderful views from the headland) and the recently re-opened Cattai Wetlands at Coopernook (water birds and wetland vegetation). Meet at 8am at the skate park. Let us know you are coming - Mike Coleman on 0419 531 279 or Tibor Kovats on 0475 877 730.