Ashley Park, Greta South, North East Victoria
Alan is only the second owner of this property which he bought with his wife in the 1970s. Trained as a plumber, he ran his own plumbing business for 20 years but has spent most of his life as an earth moving contractor, clearing country in north-west New South Wales and Queensland.
Referring to himself as 'Dracula in the blood bank' having cleared thousands of acres of trees, he has in recent years planted thousands of trees on his own and adjacent properties.
Alan would hate to be branded a greenie but his views on conservation and his practical approach, demonstrated on his own property, need to be seen to be believed. His light hill country is permanently fenced and abounds with a variety of indigenous plantings from years of work. The dams are strategically placed to collect the maximum flow of water through networks of channels based on the much forgotten 'Yeomans Keyline' system.
The country is lightly grazed and not 'flogged to death' as is the nature of some of today's rationalistic agricultural management theory. Fiercely independent of any government support, Alan's earthmoving business and equipment has supported him in caring for his own country over the last 30 years.
Views from his wooded hill tops abound with glimpses of paddocks below, sheltered by trees that protect stock from the cold southern winter winds. This is a model property that has taken years of thinking, continuity and application to have achieved such a state of natural and productive harmony.
Audio and transcript
Listen to Alan's story (MP3 file 625kb)
Duration: 1 minute, 19 seconds
The property we're on now, we're only the second owners of it because we bought it off the original selectors. We've been here approximately 30 odd years.
When we bought it, it was predominately a sheep property, been flogged to death. The management in my opinion was of the old style – don't worry about the land, the land will worry about you. Well it doesn't work that way.
We've gone about probably massive changes in this property insofar as we don't graze the hill country in the summer time, we keep all our stock off, we've turned into a beef enterprise, which we believe is not as hard on the country.
It probably sounds like Dracula in the blood bank but I've been an earth mover and I'm still an earth moving contractor. I've been involved in clearing hundreds of acres of country, but I've planted thousands of trees on this property.
Because the fact is you've got to have protection, you've got to have shade and the most important thing you've got to have to raise good livestock is good water.
Below you can view a slideshow of the Ashworth family and their property.
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Photo: Stephen Routledge
Photo: Stephen Routledge