SERIES 31 | Episode 29
We meet James Brincat, who is Area Chief Ranger for Parks Victoria, looking after a number of sites on Wadawurrung, Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung Country: his remit includes Point Cook Coastal Park, Werribee River Park and Werribee Park, all about 30km south-west of Melbourne.
But it’s the 25 hectares of formally laid-out gardens, parkland and productive areas around Werribee Mansion that is where the horticulture happens and that’s what he loves.
The Victorian State Rose Garden is a major feature – the 5,000 roses are tended by a dedicated team of about 60-70 volunteers who come out each week to prune, weed and care for the plants – as well as meeting up and having a cuppa. “This place is one of the largest community hubs in Werribee,” James says. That is due in no small part to his open, friendly leadership.
James admits as a kid he had ADHD and this hyperactivity and lack of focus meant he got into some mischief. But he always loved plants and his family encouraged this. “Horticulture changed everything for me,” he says.
He studied horticulture after school and worked at Fitzroy Gardens, in charge of the hydrangeas. Next he moved to the Dandenong Ranges Gardens for what was to become Parks Victoria.
At the newly restored glasshouse at Werribee Park a new display has been installed that cleverly creates a tropical look using large-leafed non-tropical plants and ferns.
At Werribee Park he has fostered a number of community projects, launching a language-learning program for Karen refugees that evolved into a huge community-garden-style vegetable patch. It also led to a traineeship program that has given a positive direction to the lives of several young people in the area, including refugees. “I do love to pass on