From the Newsroom

Ashby Hall Reserve group finalist in Crown Land Management Awards

Rodney Stevens


The determination and persistent toil of the Ashby Hall Reserve Crown Land Management committee and volunteers over more than two years has been recognised after the group was nominated as a finalist in the NSW Government Crown Land Management Excellence Award.

The announcement follows the opening of the Ashby Nature Discovery Trail on September 23, a project born out of the devastation of the 2019 Myall Creek Road bushfire which burned more than 67,000 hectares around Ashby, Tullymorgan, Mororo and Jacky Bulbin Flat.

The Ashby Discovery Nature Trail was made possible by the Bushfire Recovery Grants Program funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN Program and Clarence Valley Council’s Bushfire Community Recovery 2021 grant, as well as in-kind contributions by locals, and pro bono work by small businesses and environmental organisations.

Ashby Hall Reserve Crown Land Management AHRCLM Deputy Chair Barbara Winters said the project involving working bees was positively uplifting for the mental health of the community after the fires.

“It was just what many of us needed after the Myall Creek Road Fire caused so much devastation in Ashby Heights,” she said.

“New connections were made, many new residents joined in, and new friendships were formed during our working bees” 

Mrs Winters said the award acknowledged the group’s efforts for both the Ashby Nature Discovery Trail, plus their management of the Ashby Hall Reserve.

She said receiving the finalist email notification was a shock and a massive honour for the group’s extensive work, which they are extremely proud of.

“This is an absolutely amazing achievement and one to be extremely proud of – well done,” the email said.

 “The judges were very impressed with your nomination and wish to pass on their congratulations too.”

“We can’t believe it ourselves, but it has already been 2 years since we rejuvenated the Board with four new members: Victoria Gravell, Barbara Rigg, Julie Turner and myself,” Mrs Winters said.

“George Kriflik later became the Maintenance Manager and joined the Board as well and Peter Mather has never left.”

Over the past two years, Mrs Winters said the group had achieved numerous goals including new hand-painted signage throughout the venue, holding Covid safe community working bees and workshops, tennis court and playground repairs, reinvigorating the markets and Bush Café, adding monthly car boot sales to encourage more community participation and recycling, plus introducing live music.

Other achievements include organising a Covid-safe, outdoor ‘Meet your neighbours’ BYO picnic with games, a solar system installation, making two donations to the Northern Rivers flood recovery from market revenue and using the bush kitchen to prepare meals, generated monthly income of up to $50 from the IGA rewards initiative, organising  educational workshops and working bees with First Nations guides and getting active on social media and launching the new website using grant funding.

Mrs Winters said the extra promotion and activity has already resulted in increased usage of the venue for weddings and other functions, a community festival, men’s tennis, acoustic music nights, yoga, nature discovery activities, a youth forum, and emergency management meetings. 

Currently the AHRCLM members are reapplying for their roles, the group hopes to see new members joining and anticipates welcoming two new board members soon.

“We hope that we, with other volunteers, can continue to provide the community with wonderful experiences at the Ashby Hall Reserve,” Mrs Winters said.

A Gala presentation dinner will be held at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains on November 25 where category winners will be announced, and finalists will be presented with a framed certificate.