Nature Conservation Margaret River Region today launches an exciting new initiative aimed at caring for the Margaret River, with a packed 12-month calendar of events to inspire and educate locals about the iconic waterway.

The Friends of Wooditjup Bilya (Margaret River) program will feature a guided excursion and community busy bee held on the first Thursday of every month from 9.30am-12.30pm, starting next month on Thursday, October 5.

Program coordinator Lauren Scanlon said the monthly gatherings would be a fantastic opportunity for locals to learn more about the Margaret River, hosted by cultural custodians, scientists or local experts. Among them will be a guided walk focussing on riverbank or riparian plants with celebrated author and Nature Conservation ambassador Jane Scott. And a paddle up the river hosted by Margaret River Canoes and Kayaks owner Sarah Palmateer, who has rented equipment and been paddling the Rivermouth for almost two decades.

Each Friends of the Wooditjup Bilya gathering will include a guided excursion and a busy bee where volunteers will tackle important revegetation or regeneration work.

“We all connect to the river in different ways, whether it’s walking along the trails, fishing, swimming, taking photos or just as a way of being in nature. Most of us feel a connection with the river, we benefit from it, and now we can each play a role in protecting it too,” says Ms Scanlon.

“Over the next year we’ll work together along key sites of the Wooditjup Bilya foreshore to regenerate riparian vegetation, restore degraded banks, enhance existing habitats, tackle weeds and mitigate erosion.

“We’ll also connect local people with traditional custodians, scientists, experts and local caretakers who are all caring for country and can offer unique insights into the extraordinary values of this river.”

The monthly gatherings are free but registration is essential at or through Nature Conservation’s social media channels or monthly newsletter.

The first event on October 5 will feature a guided fauna walk from fauna expert Dr. Boyd Wykes, followed by hands on conservation work at Ashton Street River Reserve. Following on from a career in ornithology, environmental management and education, Boyd shares a wealth of experience and knowledge in the weird and wonderful creatures that call the Wooditjup Bilya home.

After the walk, volunteers will get stuck into restoration work at Ashton River Reserve, which is well on the way towards regenerating into vital riparian habitat with significant ecological restoration work being done over the past few years. There is still plenty of work to do and volunteers will water, weed and maintain the revegetation site, spanning over a hectare.

Both Jane Scott and Sarah Palmateer welcomed to new Wooditjup Bilya initiative and said locals who got to know the Margaret River would soon learn to love it and want to fight to protect it.

“It is so beautiful and the vegetation all around the edges is just fantastic,” Ms Scott said. “It’s lovely to be able to let people know about the different species that are here, help them identify the natives, and understand why they’re so important. People really do love to know what things are.”

Ms Palmateer said: “I love everything about the river. I’m lucky enough to run a small business down here and work with beautiful community groups, traditional owners, locals and school groups who want to protect and preserve what really is the heart of Margaret River. Having an opportunity for people to go up the river, to do some planting, really gives me great joy.”

This program is funded by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River through the Environmental Management Fund.