The owners of a conservation farm in central west New South Wales have been forced to sell the property, along with their family home, to make way for a coal mine.
Peter Andrews, bought Tarwyn Park more than 30 years ago, and went on to establish the property as an example of natural sequence farming, which he has become famous for.
Natural sequence farming is the practice of restoring degraded Australian landscapes to how they would have been, prior to European settlement and counts Don Burke, Costa Georgiadis and former Governor General Michael Jeffery, as fans.
After years fighting the introduction of mining in the Bylong Valley, between the Mudgee region and Upper Hunter, Peter’s son Stuart finally succumbed and signed Tarwyn Park over to Korean power company Kepco.
Initially, many of the affected landholders within Kepco’s Exploration Licence, resisted the company’s offer to buy them out, but when the largest property owner agreed to sell earlier this year, Mr Andrews felt the fight was lost.
For over a year, tales of corrupt coal mining deals in New South Wales have dominated news headlines.
There are no allegations of corruption over Kepco’s Bylong coal project, but it’s not without controversy.
Along with her partner Jane, Jodie Nancarrow has run the Bylong general store for over 20 years and believes the introduction of mining to the valley is changing the community.
“I’ve referred to it as going from flannelette to flouro”, she says.
“We live in Bylong because we love the valley, the mining fraternity are only living here because of the potential job prospects regarding the mine, so there’s no love of the land or affinity with the area.”
Peter Andrews: bushman, farmer, horse trainer. Some consider him to be more than that. Many believe him to be a prophet of hope. Tarwyn Park, a horse stud that had once bred the famous Melbourne Cup winner Rain Lover, was dry, barren, salty and eroded. Now, it is always green, with water through the summer and frost tolerant in winter. Fertilizers and chemicals are not used, yet the soil is richer. Salinity has decreased and erosion stabilized. Fish are returning to the creeks. Using observation, logic, intuition and ’smart’ work, Peter Andrews has regenerated and saved Tarwyn Park, but while the land is healing,
It was at great personal cost
It was done after 30 years of battling neighbours, banks, bureaucracy, politicians, bankruptcy and even those closest to him. It was achieved by flying in the face of conventional wisdom. With a belief in himself and what is right; by not lying down and admitting defeat, he has embarrassed many of the experts who were unwilling to listen, learn or even consider change. At last, Peter Andrews, Tarwyn Park and Natural Sequence Farming are getting deserved recognition. But, there is a debt of gratitude not yet realized, so let it be said to Peter Andrews:
No doubt, Peter Andrews will go down in history as a great man. This web site acknowledges him as a truly great Australian. Also, this web site is dedicated to several purposes: being a links resource for people who would like to learn more and to look at also improving their land. But possibly the most important lesson that Peter Andrews has demonstrated is that it IS possible to triumph against the odds, that we all should remember:
One person can make a difference!
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT PETER ANDREWS
If you go to the properties where Peter Andrews has been working, those properties from the air are green. The neighbouring property is brown.
PROF. DAVID MITCHELL, WATER ECOLOGIST
I think it’s the most significant contribution to landscape restoration that I’ve seen in Australia.
PROF. DAVID GOLDNEY, LANDSCAPE ECOLOGIST
It’s resulted in a river recovery to our knowledge unprecedented in Australia.
PROF. RICHARD BUSH, HEAD ‘BARAMUL’ SCIENTIFIC TEAM
I’ll back him til the day I die. I know that what he’s doing makes a lot of sense. I’ve witnessed it for years.
GERRY HARVEY, RETAILER & STUD OWNER
TARWYN PARK.COM – WEBSITE INFORMATION
First, visit the pages and view the programmes that started it all: “Droughts and Flooding Rain” (part 1 & 2) & and the follow-up programme “Right as Rain” (part 1 & 2): at the ABC TV page
For more about Peter Andrews and Natural Sequence Farming visit: the Video Gallery
For articles and links about Peter Andews and Natural Sequence Farming visit: Peter Andrews & NSF
For information about other resources including the Natural Sequence Farming DVD and the 2 books published by Peter Andrews about the Australian landscape and Natural Sequence Farming visit: Resources
Visit the other pages for Links (including a link exchange program), NSW Parliament Report of Proceedings, Contact and About this website.
International keynotes will feature European research into the New Water Paradigm, exploring its potential for moving Australian responses to the climate crisis in a more ecologically responsible direction.
We also hope to move the Australian climate debate beyond the policy deadlock created by the current deeply partisan approach to climate politics. It is time to replace the politics of competition with a politics of communication.
We will be in the rotunda at International House, City Road near Cleveland Street. Registration is at the door:
If you would like to attend the event, please email Duane Norris at email@example.com right away, as the day is catered and spaces will be limited.
Look forward to seeing you there.
Warm regards, Co-Conveners:
Ariel Salleh, Political Economy, University of Sydney and Duane Norris, Natural Sequence Association
Mr Andrews’ award is for “service to conservation and the environment through the development and promotion of sustainable farming practises”.
He is best known for advocating Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), a technique that restores natural water cycles, even in times of drought, by maintaining a cover of vegetation to stop the soil losing moisture and nutrients.
Restoring the land
Mr Andrews says it’s an honour to receive the medal, and adds that he hopes it might lead to a better understanding of how the Australian landscape works.
“Before European settlement, we had an amazing filtering system and groundwater storage system (based on dense plant cover) that maintained high levels of productivity under the extreme conditions we’ve got, and now we’ve more or less dismantled it.
“The issue that frustrates me is that the whole planet runs on sunlight and that’s got to be converted by plants to a product that everything in the food chain can use.
“These massive changes (we’ve made) in the way a landscape functions is exactly what we’re now experiencing. We just go from drought to excessive rain events, basically because there’s nothing managing those huge thermal energies that are released every day from the sun.”
Mr Andrews visits about 50 properties each year, teaching farmers how the natural system on their property works.
This year he plans to set up a train-the-trainer program so others can also teach about Natural Sequence Farming.
This short video was put together as a school project by Peter Andrews’ 11 year old grandson, Hamish. It speaks simply and directly about the prospect of Hamish’s home, Tarwyn Park – and the 30 years of work that it represents – being lost forever for the sake of a coal mine. Hamish wrote the script himself, and took many of the photos.
Tarwyn Park is located near Bylong in the Upper Hunter Valley region of NSW, Australia. It is renowned nationally (and internationally) as the home of Peter Andrews’ “Natural Sequence Farming” approach to the restoration of detiorated landscapes and replenishment of natural water systems.
To quote prominent Australian businessman, Gerry Harvey: “The place should be a bloody shrine, not a hole in the ground. What the hell are they thinking?”
A very big thank you to John Butler Trio and Phil Stevens at Jarrah Records for their permission for Hamish to use JBT’s “Better Than” as the soundtrack, and to make this video available to the general public on Youtube.
If you are as alarmed at that thought as we are then we urge you to YELL LOUD, YELL NOW and DON’T STOP YELLING until the State and Federal governments promise to protect Tarwyn and the Bylong Valley from destruction.
Is this Hunter Valley coal mine the future for Tarwyn Park? photo courtesy of Australian Longwall magazine and CSIRO
Peter Andrew’s Tarwyn Park neighbour, Craig Shaw, contacted TarwynPark.com.
“Just wanted to make sure you were aware of this article from today’s Sydney Morning Herald about the threat to Tarwyn Park from mining. It’s got a couple of great quotes in it from Gerry Harvey. I’m sure you’d agree: seeing Tarwyn potentially become a mine is soul-destroying and simply beggars belief.”
“I just wanted to clarify something, however.”
“I was with Stuart when he took the call from the Herald’s reporter and nothing was said that should have given that impression; sometimes I guess reporters don’t quite get it right. What WAS said was that negotiations regarding drilling were proceeding and that no access agreements had been signed at this stage, and signing wouldn’t happen until there was some reassurance regarding the potential impacts.”
(The article states… “But Mr Andrews has barred his gates to Anglo American Coal workers seeking to drill bores on the property to locate and measure the coal seams beneath it, and neighbouring landholders have followed suit
And yes, Craig I absolutely agree with you, it more than beggars belief.
Australia has so little quality farmland and to consider it should be desecrated for coal mining, a product that maybe one of the worst energy producing contributors to “Green House Effect” is sheer lunacy. It is beyond absurd that Tarwyn Park should be be underthreat.
To The Korea Electric Power Corporation and Australian miner Cockatoo Coal; back off, get your grubby mitts of Tarwyn Park.