Last weekend, we hosted our 25th annual Big Scrub Rainforest Day Celebrations, with over 15 events across 10 Big Scrub locations – a quarter of a century of Big Scrub Rainforest Day.

The weather was on our side and we had a wonderful four days of walks, talks and workshops attended by around 500 people. We increased the size of some of the events to accommodate more people, including the addition of a second Bush Tucker Tour which had Aunty Delta Kay working for most of her Sunday!

Our opening night event, Science in the Pub at the Eltham Hotel, drew a crowd of more than 200 for our film premiere and panel discussion of Koalas in the Big Scrub: A conservation dilemma.

At the event Kevin Glencross shared insights about carbon sequestration and credits in the Big Scrub and got the crowd warmed up, before we paused to watch the film and dive into the panel discussion. Friends of the Koala representatives Angie Brace and Rhonda James engaged with our Vice President Mark Dunphy and Dr Rob Kooyman in a friendly but spirited debate about the importance of planting rainforest where rainforest once grew and how to care for koalas who have found themselves in this zone. Former ABC journalist Mick O’Regan was masterful as MC, and our sponsor Stone & Wood’s karma keg of Pacific Ale helped raise funds for the Big Scrub.

Video from the event will be posted in the coming weeks for those who were unable to attend. Photos by Jimmy Malecki. 

The next day our Big Scrub Education Program (BSEP) multi-school planting day brought the cuteness factor, with over 50 primary school kids from three schools planting 600 trees around Rocky Creek Dam. The project, which has been running in schools throughout the year and is also supported by Rekindle Foundation, engaged school kids in guided rainforest walks with ecologists, talks from the team at Firewheel Rainforest Nursery and a Welcome to Country with Uncle Roy Gordon. Students completed surveys at the end of the day with 90% saying they would like to be involved in more Big Scrub learning next year.

Photos by Jimmy Maclecki.

One of the favourite events for the year was the walk hosted by Bundjalung Man, Oliver Costello from Jagun Alliance, Max Watt and Jally Hawthorn at Dorrobbee Grass Reserve. A 50-strong crowd learnt about the importance of the Big Scrub grasses, the cultural pathways across the region and traditional land management practices.

The Lismore Rainforest Botanic Garden walks attracted almost 40 people from a great range of ages to learn about rare and threatened species, tips for useful native plants and observe our endemic rainforest species in all their glory.

Always a highlight, the Firewheel Rainforest Nursery seed propagation workshops went to a new level this year with an experienced session gathering together many of the region’s most advanced propagation experts to share tips for particularly difficult to grow species and their secret tricks of the trade.

At our closing event at Cape Byron Distillery attendees were treated to a tour from the man who transformed Brookfarm into what it is today, Martin Brook. Brookie took the tour group on a walk through the remnant and into new regeneration sites around the farm – and then back to the bar. Thank you to Cape Byron Distillery for their generous support. Half of proceeds from the tours were donated to the Big Scrub as well as a portion of the proceeds from each signature Brookie’s Rainforest Gin Sour sold at the cellar door.

Cape Byron Distillery photos taken by Iain Stych.

We want to thank Birdlife NSW for the amazing guided tour of Booyong Flora Reserve, Michelle Chapman for her Seedtree Maps tour adjacent to Victoria Park Nature Reserve, Lismore City Council and Bodhi Tree Forest Monastery for their incredible meditative walk in nature, Aunty Delta Kay and all our presenters for their incredible work.

The event also marked 30 years since the formation of Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy, originally known as the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group. During this time we have cared for over 50 Big Scrub remnants as well as facilitated the planting of over 2.5 million trees to create 700 hectares of new rainforest, doubling the remaining area of the Big Scrub.

Big Scrub Rainforest Day Celebrations 2023 was presented in association with Rous County Council and our sponsors the NSW Government, Rainforest Rescue, Stone & Wood, Envite Environment, Brookfarm, Cape Byron Distillery, Firewheel Rainforest Nursery and our sister organisation, the Big Scrub Foundation. And a very special mention to Richmond Landcare Inc, Inspiring Australia and Northern Rivers Science Hub for supporting another great Science in the Pub event. We want to thank them for making it all possible.