NATURE LOVING: Jarrah with his mum.
NATURE LOVING: Jarrah with his mum.

Stunning photo by Ballina boy, 7, wins national prize

BALLINA boy Jarrah McGauran, 7, has plenty to smile about after winning the National Junior Landcare "What's in Your Backyard?" photo competition.

Jarrah's image of a green looper moth found on his mum's worksite in the Koonyum Range sparked the interest of Junior Landcare Ambassador and gardening guru Costa Georgiadis.

BALLINA BOY: 7 year old Jarrah, and his beautiful camouflaged moth on the tree.
BALLINA BOY: 7 year old Jarrah, and his beautiful camouflaged moth on the tree.

"The response to this was overwhelming - it went gangbusters. We got over 3000 pictures," he said.

The competition sprouted from how to get kids actively engaged with their environment during lockdown.

"We were looking for a way that wasn't too intimidating, a really good way to get kids outside," Costa said.

Junior Landcare's 'What's in Your Backyard?' campaign encouraged children to get out into their gardens, onto their balconies or even look outside their window to take in the nature right on their doorstep.

GARDENING GURU: Costa Georgiadis announces winner of Junior Landcare's 'What's in Your Backyard?' competition.
GARDENING GURU: Costa Georgiadis announces winner of Junior Landcare's 'What's in Your Backyard?' competition.

Rochelle Merdith was homeschooling her son when they came across the competition online.

"I work as a bush regenerator and had to take Jarrah in to work with me one day.

"We were doing some work at the president of Brunswick Valley Landcare, Peter Ryan's property.

"I told him I had to bring my son with me, and he said that's fine, bring Jarrah.

"We were over the top of Mullumbimby Creek right under the Koonyum Range when Jarrah found it and alerted me to it."

Jarrah said the moth's wings were wrapped around the tree, in line with it and it was only a metre off the ground.

When the family learnt that Jarrah's photo was chosen out of over 3000 entrants there were lots of 'high fives'.

"I was like, are you serious?" Jarrah said.

"When I was told I was the national winner I was like, 'Oh my god'. I was so relieved, and so happy."

Costa said moths get 'such a bum deal' as the poorly recognised butterflies of the night.

"Jarrah's learning more about moths now and how valuable they are … they are food for so many different parts of the eco system. If moths go, so do birds and lizards," he said.

"Junior Landcare rocks because it gives every student everywhere in the country, a chance to understand nature, connect with it and take action to show that you love and want to protect the world around you. With Junior Landcare, it's something we can do together.

"Each one is a winner on their own merit simply because they've gone to the trouble to go looking for something; birds, all sorts of insects, plants and flowers."