The first project involving A Rocha Australia in a formal context began in a breathtaking landscape of hills, forest and estuary on the country’s east coast, which has provided inspiration to all who have been privileged to encounter it.
From mid-2016 to early 2019, A Rocha Australia and Tahlee Ministries actively collaborated on an initiative known as the Tahlee Centre for Creation Care.
Tahlee Ministries Inc. is an interdenominational missions organisation based at Tahlee on the north shore of Port Stephens in NSW. Tahlee provides facilities for churches and other Christian groups to run camps, retreats and seminars. Team members are involved in support of local churches and schools, prayer ministry, evangelistic outreaches as well as kids and youth ministries. Tahlee also offers training programs in a variety of fields including for international interns.
Primary among activities under the A Rocha Australia-Tahlee partnership was a baseline inventory of flora and fauna on the 70 hectare Tahlee property. Three major habitats—eucalypt forest, tidal wetlands and gardens of the Tahlee village—were surveyed regularly by Tahlee staff (led by Stuart Fleming) with assistance from A Rocha Australia members and the Hunter Bird Observers Club. Several of the 167 recorded bird species, such as Glossy Black-Cockatoo and Bush Stone-curlew, are listed as threatened in New South Wales and the migratory Eastern Curlew is globally endangered. Results have been published in a regional ornithological journal.
Preliminary investigations also were made on vegetation communities and mammals and potential for reintroduction of koalas was investigated. Non-native shrubs in the village with potential to become weeds were removed in collaboration with the shire council. An organic garden was maintained in the village to supply the community kitchen. All of the activities at Tahlee contributed to a greater awareness in the Tahlee community and among visitors, of the biodiversity assets on the property and the possibilities of citizen science, as well as informing plans for enhanced management and sustainable living.
A Rocha Australia held its formative gathering at Tahlee in the spring of 2015.
With the Lausanne-WEA Creation Care team, in April 2018 A Rocha Australia and Tahlee co-hosted a conference on creation care in the Oceania region, attended by people from several Pacific Island countries, other overseas guests and Indigenous Australians.
Due to changes in circumstances, the Tahlee Centre for Creation Care was placed on hold in 2019. A Rocha Australia will renegotiate its involvement at Tahlee once the new site managers have become fully established.