Children, conservation and the Callistemon megalongensis. An inspiring story of young filmmakers creating real change in their community and floral conservation in the stunning Megalong Valley…
Last Tuesday, committee member Paul, coordinator Clare, members of Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare and local legend and Gundungurra man David King joined students, teachers and parents at Megalong Public School for their special screening of Save the Callistemon megalongensis, available here on YouTube.
The Megalong Valley bottlebrush is a critically endangered species, restricted to a small range of just 10kms around the school, and a handful of known sites. Agriculture, land clearing, and climate change are all key threatening processes for this beautiful and stunning species.
Seeing empty garden space in the schoolyard inspired these young stewards to take positive ownership over the species, spearheading a proactive conservation project. Initial efforts by this tiny, seven-student public school to obtain specimens from government agencies fell flat. Undeterred, the students turned to the tight-knit Megalong community. Privately grown specimens of the bottle brush were procured from neighbouring land owners, planted on school grounds and shared around the valley in a collective conservation effort.
But the environmental voice of these young conservationists didn’t stop there. They engaged with the powerful tool of film making – shooting, editing and developing their own work with professional assistance, to create a charming, engaging and entertaining film highlighting community-driven conservation and engagement.
Students also worked on the Guulong Landcare Group (named after ‘Jack’ the resident school wombat, and ‘Guulong’ meaning wombat in Gundungurra), protecting both threatened species and caring for their local native environment. The school itself is a tribute to sustainability, leadership and outdoor connections. Meeting spaces designed by students are shared with neighbouring schools, with further plants to open this peer-to-peer learning and leadership model. The adjacent bushland is a haven of bee hotels and tree plantings, providing both valuable habitat, education and outdoor engagement.
The students of Megalong Public School and Guulong Landcare keen to spread the message of youth-driven engagement further throughout the NSW Landcare, bush care and community-driven conservation network.
And as for the film? It premiered at the Springwood Hub and a finalist in the recent Film by the Eucalypts schools film festival, with Megalong students stealing the show on the red carpet. Who knows, our next generation of Australian Oscar and WCFF-award winning film makers might just come from this charming and tightly knit community….
Thanks to Megalong Public School for generously hosting us, David King for the invitation and Bella Smith for the fantastic photographs.
Written by Clare Vernon, Local Landcare Coordinator