Opening of the NUFG Kamarooka Education Centre 

Last Sunday 3 June 2012 was a very special day for the members of the Northern United Forestry Group. After years of  planning for an education centre it was finally complete. A new building stood shining in the sun before us. 

The facility is beautifully lined with timber and there are sliding covers installed on each of the windows allowing the room to be darkened for presentations. The facility opens onto a patio complete with wooden benches and tables, and on the northern perimeter there is a barbecue area. The vista includes ancient remnant grey box trees to the immediate west and an expansive biodiversity plantation in the east. 

At 11.00am on Sunday people begin arriving and at 11.30am the opening ceremonies begin. The MC for the day was a foundation member of the NUFG Mr. James Williams. Ian Rankin, Chair of the NUFG was the first to speak. He talked of  how the group first formed in 1998 and how it has evolved through to the present day. Next Andy Hay told us how dryland salinity had developed in the 1950s on the land then owned by his uncle Mac.  Phil Dyson then spoke about the science the group has deployed in rehabilitating the degraded saltland. Both Phil and James made special mention of the great support NUFG has gained over the years from instruments supplier ICT International.  

From left to right the Honourable Peter Walsh MP Minister for Agriculture & Food Security, Mr Paul Weller MP Member for Rodney, Mr Geoff Curnow Mayor of the Loddon Shire and his wife Merna.

Then it was time for the Hon. Peter Walsh MP, Victorian Minster for Agriculture and Food Security to formally open the new facility. Minister Walsh spoke of the commitment of groups like the NUFG in meeting the needs of local communities and of their great capacity to manage natural resources consistent with local conditions underpinned by local knowledge. He applauded the NUFG for their ingenuity and resourcefulness in realising the Education Centre. 

Minister Wash was accompanied by Paul Weller MP Minister for Rodney and by the Honourable Dr Sharman Stone MP Federal Minister for Murray. 

Peter Walsh and Paul Weller congratulate NUFG Chair Ian Rankin upon the opening of the new Kamarooka Education Centre

The official opening ceremonies were followed by a brief presentation from guest speaker Miles Geldard who spoke of the need to provide habitat for local bird species, and of how the faunal biodiversity of the Kamarooka site might be supplemented with the addition of nesting boxes. 

The final part of the opening ceremony acknowledged the dedication of NUFG member Bill Gallagher in bringing the Education Centre together. Bill remains a staunch supporter and advocate for the NUFG. He supervised the construction of the facility. He built the amazing timber and chair sets NUFG and guests enjoy in the patio area. He also lined the new facility with timber panelling. Bill, like many other NUFG members, turns up again and again to welcome guests to the site. He manages the barbecue process when we feed people, and always makes our visitors feel welcome through his contributions to the discussion. Last Sunday was doubly special for NUFG because it was also Billís birthday and there were candles to be blown out and cakes to be eaten.

Bill surprised us by presenting NUFG with a new cedar table he had fashioned for the NUFG from waste logs. 

Stuart Fraser (Bendigo and District Environment Council) , Damian Wells (CEO of the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Minister Walsh admire the cedar table built by Bill Gallagher for the NUFG Education Centre

Finally, it was time for chatting over a delicious barbecue lunch followed by some tree planting and tours of the site. 

It was a wonderful informal day and NUFG thank all those that helped put it together, and all those who participated. We will make good use of the facility, and it will be there for others to enjoy.

NUFG Members Dr. Sharman Stone MP Federal Minister for Murray and young Jaslyn McKay from Drummartin
get there hands dirty planting trees to commemorate the opening of the NUFG Education Centre

More Images

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Phil Dyson speaks of the NUFG 
contribution to science
Bill Gallagher speaks of the value 
of becoming an NUFG member
NUFG members Bill Gallagher, James Williams and Ian Rankin reflect on the success of the NUFG The Honourable Peter Walsh Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Food Security declares the Education Centre open