BARUNG HISTORY

Our story

Barung Landcare was one of the early Landcare groups in Australia. It was established in 1989 and became incorporated in 1990 at the beginning of the Decade of Landcare Plan. 

The landslips of the Blackall Range were a large motivation for the formation of the group, with many landholders willing to take responsibility and action, rather than look to blame past management practices or land clearing for timber harvest and agriculture. Addressing erosion and slope stability provided the first target of restoration work. 

1989 was also the beginning of the Barung native plant nursery – set up to both supply local genetic plants for rehabilitation and to generate funds for Landcare – an aim identified from the beginning by Barung Management Committees. 

Early Barung Landcare members comprised of farmers, hobby farmers and environmentalists. This was the beginning of the “tree change” era which saw a marked shift in attitude towards the role of trees in the landscape. 

While there was some initial tension with a perception that conservation would compete with agriculture, Landcare enabled the two to complement each other and allowed people all over Australia to see that good on-farm conservation practices can, in many ways, support healthy and viable farm production through sustainable natural resource management.

In the Blackall Range and surrounds, as a shift from traditional farming practices to more sustainable land management took hold, a new challenge emerged with the increasing subdivision of large paddocks into “lifestyle” blocks. Many new landholders moving to the region from large cities or suburbs and from interstate, had no knowledge of the issues facing them as rural landholders in a sub-tropical environment. There was generally a lack of connection with the landscape and its patterns, nor an appreciation of local native species and what harm weeds and exotic species could do in terms of impact on the environment and waterways. 

In response to this, the first edition of Barung’s “Blackall Range Landholders Guide” was produced in 1996 to assist new landholders in understanding the complexities of their new local environment. This targeted newcomers through local real estate agents and has always been free for any new members of Barung Landcare. An updated edition was produced in 2005, and then again in 2017, and is still an incredible local resource for new and existing landholders in the region.

Now, as the Sunshine Coast experiences more urban housing developments and the land is further divided up, environmental challenges continue in terms of preserving natural areas, maintaining habitat connectivity, encouraging local native plants in gardens instead of invasive and exotic species, and Barung remains committed to working with community, local government, local catchment groups, businesses and many others to address these emerging and pressing issues. 

Barung Landcare is an established part of the social fabric of the vibrant Maleny community – working tirelessly to ensure the sustainability of the natural resources of the region for the future.

With more than 700 members, Barung has now consolidated its reputation as one of the most successful Landcare groups in Queensland, Australia and internationally.

BARUNG NAME & logo

The Barung logo was designed by local sign writer and Barung volunteer Michael Davies. Michael reflects at the 10 year anniversary of Barung Landcare in the 1999 August – September Newsletter Issue:

The name ‘Barung’ comes from a local Aboriginal language word for a species of Rat-kangaroo which was apparently common throughout the area covered by Barung Landcare.

“This would have been the Long-nosed Potoroo or Potorus tradactylus. P. tridactylus was one of the first mammals recorded by Europeans in Australia. A description and illustration appeared in Governor Phillip’s account of the settlement at Botany Bay in 1789. 

The Blackall Range region is at the northern extreme of its historical distribution as given by Strahan in the Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Stan Tutt reports that the long-nosed potoroo or ‘Barung’ was once common in the area but may now be locally extinct. They are restricted to areas with an annual rainfall greater than 760mm, inhabiting coastal heath and dry and wet sclerophyll forests. A major habitat requirement is thick ground cover and according to P.G. Johnston (in Strahan’s book) they are heavily concentrated in areas where the soil is light and sandy. There is debate about whether the name Baroon Pocket has the same derivation as Barung with alternative origins having been suggested. Interestingly, since the soil in Baroon Pocket was of alluvial origin, it would have been sandy. Those who knew the area before it was inundated would attest to the fact that it was rich in wet sclerophyll understory and ground cover – just the sort of habitat in which a Barung would have thrived. 

I seem to remember the idea of using a Quandong seed as the central device for the design came to me almost immediately. Living beside a large Quandong I had always been impressed by its majestic form and fascinating dried seed cases, looking so much like a deeply convoluted brain. I liked the idea of using a brain-like image in the logo. It suggested notions of ‘rationality’, ‘reason’ and ‘intelligence’. That had to be a positive image. As I began to play around with some sketches it all fell into place quickly and easily – the seedling emerging from a seed case which is half brain, half globe. After ten years it still looks good to my eyes. As a graphic artist, it gives me considerable pleasure to produce a piece of work that survives in the community space for many years. It is even nicer when the work is associated with an organisation which has a positive and growing profile in our community.”

Historical Newsletters

Barung Landcare has had an incredible amount of contribution to its events, community gatherings and environmental projects from knowledgeable community members from across the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and beyond. 

In 2022 volunteer Peter Milton spent months of work digitising xx years of past Barung newsletters so that our history remains available and we can celebrate the wonderful work that has happened over the years, and the people who have contributed to the evolution of Barung. 

Each and every volunteer and staff member that has contributed to Barung Landcare and its continuing momentum, has played a significant role in making Barung what it is today. Everyone brings their own unique flavour to the way they share knowledge, design initiatives, communicate and encourage others to connect with nature and look after the local environment. 

We are grateful for everyone who has joined the Barung community, contributed in their own way, and we look forward to seeing how it evolves into the future.

You can access a slice of Barung’s history through the below archive of newsletters.