A Landcare champion

Michael and Susan Cully. Photo: Keer Moriarty.
Michael and Susan Cully. Photo: Keer Moriarty.

Susan Cully, a stalwart of Beechmont Landcare will soon be leaving the district to move closer to family in Brisbane.  Her knowledge and expertise will be a great loss to the local community.

She was active in BDLA from 2008 through to her retirement as President in early 2022.

Born in San Diego, Susan grew up with Australian flora.  

My Country Escape

Southern California, like most of Australia is dry, harsh and fire-prone.  Eucalyptus trees are used as windbreaks in the orange orchards.  Australian natives were fashionable and prolific in her mother’s garden and in the surrounding neighbourhood. 

Youthful exuberance brought her to Melbourne in her 20s where she soon met her husband Michael.  

He has been her tireless and gracious landcare companion ever since.

In the early 1980s Susan and Michael moved to Ballarat.  Everywhere Susan has gone she has busied herself improving the natural environment.  To her it is a perfect hobby because it is transportable, a way of meeting like-minded people and free.  “It is so easy to plant a seed and then you get a plant” she explains.

Caring for the environment is also part of Susan’s DNA.  As well as the aesthetics, she is motivated by her deep desire to help “the little critters” which means preserving the habitat that they live in.

The Cullys were busy in Ballarat.  There,  they first engaged in riparian restoration, conceiving what is now known as the Yarrowee Trail Project.  In 2000, prior to moving to Queensland Susan received Hall of Fame recognition in the Ballarat Environment Networks Awards.

Beechmont

Arriving in subtropical Beechmont was certainly a challenge to her landcaring practice.  When she first joined BDLA  the only plant that was familiar to her was Acacia melanoxylon.  While Ballarat is primarily eucalyptus woodlands  Beechmont  is one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

She learned about this environment working in the reserves and through her frequent trips into Lamington National Park.

Between 2012 and 2014 she became involved, voluntarily, in native dung beetle collection and got to know the plateau intimately.  This project was a collaboration with Lamington Natural History Association, the Queensland Museum and University of Queensland.

Creating habitat requires a combination of disciplines: biology, ecology, botany, zoology, geology and many others.  Although Susan is not formally trained in any, she is naturally curious and rigorous in her approach which has resulted in her developing a formidable wealth of knowledge. 

Because she has been an active landcarer all her life and has built up her knowledge in varied climates she has learned to be astutely observant. “You need to subordinate your own expectations and just watch what is going on around you”.  

Not just observant, she is also a practitioner, devoting a significant proportion of her time to collecting seeds, striking plants, planting trees, weeding, trimming, and sharing her observations with those around her.   During the 2019 drought she and Michael kept hundreds of plants alive by delivering water to them in recycled milk bottles.

Thank you

All of Susan’s work has been pro bono and her reward has been to see the environment respond to her attentions.  She is deeply respected by the Beechmont Landcare membership.

About Keer Moriarty 253 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.