Grazier reaps rewards of long-term commitment to sustainability

When Chris Hensley and his wife Nina bought Peak Vale in the Drummond Range, 60 km south-west of Clermont, in 1997 it was in a degraded condition; however, the husband and wife team have turned their enterprise around and are reaping the rewards of their long-term commitment to building a sustainable and profitable business. 

After taking over Peak Vale, the Hensleys invested in redesigning the property by fencing waterways, building smaller paddocks and resting them. The results speak for themselves.

“Before we did all this fencing, the cattle were always hanging around the creek, drinking from the waterholes and the parthenium was so high,” Mr Hensley said.

Chris Hensley

Chris Hensley

“Each time we have fenced off a section of the creek, there has been fantastic grass growth in that area, green panic instead of parthenium and bare ground. It also saves time in mustering.

“The cattle would hide in the creek and it would be much more difficult to get them yarded. Now we just need a couple of people and a couple of dogs to muster most of the paddocks.”

The Hensleys have since added two more properties to their 56,000 hectare grazing enterprise, Annmore and Theresa Hut, and have implemented the successful changes across all three properties.

In 2006, after making strong headway on their enterprise’s regeneration efforts, the Hensley’s heard about funding support to help them improve their sustainability and profitability.

With the help of Central Highlands Regional Resource Use Planning Cooperative (CHRRUP) and Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Programme (formerly Reef Rescue) the Hensleys completed two projects.

These projects involved installing almost 23 kilometres of fencing and an off-stream watering point, thus protecting 19 kilometres of creek bank.

The Hensleys are now reaping the benefits of their years of hard work with well-grassed access to waterways, clearer water, stable creek banks, fatter cattle and easier stock mustering and management.

Overall the Hensleys have completed 52 kilometres of riparian fencing across Theresa Hut and Peak Vale.

They have been so pleased with the results of their initial work, that they have a third project currently underway.

“Chris and I wish we had taken some photos when we first came as the change has been incredible,” said Mrs Hensley.

“We would have eventually completed this work without funding as it is fundamental to our core values in operating sustainably and with minimum impact. The [funded] projects have enabled us to complete it quicker, and that has to be a better outcome for the reef.”

For more information about the Australian Government’s Reef Programme and opportunities in the Fitzroy Basin to improve grazing operations while protecting creeks and reducing sediment reaching the reef, visit FBA’s website.