There’s always a way!

The sprawling west of Victoria is spotted with over 400 dormant volcanoes. Some volcanos are sparse and rocky, and some have become a geographical wonder like Tower Hill with a water filled caldera and an abundance of wildlife. In the 1960’s though, the ridges of Tower Hill were bare and that was when Adrian Cloonan in his Year 11 class went tree planting to cover the ridges with acacia trees. Over the years, each time Adrian has been back to Tower Hill, he looks out to see how the greenery has continued to re-wild and how those acacias he planted many decades ago have grown up and given way to further generations of acacias.


Some people are born with green thumbs – like Adrian and his wife. Together they settled in Werribee to live out the Aussie dream, with their family home on one block and the block next door turned into their ‘Garden of Eden’. At a glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Adrian has reached the wise age of 80 today as his vitality, zest to continue contributing to the betterment of the community, and passion to live for the moment really shine. Previously you may have even met Adrian and listened to his great stories and interesting facts about the animals when he was a tour guide at the Werribee Zoo for 25 years. Having retired at the ripe age of 77, one asks how they may want to enjoy and live with purpose in the next stage of their life. What better opportunity than growing seedlings with TreeProject!?


Having been a grower for TreeProject on and off for some years, the time seemed right for Adrian to keep growing. Imagine your new morning ritual!? From November to May, you wake up and walk out with a cup of coffee to your backyard. You take in the view of your beautiful acacia tree and the surrounding greenery, and then walk over to where you’ve setup your growing station for TreeProject. All the seedlings are setup on benches that are waist high, so you don’t have to bend down to wish them a good morning. You’re a grower and carer, checking seedlings for any pests and how they are progressing. You give them a nice watering or move them to shelter if necessary. Lastly, you give them a final nod before you head back inside.


Three consecutive years on as a grower, armed with his experience and knowledge Adrian felt it was time to contribute as a Grower Coordinator. This year will be his 3rd year as a Grower Coordinator and his group focuses specifically on growing seedlings for Landcare to plant in Malmsbury and Ballarat. There is collective of farmers in Malmsbury who place their order each season to the Landcare Association that liaises with TreeProject. As the growers in Adrian’s group collect their grower kits, it’s Adrian’s role to check-in on the growers, be available when they call him with questions on how their seedlings should be growing and mentor new growers. Growers enter in their monthly statistics in the Portal but they can always reach out to Adrian for support. He then reviews the data to check which species are growing well and what it means for the final order. Adrian’s most rewarding moments are the connections he makes with growers and being able to visit planting sites to see how his seedlings have grown. Imagine, years on and seeing 12 metre trees as windbreakers protecting calves from the cold.


A great advocate for the environment, Adrian continues to seek out new support for TreeProject. Leading by example, he recently introduced two retired friends to becoming growers. As a board member of the Werribee River Association he also introduced TreeProject and the association has ordered 2 kits this year – that’s over 600 plants that will rewild the riverlands in Werribee this year. Adrian proves that age is just a number and in his own words, his will to continuously act with purpose is inspiring:

You can do it yourself and you can always tap the community. Use the goodwill of your members. There’s always a way!