Gorse spiel


Moyne Shire Council is responsible for around 3,000km of municipal roads within its municipality. One of these roads is Three Chain Road at Wangoom on the outskirts of the sprawling urban city of Warrnambool. The road runs pretty much North-South, is fairly short (3.3km), is basically unformed, and happens to have environmental reserves a short distance (<1km away) from either end.

Back in 2007 Council’s Environmental Unit was made aware of a major Gorse (Ulex europaeus) outbreak along this road by volunteers with an interest in the environmental reserves. The size of the problem (1.5km long x 40m wide x 3m high in the main patch) immediately took it to #1 as the largest Gorse patch on any Moyne managed roadside. Unfortunately, there was no funding available to treat it at the time but the site was listed as a very high priority in a Victorian Government grant application that was applied for in 2008. Funding was successfully obtained but due to oversubscription it was significantly less than was required to do a thorough job. A single chemical treatment was all that could occur and thankfully the contractor tasked with the job of manually spraying it performed admirably!

Council had insufficient budget available to return in 2009 but spraying was able to occur in 2010 and 2011. Working closely with the local part-time Gorse facilitator in 2012 a machine operating on private land at a nearby area was obtained allowing Three Chain Road to be groomed/mulched (ironically by the original contractor that had manually sprayed it). With additional funding having subsequently been made available Council has returned to spray this roadside twice per year for the five years since. In this time Council has assisted the neighbouring private landholders by allowing them to utilise the contractor whilst on-site to perform Gorse spraying works at minimal cost.

In 2017 the urban sprawl of Warrnambool is creeping ever closer to Three Chain Road but the road itself still remains unformed along its entire length. The only difference is that Gorse bushes are far harder to spot and when they are found they are ankle high rather than towering monsters. Council knows it will need to re-visit this roadside regularly for the foreseeable future to ensure it stays on top of the problem, but looking back on the results of the past nine years of activity it certainly feels that the Three Chain pain is now a gain.

A photo story


The business definition of partnership goes something like this: A type of business organization in which two or more individuals pool money, skills, and/or other resources, and share profit and loss in accordance with terms of the partnership agreement.

In my experience though, when the term ‘partnership’ is used in the sense of ‘partnership with community’ it can become less business like and is often led from a community with strong emotional base.

A partnership only becomes a REALationship when there is a strong and underlying trust factor that is built into every decision and every action that each party makes concerning one another.

Partnerships with community must always begin with honest conversation and be developed and nurtured. Providing a group with $$ does not indicate a partnership, it simply indicates that you share mutual interests and that is all.

For community led action to work it must truly be led by community, on the ground and from a local level. This may not always fit with Government priorities.

To enable community led action we must truly value priorities as determined by local community. We must have more conversations about relevance, priorities and resources. And keep on having them.

Start the conversation over a cup of tea…


I’m really lucky that I grew up in a country town surrounded by redgum forests, rivers and wetlands alongside farms in a small community. It’s provided me with great motivation to protect this space and also provide a solid foundation to have a career in the space of environment, water, agriculture and community.

Working in the rabbit management field I find that I dabble in all four areas frequently, they all connect in one way or another. Not everyone cares about rabbit issues in Australia as much as I do, but I have found by talking with someone about their values, what they care about that opens the doors and starts endless conversations.

In these conversations when I share my knowledge on the importance of rabbit management, people can soon see what the landscape can look like with no rabbits. People realise when rabbit management is not undertaken that the significant damage is done to native plants and animals, agricultural production is down and their neighbours in the community are frustrated. They soon realise that something they care about for themselves or their future generation will be lost if they don’t do something.

Once this is visualised, motivation kicks in and then there is a goal set to look after what they care about. It doesn’t matter if the value is environment, agriculture or community we all benefit, we all win if there is rabbit action.

Many of us have been undertaking rabbit management for years achieving both small and large success. Sadly many of us have been ignoring our responsibility on rabbit management. I feel nothing will change, if we change nothing so I recommend everyone to start the community conversation on what the landscape could look like with no rabbits, share the knowledge on rabbit management and you’ll soon see onground rabbit action and our landscape looked after.

Conversations + knowledge + vision = rabbit action