Changing of the guard at Bon Bon Station Reserve

Monday 21 December, 2009

Bush Heritage acquired Bon Bon Station Reserve in May 2008. Since September 2008, volunteer caretakers Paul and Carolle Spencer have been living and working on the reserve, putting in a huge effort to upgrade infrastructure. In early October, Glen Norris was appointed as Bon Bon’s first full-time Reserve Manager, continuing and building on the Spencer’s work.

Glen Norris:

Glen Norris (left) presents Carolle and Paul Spencer with a photo of Bon Bon Station and a history of the area. Photo Craig Norris.Glen Norris (left) presents Carolle and Paul Spencer with a photo of Bon Bon Station and a history of the area. Photo Craig Norris.

Prior to joining Bush Heritage, I was involved in the telecommunications and civil earthmoving industries. I began as an operator of heavy plant and machinery and then moved into project management roles on various metropolitan, rural and often remote projects.

You don’t hear about many ‘dozer-driving greenies’, however this background has been useful in informing the way Bush Heritage manages conservation and infrastructure projects in the field. It's also been extremely satisfying to be able to apply this in the context of biodiversity conservation.

Aerial view of Bon Bon Station Reserve homestead, SA. Photo Hugh Pringle.Aerial view of Bon Bon Station Reserve homestead, SA. Photo Hugh Pringle.

In my previous role as National Operations Officer, I was directly involved in managing Bon Bon Station Reserve since its acquisition, so as you can imagine, I was excited to be appointed to the Reserve Manager position. We're currently still in the establishment phase, and I'm looking to fast-track a lot of infrastructure projects so we can focus more of our efforts on protecting the remarkable conservation values of the property.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Paul and Carolle Spencer on behalf of Bush Heritage. They have made an extraordinary commitment to Bon Bon Station Reserve and the organisation by donating more than a year of their time as on-site volunteer caretakers.

Bon Bon: the early days

Carolle and Paul Spencer pictured at Bon Bon Reserve. Photo Craig Norris.Carolle and Paul Spencer pictured at Bon Bon Reserve. Photo Craig Norris.

Paul Spencer describes the ups and downs of life on Bon Bon Station Reserve

Carolle and I were delighted to be asked to be interim managers at Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia in mid-2008. On arrival at the reserve we were not disappointed. The country varied from beautifully sculpted western myalls and mulga to saltbush and a variety of smaller plants and grasses.

Springtime also showed us that flowers and blossoms are very much a part of the picture and, to our delight, Sturt’s desert peas were abundant in some areas.

A southern hairy-nosed wombat and joey at Bon Bon, caught on one of Bush Heritage’s infra-red cameras in October 2009.A southern hairy-nosed wombat and joey at Bon Bon, caught on one of Bush Heritage’s infra-red cameras in October 2009.

The landscape changes from rich red sand with low dunes to gibber plains and rocky ranges that in turn open onto watercourses and magnificent salt lakes. Throw in the roos, emus, lizards and a variety of desert birds, and Bon Bon Station Reserve is an attractive area to care for.

Although the homestead and the other accommodation buildings were in reasonable condition when we arrived, there were some problems with water pressure (taking a shower was a dry experience), lighting and air conditioning.

Sturt’s desert pea growing at Bon Bon Station Reserve. Photo Steve Heggie.Sturt’s desert pea growing at Bon Bon. Photo Steve Heggie.

These things became a priority with summer approaching. Even with a sealed highway running through the property, the reserve is remote, and getting tradesmen to come has been a little difficult. However, all was done in due course, and Bon Bon Station Reserve now has a very comfortable residence.

Exploring the property was at times a challenge: many tracks were either non-existent or overgrown and not discernible.

Each of our early excursions was an adventure. A few times we arrived home a lot later than was expected. On one occasion, bad map interpretation and failing light led us astray. Finally we saw lights in the distance, and were surprised and then absolutely delighted when we realised we were at Kingoonya Pub. We got home late that night!

Bon Bon Station Reserve is the third reserve that Carolle and I have served on; Ethabuka in the Simpson Desert and Eurardy in the Western Australian wildflower area were the other two.

To say which is ‘best’ is not possible as all three are different and have their own special and unique features that have made them a delight to look after.

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