Celebrating 20 years of Bellingen Urban Landcare

As published in the Bellingen Shire Courier Sun on Wednesday December 10th 2014. 

Bellingen Urban Landcare Inc. volunteers planting out Cemetery Creek at Bellingen High School in 2001.

Bellingen Urban Landcare Inc. volunteers planting out Cemetery Creek at Bellingen High School in 2001.

In 1994 when a group of permaculturalists undertook the task of designing the rehabilitation of Cemetery Creek in Bellingen, there was barely a creek at all. However, six months later, with funding gleaned from different sources, bridges were built, fences erected and riparian zones replanted.

Twenty years on, Cemetery Creek is now a healthy and biodiverse wildlife corridor, forming the backdrop for Bellingen’s popular monthly markets.

According to Bellingen Urban Landcare’s Charlie Brennan, that project became the first of many around the town’s public urban waterways.

“Sites at O’Sullivans Park. Connell Park. Bellingen Park, Bellingen High School, The Bowling Club and Scout Hall, Ringwood Cree, The Point and western end of Bellingen Island were painstakingly rehabilitated,” Charlie said.

Charlie also said that over the years, these projects have involved more than 1000 people, 40 organisations, 50,000 hours of time, as well as combined funding and in-kind contributions valued at over a million dollars.

“Bellingen Urban Landcare’s conservation projects have changed individual people, our community, as well as the waterways and wildlife corridors of our town,” he said.

“The work of looking after these sites continues still and it’s only through all the community members, volunteers and contractors, funding organisations, project leaders and the BULC committee who have thankfully contributed so much over the years.”

A decade on and with the support from Council’s Environmental Levy, Bellingen (Market) Park site is about to receive an upgrade. This will involve weeding, planting, bush regeneration and fence work. The first phase of this will be a working bee on Sunday, December 14 from 9 to 12.

Charlie assures all those who attend are in for a celebration too: “Come help us celebrate our 20 years with a special birthday cake morning tea.”

For more information about Bellingen Urban Landcare see: www.bellingenurbanlandcare.org.au



CEL is now a Charity! And other exciting stuff..

Okay, we are not saying this just because it is what you are supposed to say in the final report of the year…..we are saying this because it’s TRUE: it has been a really successful year for CEL – full of a huge amount of varied and interesting happenings throughout the year that have involved hundreds of people from our community.

Bellingen EYE powered along with its second and final year of the “Gen2Gen” program (funded by NSW Youth Opportunities) that involved over 100 young people over the year, with some amazing camps and the final “Free Your Food” campaign sweeping through the town. Andrew and team led EYE’s first ever 3 day bushwalking camp which was a fantastic experience and heralds the way for more.

Our offerings for youth deepened this year with our intrepid EYE Coordinator Olivia’s continued weekly involvement in Bellingen High School’s Community Garden program, and more opportunities for connection with the Student Environment Council. CEL also auspiced an exciting new after-school program trial in Term 4 – the “Dukes” brought together the amazing bush survival skills of cool young mentors Daniel, Henry, Pip, and Tyler with the enthusiasm of a dedicated group of Year 9/10 boys and the results were awesome.

2014 has also seen our offerings for adults continue to blossom. Our inaugural “EcoLiving Workshops”, supported by the Bellingen Shire Council’s Environmental Levy Fund, were very well attended and received, with a mix of topics that ranged from practical (Bee Keeping) to philosophical (Sustainability Elders) and everything in between. We also trialled our “Where the Wild Things Are” adult EYE camp – in which our young EYE leaders helped facilitate a weekend of bush skills and deep ecology for adults. Everyone loved it!

So onwards to next year. Congratulations to the 2015 CEL Management Committee which was elected at our AGM a few weeks ago. There are three “officer” types on the committee for 2015 – Lisa Siegel, chairperson; Benn Wolhuter, treasurer; and Zoe Moore, secretary. We also have five committee members: Andrew Turbill, Charlie Brennan, Jane Noack, Olivia Bernardini, and Tyler Parkes.

The first order of business for the CEL committee is to dream up what will be happening in 2015. As all of our external funding has now unfortunately ended, one of our priorities is to secure funding to continue running our programs. We are pursuing a number of options. We are waiting to hear back from a number of grants that we have applied for, but of course grant funding is pretty slim in the current political environment. The good news is that along with our Deductible Gift Recipient status, we have also recently been officially registered as an Australian Charity. So that means that we are welcoming all sponsors and donations with open arms, and will be pursuing this actively in the new year. Perhaps most importantly, we are looking at ways to develop our programs to reach new audiences in order to help create financial sustainability for CEL.

There is no doubt that CEL’s continued work in offering experiences in deep nature connection is important and necessary in these times….so onwards and upwards as we search for the best way to do so. Wishing all of our friends a peaceful and connected holiday time and a wonderful 2015.

For the earth,


On behalf of the CEL Management Committee

'Intro to Permaculture' Workshop a great success!

intro to permaculture workshop_northbank community garden_CEL

We held our CEL ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ workshop on a beautiful Bellingen spring day and under the flowering Bauhinias at Bellingen High School Community Garden.  Participants shared ideas and designs whilst learning about Permaculture principles and inspirations.  Practical outcomes included adopting a more natural and relaxed approach to green manure and edible gardening as well as the construction of new composting facilities for the garden. CEL would like to thank Bellingen Shire Council Environmental Levy for funding this workshop and looks forward to building upon this successful Permaculture workshop in the future.

Upper Bellinger Hiking Adventure

As yet another storm broke over the Bellinger valley on early Friday afternoon last week 13 intrepid hikers (10 senior EYE and 3 adult mentors), carrying everything on their backs they would need for the next 3 days, bravely set off on an awesome adventure into the remote New England National Park.  Later that afternoon, with distant thunder rumbling through the lush valley, we sat around a cracking camp fire by the river eating freshly caught freshwater bass and enjoyed a well-deserved rest  in preparation for our challenging wilderness walk the next day to the summit of the 700m high volcanic formation known as the Crescent. This deeply immersive experience (literally!) marks the last Senior EYE camp for 2014 and sets the gold standard for a new style of EYE adventuring in years to come!

Is Your Life A Little Less Plastic Now?

Free Your Food – Plastic Free November was a blasting success!

Two great events at Northbank Community Garden, 120 people of all ages signing up for the challenge, more than 100 bags made from recycled material by Bellingen EYE & Bellingen High school’s students… it’s been a busy and inspiring time!

We are a few significant steps ahead in making Bellingen a plastic bag-free town and a model of sustainability, with the youth at the forefront of this change.

 Here are a few pics from our ‘Is Your Life a Little Less plastic?’ end of Plastic Free Challenge event @ Northbank Community Garden

Thanks again to all musicians and food prep helpers, who generously contributed to create the wonderful vibe at this event.

Bee workshop participants emerge inspired

Keeping bees is an ancient human practice, with depictions of the collection of honey from wild bees dating back 15 000 years. Participants at our recent bee-keeping workshop connected with this tradition, learning how to light the smoker, construct hive parts, carefully handle hive inhabitants and extract their honey. Apiarist Sue Rees also imparted a warning of the global plight of bees, the diseases that can plague them and instructed the group on how to best manage their hives to prevent disease. With many participants inspired to go forth and keep bees in their backyards, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians would undoubtedly approve of this wise self-sustainability initiative.

‘Free Your Food – Plastic Free November’ has taken off!

free your food pledgers_CEL

More than 100 people have pledged to stop buying anything that comes in plastic for whole month of November; more than 100 Borrow Me Bags are now in the town’s food retail shops for the community to use instead of plastic bag.

After a great night – fresh delicious food & the movie Bag It, Is Your Life Too Plastic? – at Northbank Community Garden; and a great day at the Bellingen River Festival 111 people of all ages had signed up for the challenge.

Join them: you can take the Free Your Food http://dailycialisuse.com/dosages-and-everything-you-need-to-know-about-correct-choosing-of-your-perfect-one/ pledge throughout November; or support them to raise funds for our Marine Conservation camp next year by donating.


[box size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]More about the Free Your Food Challenge[/box]