We are honoured to live in a powerful place. Our tribal elders, the Wurundjeri people, hunted and camped here in the summer for eons. For them there is no separation between humans and other species. We thank them for the knowledge and care they have taken of this land and we work to be responsive to their wisdom.
Moora Moora cooperative community has existed for nearly 50 yrs on top of Mt Toobewong. This is but a moment in time for growing within us being part of this land. Drawing on the spirit of first peoples we don’t own the land, it owns us. The cooperative’s landis next level down in that our land is held in common. We own shares and have rights to build, to farm with matching responsibilities to care for the land. We have struggled at times to keep the land as one against pressures for subdivision.
Before we secured the land in 1974 it was developed in the 1890s to become a famous international guesthouse, Nyora. Rebuilt after the 1939 fires as a seed potato farm and hobby farm based in our community centre at the lodge. When we began to settle here no one was resident. Until recently we farmed cattle, sheep and in earlier times cut 3000 bales of hay.
Moora Moora Cooperative Community consists of 245 hectares, which is 700 metres above sea level and has a rainfall of 1075 millimetres a year. The climate is cool temperate with occasional snow in winter.
On top of the mountain is 40 hectares of undulating grass pastures. Most land is cleared in this area, except for some forested areas, one of which surrounds a natural clear spring thatsupplies the property with year-round water. The spring flows down a gully into a small dam. Walking the winding driveway leads to about half an acre of historical English gardens surrounding the Lodge.
We work hard to minimise our impact on the complex ecosystems, whilst striving to live a more sustainable life, striking balance between preservation of the natural ecosystem and agricultural and horticultural farming.
We protect our native Flora and Fauna by exclusion of dogs and cats and have agreed to a conservation covenant covering our forested land and our sanctuary site for honouring past Moora Mooora members.
We draw on nature’s resources as much as possible, particularly solar energy and wind power. Our community is ‘off grid’ and self sufficient in power and water.
We have many paddocks fenced and available for farming Cattle, poultry, horses, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs for those who wish to do so. Activity in these areas fluctuates with member’sinterests, and who is living at Moora Moora at the time.
Our dam has been regularly stocked over the years with trout, and has abundance of Yabbies. Some members also keep bees.
Many of us want to become close to self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, grown organically and bio-dynamically.
We have a Deer fenced Horticultural Area, currently some of this area is leased to our neighbours from Timbarra Farm, who arefarming it in addition to their own land as a Market Garden, and members can purchase their vegetables. The Climate Emergency Group at MM is developing Crops for the community in another area.
There are Pinot Grape vines belonging to one member, and raspberry and blueberries growing belonging to another member. Berries grow very well on the mountain.
There are many Stone Pine trees surrounding the Horticultural area, and other areas on the property, as there are also Chestnut trees, Hazelnut trees, Apple Orchards, and other food producing crops. With the impacts of Climate Change the vision is to expand our food production focussing more on food security.
We have a changing landscape over the altitudinal landscape from Wet Scloerophyll forests, to dry Messmate dominated forests, full of ferns, tea tree and diverse native species. We are blessed to have an abundance of Lyrebirds, Wombats, Birdlife, Leadbeaters Possums, and many more species we are keen to protect.
We have a beautiful eco-trail that we maintain for bushwalking and meditation.
We have a Land Management Committee that involves many portfolio areas, these include: Weed Control, Feral Animal Control, Forest Ecology, Fire Management, Agricultural Area, Water Health and Infrastructure, Horticulture Production, Machinery and Equipment. While we have a land manager and assistant land manager, we require involvement and energy from all residents at Moora Moora to address all these portfolio areas, so that we can manage the land in the best possible way.
Some of the major challenges we need to address include:
- Managing pest invasions and protecting the forest and its wild life. In particular our Holly infestation from the 1890s, and how to find alternatives to Round Up as a management tool. Also we have a Deer, Rabbits and Foxes to manage.
- Increasing our food security in an increasingly unstable climate for a community with a diverse diet. Ferals could be a source together with farm animals mixed with plant crops!
- How to manage productively common land that incorporates a diversity of capacities and desires?
We knuckle down at monthly workdays and farm users workdaysto try to keep these challenges at a ‘workable’ level.