Don Durrant has regenerated the land at his Afterlee property.
Don Durrant has regenerated the land at his Afterlee property. Susanna Freymark

Largest privately owned rainforest in NSW wins award

AFTERLEE cattle farmer Don Durrant has been recognised as a champion in the Australian Government Individual Landcarer category for creating the largest privately owned rainforest in the state.

Mr Durrant has been credited with cultivating and caring for a pocket of the Toonumbar rainforest which was celebrated at the 2019 NSW Landcare Awards last Wednesday.

He was praised for his lifelong efforts to regenerate a 271 hectare pocket of the native biosphere on his land and re-educating the community of the significance of this natural resource.

A founding and active member of Kyogle Landcare, Mr Durrant's extensive knowledge of rainforest plants is invaluable to the local landcare nursery who regularly call on him for advice.

Planting in excess of 160,000 trees with the help of volunteers, his love of the rainforest stems from his childhood on the family farm, back then just 81 hectares.

"Some of my earliest memories are of roaming the rainforest with my father back in the 1940's" Mr Durrant said.

"Due to unfortunate family circumstances, I had to leave the family farm at the age of seven, but I returned a decade later, in 1971."

For the next 17 years, Mr Durrant dreamed of owning the rainforest next door, so he called his neighbour and asked him if he would sell the rainforest.

"He said, 'No way - I love that rainforest'. But by luck, he got old before me and ultimately asked if I still wanted the rainforest. I replied "yes" and we meet on our horses, rode around and settled on a price," Mr Durrant said.

Known by National Parks as 'The Fourth Ranger', he regularly works with National Parks and participates in fauna surveys in the Border Ranges National Park.

He has also been involved in feral cat trapping in both the Kyogle and Tenterfield areas.

The Durrant forest is home to many endangered and vulnerable plants and animal providing a place for ongoing monitoring.

Species include potooroos, black striped wallabies, red legged pademeons, koalas, brush tailed phascogaleos, whompoo pigeons, rose crown pigeons and powerful owls.

Interestingly walking stick palms have been found in what is primarily a dry rainforest and the rare Owenia tree is present in late numbers.

On the property, and discovered by Mr Durrant in 2018 is an enormous fig tree estimated to be more than 1000 years old.

 

Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek.
Don Durrant has planted more than 160,000 plants at his property. Susanna Freymark