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Bright and early on Tuesday 2 November, members of our staff at Adelaide Festival headed to Wirilda Conservation Retreat for a morning of tree planting.

Located in Harrogate, this beautiful Adelaide Hills property was devastated by the 2019-20 Cudlee Creek bushfire and is still recovering from its effects. Wirilda’s owners, Brendan and Elizabeth Lay, are committed to regenerating the vegetation on the property, with assistance from their son, Sandy.

Beatrice Jeavons, Adelaide Festival’s Sustainability Coordinator, and Sandy have worked together over years in festivals and events. They share a passion for environmental protection and bush regeneration, as well as climate action and sustainability within the arts.

Earlier this year, Bea worked with Tim Minchin and the BACK crew as the tour’s sustainability consultant, which included a planting inatitive at Lot50-Kanyanyapilla near McLaren Vale.

In 2019, Sandy ran the bars for the Adelaide Festival through his business Goodboy events and he continues to work with major South /Australia events and festivals.

When Sandy floated the idea of doing something together for an Adelaide Festival staff day, Bea thought it was a no brainer. The pair decided on a tree planting project at Wirilda and approximately 15 staff members put up their hands to participate.

Under the guidance of seasoned tree planters Brendan and Sandy, the AF team planted 110 Sheoak (Casuarina) trees, a species native to Australia that serves as a habitat and food source for many insects, birds and small mammals.

Staff worked to remove weeds and dig holes for the young plants. Due to the heat and time of year, careful thought was given to how the trees were planted and would access water. Once they had been set in the ground, the team watered the Sheoaks with dam water from the property.

Covered in dirt, staff members resisted the urge to jump in the dam (although the same could not be said for family dog Daphne!) and instead indulged in delicious scones prepared by Elizabeth.

This is one of many planned sustainability projects for the Adelaide Festival, and the team look forward to visiting the property to check on the baby Sheoaks.

Sandy Lay and Beatrice Jeavons are stiving to change current industry practices and are keen to organise similar initiatives with other South Australian arts and cultural organisations. For more information, or to ask any questions, please contact Bea at or Sandy at

Read more about Adelaide Festival’s commitment to sustainability here.

Image 1: AF staff gathered by some of the trees planted at Wirilda, along with Brendan Lay (front right, holding Daphne the dog). Photo by Sandy Lay.
Image 2: (Left to right) Beatrice Jeavons (left) with another staff member; two staff members planting a tree; a view of some of the trees planted on the property. Photos by India Ward.
Image 3: (Clockwise from top left) Brendan and Elizabeth Lay in front of the Wirilda dam; a view of the beautiful Wirilda dam and surrounding trees; Daphne the dog sitting in the shade. Photos by India Ward and Beatrice Jeavons.