Seawalls Edge Nature Reserve, Toora, South Gippsland
Landholders: Diana Droog and Hugh Sarjeant
Traditional Owners: Gunaikurnai
Size: 15 hectares
In 2008 as part of our retirement plans, my husband Hugh and I purchased 15ha of farmland on Corner Inlet, Gippsland, overlooking Wilsons Promontory.
The property had some attractive features, which included access to Corner Inlet, a flat terrain making it easy to work with, high rainfall, important salt marsh habitat and mangroves. Another interesting feature of the property is that it is positioned between two sea walls, which are a major feature of the north side of Corner Inlet.
Following the purchase of the property, and until we were retired in 2012, we took our time to do some research about the area, cleaned up the property, put in fencing, a shed and an internal road to the inlet. We also became involved with the local Landcare Group to learn more about weeds, planting and the area more generally.
Our plans for the property included a planting regime, the creation of three wetlands, some weed control and putting a covenant on the title to protect the work we had done.
The covenanting process
On initially approaching Trust for Nature (TFN), it had reservations about putting in a covenant on our property because most of the vegetation was new regrowth and not old habitat. There was only a small section of salt marsh that they were originally interested in. But we prevailed and in 2018 the covenant was put in place and now covers much of the property.
What has been the result?
Over 30,000 plants covering 450 species have been planted. The growth and variety of plants everywhere has been heart-warming.
Our resident and visiting bird species number over 80 now. We have local wombats with burrows, echidnas, frogs, grey kangaroos, swamp rats, lizards, yabbies…. iNaturalist helps keep the records of many of our species.
Association with Land Covenantors Victoria
My interest in setting up a group of land covenantors came about because of my dealings with both Landcare and TFN and my concerns for the low level of covenanted land (70,141ha) in Victoria and especially in Corner Inlet.
I could see that without the pressure from those who had already made the commitment of taking on the responsibility of a covenanted piece of land, the situation was not going to improve.
There were many things that needed to be done, which was outside the structure and resources of TFN. Early this year, while working closely with fellow covenantor, Jim Phillipson (EcoGipps and Rendere Trust) on the purchase of some important salt marsh areas on Corner Inlet, we came to the same conclusion – that there needed to be a separate body that could work with TFN. TFN agreed and the rest is history.