The Roxby Downs Green Army works mostly in partnership with the Arid Recovery Reserve, but under the South Australian Rangelands Alliance shared between Arid Recovery and Bush Heritage, the opportunity came along in early December for the Green Army to undertake a placement at Bon Bon Reserve. Bon Bon Reserve, which is 150 km west of Roxby Downs (on the Stuart Highway), is a de-stocked sheep property (over 2000 km2 in size) acquired by Bush Heritage in 2008, and is run by managers Mike Chuk and Julia Harris as a protected area, wildlife corridor and refuge.
The Green Army team studied under and assisted Mike and Julia with a number of tasks. This included maintenance on the original boundary fence with neighbouring station Mount Vivian. Restoring this historic fence was simple but labour intensive. The team assisted Mike and Julia to drive 6ft star droppers alongside the original mulga fence posts to straighten and provide extra stability. The team twitched the original and new posts together with fencing wire to ensure the two didn’t become separated over time.
Using our strength to straighten the property boundary fence.
Time was also spent upgrading the existing fire breaks and access tracks. This provides a navigable route (which is smooth and obstruction free) for fire appliances to access parts of the Reserve from the Stuart Highway. Over time, woody plant species such as Acacia and Senna have established on the track, and required removal by hand and in some cases chemical treatment to prevent re-sprouting.
Grading this track involved a contraption built from old railway line and four truck tyres. The contraption was chained to the back of a tractor and pulled along the dirt track. The railway line would flatten and compact the surface and the tyres would catch and push any debris that may be left on the road such as sticks and rocks. The team assisted by helping manoeuvre and attach the bulky grading device around difficult obstacles and on and off the back of a flat-bed ute for transportation.
Loading the tyres and the railway line for transportation was a creative process that required the use of the tractor to prevent serious strain or injury.
Shovelling a sand bund to allow access by the grading device.
We also spent time locating and managing rabbit warrens in an area of the Reserve, where priority control was identified. The Managers have a responsibility to monitor and control both plant and animal pest species. Smaller warren entrances were simply filled in, while larger entrances were treated chemically. On inspection of some previously recorded warrens in hard calcrete country near the edge of a small salt lake, some of the warrens seemed to be getting larger and there were obvious new tracks and scats present. Southern hairy-nosed wombats had moved in and were increasing in activity, further extending their known range on the Reserve, which thrilled everyone involved.
Preparing a rabbit warren for treatment.
An active wombat burrow.
We participated in a range of other tasks including seed collection, visiting historic photo points to see how some areas had changed over time, and assisting University students who were conducting biological surveys using pit fall trap lines in the south of the Reserve.
An opportunity to brush up on plant ID skills.
Working on Bon Bon Reserve was a great opportunity for the Green Army team, and Mike and Julia were grateful for the assistance, achieving goals that would have been nearly impossible without a little help. We thank them for their hospitality and look forward to visiting again someday.
Do you want to gain field experience across a variety of activities? The next Green Army project starts in March. Anyone who is interested can contact B0210002202G@cva.org.au or visit www.conservationvolunteers.com.au/greenarmy.
Written by Tegan Elms, Green Army participant