Tom McCormack

"This place is so loved, and that’s what it’s all about."

Long standing environmental tree planting is paying off with greater productivity on Tom McCormack’s property at Red Hill near Crookwell, where he has devoted more than 50 years to improving and beautifying the environment by planting trees. While at first there were pines planted, from 1985, the plantings have all been local native plants from the Crookwell area. Tom was influenced by the work of John Weatherstone of Lyndfield Park, Gunning, who encouraged Tom to build his knowledge of native trees.

Over the years, every plant on Red Hill has been carefully researched and chosen for a specific location which best benefits the land and the stock. Records from the very first trees have been kept with details of species, location planted, and who was involved. Tom continues to be an enthusiastic promoter of planting native trees on farms for the benefits they bring for the farm stock, soil, birdlife, native animals and insects. Tom has observed that, with the establishment of the native tree runs, his isolated old paddock trees, many with substantial hollows, are also doing much better. This is perhaps due to a less concentrated focus by insects such as Christmas beetles, combined with increased numbers of insectivorous birds.

There are now over 10 kilometres of tree runs in corridors and also, in whole paddocks where there has been soil erosion, large areas have been fenced off and regenerated. The plantings consist of some 300,000 trees including wattles, bottle brush, eucalyptus and grevilleas. Planting these major tree runs on Red Hill brought family and friends together as well. The tree plantings provided opportunities for people to get together and act co-operatively. Some of the tree runs are named after people who assisted in the work, or in memory of old friends.

Challenges have included drought periods, when Tom has kept the trees alive by hand watering from a truck-mounted fire-fighting unit and also via a dripper system, hooked up to the household water tank. Tom also battled to protect his young trees from hungry rabbits, hares, kangaroos and bird life. Originally suitable tree guards had to be constructed by Tom himself, the plastic guards we use nowadays were not available.

Tom McCormack has not worked alone. The commitment of his family and friends has been an integral part of the efforts that have been made over the last 51 years. His son James will be carrying on the legacy on another property where Tom has also been busy helping to plant trees and the same pattern of fencing, pasture regeneration and planting of trees is repeated.

Here is a video about Tom