Cultivating the Land

A creative pursuit and an example of sustainable farming

The Source

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Situated near Mortlake in western Victoria, Richard and Jenny Weatherly have produced a now thriving property, one built on respect for the land and its natural inhabitants.

NATURAL CARETAKERS

When Richard and Jenny came to Connewarran, it was a "relatively degraded piece of land."

They decided to repair the property and work within its natural parameters.

"We have to learn to understand the environment and that’s what we've been trying to do here," explains Jenny. "We live within it."

Connewarran

For Jenny, the importance of the environment has always been at the forefront of her mind.

The couple established one and a half million trees and added pastures, wetlands and drainage.

Today, Jenny admires the maturing trees, that she grew and planted from seed, knowing that it's all been worthwhile.

"It's a terrific pleasure to go out there and see lambs gambling together." - Richard Weatherly

Working with their son and business manager, Hamish, the couple has delighted in Connewarran's gradual evolution over time, revealing ecological riches and bringing great pleasure to many.

"It's a bit like coming to the end of a really good painting and realising that it's something that has come from me," says Richard.

For Richard, there's a sense of satisfaction in "seeing people experience genuine pleasure - sometimes over several generations - from something that I've made from within my mind."

CREATURE COMFORTS

Connewarran is home to a flock of Merino sheep and an increasing number of bird species.

He sees his Merino flock as the "workmen" of the business and takes care of their creature comforts like shelter and a good diet to ensure they are "placid and content."

And as a fourth-generation Connewarran farmer, Richard is fortunate to have his father's and his grandfather's bird logs, which recorded the species seen on the property over time.

"My grandfather recorded 111 species and my father recorded 148 species," explains Richard. "We’ve seen 215 or 216 species on the property now."

Connewarran

Jenny muses that there are approximately 850 bird species in Australia, so "if we get a quarter of them here, that's pretty amazing."

Richard and Jenny travel widely and are keen to observe agricultural practices overseas.

"It's a really interesting point that if you're too close to your country and you’ve not see other countries, how much do you know about it?" says Richard.

"We come back and we think: we are absolutely blessed with what we have," says Jenny.

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