HARD graft. That is what it took to transform a parcel of land in the grounds of North Coast TAFE.
Challenging site access and an abundance of invasive non-native plant species had rendered hundreds of metres of land unfit for student and staff use at the Taree campus.
That is until Matt Donovan, Jason Hazard, Anthony Moore and Steve Simon stepped up to do the hard physical labour that up until now, no-one wanted to do, or importantly had the resources to undertake site remediation.
The men began in May and five months later they proudly stand on a white gravel pathway that weaves beneath a canopy of trees. The environment is no longer ravaged by an abundance of overgrown lantana, privet, senna and ochne weeds that prevented access and suppressed the growth of plants native to the Manning Valley.
The trees are now surrounded by newly planted native plants and shrubs. It is now open, beautiful that invites and encourages people to feel still and peaceful. The crunch of gravel underfoot sounds harsh in the environment of birdsong and breezes but it leads you to a single bench - a place of respite.
The gravel path continues to a small bridge and leads to an open space nestled at the base of a steep stair descent from the carpark. It is an open area dressed with four benches and lends itself to a natural common area for staff and students to meet and enjoy lunch or study outdoors in brilliant sunshine.
Matt, Jason, Anthony and Steve are proud of their work and are happy with the support they received to create the new, functional space. That support came in many forms and from many sources. The Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority funded the project to the tune of $10,000 in conjunction with Taree Indigenous Development Employment Service (TIDE) through its Working On Country program. North Coast Campus of Taree provided the site, Manning Coast Care provided hundreds of native plants and Gnomes provided treated pine for the steps, bridge, pathway and five benches.
So with the work done, Matt, Jason, Anthony and Steve had time to overlook the site, eat a hot sausage sandwich and enjoy the celebration of a successful community partnership.