Clouds gather over Boolcoomatta Reserve. Photo by Wayne Lawler
Adelaide and Oodnadatta
Pepegoona, parched and dry
Laugh beneath a dripping sky
A Song of Rain by C.J. Dennis
When celebrated poet C.J. Dennis used the words ‘Patter, patter...Boolcoomatta' to describe the coming of drought-busting rains nearly a century ago, who would have thought that they would still have relevance today?
Yet in November 2009 it was exactly that sound, the patter patter of rain drops, that again brought relief to Boolcoomatta Reserve after a dry spell produced some of the biggest dust storms Australia has ever seen.
And just as it must have done back in the day of C.J. Dennis, the rain transformed a thirsty landscape into a luxuriant natural wonderland. But these wet spells are just interludes in the dry stretches that are ‘business as usual' for this South Australian reserve.
On Boolcoomatta, open mulga woodlands and natural waterholes give sustenance to species such as Gould's wattled bat, blue bonnets and red-backed kingfishers.
Down on the saltbush plains, orange chats, chirruping wedgebills, bearded dragons and large flocks of emus go about their business. And watching over all of this are the dramatic Olary Ranges – some of the oldest rocks in Australia.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
|Purplewood wattle tree. Photo:
Eastern grey kangaroo. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
Hooded robin. Photo: Graeme Chapman.
Open grasslands of tussock grasses and short-lived saltbushes hide the vulnerable Murray swainson-pea and the endangered plains-wanderer, a small quail-like bird.
Boolcoomatta Reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
- Dusky hopping-mouse (nationally vulnerable)
- Peregrine falcon
- Major Mitchell's cockatoo
- Elegant parrot
- Thick-billed grass-wren (nationally vulnerable)
- Slender-billed thornbill (nationally vulnerable)
- Hooded robin
- Stimson's python
- Eastern grey kangaroo
- Purplewood wattle (nationally vulnerable)
- Slender bell-fruit (nationally vulnerable)
- Riverine flax-lily
- Australian broomrape
- Broughton pea
- Mulga woodland
- Bullock bush shrubland
- Freshwater wetlands
- River red gum woodlands
A volunteer assists with wildlife monitoring.
Photo by Julian Fennesy
A waterhole on Boolcoomatta, an example of the areas we're working hard to protect. Photo by Wayne Lawler/Ecopix
What we’re doing on the property
Run for 150 years as a sheep station, Boolcoomatta shows plenty of signs that it was carefully managed, and retains outstanding examples of saltbush plains, ephemeral streams and wetlands.
To continue to protect these areas, a team of volunteers and staff has worked to control feral animals and control weeds.
Bush Heritage's ecologists and volunteers have also been working to carry out plant and animal surveys.
Already these surveys show good signs of bird recovery, with significant increases in shrub-dependent birds such as the cinnamon quail-thrush, rufous field-wren, redthroat and chirruping wedgebill.
After the recent rainfalls, there were increases in grassland species including the brown songlark, Australian pipit, little button-quail and stubble quail.
Recent sightings of the dusky hopping mouse on Boolcoomatta, well south of its known range, are also testament to our management and improved seasonal conditions.
|Peter and Emma Ashton at home at Boolcoomatta Reserve.
There's no place like home
Boolcoomatta is an unusual place to call home. Spectacular, yet often harsh and unforgiving, the property's homestead is surrounded by vast treeless plains, silvery grey saltbush and prickly acacia shrubs.
And it's remote, 100 km from the nearest town of Broken Hill.
But Emma and Peter Ashton live here because they have important work to do for Bush Heritage: overseeing the property, fixing fences and other infrastructure, keeping the rabbits and foxes controlled and the wildlife safe.
‘I often refer to ourselves as nature farmers,' says Emma, ‘because we live in much the same way as any farmer but without the stock or crops.'
Sometimes wildlife visits their homestead, which Emma says is wonderful for their two young children, Jarrah and Indigo, albeit a distraction to their School of the Air classes. After all, not many kids can gaze through their classroom window and see an emu strutting past or a kangaroo bounding away.
Historic farmhouse built from local stone on Boolcoomatta Reserve.
Photo by Wayne Lawler/Ecopix
This is the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha, Ngadjuri and Wiljakali peoples. Adnyamathanha means hills or rock people.
To ensure the cultural heritage of Boolcoomatta is conserved and protected, a cultural heritage survey will be conducted in partnership with the traditional owners.
Boolcoomatta holds a significant place in the European history of South Australia, playing a crucial role in both the pastoral and mining industries that helped expand the fledgling colony.
Many of the historic buildings on the property were built using local stone.
Page Last Updated: Wednesday 27 April 2011