ANU Landcare Intrepid visits Mulloon Creek

ANU Intrepid Landcare is a team of young adventurous volunteers (18 to 30s) who meet once a month and travel around volunteering with different Landcare/Bushcare groups in the ACT and beyond. Their projects are a mix of one day local projects and weekend adventures which involve some degree of travel out of the area. The group always explore what each region has to offer and end the day with something fun like kayaking, swimming, surfing or bush walking. ANU Intrepid Landcare also help environmental groups such as NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, private landholders, farmers and other adventure conservation groups to carry out environmental projects.

A group of 18 students from ANU Intrepid Landcare volunteered their weekend on the 25th/ 26th of Jan to learn more about the different projects happening in the landscape of the Upper Shoalhaven and Upper Deua Catchments. Their first stop for the weekend was Mulloon Creek to learn about landscape rehydration. These young landcarers had the chance to ask questions, challenge ideas, eat blackberries and collect seed along the creek bed.

"Going to the Mulloon Institute was a highly rewarding experience for all of us. It was fantastic to see the rehydration of the landscape in action, and the flow on effects of this rehydration to biodiversity, productivity and water filtration. We were all so amazed to see how well this holistic approach to landscape repair is actually working, and will take this new knowledge back to our studies at university." Emily Jones - ANU Intrepid Landcare 

"Farming" February 2017 

from the Chairman, The Mulloon Institute

This month's update could have been "Fast" February, "Fervent" February or simply February "Facts", but "Farming" February gives me the opportunity to reinforce the relationship The Mulloon Institute has with Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF). That relationship is a very important aspect of our work as the MCNF is the working and living laboratory of what we seek to achieve in The Mulloon Institute.

In my last update I mentioned the fire that impacted on the northern part of Duralla where MCNF's hens are located. We were certainly lucky on the day with only a few losses. Those losses did increase to about 30 to 40 but it could have been a lot worse. MCNF Manager, Michael Fitzgerald, is working with our staff to address other fire impacts to avoid erosion in gully areas. Cam Wilson is providing Michael with plans for that purpose and to slow water flow as part of work for the Mulloon Community Rehydration Project (MCLRP). Good examples of the ongoing working relationship between the farm and the Institute.

Similar work has also been carried out on one of the other properties in the MCLRP, namely PalerangGully erosion rectification work was designed by Cam Wilson in conjunction with Peter Andrews with work completed using an excavator and assistance from the Green Army. Getting the earthworks aspect of the rectification done now has allowed extensive plantation by the Green Army to help stabilize the area well before we run into autumn and the winter.

This type of work is not only crucial to the MCLRP it is also providing excellent training for the Green Army members. They are also assisting with some of the survey work needed to produce cross-sections of the creek where future interventions are currently being planned and designed. I am aware the Federal Government has announced the Green Army program will be finishing but I'm sure if all Green Army participants were doing the type of work our groups are doing on the MCLRP the government may have reconsidered its decision.

During February we had a visit from Soils For Life including its Chairman, Major General (Rtd) Michael Jeffery, who came to see the MCLRP and MCNF's free range, organic, biodynamic egg operation. Tony Coote and I also spent some time discussing mutual areas of interest with Michael Jeffery. As with The Mulloon Institute, Soils For Life is strongly advocating for a national focus on our strategic natural assets of soil, water (hydration) and vegetation. Soils For Life has previously highlighted these assets through the case studies of nineteen innovative farmers and is now embarking on increasing that to one hundred properties. A goal that fits well with our goal of one hundred catchments.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I can inform you that Michael Jeffery has accepted our offer to become a Patron of The Mulloon Institute. As part of our closer working relationship I will be assisting Soils For Life with its selection of properties to add to its case studies of innovative farming operations. Michael Jeffery and I will collaboratively work in a number of areas but particularly with respect to advocacy to government on natural resource management policy and regulations. Collectively we intend to raise the profile of the importance of soil, water and vegetation in the national policy debate.

The work we are doing at The Mulloon Institute continues to be admired in the broader community with various organisations visiting us on the ground. One I missed in my last update was two separate groups from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) that visited in January. Luke Peel looked after the students and supervisors and took them on tour along the creek and then a presentation in the barn. We are a regular destination for the NYSF that brings top science school students to Canberra each January.

Later in February about 30 students from "Landcare Intrepid ANU" visited and were taken on a walk up the creek by the Institute's Cam Wilson and Bec Klomp. This group expressed an interest in returning in the not too distant future to undertake some on-ground activities in the catchment.

We have also had regular visits from Canberra Girls Grammar Year 9 Geography students over the past couple of years and their next visit is scheduled for 20 March. We will also be hosting other school groups in coming months.

Our 20 Million Trees project continues at a steady rate with around 5000 of our 12000 trees already planted. Our recent report to the Federal Department of Environment and Energy on our progress to date was well received and approved.

We continue to seek additional support for our MCLRP and related activities and in that vein we recently submitted an application to the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation & Science under its Citizen Science program. Luke Peel and Karen Galley did a superb job in a short time frame to put a substantial application in on our behalf. Pete Hazell and I provided additional resources to what would be a well aligned program with our current work. We do already have runs on the board when it comes to taking science to the people (e.g. hundreds attending our field days) so we hope our application is given serious consideration.

March will see our second workshop in conjunction with Tarwyn Park Training and lots, lots more including updating you on the Advisory Council meeting held on 3 March and the Science Advisory Council scheduled for 17 March.

But in the meantime many thanks again for your ongoing support.


Gary Nairn AO

A big thanks to the Green Army for the works they completed following the recent Tarago fire.

With the steep and rocky nature of the catchment that was burnt on Mulloon Creek Natural Farms, a flash runoff event is likely to result in a significant volume of soil and ash being exported from the site, which carries with it a range of negative water quality and aquatic ecological implications. The team constructed a series of sediment-retention weirs, utilising vegetation that was either killed by the fire or willow that was coppiced along the creek.

(File: 1 brush weirs left) Until groundcover re-establishes, these broad log & brush weirs (sills shown in red) offer a considerable capacity to retain soil and ash on the site (yellow shading).

(File: 2 brush weirs left 2) Another brush weir designed to intercept the flow as it concentrates along the left margin of the valley floor, just downstream from the previous image.

A front and side view of another brush weir, built in an adjacent valley. Construction involves logs being staked and wired to the bed to provide a solid foundation, with a tangle of branches and brush then wired regularly along its length. Note the ‘double-U’ that is utilised to protect the flanks of the structure during high flow conditions (lowest in centre, apex upstream). When these structures are viewed under high flow conditions, the roughness of the brush breaks up the energy of the flow considerably. Clearly these biodegradable structures have a shelf life, so vegetation management provides the long-term mechanism for retaining any captured sediment

Brush layering provides an alternative approach in this more confined section of channel. The cut branches of a dead Acacia have been placed with the butt upstream and branches down, then wired to a central anchor point. Once built, lopper are utilised to ensure that the centre of the structure is the lowest point to minimise the chances of the structure being outflanked by flow around the edges.

Another Green Army Team will be coming to the Mulloon Institute soon. Applications are now open!

The Best Green Army Project in Australia! Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project The Mulloon Institute Needs You!

Nominated by the UN as one of only five case study projects worldwide demonstrating landscape scale regeneration and sustainable agriculture. Be a part of this project and learn valuable landscape regeneration skills; build creek structures, revegetate creek banks, get to know weeds, fence sensitive areas

 For people aged 17- 24 years  Work for 30 hours a week for 25 weeks on a paid allowance  Work with the Mulloon Institute team and learn how to actively regenerate and rehydrate landscapes.  Receive training in First Aid and Work Health and Safety.  Opportunity to undertake training in conservation land management certificate II modules and to obtain a nationally endorsed skill set to support you into future career opportunities. Joining a Green Army Team will provide you with the skills, training and experience to improve your employment prospects while you work on projects that generate real and lasting benefits to the Environment.

To apply: Start you application online at Or phone Manpower Green Army Team on 1300725937

December 2016/January 2017 "Delivering Jewels"

from the Chairman, The Mulloon Institute
 Firstly a belated Happy New Year to everyone. I trust the festive season was relaxing, enjoyable and was a chance to re-charge batteries and catch up with family and friends. Rose and I certainly took the opportunity to do that but have been back in the swing for a few weeks now.
Given the festive season I decided to delay my monthly update and combine December with January thus the dual heading this time "Delivering Jewels". The impetus for that came partly from the fact Christmas is a time of giving (and delivering) and with more crucial things having been done on the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP) over the past two months we have some real "jewels" in place.
As I mentioned in my November "Nines" update the festive season is also a time for reflection and contemplation so I was able to do plenty of that as Rose and I travelled from home north as far as Mooloolaba and return over a twelve day period. There is certainly no better way to appreciate the changing landscapes and the diversification of agricultural output, and the need for repair of creek and river systems was constantly apparent. At The Mulloon Institute we have a goal to repair 100 catchments - that will only be the start from what we observed.
At the time that I reported on November happenings, substantial activity was underway to drill and install a series of piezometers as part of the MCLRP benchmarking. That work proceeded very successfully, so successfully that we were able to have a few additional holes bored within our original budget. Luke Peel oversaw this work along with great assistance from staff of Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF) and particularly Scott plus other volunteers. Not only do we now have this piece of vital infrastructure (one of the "jewels") we also have soil samples from each of the bores that could prove valuable in the future with respect to determining changes in soil carbon. This was a great project and thanks go to Luke and his team for such an efficient job.
In early December, as a follow up to meetings about carbon storage, I met with Gerry Carroll one of our landholders supporting the MCLRP. Besides doing some excellent work with composting and other innovations on his farm, Gerry is also involved in a company called Natural Carbon. That company is involved with some projects funded under the Emissions Reduction Fund and with Climate Friendly so it was good to discuss how the MCLRP might also get involved. Peter Hazell and Luke Peel are putting together some data for Natural Carbon so that they can better understand our project and potential outcomes.
Also in early December we hosted a visit by the Head of Rothamsted Research, Achim Dobermann and his wife Ilwa. Rose and I were fortunate to spend a weekend with Achim and Ilwa back in May last year when we toured some very innovative farms in Norfolk, UK. We have a strong relationship with Rothamsted Research (another "jewel") which commenced when John Crawford returned to the UK to take up a position with them.
Tony and Toni Coote hosted Achim and Ilwa at Mulloon Creek and they were able to see firsthand the work we have done and propose through the MCLRP. Achim was very impressed at what has been achieved and is excited about a number of collaborations we discussed while he was here.
Just one example is the research work on willows that Rothamsted has been doing for a very long time. Our Science Advisory Council member, Michael Wilson, will be particularly interested in their work and Achim has provided contacts that will be passed on to Michael.
Achim has also provided information about a UK Government program, Demonstration Test Catchments, which is addressing catchment repair to counter flooding issues. It is remarkable how complementary the work being done in the UK is with our work although the problem is somewhat opposite. It is good to see the UK Government supporting such work, something we continue to pursue here in Australia.
We continue to stay in touch with the work of Soils for Life (S4L) and in that regard S4L's Michael Jeffery invited Peter Hazell and myself to attend a presentation by Terry McCosker on soil carbon followed by a discussion in a round table format. The new CEO for S4L, Natalie Williams, was also at that discussion and subsequently visited the MCLRP in January. We will continue to collaborate with S4L in areas of mutual interests.
2016 came to an end for The Mulloon Institute with a Board meeting followed by a joint meeting of the Advisory, Science Advisory and Development Councils and attendance at the MCNF Christmas Party in the barn.
Planning work for 2017 has been the order of the day since the New Year started although some planned meetings had to be put on hold when a serious bushfire threatened the northern MCNF farm, Duralla, where 20,000 hens are located plus the egg processing facility. It was somewhat of a miracle that we only lost half a dozen hens and some infrastructure. The fire went through one of the flocks but avoided the laying sheds thanks to the firefighting effort and seemingly, the Maremma dogs that protect the hens, herded them in under the sheds as the fire passed. Great work by farm manager Michael Fitzgerald and his team (more "jewels").
Unfortunately our neighbor and one of the major landholders in the MCLRP wasn't anywhere near as lucky having lost his house plus substantial damage to the property including livestock. We send our best regards and will be assisting in any way we can as he works to recover.
There is much about to happen in the coming months including our second workshop in March and a presentation to the NSW Geography Teachers Association also in March. Our various Advisory Councils will also be meeting in February as they guide the work of The Mulloon Institute over the coming year.
All the very best to you and thank you for your ongoing support.
Gary Nairn AO

Mulloon Institute awarded funding for Environmental Trust Restoration and Rehabilitation Program

Gary Nairn, John Barilaro, Peter Hazell and Rebecca Bradley at Mulloon Creek Natural Farm.

Gary Nairn, John Barilaro, Peter Hazell and Rebecca Bradley at Mulloon Creek Natural Farm.

NSW Government’s Environment Trust Restoration and Rehabilitation program has awarded The Mulloon Institute a grant of $100,000. This grant will allow us to commence the huge task of rehabilitating Mulloon Creek, and of re-establishing the functional connection between the creek and its surrounding floodplain.
The grant will be directed towards building a series of about 13 instream eco-structures  along a 3km section of Mulloon Creek between Mulloon Creek Natural Farms ‘The Home Farm’, where the original NSF demonstration is located, and the Kings Hwy.
These in-stream eco-structures will raise the water level in the creek and the adjacent floodplain, which will improve water flow during dry periods. Coupled with fencing and revegetation of the creek, this project will see a major improvement in the natural landscape function and habitat value of the Mulloon system.

NSW Environment Grant for Catchment Work by The Mulloon Institute

“The Mulloon Institute has received $100K from the Environment Trust of NSW to assist its Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP)”, Chairman Gary Nairn AO announced today.

“We were pleased to receive a visit from local State MP, John Barilaro, to announce the grant and to inspect the work being done in the Mulloon Creek catchment.

“This grant from the NSW Government’s Restoration and Rehabilitation fund will go directly towards the MCLRP as restoration and rehabilitation are part of its major goals,” Gary Nairn explained.

“The MCLRP covers the total Mulloon catchment, 23,000ha in total and about 40kms of creeks including Mulloon Creek, Reedy Creek and Sandhills Creek. It has been selected by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) as one of only five projects in the world to demonstrate how its implementation can contribute to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with respect to agriculture.

“The design of the MCLRP is based on the work of Peter Andrews who guided the design of the in-stream interventions on the pilot project conducted over 3kms of Mulloon Creek over the past nine years,” Gary Nairn added.

“Peter’s signature work was on his former property, Tarwyn Park, so The Mulloon Institute would like to see its current owner, Korean power company Kepco, allow ongoing access so that the unique landscape restoration can be documented in detail and for it to be used for practical studies as part of training people in how to regenerate and rehydrate degraded landscapes.

“The NSW Government could assist in achieving this goal as part of its negotiations with Kepco with regards any future developments on Tarwyn Park.

“The MCLRP will see a total catchment approach to landscape rehydration which will pave the way to addressing many other degraded landscapes but the value of the work at Tarwyn Park must be recognised as a unique insight into achieving future improved landscape functionality,” Gary Nairn concluded.


Welcoming Professor Neil Mann to the Science Advisory Council

Professor Neil Mann

Professor Neil Mann

We are proud to announce the official appointment of Professor Neil Mann, retired professor of nutritional biochemistry at RMIT University, to The Mulloon Institute Science Advisory Council. 

Professor Mann is respected voice nationally and internationally, particularly in the areas of nutrition, healthy, physiology, biochemistry and food science. He has chaired numerous prestigious committees including the Nutrition Society of Australia and the Nutrition Accreditation Committee, was a Trustee of the Asia Pacific Region International Life Sciences Institute and Scientific Director of the International Diabetes Institute. 

Professor Mann will contribute deep knowledge of the important role food systems and agriculture plays on health and wellbeing. We welcome him with enthusiasm to the Science Advisory Council. 

The Mulloon Institute joins United Nations sustainable development initiative

Big news! We're thrilled to announce that The Mulloon Institute's key project, the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP) has been selected as one of only five global model projects by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network - a  United Nations initiative to tackle the challenges of making ambitious changes to our global agriculture and food systems. 

The Mulloon Institute has been selected for its world-class methodologies and integrated science research program. Learnings from the MCLRP, together with inputs from four other model projects from around the world, will contribute to the development of globally applicable agricultural pathways and farming best practice models that are productive, profitable and sustainable. 

We will work closely with the federal and state government and our partners including Australian National University and NSW Department of Primary Industries to formulate global policy guidelines for potential pathways to sustainable agriculture practices. Other model projects in China, Uruguay and the United Kingdom have also been selected.


Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, the SDSN mobilises scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales.

The UN's global Sustainable Development Goals were committed to by all UN Member States in October 2015 in New York City, with the target to develop pathways and political guidelines to help countries achieve goals to ultimately improving global poverty, environment, peace, governance and economy.

We extend a huge thank you to the vision, hard work and dedication of our partners, supporters and community.

Click here to learn more about the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the global Sustainable Development Goals. 

National Youth Science Forum at Mulloon

Luke Peel speaks with NYSF group, 2016

Luke Peel speaks with NYSF group, 2016

Last month we welcomed four groups of year 12 students participating in the annual National Youth Science Forum to Mulloon to investigate what a future career in the Agriculture, Food and Biology fields could look like.

Research coordinator, Luke Peel, passed on his knowledge of the history of farming in the area, sharing the inspiring work of The Mulloon Institute's ambitious plan to revitalise the whole landscape and develop agricultural models that are productive, economic and sustainable to share with other communities to revitalise landscapes around Australia and even globally.

Students toured Mulloon Creek with Luke, learning about soil and vegetation monitoring, landscape functionality and rehydration techniques. 

They also learnt how The Mulloon Institute works with collaborative partners such as leading tertiary institutes, and of the variety of opportunities and education paths exist for students with an interest in science.

Nearby farmers Penny Kothe and Paul McKinnon, hosted the students for a few hours at their 100 acre Caroola farm. Here they were privy to how to set up holistic and permaculture farming practices and make a living off farming chickens, pigs, sheep, vegetables and herbs.      

It's fair to say the students left inspired after taking in a large amount of information about farming, environment, food systems and science as well as what individuals and groups are doing in these fields in the local area. Many of the students brought up great questions and showed genuine interest in the project and its outcomes.

The National Youth Science Forum is a 12-day program open to senior high school students interested in exploring a career in science. To find out more about the program, read on here.

20 Million Trees Project Approved

It's with great excitement we announce The Mulloon Institute has been given the nod to contribute to the Federal Government's 20 Million Trees initiative. With valuable funding provided by the initiative, we will purchase thousands of native seeds and seedlings for revegetation activities across the Mulloon catchment, from the creek to the hillside and gullies.

The 20 Million Trees programme aims to plant - you guessed it - 20 million native trees across Australia by 2020 by engaging with and supporting community groups, councils, companies and individuals to help reach this goal. The initiative supports building resilience, creating more inviting green spaces for recreation and community activity as well as improving connectivity of native vegetation, particularly beneficial for nationally listed threatened species identified at and around the project site.

Because this is quite a huge undertaking, we will be welcoming three new Green Army (Round 4) teams to Mulloon mid-year to work on-site with us to revegetate Mulloon as part of the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project. Over 12 months, they will prepare sites for planting and carry out necessary weeding, before taking on a mammoth job of planting over 7,000 trees on the project site.

Rest assured we will keep you posted on the efforts. 

Dr Peter Hendy, Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Inspects Work of Green Army Crew

While some of us have been kicking back enjoying the summer break, a group of young and dedicated workers have been very productive at Mulloon.

A Federally funded Skillset Green Army crew spent seven days undertaking gully erosion control work as part of the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project. The crew were paid a visit by Dr. Peter Hendy MP, who was able to see first-hand the valuable regeneration work being completed in the local community, by local community members.

Based on Peter Andrews' recommendations, the crew built leaky weirs and contours to slow water flow and initiate the recovery of two tributaries of Mulloon Creek. The team built 20 leaky weirs in seven days. 

Green Army Round 4 Teams Secured for 2016

Green Army team at Mulloon 2015

Green Army team at Mulloon 2015

More fantastic news! In addition to the teams lined up through the 20 Million Trees program, The Mulloon Institute has also been successful in its application to host another three project teams through the Green Army Round 4 application from mid 2016. 

Our new recruits will pick up where the Round 3 crew left off and will spend 6 months each at the Mulloon catchment, getting their hands dirty and working supervised to deliver important landscape rehydration activities including installing creek ecostructures, weeding and site preparation activities.

The Green Army initiative mutually provides valuable work experience and training for 17-24 year old participants as well as much appreciated on-ground assistance for the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project. Each Green Army crew comprises nine team members and a supervisor, and will come with a troop carrier, trailer and tools. We're looking forward to having many hands on deck over the next year.

If you are interested in being a part of Green Army Projects, or know someone who might be, click here to register your interest.

Endangered orchid found at Mulloon Creek Natural Farm

Buttercup Doubletail orchid

Buttercup Doubletail orchid

A recent survey of the MCNF in association with NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has revealed that the farm is home to an endangered ground orchid - Buttercup Doubletail (Diuris aequalis). 

MI Research Coordinator Luke Peel reported that a small population of the orchid was found in an area along the Dividing Range ridge line in the woodland, and a further 6 were found as part of a nearby roadside population. With recorded numbers having been low in recent years, the team were delighted by the discovery and will be tracking the populations in the years to come. Find out more about the species here. 

Packed Out Field Day a Success


A few short weeks ago, we threw open the gates of our home farm in Bungendore and hosted The Mulloon Institute Field Day and Expert Panel.

A huge thank you to those of you who joined The Mulloon Institute team for the day, the event was a great success, with 150 people visiting our living laboratory and touring through the early stages of the Mulloon Creek Landscape Rehydration Project. 

The day consisted of a tour of the floodplain and a guided walk through the on-farm creek interventions. Guests had the opportunity to speak to range of highly experienced guides, such as scientist, like Dr. Michael Wilson from the Murray Darling Authority, natural resources Managers like Peter Hazell, and landholders who have had long experience in Natural Sequence Farming, like Martin Royds and Tony Coote. The guides were backed up by Peter Andrews, pioneer of natural sequence farming, who visited each of the groups as they walked up the creek. 

After lunch, the MI team took the crowd through the proposed plans for the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project. This was followed by an expert panel discussion in which field day participants had the opportunity to fire questions at the panel.  Including those mentioned above, the expert panel comprised former Federal Minister for Water, Gary Nairn, ANU Geomorphologist and Soil Scientist,  Dr John Field and  ANU Entomologist and River Ecologist, Dr Paul Cooper.

The level of engagement on display during the day is a testament to the high levels of community interest there is in the MCLRP. Many thanks go out to those who could join us for the day, and for the continued input, feedback and invaluable interest in the development of this important project. 

The date of the next field day will be announced early next year and you can head to our Facebook page for a sample of some of the photos from the day. 

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair visits Mulloon

The Mulloon Institute was honoured to receive a visit from The NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Land and Water, Niall Blair.

Joining us for the day, the Minister met with key stakeholders of the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP) and inspected both the site of the original pilot project and the site for the new community project where preparatory scientific baselining is currently being conducted to underpin the results of the regeneration work with hard evidence.

Local Land Services NSW and other agencies of the NSW Department of Primary Industries have been working with The Mulloon Institute to develop the project, which covers 23000 hectares of land over 40 km of creeks and involves upwards of 16 landholders.

Michael Thomes, the Executive Director of The Mulloon Institute said "We are delighted that the Minister took the time to inspect the project, we had very constructive discussions and look forward to the next steps."

The MCLRP is a project which uses a triple bottom line approach, integrating repair of the ecology, community engagement and economic returns to regenerate the entire catchment of the Mulloon Creek. MI is facilitating the project in close cooperation with the government and a number of leading universities under the leadership of the ANU.