10 May 2023

Cape York’s legend of the land passing on the baton

| Sarah Martin
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Andrew Hartwig has built a strong reputation in his decade in the Cape.

AFTER more than a decade in his Landcare liaison role and with numerous positive improvements to show for it, Andrew Hartwig has hung up his hat.

With the recent loss of his father, Mr Hartwig told Cape York Weekly it was the right time to leave Cooktown.

“It was a hard decision to go, but my dad passed away in July and he’s got a small farm and some investments I need to concentrate on and I have to honour my dad now,” he said.

“I’m really going to miss the role and the people, but I’ll still be around contracting and consulting.”

In his 11 years as Regional Agriculture and Landcare Facilitator (RALF), the first four based with Cook Shire Council and the final seven with Cape York Natural Resource Management, he said he has seen many positive changes in the Cape.

“When I first started people were really hesitant to accept help from the government, but the attitudes have changed a lot over the years,” he said.

“I’ve also seen a reduction in late season wildfires and an improvement in people working together across land tenures and organisations.

“One of the tricky things about Cape York is there are so many different land tenures from National Parks to grazing leases and Aboriginal freehold.

“The good thing about the role is getting everyone working together and bringing conservation and sustainable agriculture together.

“Cape York does that really well, better than most places in Australia.”

Helping land managers match their aspirations to service providers was also satisfying, he said.

“We did a lot of property plans for people and identified their goals and when we got different funding we knew which ones would benefit them,” Mr Hartwig said.

“You’ve got the best of both worlds, with projects that provide environmental and sustainable agriculture benefits.”

Mr Hartwig said he had slowly been handing projects over to other people to keep them going past his retirement.

“I’ve had 34 years with federal, state and local government and we’ve got some great young people coming through,” he said.

“It takes a bit of coordination to keep everyone working together, but there is a real need for it.”

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