The reserve is just behind my block of land. McMinn’s Lagoon. It was named after a surveyor who was up here in the 1800s.

I noticed all the birds being shot, people driving round, shooting the wallabies. It was very barren. People had bulldozed the land so they could see the lagoon from their verandas, instead of getting off their backsides and going for a walk. We had a progress association before, but we were the first group in the Northern Territory to join Landcare.

That was 45 years ago.

We got some funding, fenced it off to keep the yahoos out, and since then we’ve planted thousands of trees and we’ve put walkways around it. We got onto Greening Australia and they came out and told us what we needed to plant. We try to plant what we’ve been told to. I still don’t know them by their fancy names but I can name a few.

We’ve got over 150 different varieties of birds – we’ve done bird surveys here, every year they do a bird survey – the Green Army comes and does it, and they now know what is here, and over 20 odd years there’s more and more birds – it’s really popular with bird watchers from all over the world, Germany, everywhere.

I was never an environmentalist. Before I would have just bulldozed the tree down but now I look at it a different way. I still know that things have got to change, but there’s always a way you get around it, by going three feet to the side of a tree, by moving things around it. Now if we’ve got to cut a tree down we’ll plant three to replace it. We’re on five acres at home, and we leave all the trees on it.

I’ve learned to appreciate the bush more than I ever did. It’s just my way of putting back into it. The projects are not as big as they used to be but there’s always something to be done. Yes. I’ve rescued it. Yes for sure. How do I feel? I’m pretty chuffed about it… I’ve put a lot of hours into it – it’s been worth it. I’m 75 years old, and I’m still rapt in it.

I tried to do a biography of the reserve but no, I’m not much of a writer.

And we’re just in a stalemate right now. I can’t get hold of volunteers, even the people who are in the group, they are very busy with work, and kids and sports.

I went round this morning, a drive around, in my mobility chair, and I still thought to myself: this is a fantastic place.

As told to Gretchen Miller March 1, 2019.

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