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Lismore Landcare group visits island

News release
04 December 2014

Members of the Lismore Landcare Group from southwest Victoria spent four action packed days on Kangaroo Island, squeezing in some sightseeing between visiting a range of the production systems the island has to offer. They were accompanied by Landcare Officer Shari McConachy and Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Regional Landcare Facilitator Karen O’Keeffe.

At Bellevista, Travis and Lauchie Bell took them on a tour of their mixed farming operation and briefed the group on KI Pure Grain’s long term marketing and production goals and operation. At Island Pure Sheep Dairy they had a tour of operations including some of the fencing, revegetation, watercourse protection and pasture renovation carried out with the assistance of Kangaroo Island NRM Board and of course, sampled the produce. The day was topped off by a presentation on the Glossy Black-cockatoo Recovery Program by project officer Mike Barth.

It was an early start on day three with a journey out west to see the integration of native vegetation management into the business of farming with Damien and Annette Florance. This also featured at Ella Matta, where the group heard about the improvement in flock genetics that is driving that enterprise.

The last day began at the KI Native Plant Nursery viewing the remainder of the over 70,000 tubestock that has been grown this year. This visit was followed by a quick stop at Clifford’s Honey Farm, an example of an integrated farming/apiary/tourism enterprise. Again the group provided quality control assessment of the products, in particular the honey ice cream which required extensive product testing.

Next visit was to a revegetation site at Pelican Lagoon where some of the more tenacious plantings of 2014 were prospering on coastal limestone. Last stop was Camp Creek on the Dudley Peninsula, the Island’s second oldest continuous farming enterprise. Here, former Lismore local Kate and husband Andy Gilfillan, enthralled the group with a history of the property and their own personal and business journey, integrating the paddock-to-plate ethos of South Rock Lamb with nature based tourism.

On their way to the ferry, group members took the opportunity to reflect on their visit over a few wines at the Dudley Cellars. They were universally impressed with the Island’s agricultural and natural assets, and the drive and commitment of the producers they met and their friendliness and willingness to give up their time to host the Lismore visitors.

Commenting on their visit Landcare Officer Shari McConachy said,‘Issues faced here were surprisingly different from what we deal with on the mainland. Freight cost is one of the main costs of production and has driven a number of innovative solutions including setting up KI Pure Grain, establishing niche markets through brands such as South Rock Lamb prime lamb production to improve cost effectiveness, using artificial insemination to eliminate the cost of exporting sheep on and off the island and focussing on wool production because of its lower freight costs’.