A Changing Landscape
When Geelong was first settled, the Barrabool Hills were known as “the granary of Victoria”. Home of the first crops in Victoria, the hamlet of Ceres on the outskirts of Geelong is notable in that some of the descendants of the original settlers still farm the hills, attend the historic sandstone churches that dot the landscape and are core members of the local CFA, Red Cross and the Landcare movement.
The early settlers found the Barrabool Hills to be relatively devoid of trees and the soil rich, which made cultivation easier than many other areas in the colony. Most of the trees now seen dotting the skyline of the Barrabool Hills are in fact “introduced”.
Other species introduced by these early farmers however have had a far more insidious impact on the landscape!
The rabbit for example. Kept in pits lined with wire and released for hunting pleasure rabbits were first introduced into the Barrabool Hills over 100 years ago . Their escape and spread across Australia has had a massive impact on the health of our environment. Denuding the land of native vegetation and opening up the landscape for the invasion of introduced weeds.
For over 100 years farmers in the Barrabool Hills have battled these invasions although in recent times there has been a significant shift in strategy. Landholders now take a far more integrated approach to caring for the land. Fencing off areas susceptible to degradation, protecting remnants of native vegetation and revegetating significant areas for biodiversity, shelter and forest products.