A great community day in the South Australian arid lands

This May Bush Heritage participated in 'NEP-Fest' – the North East Pastoral Natural Resources Group Field Day, at Weekaroo Station (a sheep Station pursuing sustainable management).

Weekaroo is a neighbour of our Boolcoomatta Station Reserve. Glen Norris (Healthy Landscapes Manager SA & Victoria), Katrina Blake (Access & Visitation Coordinator) and Jo Axford (Community Engagement WA & SA) made the trek to Weekaroo with Boolcoomatta staff Di and Ron Davies and Emily Matthews (Boolcoomatta Ecology Intern).

The focus of the day was providing the North East pastoral community a chance to catch-up, meet partner organisations, and to hear about current programs, outreach and research occurring in the vast SA arid lands.

There were presentations on weather, carbon sequestration, grazing management, Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies, adapting to climate change and weed management. There were also demonstrations (plant identification, weeds, drones) and displays including one from Bush Heritage. 

A real highlight of the day was discussing and celebrating the extraordinary success of Bounceback. This landscape-scale conservation program aims to protect and restore the semi-arid environments of the Flinders, Olary and Gawler ranges. Integrated pest management has been a major focus of the program with property owners uniting to address fox and goat populations. As a result there has been a dramatic recovery of the threatened Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) population. The program has been running for over 25 years.

We've recently witnessed the results of this terrific program with sightings of Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies on our Boolcoomatta Station Reserve (sighted in 2011 and again this year, when previously the last reported sighting was 1924) and on Weekaroo Station (the first time since the 1970s). Robert Brandle (Arid Lands Research Scientist) had been out to survey Weekaroo that morning and found some fresh scats for participants to look at and identify.

It was a great day to meet neighbours and friends, discuss challenges and successes. We were delighted to catch up with Boolcomoatta's most recent Reserve Manager (who left in April 2017) Al Dermer and Kurt Tschiner (previous Charles Darwin Reserve Manager) – both are working in the North East region and remain solid Bush Heritage friends and colleagues.

For more news on the day see this ABC News article.