Local News

Bush regenerator Grant Brown with Ashby volunteers Heather Prowse and Barbara Winters (team leader) by the Ashby Nature Discovery Trail arch. Image: Ashby Hall Reserve

“Much more than just a trail”

After almost 2 years of planning and organising environmental workshops and working bees, the Ashby Nature Discovery Trail was officially opened on Friday September 23 by some of the almost 100 volunteers and suppliers who made it possible.

This special occasion was celebrated with a Welcome to Country by Yaegl Elder Lenore Parker, who spent her early years in Ashby, followed by a short walk and a bush tucker event catered for by Aneika Kapeen and her mother Jo from the Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation, as well as some locals.
Barbara Winters, who started the Ashby Nature Discovery (AND) project shortly after becoming the Deputy Chairperson of the Ashby Hall Reserve Crown Land Manager, organised all the working bees and workshops with the help of other volunteers. She says the project was about much more than creating a nature trail or looking after the Ashby Reserve.

“Numerous studies have shown that visiting wilderness, even briefly, is associated with many mental and physical health benefits, including better focus, memory and sleep, improved mood and faster healing and was always meant for you and me, a community effort by design. Our trail was created by many local volunteers and small local businesses, too many to name individually”, says Barbara.

“We had teenagers help us when we started out and the oldest, David, is now in his 90s and he regularly joined in for hours on end.”
“It was just what many of us needed after the Myall Creek Road Fire caused so much devastation in Ashby Heights. New connections were made, many new residents joined in, and new friendships were formed during our working bees”, said Barbara.

The Ashby Nature Discovery project 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.