Australian Story: Apr 30

Last month Australian Story told the story of a young man from remote Western Australia, a young woman from the Melbourne suburbs and the battle to save an historic grazing property in one of the oldest landscapes on the planet.

Now it returns to Wooleen Station in Western Australia, after the battle to save their property attracted wide support.

A lot has happened since Australian Story delivered an epic tale of a young couple whose drastic measures to save Wooleen Station in the Murchison ranges of West Australia captivated our audience on March 5. David Pollock was controversially chosen, ahead of his older brother, when their father was deciding who should take over the family’s pastoral lease. The younger Pollock removed all stock as part of a radical plan to restore a beloved landscape.

Originally the size of a small town, Wooleen station had fallen on hard times as over-grazing and drought decimated the landscape. Pollock may have failed in his quest if not for the arrival of young Frances Jones from Melbourne, one hot summer’s day.

Since Half a Million Acres aired, the couple’s battle to save their property has attracted powerful supporters and a visit by natural landscape ecologist, Peter Andrews who has previously featured on Australian Story to considerable acclaim.

Andrews’ visit to Wooleen was sponsored by the Mulloon Institute, a not-for-profit philanthropic organisation, founded by Tony Coote AM. The Institute, which aims to foster sustainable agricultural practices, subsequently sponsored Pollock and Jones to visit New South Wales to witness Andrews’ transformative work on Coote’s Mulloon Creek Natural Farms.

Peter Andrews suggests that people of Pollock’s capability be paid an environmental service for landscape restoration, having made the extreme sacrifice of income as a result of destocking. “It’s a mess that he didn’t make” says Andrews. “It’s a mess that exists. So why isn’t he being paid? He knows how to manage it. Pay him to fix the damn thing.”

“David and Frances are like the young pioneers that developed this country in the first place. These people need to be supported … I’m putting that challenge to the government in Western Australia and the federal government, to take on this task in a proper way,” says Cootes.

“I suppose Dave and I just keep on going because we think about our future, for us we’re still quite young and we think if we don’t take the time now to make a difference for the future, that we mightn’t be at Wooleen in ten years time,” says Frances Jones.

Monday, April 28 at 8pm on ABC1

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