Letter to the Editor: City of Albany councillors must protect Yakamia Forest for future generations

Jennifer McRaeAlbany Advertiser
Letters to the editor must contain the author’s full name, address and daytime contact number.
Camera IconLetters to the editor must contain the author’s full name, address and daytime contact number. Credit: Canva

I grew up on Kurrabi farm in Napier. The acreage included a significant section of the Napier Creek and took in breathtaking views of the Porongrups. My parents were from families who had farmed for over a century at Tambellup, Quairading, and Meckering. Their ancestors were T’Othersiders from South Australia and Victoria, escaping one of the world’s worst economic depressions and a long drought that decimated the east coast during the 1890s.

As children, growing up on Tambellup’s Gordon River, they witnessed the death of the waterway. Deforestation of the area for pastoral farming devastated the river. During the 1950s and 1960s Tambellup experienced a mass exodus from the community. Farmers on smaller plots of land sold out to their neighbours. In part this was a response to the land’s degradation, where only larger land holdings were financially viable.

When my parents purchased Kurrabi farm in 1965 they were determined to not recreate the Tambellup experience. They refused to flatten every living piece of flora for livestock grazing. They spent time designing the layout of the farm to retain large sections of virgin bushland across the 1000 acres (40ha) with wide buffer zones along the Napier Creek so that native wildlife could co-exist with livestock.

They had a responsibility to care for the land they had been privileged to tend for the next 35 years and they never wavered from this philosophy. When my parents retired in 2000, there was no evidence of environmental degradation to the Kurrabi section of the Napier Creek and the minor waterways that flowed from Kurrabi Farm into that environmental system.

My family story points to the situation which the City of Albany council currently faces. The decision the council makes in regard to Lot 4743 will have repercussions that echo long into the future. We are but temporary gatekeepers of our environmental assets and we all have a responsibility to protect our landscapes for future generations.

The Albany community highly values the bush spaces of Lake Seppings, Mount Melville and Clarence. The Yakamia Boodja would be a valuable addition to our bushland assets for walking, cycling, cultural incursions and importantly as a protected wildlife habitat for the western ringtail possum and cockatoo species.

I would like to suggest that the city undertakes an online community survey to establish the volume of use by residents in these green spaces. I suspect the results will indicate high rates of foot traffic across all age groups in our community.

The Yakamia Boodja is a high value asset, and I fully support the call for Lot 4743 to be permanently protected as a Bicentennial Park in 2026, as proposed by Menang elder Ken Kelly. This would be a timeless gift that will forever be enjoyed by the Albany community and a potential tourist stop where visitors could view and learn about the sacred birthing trees of the Menang people, among the many other cultural practices we have a responsibility to preserve.

Jennifer McRae, Albany

Letters to the editor must contain the author’s full name, address and daytime contact number. Letters may be edited for space, clarity or legal reasons. Email news@albanyadvertiser.com or post to PO Box 5168 Albany, WA, 6332.

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