Graziers head to the Reef

Reef Trust 1 graziers from the Fitzroy region were showcased the reef they work to protect, in a recent tour to Orpheus Island in North Queensland.

In a two-day visit, 8 local graziers involved in Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA) projects met with 10 graziers from the Burdekin region to explore how reducing sediment runoff from their properties are having documented results.

The graziers also spoke with researchers from AIMS and CSIRO regarding new developments in science and research. The visit was a culmination of agriculture, science and environmentalism with a common goal to reduce human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

Reece Brooks, FBA’s Grazing Leader, says bringing graziers to the end destination of the sediment story forges a desire to protect it.

“Witnessing the Great Barrier Reef in person really transforms a person’s understanding of its beauty and vulnerability,” he said.

“This tour is a huge step in showing our landholders that they are making a difference, even from hundreds of kilometres away. I believe anyone who sees the reef firsthand is more inclined to want to protect it. This group of graziers from the Reef Trust 1 program are already stewards for this marine habitat, but a field trip like this really helps to bring it home.”

Grazier Nathan Wornack was among those who took the journey, taking a short-lived break from his property Calliweera, a breeding enterprise of 500 head.

He says that the practical learning experience about ecosystems impacted by his land management is critical to his understanding of the bigger picture, and what is at stake.

“These trips help to break down the barriers between graziers and scientists,” he said.

“Our goals seem to align more times than we think.”

Operating a property roughly 50km north-west of Rockhampton, Nathan is passionate about sustainability, which has mutually beneficial results in productivity, and for the environment.

He is one of a growing number of landholders who are looking to improve land management techniques.

“I definitely think that graziers can help improve water quality. It’s something that we are directly influencing with sediment runoff and whether we use chemicals or not,” he said.

“I think we can improve if we all band together with a combined effort.”

The Reef and Beef trip was run by natural resource management groups NQ Dry Tropics and Fitzroy Basin Association, as part of the Saving our Soils project, funded through the Australian Government Reef Trust and supported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.