Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Nestled in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, a two-hour drive from Sydney and just over the Great Dividing Range, lies the small town of Tarana. It is surrounded by local state forests and important historical sites such as the Jenolan Caves. The Tarana Volunteer Bushfire Brigade protects the Tarana community and surrounding districts from fires that threaten life and land. During the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, the brigade worked tirelessly at this task.

The Black Summer fires underscored the need for brigades to be ready and prepared for urgent fire defence. However, a review into the fires found that loss of power to brigade sheds affected the ability of emergency services to be as responsive as was needed.

An incident in 2021, where a power pole was damaged near their shed, further highlighted this issue for the Tarana Brigade, as they went without power for several weeks. A small group of volunteers was left to man a generator to keep power going, tying up valuable resources needed elsewhere.

Through the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund (VESF) grant program, the Tarana Brigade found a solution to their power problem. Installing a solar powered battery backup system ensured ongoing continuity of their power supply, with the added benefit of producing green energy and reducing operational costs.

Thanks to the generous contribution of a private donor, a $25,000 VESF grant provided the brigade with the certainty of running their fire shed unencumbered: trucks will stay charged, roller doors and fast fill pumps will remain operational, security systems and fridges for crew supplies will continue to run. This means that the Tarana Volunteer Bushfire Brigade will be ready to support their community whenever they are needed.

Grant awarded to Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Inc

FRRR has awarded an out-of-session grant for $30,000 to the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Inc, via the Grants for Resilience & Wellness – Kinglake Ranges program, funded by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF).

The project, titled “Co-designing our Future: Community Conversations – Kinglake Ranges Talks”, continues the ongoing support for the Kinglake Ranges communities in their long-term recovery and rebuilding following the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated the region in 2009. Specifically, the grant aims to strengthen the community’s ability to identify opportunities and priorities for the Kinglake Ranges through place based community-led consultation.

In the 12 years since the 2009 Bushfires, almost half of the residents of Kinglake are new to the area. So the work of Kinglake Landcare Group is important in helping to improve the new residents’ understanding of their natural environment and the importance of fire safety. As a subsidiary of Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House (KRNH), Kinglake Landcare Group provides support to the natural environment of Kinglake by undertaking community engagement activities and promoting sustainable agriculture.

With support from our Grants for Resilience & Wellness – Kinglake Ranges (GR&W Kinglake) program, Kinglake Landcare Group was able to make quite an impact on the community with their organised activities. The Group used their GR&W Kinglake grant to facilitate bushwalks and workshops to provide a practical way for residents to become familiar with the native flora, including how to care for it.  

Geordie Scott-Walker, a botanist from Wildlife Experiences, guided a group of 22 enthusiastic participants on a walk from Captains Creek Road. Along the way Geordie would stop and identify local plants, explaining each ecosystem and the importance of the relationships between plants and the environment. After a quick lunch break, the walkers were then led to the nearby Wombelano Falls where the lesson continued. Social media posts allowed residents from surrounding areas, including Whittlesea and Strath Creek to participate in the activity as well.

The grant also made it possible for Kinglake Landcare Group to hold a propagation workshop with horticulturalist, Michael Cincotta, from the Latrobe Wildlife Sanctuary. Residents were shown how to grow indigenous flora through seeds and cuttings. The pots, soil and stakes were provided at the workshop. Attendees were able to take home their own small clipping of the Round-Leaf Pomaderris plant, which is endangered in the Kinglake area.

The success of these events prompted Kinglake Landcare Group to schedule more walks that have been postponed due to the coronavirus. With the enthusiasm and support from other nearby towns, the natural environment of Kinglake ranges will continue to improve and flourish.

By attending either of the activities these local communities were able to build on the knowledge and understanding of their natural environment. The hope is that each resident who participated in the walk or workshop will continue to share the information with others. The skills learnt at the bushwalk and the workshop have given individuals the power to help maintain the natural flora and take an active role in their community.