BushBank Landowner Experience- Tillabudgery

Tillabudgery- A legacy of Restoration

Among the rolling hills of Woodfield, near Bonnie Doon,  “Tillabudgery” represents a true passion for the environment. Noel Hutchison, looking for degraded land to restore, came upon the 43-hectare property more than 30 years ago. The property is now under the ownership of Noel’s daughters, Neridda and Kirsten Hutchison. Noel’s vision has evolved into a passionate mission to rejuvenate and protect the land, most recently through a partnership with the BushBank Program – Private Land Stream. 

The Victorian Government’s $31 million Private Land Stream of the BushBank Program, delivered by Cassinia Environmental, supports landowners to restore habitat on private land and contribute to carbon sequestration efforts. Tillabudgery’s restoration is enabled by a co-funding arrangement with Land Life Company, a nature restoration company, supporting the BushBank Program. 

Tillabudgery was originally subdivided from a larger sheep farm and is blessed with beautiful views. Upon purchase, the land was mostly cleared, overgrazed, and plagued by invasive species like St John’s Wort. Noel Hutchison, an artist and educator, held a deep affinity for the environment and instilled in his daughters the importance of land stewardship. “Dad was environmentally minded, so we learned these values from him,” Kirsten recalls. “He spent countless school holidays with us, with blisters on our hands, planting indigenous species and working tirelessly to improve the land.”

With limited resources, their father focused on revegetating the gullies and ridgelines. What began as a weekend effort became a Monday-to-Friday proposition. Noel would split his time between his passions of sculpture and revegetation, right up until his passing in 2020. Kirsten, working in conservation, first learned of the Private Land Stream in 2023 and saw the possibilities for fulfilling her father’s legacy. The program’s potential to scale restoration effort was immediately appealing, as well as the ample support. “As absentee landowners, we don’t have a huge amount of time. It’s fantastic to have a work crew do the planting, something beyond our capacity,” she explains. 

The Hutchisons’ goals for their land is deeply rooted in a sense of responsibility. They aim to improve the catchment area for Woolshed Creek, running into Lake Eildon, and provide a buffer for the neighbouring Maittongoon Bushland Reserve. The property is home to the endangered Gang Gang Cockatoo, and a diverse range of woodland birds. Powerful Owls also hunt here. “It’s about righting a wrong,” Kirsten says. “The land probably shouldn’t have been cleared in the first place. We’re working to heal the country and land. It’s never going to be exactly the same, but it’ll provide a vital ecosystem and habitat for flora and fauna.” 

Through the Private Land Stream of the BushBank Program, Kirsten and Neridda Hutchison are not just restoring their land; they are preserving a family legacy and contributing to desperately needed conservation efforts in Victoria. 

The BushBank Private Land Stream Program has an ambitious goal of restoring 20,000 hectares of land across Victoria and is eager to hear from private landowners interested in participating. You can find out more and submit an expression of interest at www.cassinia.com/bushbank

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