Walk at ‘Wongajong’

– Water quality and animal health workshop

By Siwan Lovett and Mikayla Hyland-Wood

On the 5th of December we held a morning walk and talk at Margaret and Nagy Sorial’s property ‘Wongajong’ just outside Goulburn.  We were joined by other local landholders, interested community members and riparipan practitioners, who weree all keen to hear and learn about the work being done on the Sorials beautiful property.

The Sorial’s have been working with us for a few years now, with both our RoC Goulburn and RoC Source Water Linkages projects investing in fencing out stock, removing weeds, installing alternative water and planting native vegetation. During the morning  walk and talk we discussed  riparian restoration, water quality and animal health, as well as understanding our waterways through Aboriginal eyes. Our expert presenters shared their knowledge and answered lots of questions from an engaged and interested group.

We have put together some photos from the workshop so that you can also join us on our ‘walk at Wongajong’…

Kyeelee Driver shared her knowledge about animal health and water quality.
Kyeelee Driver talking about water quality and the impact it has on animal health. She also highlighted the risks to biosecurity and loss of animals in unfenced riparian areas.
Aaron Chatfield sharing his knowledge of bush plants and their uses for medicine, tools and food.

We began our workshop nestled amongst the old dairy shed and cottage that are at Wongajong. Margaret welcomed us to Wongajong and gave us the history of the property and her and husband Nagy’s wishes for it as the current custodians.  Aaron Chatfield acknowledge country and talked about indigenous understanding, connection to and use of riparian areas.

ACT Veterinarian Kyeelee Driver then gave an insightful talk about water quality and impacts on animal health.  With the help of a colourful array of water in bottles, an egg carton and a milk container, we were brought up to speed with what to be aware of when caring for stock and waterways.

Stands of reeds now line the riverbank as cattle can no longer access the water, instead drinking from newly installed troughs as part of the Rivers of Carbon program incentives.

Fueled by a cup of coffee we then headed out to the Wollondilly River which runs as a border along Wongajong.  Margaret and Nagy have a long stretch of river which they have fenced out from stock and are gradually restoring.  Alternative water has been provided for their cattle and this is piped from water tank that pumps water up from the river.  We tried to find some of the native plants amongst the incredible tall grass – a result of a bumper growing season – the plants are there which was reassuring!

Margaret talking about the works that have been undertaken in the riparian zone on Wongajong.
Nagy Sorial talking about how they manage stock on their property with rotational grazing - this year there is so much grass a slasher has to be used as well as the cows cannot keep up!
Margaret Sorial explaining the works that have been undertaken along the riparian area to stabilise banks, fence out stock and plant native vegetation (which is hidden amongst the grass).

We were fortunate to have Aaron, Kyeelee, Ian, Lucy, Lori, Margaret and Nagy on our walk in the riparian zone.  This meant we could continue with our discussion about how multiple perspectives contributes to a much deeper understanding of the value of riparian areas and the need for us to care for them.

Fenced out riparian zone with native trees and shrubs not visible amongst the tall grass. In time the hawthorn and willows will also be removed.
One of the sites where we gathered to look at the newly established reeds and discuss weed management, the next phase of the project at Wongajong.
Nagy and Margaret being thanked for hosting everyone with a new RoC sign and bottle of wine. They were tremendous hosts.

Margaret and Nagy were generous hosts and we wanted to ensure they had something to remember the workshop by – so a new sign and some wine were presented with much laughter (its quite hard to hold a sign and wine at the same time as trying to shake hands!).  As a member of the RoC team this workshop consolidated my belief that people and relationships are critical for any on-ground river program to succeed.  It is a pleasure to work with wonderful landowners like Margaret and Nagy Sorial.  If you are interested in working with us please get in touch.

We also want to acknowledge our funding partners the NSW Environmental Trust and Water NSW for supporting the workshop.

All images are courtesy Siwan Lovett and Mikayla Hyland-Wood.

Contact one of our RoC team for more information:

Ian Rayner, Greening Australia:
📞0400 428 749

Lori Gould, RoC Program Manager:
📞0439 030 058

Mikayla Hyland-Wood Program Officer
📞0466 665 272