By Danielle Kutchel
Community spirit is alive and well in Garfield North, with around 80 people attending a tree planting day at the Garfield North Outdoor Education Centre to encourage fauna back into the fire-ravaged area.
Families, community organisations and volunteers gave up their time on Sunday 15 September to plant native shrubs and groundcovers that will attract birds and small animals to the area.
Funding from the State Government covered the cost of the plants.
The day was a combined effort between six different groups: Westernport Landcare Action Network, Cannibal Creek Landcare Group, Bunyip-Garfield Rotary, the Bunyip Complex Fires Community Recovery Committee, the Garfield North Outdoor Education Centre Committee and the Cardinia Council bushfire recovery team.
Also present were representatives from St Vincent De Paul, Lions Club, Windermere, Bunyip Police and the CFA, and Cardinia Shire mayor Graeme Moore.
The groups invited families from both within and outside of the fire impact area to help with planting.
Kids were encouraged to write their name and perhaps even draw a picture on the tree guards.
The shrubs were then planted down by the roadside for drivers and visitors to see.
“In time, they will be able to pull up on the side of the road and see what plants they planted,” said Garry Burns, a member of the Community Recovery Committee.
“It was a symbolic day.”
He added that the day was another milestone for the recovering community, which continues to come together to support residents as they get back on their feet following the devastation in March.
Many of those present, including council representatives, were volunteering large chunks of their spare time to the fire recovery effort.
“It’s not just community groups, teams and the council working together, there has been an amazing amount of effort put into that recovery by individuals coming from outside and inside the area, committing hundreds of hours of their own time to helping other people out as well,” Mr Burns said.
“Individuals throughout the area have given so much to other people. They’re critical to the recovery.”
Going forward, Mr Burns said, there are a number of big projects planned for within the fire recovery area.
The Outdoor Education Centre also provided a wish list of items they would like to obtain or rectify, including new soft fall for the playground area, which was burnt in the fires, and the restoration of the wheelchair path at the campsite which was damaged by recovery machinery.
“Everyone is doing the best they can, and the end result will be that the area will become better than what it was before the fires. The overall spirit of the community is coming together well,” Mr Burns said.