In May 2005 Chris Hogendyk became aware of a small 260ha property located in the heart of the Macquarie Marshes that was for sale. The property had been used for cattle grazing for over 150 years, and was in a rather sad state after 5 years of drought and overgrazing.
Chris motivated a group of 30 residents of the Macquarie Valley to chip in to buy the property, which they named ‘Burrima’, the local Aboriginal name for ‘Black Swan’.
The group formed a unit trust, the Macquarie Marshes Environment Trust (MMET), and elected a Committee of Management to handle the day-to-day management of the property.
Since the MMET has owned ‘Burrima’:
1. It has been de-stocked, with spectacular regrowth of reeds and other plants
the block in 2005
the same area a few years later
2. An eco-toilet has been put in to cater for visitors
Chris Hogendyk is the man with the wide brimmed hat.
3. Walkways have been put across major channels to make the wetland walk more accessible
4. A total of 1,170 native trees and shrubs, including 600 saltbush, have been planted. Revegetation with native grasses has been planned for this spring.
5. Local traditional owners have been granted access to map scarred trees and Aboriginal middens
The MMET has hosted hundreds of visitors to ‘Burrima’ including local community groups, schools, politicians, birdwatchers, universities, research scientists, and many more.
Chris has also become increasingly determined to expose the environmental water theft and politics that are destroying the two nature reserves in the Macquarie Marshes.
He has been lobbying for policy change through his role as Chairman of Macquarie River Food and Fibre.
Chris is also the General Manager of Auscott Macquarie – a large cotton growing enterprise with a farm and gins in the Macquarie Valley.
Chris is passionate about farming and the environment. His wife Gill Hogendyk is Treasurer of the Australian Environmental Foundation and an active member of the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES).
Ignorant armchair environmentalists at the popular blog Larvatus Prodeo criticize Chris on the basis he grows cotton and Gill on the basis she is married to Chris (see comment posted at 4.43pm on October 5). And at least some of those guys and gals wear cotton jeans and t-shirts! If the folk at Larvatus Prodeo want to learn something about wetlands and cotton growing they could volunteer to chip weeds at ‘Burrima’ or in the upstream cotton fields.