Since 1995 members of Bellingen Urban Landcare have been regenerating waterways in our beautiful town of Bellingen and Tim Scanlon has been part of this journey for most of the past 20 years. “I love the natural beauty of the Bellingen area and Landcare provides a great way to be out in it, learn more about it, and repair some of the damage that’s been done, so that it’s even more beautiful for the next generation! It has a great feel-good factor,” says Tim. A successful collaboration between volunteers, conservation teams and contractors has resulted in a transformation of at least a dozen landcare sites around Bellingen township, as rubbish and weeds have been removed, fences and bridges constructed and native plant species have been planted and regenerated.
The forty strong local landcare group have achieved results that we all enjoy and take for granted. The market park creeks were choking in weeds when the group was conceived. Today the revitalised creeks, riparian vegetation and healthy trees now provide the beautiful and cool backdrop to our monthly markets. Tim sees their greatest success has been connecting people to their natural environment. “This is something that has been lost to many people and why the world is in such a state! By connecting people to their environment they feel good; and often then make changes in their own back yards and neighbourhoods,” says Tim.
Tim has always been an environmentalist at heart. “Growing up I was very lucky to travel and see the world, with its amazing beauty and filth, rich and poor. It all seemed to come together as a teenager with trips to Tasmania and New Zealand – and I’ve had a love for nature, and a quest to learn more ever since.” One can imagine that this region’s climate and subsequent proliferation of weeds, could be off-putting, or at the very least over-whelming. “Once you’re crazy, nothing’s a problem any more. You need to find a balance. The middle path is to target the highest priority weed, e.g madeira vine, and take it out where you can, ignore the rest. Know that things will be crazy from December to May but the dry will come. Then only holiday in pristine New England and Cathedral Rock National Parks to maintain your own sanity.”
Tim’s day job doesn’t move far from his weekend work with Bellingen Urban Landcare. As Pest Management Officer with National Parks, Tim coordinates and oversees bush regeneration and weed control programs from New England to Stuarts Point and the Solitary Islands. “I love my work. I am surrounded by beautiful places and people who are passionate about caring for them.”
Music is Tim’s other “life survival tactic.” “I’m very lucky to play in a band with good friends. ‘Something Good’ play gigs now and then, such as at the Federal Hotel on 26th August! I write the songs but have great musicians around me that can take a simple song on a world tour through English ska, Romanian gypsy, a little latin and American pop stopover and back to my Oz indie rock roots.”
“We are recording our second album later in the year,” says Tim. He is now proudly watching his children playing and writing their own songs too. “Jirra (aged 8) has got his own great little band going too.”
So what can a volunteer for Bellingen Urban Landcare expect at their regular working bees. “Cake, coffee, fruit and nice chats, by a gentle creek in the rainforest. We provide all the tools and supervision. Most working bees we have a focus on tree planting, but may do mulching, non-chemical weed control, watering and some rubbish removal. Oh yeh… and we bring cake!” The next working bee for Bellingen Urban Landcare is at their recent ‘bush tucker plant out’ at Connell Park (near the netball courts) on Sunday 27th August from 9-12. For more information go to www.bellingenurbanlandcare.org.au