Chingarrup, turner of hearts

Monday 20 June, 2011

Eddy and Donna Wajon aren't the only ones who fell in love with Chingarrup.

The first time Perth couple Eddy and Donna Wajon explored Chingarrup Sanctuary they walked away with a check list of 150 flower species for later identification and a desire to become the property’s owners.

Photo of Eddy and Donna Wajon - the owners of Chingarrup SanctuaryEddy and Donna Wajon. Photo: Eddy Wajonvert

'I thought wouldn’t it be great to own and look after this place,' says Eddy. 'How great to say we own this patch of bush and are responsible for looking after it.'

More than eight years later and Chingarrup Sanctuary, a five-hour drive southeast of Perth and now managed under a Bush Heritage partnership model, is well and truly Eddy and Donna’s patch.

Photo of honey possumHoney possum on eucalyptus. Photo: Eddy Wajon

The wildlife returns

'We’ve seen honey possums returning to the revegetated area, and even some of the fussier birds such as Western whipbirds.'

Since buying the 576 hectare bush block in 2002 they’ve poured their heart and soul into it, replanting native woodlands, weeding, restoring buildings, and documenting the extraordinary biodiversity of the area.

During that time Eddy has come to know the property intimately, and has photographed at least half of Chingarrup’s estimated 500 plant species, many of which appear in his self-published books on Western Australia’s wildflowers.

He’s particularly taken by the colour, detail and delicately feathered flowers of the Verticordia genus, which he fondly calls the turner of hearts.

He’s also fascinated by the more than 150 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and moths still found on the property, despite it being almost completely cleared during the 1960s and 70s.

An important link in a fragmented landscape

Bush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders started working with Eddy and Donna just after they bought Chingarrup and says it’s one of the most important properties in the Gondwana Link project, a plan to restore a 1000 km swathe of remnant bushland from WA’s South West to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain.

'It’s connected to large areas of Crown land and links up really well with a lot of large bush areas, including our other Bush Heritage reserves, Chereninup Creek and Monjebup,' says Angela.

'It also contains four very important conservation targets for the area: yate woodland; proteaceous-rich heath; black-gloved wallabies and an important creekline.' Angela has helped Eddy and Donna set up species monitoring sites and visits once a year to carry out bird and plant surveys.

Photo of zebra finchesHoney possum. Photo: Eddy Wajon

A partnership approach

This partnership benefits all involved. Eddy and Donna receive expert help managing their land, which is in a high priority area for Bush Heritage.

Because we know Chingarrup is in good hands, more of your generous donations can be used to buy and protect areas elsewhere. And the honey possums and black-gloved wallabies now have a safe home.

Angela says watching the bush come back to life under Eddy and Donna’s guardianship gives her great hope for the future.

'Some of the wildlife coming back to Chingarrup is very exciting,' she says. 'We’ve seen honey possums returning to the revegetated area, and even some of the fussier birds such as Western whipbirds.'

By John Sampson

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