Essential oils and environmentalism don’t always go hand-in-hand, but it was a career in aromatherapy that led Torrumbarry resident Tuesday Browell to discover and conserve one of the state’s most unassuming natural treasures.
“I was an aromatherapy massage therapist, and I was doing some research into Australian sandalwood when I read something really interesting,” she explained. “It said there was an old sandalwood tree on a sandhill in Torrumbarry—and that’s where I lived. This was in about 1995.”
Tuesday knew this was rare—while relatively common in other Australian states, sandalwoods are on the brink of extinction in Victoria due to large-scale clearing—so she decided to search for it.
“It was hard to find,” she said. “There was no track to it, and I had to get a canoe and paddle to the back of a property, but when I got there it wasn’t one tree but about 12 of them!”
And it wasn’t just the critically endangered Northern Sandalwoods that left an impression on Tuesday. She was in awe of the entire landscape around her.
“The whole place was like stepping back in time,” she said. “There were centuries old native pines. It had never been logged, and it felt ancient.”
After some further investigation, Tuesday discovered not only the rich biodiversity of the land—home to hundreds of nesting turtles, Brolgas, platypus, echidnas and more than 130 species of birds that come and go—but that it is also culturally significant, a burial ground for the local indigenous people, and a part of the Murray River corridor.
“It’s a botanical delight,” Tuesday said. “A really special place. So, I decided I had to buy it and protect it.”
Tuesday purchased the 35 ha property and placed a conservation covenant on the land through Trust for Nature.
“I was looking for some way to protect it beyond me,” she said. “Because I realised that once I didn’t own it, these magnificent trees could be cut down and then the history is gone forever.”
Since buying the land almost 30 years ago, Tuesday has garnered all the help she can to manage it, tirelessly trying to protect turtle nests from foxes, propagating the sandalwoods (there are now 30), and ‘tree necklacing’ to safeguard new vegetation from kangaroos and rabbits—a process of surrounding saplings with branches and sticks to deter the animals.
“Honestly, it’s a constant challenge,” Tuesday said about protecting the flora and fauna on the property where she lives with her partner Harry. “It’s hard work and it’s difficult to get help. At the end of the day, I’m buggered.”
But despite this, the dedicated environmentalist said it’s not only worth it, but it’s essential.
“We really do need to save these little wild places, because they all play a part in the larger scheme of things,” she said. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. There’s a great sense of peace here, and that we’re doing something good.”