August 2014 Event: Land Water Flow/Restoration

Some 20 people gathered at Max and Marie Kau’s property at Talbot to listen to how over the last 25 years they have transformed a barren sheep paddock with a single willow tree into a well treed and more ecologically diverse environment..

The Kau’s sought advice about restoring their land.. A key point being that it has no town water supply or permanent creek.  Water to grow plants relies on the annual rainfall of around 550 mm pa. So the first improvement involved providing a farm water supply and included  permaculture ideas such  installing a system of 4 dams and swales to catch rainfall.. The nature of the soil decided the depth and of end use these dams . The dams follow a watercourse that allows rainfall to fill the first and deepest dam which then overflows into the next. There is provision to pump water between dams which is important when evaporation from a shallower dam can be avoided by storing water in a deeper dam.  The first and deepest dam has been used to farm Murray Cod while the second and shallowest is a duck pond. The third has an Island bird sanctuary and the 4th is a yabby dam. On this visit the yabby dam was dry.

Rather than use a system of companion planting, trees were located for ease of care and usefulness. The southern boundary and entrance is planted with tall native trees and shrubs. The western boundary has a line of fire retarding poplars which are irrigated with domestic grey water. The north boundary has a variety of wattles to provide a view of progressively flowering wattle at different times of the year.

Water for domestic household use is collected from the shed and house roof area and stored in large tanks.

Despite the Millennium drought the Kau property was self sufficient in water for trees and the needs of a  large vegetable garden and orchard. Though the fish had difficulty in the low level warm water in one of the shallow dams.

The Kau’s have worked hard to successfully restore their land and visitors were fortunate to be able and listen and learn firsthand how this was done and then to sit and chat outside over afternoon tea and  admire the fine result.