The Queensland Government-funded Landholders Driving Change project  supports graziers in the Collinsville/Bowen area to improve land condition and productivity, and repair erosion which affects water quality.

Unlike traditional government funding programs, this is the first time that graziers have being formally engaged to help design land and water quality improvement solutions.

Tom Murphy is one of four graziers on the Project Panel, alongside scientists and technical experts, convened to guide the project design.

They don’t make any more land, so we’ve got to keep the soil we’ve got, and keep making it better. Not just for our kids, but our grandkids and great grandkids. Because if we don’t, there ain’t gonna be any – it will all be out on the Reef.

We’ve all got opinions on what ground cover means. It’s not how high the grass is, it’s how much is covered and keeping the sun and rain off the ground.

Groundcover means less soil erosion. If you can stop the raindrops from hitting the bare earth, you’ll stop erosion, but you’ll also keep the moisture in the ground because you’ll have less evaporation. We need good healthy pastures – keep your water on your land and it won’t end up in the creek. That way you will pick up your productivity.

Rehabilitated gullies can result in productive pasture land. I can’t see why you’d need to use rehabilitated land any differently to other parts of your place. Use it, and rest it.

I got involved with the Landholders Driving Change project because I thought I can’t whinge if I’m participating and they listen. It looks like the government wants to listen, and wants us to have some input. The signs are that this project looks and sounds better from the start, but let’s see what comes out of it.

We need everyone on board to improve land condition and reduce erosion, not just landowners. That includes councils, utilities, mining companies and National Parks.  We also need the public onside to push the politicians so that there’s incentives there for cockys striving to make their land better.  Public pressure influencing governments can make our jobs easier. Without money and participation you can’t do it.

It might be our money paid with blood, sweat and tears that buys the property, but it’s owned by everybody you would think. If nobody buys our beef we go broke, so we need positive outcomes for our land, for our cattle. Healthy land also means clean fishing areas, which will benefit the fishing and tourism industries. If they help us, we can help them. It’s a win-win because the grazing industry will thrive, we’ll keep the city people happy and there’ll be more tourists visiting the Reef.

Working with scientists has been surprising. They are just like us. They want our input and have been putting the water science information into our language, so it’s understandable.

As a member of the Project Panel, I’ll be reporting back to the community about how things are going, and I’m hoping I’ll have positive things to say. It’s important that if we make promises we carry them through, because if we don’t there’ll be plenty of knockers out there saying “I told you so”.

  • Two Queensland Government Major Integrated Projects, in the Burdekin and Wet Tropics regions, will share $33m over four years.
  • NQ Dry Tropics heads a consortium of partners to coordinate the project design.