Eurardy – wild with flowers

Wednesday 21 September, 2005

Bush Heritage Conservation Programs Manager Paul Foreman provides an update on Eurardy.

White Baeckea sp., pink Verticordia spicata and orange Pileanthus peduncularis colour the heathland. Photo Margaret Quicke.White Baeckea sp., pink Verticordia spicata and orange Pileanthus peduncularis colour the heathland. Photo Margaret Quicke.

The new Bush Heritage Eurardy Reserve is 30,066 hectares of wild and spectacular heathland and woodland. The property has a reputation as one of the top wildflower destinations along Western Australia’s Batavia coast. After years of drought, recent rain will make 2005 a bumper year at Eurardy and there's mounting excitement over the approaching wildflower season.

For decades people have been coming to the property to experience the beauty of spring – an opportunity that will continue under the stewardship of Bush Heritage. Spring at Eurardy is a feast for the senses, with wildflower displays in all colours of the rainbow.

Spotted sun orchid Thelymitra sargentii. Photo Margaret Quicke.Spotted sun orchid (Thelymitra sargentii). Photo Margaret Quicke.

The property also boasts extraordinary plant diversity (over 900 species recorded so far) and many endemic and rare or threatened plants. Beard’s Mallee (Eucalyptus beardiana) and the shrub Verticordia x euradyensis are unique to the area and found on the reserve. Insects and birds flourish in this floral abundance.

Four of the vegetation communities found on Eurardy have been heavily cleared in the region and are poorly represented in conservation reserves. The beautiful york gum (Eucalyptus loxophleba) shrubby woodland is one example.

With the purchase of Eurardy, the reservation status of york gum increased from less than 1% to nearly 22%. This rare community is easy to see; the remaining area of york gum occurs where the North West Coastal Highway bisects the property.

Reserve managers Paul Hales and Leanne Edmonston. Photo Paul Foreman.Reserve managers Paul Hales and Leanne Edmonston. Photo Paul Foreman.

Since the early 1970s about 2,000 hectares, or 6%, of Eurardy has been progressively cleared and cropped. Not surprisingly, most of this cropland is located on the more productive soils, soils that once supported the york gum community. More recently, some heathland vegetation on sandy soils has been cleared for cereals.

Bush Heritage’s long-term vision is to restore these areas to their original state and to return the stands of york gum, a process that will be detailed in the management plan and may take decades to accomplish.

In the short term, sharecropping will continue on the long-cultivated areas. This will help to prevent an outbreak of weeds and provide a significant income stream to help offset the management costs of the new reserve.

Rhinoceros beetle. Photo Paul Foreman.Rhinoceros beetle. Photo Paul Foreman.

Cropping will be phased out, starting in 2006, in the most recently cleared and more fragile sandy paddocks. Some of these areas are already showing signs of recovery and may eventually be completely restored with minimal cost.

Restoring the balance of the older croplands is not as straightforward. These paddocks may need to be actively revegetated, a process that requires careful planning and significant resources. Owning cropping country is new for Bush Heritage but we have shown that revegetation, though costly, can be effectively undertaken on a large scale. The restoration of 60 hectares at Chereninup Creek Reserve near the Stirling Range, undertaken in 2003 in collaboration with Greening Australia, is progressing well.

Eurardy’s former owners Bruce and Margaret Quicke established Eurardy as a wildflower tour destination with fully equipped homestead-style accommodation, powered sites for caravans, and a camping area. Bush Heritage aims to continue this tradition and offer guided wildflower tours by knowledgeable naturalists during spring.

Bungabandy Creek. Photo Paul Foreman.Bungabandy Creek. Photo Paul Foreman.

You can book now to experience this season’s spectacle. Fees will apply for both accommodation and tours, with some accommodation subject to availability. All money raised will go towards the management of Eurardy or towards protecting yet another significant area of Australian bush.

And you can volunteer!

You can now be a volunteer ranger at the new Eurardy Reserve, 150 kilometres north-east of Geraldton. As with all new reserves, there's a lot to do and we need help from people with time and energy to spare. It's going to be a bumper wildflower season, so there will be special opportunities for knowledgeable volunteers – amateur or professional botanists and, we hope, members of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia – to assist Bush Heritage staff in the day-to-day guiding of visitors.

We'll provide private accommodation in new, two-bedroom dongas and, for long-term volunteers, a travel allowance. For more information see our volunteering pages.

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