'My grandfather settled at Downside in the late 1800s and spent his life clearing the land - he was very good at it! We were left with many a paddock with only one or two trees. I mean no disrespect to grandfather as he was only doing what he thought was right and the government of the day encouraged him. "Go forth and plant wheat, young man" was the slogan of the day.' Max Chamberlain, Riverina Outlook Conference, 1998.
Max Chamberlain is a wheat and sheep farmer in the Downside district, north of Wagga Wagga. Four generations of the Chamberlain family have farmed in the area.
In the late 1980s, rising watertables brought destructive salts to the surface of low-lying paddocks on Narua, the Chamberlain family farm, and on neighbouring properties. In response, Max and other local farmers formed the Downside Landcare Group. From seed collected locally he propagated and planted tens of thousands of trees and shrubs.
Today, growing communities of the deep-rooted, perennial plants are beginning to lower salty watertables and limit the threat posed to production by salinisation. Max delights in the various birds and insects thriving amid the sheltered swathes of regenerating trees and shrubs.