Meet The Team

Management Committee

Maree Gillott (President)

After 31 years running my own legal practice in Logan, together with other business interests,  my husband David  and I moved to Wolvi in 2018. Now that life has moved into (slightly) less frenetic gear, I’ve got the time and space to involve myself again in  the things that matter.  I’ve always been involved in community organisations of one type or another and the opportunity to combine my experience in not for profit management and my  long held interest in  sustainable land management was too good to pass up. I’ve got a particular interest in permaculture and regenerative agriculture, as it has long been apparent to me that industrialized methods of farming   are making us, and  what we eat , sicker than we have ever been.

My Husband and I were lucky enough to find our way to a well -watered cattle property in the foothills of Mt Wolvi which will be keeping us well occupied in our “non-retirement”.  At last, I have both the means, and the opportunity to put all the theory I have  accumulated from the   permaculture/ sustainable agriculture  reference books sitting on my shelves and apply them to our new place. The aim is simple- I am just looking to leave our small patch of the world  in better shape than we found it .

Becoming a part of Landcare will  hopefully  allow me to help spread the seeds of change even further.

Louise Watson (Vice-President)

I grew up in Brisbane Queensland and have always had a heart for animals in distress. My career journey took me to the police and the Royal Military College Duntroon. My husband Rob and I moved out to Roma in 2012 where we owned a small farm and operated a farm animal rescue program.

There I got to work with the local Council training in conservation land management, specialising in pest animal and weed control. We then moved to Gympie whereas a wildlife carer I look after injured or abandoned native wildlife such as kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and kookaburras and then release them back into the wild where they belong.

As part of the management committee, I hope to support landowners to build more native habitat for wildlife to flourish striking a balance between maintaining grazing land and natural habitat reserves for our unique native wildlife.

Mel Marx (Secretary)

From a young age I always felt most alive when I was out in the bush or simply gardening with mum. Mum taught me most of what I know about caring for the soil, nurturing wildlife and growing things.  Watching how we are destroying our land at an alarming rate meant I needed to stop talking and do something. So we bought a 40-hectare farm in Wolvi to start restoring our own piece of land. I believe that caring for the earth starts with an individual. The more individuals that do that will eventually bring a tipping point of earth restoration.

I joined Gympie Land Care to learn how to make a difference, particularly using native plants and sustainable land management practices.

Being invited to join the management committee is an unexpected privilege where I hope to use my experience in organisation effectiveness to assist the organisation to get more focused and organised so that we can support those individuals who are going to give us the restoration tipping point.

Liz Stewart (Treasurer)

My husband and I moved into the Mary Valley region in 2020 having lived in many locations around Australia as well as Asia, Europe and USA. I am inspired by the outdoors and how we as custodians look after this great land.

I bring a wealth of business management experience to Landcare having had a very full career across a number of industries. I currently run a Mentoring and Coaching business when I am not working outside or helping Landcare achieve financial performance and business growth.

I have a Masters in Project Management and certified in Change Management and Process Improvement.

Alex Van Beek (General Committee Member)

It’s taken 50 years, a chequered career path and 2 degrees (social geography and psychology) to finally find my calling as a social systems researcher. With that aim, I am now at the tail end of a doctorate focussed on how collaborative community-based research can create social change. It may sound boring, but it’s not! 

 We all know our natural environment with the incredible life it holds, is in serious jeopardy. It is now that we need as many people as possible working together to turn this around. I believe that there are certain principles that can help this along. These include being strengths and solutions focussed; valuing diversity and collective creativity; and sharing decision-making and resources. While it can take a while to get it moving, the ability of collective action, based on inclusive, empowering and positive relationships, can do amazing things. 

 At a personal level, my sister and I own 30 acres at Calico Creek and are members of Landcare, Land for Wildlife and ANARRA. Our aim is to rehabilitate our land back into wildlife habitat while still maintaining space for our 4 spoilt horses and 3 gorgeous little cows.  

 By bringing my own skills, knowledge and strengths to the table, I hope to do my bit to help Landcare do its bit to help restore and preserve this beautiful region for many generations to come. With everybody contributing a little bit and getting all these little bits working together towards a common purpose –  we can achieve the extraordinary.

Kane Dabbouss (General Committee Member)

Kane is a biodynamic educator and prep maker trained in the mountains of southern India. With a background in soil science, organic market gardening, no-till cultivation and landscape restoration. He runs Red Soil Organics, a Mooloo based business which produces Biodynamic Compost and preparations. RSO also contract designs and installs water harvesting structures and forestry systems for landscape rehabilitation & food production, as well as running courses and education programmes in Mooloo on a 7acre Biodynamic Agro-foodforestry farm.

With a passion for natural rhythms, cycles and species succession he uses this unique background to deeply read the landscape, the way the water moves, the way the wildlife moves, the sets of species that are growing& want to grow, incorporating this with knowledge of past land usage all to figure out why problem species (weeds/trees) are there. Why scars are there, why stagnation is there, to heal the root of the problem, guiding the forest or grassland through gentle support and understanding, to the best possible form of itself. 

Russell Bennett (General Committee Member)

I am a local indigenous man from the Gubbi Gubbi people and have lived on my country my entire life. My passion lies in saving and preserving as much of our native plants and animals in this area as we can, and I have worked with and collaborated with several environmental groups in the area to try to achieve this. These include: Mary Valley Koalas, Mary River Catchment Committee and the Macadamia Conservation Trust.

I bring a lot of local knowledge of the plants that grow in and around the Gympie district. I can show Landcare where to gather rare seed and plants that we can take cuttings from. I am also aware of the problems caused by invasive weeds such as cats claw and madeira vine etc and look forward to working collaboratively with Gympie Landcare, sharing my knowledge and stories of the area.

Staff

Lavina Shaw (General Manager)

I have lived in the Gympie region for 9 years and have worked in various professional industries including accounting, the solar industry, plumbing, and irrigation. I have always loved the outdoors and would regularly spend my weekends as a kid camping in the great outdoors where my father would teach me about bush survival.

Being on the land is second nature to me and I hope to grow my own produce patch so that my Husband and I can become self-sufficient. I am also an extremely devoted animal lover and an active staff member of an animal rescue group.

I am truly excited to be apart of the Gympie Landcare team and am looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead. My role is to oversee the general administrative processes of the organisation and to create further awareness about landcare in the Gympie community through events and marketing.

Regula Waser (Accounts Officer)

My husband Danny and I moved from Switzerland to Kununurra (Kimberley) in 1988 where we were involved in a station south of El Questro. The aim was to bring the badly overgrazed and understocked area back to life with the principles of Allan Savory. Our business partner and his wife moved out to the station and have fantastic results – check out their website here.

We established a business in town where we brought up our four children. I worked in Kununurra as a bookkeeper for 20 years. Many great adventures (plane crash, helicopter crash, crocodile attack) later, I decided that it was time to move on. My husband suggested I should spend a couple of wet seasons to find the perfect place I wanted to live and I took off in my little car all by myself, driving down the west coast, across the Nullarbor, up the east coast and back to Kununurra. When I told him that I found the perfect spot, he believed me and we packed up and moved to Goomboorian where we have a 30 acre farm. We continuously plant new trees, have a vegetable garden and a growing orchard and some chooks and absolutely love the life! As a life member of Landcare I saw the position of Finance Officer advertised in the newsletter, applied for it and have started to work for Landcare at the beginning of November. I hope it will be a long and mutually satisfying arrangement!

Aroha Kitson (Administration Assistant)

I have always loved nature – and working for Landcare gives me the opportunity to work in an environment where I can contribute to our own local nature and ecosystems.

I started at Landcare as a volunteer and am now working part time as an assistant, supporting all the teams with their administration. I also still occasionally assist with Nursery duties and enjoy the variety and challenges that I encounter each day. I also enjoy being creative and using my skills to create promotional and marketing materials, as well as much more!

Andrew Mackenzie (Propagation Coordinator)

I have spent my entire working life involved (in one way or another) with plants.

I started in 1977 in a small nursery near Brisbane as a nursery hand. From there, over the years, I went on to manage some very large, high capacity wholesale nurseries all over Queensland and the Northern Territory.

I have managed Coffee and Tea plantations in Papua New Guinea, African Mahogany plantations in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory, Indian Sandalwood plantations in the East Kimberley’s of Western Australia and many other large enterprises in remote areas.

For some years, I was project managing large commercial landscape projects all over Queensland.

I feel very lucky to have chanced across this opportunity to work with Landcare. It is actually a great privilege for me. I have watched from afar, with great admiration, the brilliant work Landcare does all around the country.

My aim is to bring my years of experience in Horticulture, Tropical Agriculture and Silviculture into play for Gympie Landcare and I look forward to working with all those involved.

Thomas Brook (CLS Manager)

I am a motivated environmental scientist with a particular interest in ecological assessments and environmental conservation and management. I have a strong interest in ecological conservation, particularly on how the modification or urbanisation of natural ecosystems affects its functioning. My education and research background has largely focused on how urban infrastructure has impacted the composition and distribution of fauna, both in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and I am keen to implement this knowledge and skills within the Gympie Landcare CLS team.

If you are looking for a professional ecologist to assess your property, we can provide reports through our CLS services and I will be more than happy to assist you with this.

Yvonne Hennell (Bio-Control Manager)

I was looking for a complete change from my career in insurance when I moved to Gympie a few years ago.  I came to Landcare as a volunteer and initially worked in the office.  When a vacancy came up in Bio-Control I was immediately attracted because it was so different to anything I had ever done before and I had the opportunity to be outside doing physical work.   It was a steep learning curve but two and a half years later I know I made the right choice.  I work with a great team where I continually learn.  My job involves the breeding of the Tingid bug, the Jewel beetle and the Madeira beetle to help deal with cats claw creeper and the Madeira vine.  My ultimate aim is the eradication of cats claw, and while this may not be possible, I am always searching for new ideas and looking for new approaches. I am currently experimenting with the leaf tying moth but it is only early days.

Nina Drinkwater (Bio-Control Assistant)

25 years ago I left the big smoke in search of a lifestyle more in touch with nature. I stopped on the Cooloola Coast, joined the local bush regeneration group and settled down to do an Assoc. Degree in Applied Science. I have always had an interest in the ecological workings of natural environments and as my studies and field experience progressed I became passionate in understanding the factors that provide for more suitable resource use. I have worked in the conservation industry in many roles from educator and project coordinator to field officer.

I have a history of roles in flora and fauna management in natural and culturally significant environments, and therefore bring a broad knowledge base to the Landcare team. I am now undertaking a new area of interest and training within the Bio-Control team at Gympie Landcare and look forward to contributing my land management experience to the local community in our war on invasive species. My mantra for life in the modern world is “let’s look after our own backyard”.