East Gippsland’s Nungurner Primary School Celebrates Firewise Garden
Category: News

Nungurner Primary School in East Gippsland, Victoria, recently celebrated the establishment of its new Firewise Garden, a Junior Landcare project that brought all hands on deck and is sure to inspire others as they prepare for bushfire season.

A collaboration between Nungurner Landcare, Wildseed Nursery, Nungurner CFA, local residents and Lakes Entrance Community Landcare, this fantastic project all started with the publication of the Green Fire Walls Firewise Garden Design by Angelique Stephanotis and team at Nungurner Community Landcare – a resource kit of fire information and videos.

Out on site, students took Soil Tests finding out the Acidity or Alkalinity of various spots and back in class, wrote up a Soil Report – all assisted by Tambo Bluff Volunteer Jenny Meddings! They also titled plant labels by recycling old wooden blind blades, pushing them into the ground next to the Firewise plants, before tree guarding all the plants!

Through the project, parents and friends around Nungurner have been encouraged to plant a Firewise Garden with a free Soil Test and Plant advice for their gardens and blocks of land by the local East Gippsland Landcare Network Facilitator Phillip Vaughan.

EcoArtists Catherine van Wilgenburg and Heather Oke knew that there was a space behind the new Children’s play space at Nungurner Primary School and, in discussion with Principal Emma Steele, the Firewise Garden Program fired up a storm!

Students identified some East Gippsland local Indigenous Firewise plants, touching and feeling their textures and flammable qualities before planting them.

‘I just loved the Seaberry Saltbush NOT BURNING with the Gas torch flame,’ shared student Sienna Gollot, “especially when seeing how other plants burn at different speeds!”

Sienna got enthusiastic and researched all about the benefits of Seaberry Saltbush, not only for street nature strips and gardens but also for cooking and medicinal uses; presenting her research at the opening of the school’s Firewise Garden on June 21, 2023.

As part of the celebrations, “we all walked through the smoke preparing ourselves to go down to the gathering space where parents, students and local residents, Landcare and environmental workers from the area all listened to East Gippsland Shire Councillor, Mendy Urie,  speak proudly of this First Australian Firewise Garden in East Gippsland, bringing people together to support each other in these tough times of climate crisis; making the change in our own backyards to connect to Country in respect and honouring Traditional Ecological knowledge,” shared Catherine van Wilgenburg, Eco-artist and Coordinator of the project.

“Collaboration on-ground is the clue to creating the changes needed to face our futures in the next five years to stay alive to thrive,” added Catherine. “Acting local; planting local Indigenous plants to maintain the biodiversity of our plant, bird and insect life, are essential for our children and grandchildren to get a life!”

You can view the Green Fire Walls Firewise Garden Design brochures and videos here:

Special thanks to Catherine Catherine van Wilgenburg