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Liffey Valley Reserves

Where eagles dare

If you were a Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle riding the air currents high above Liffey Valley Reserves, you'd have a spectacular view of towering mountain plateaus, tumbling rivers and sweeping valley plains.

Liffey Valley ReservesIn the words of Bob Brown, Liffey Valley Reserves lie "between the farms and the plateau wilderness, between the bitumen and nature's silence, between the late twentieth century and the most ancient world of nature." Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.

From the giddy heights of Dry's Bluff, 1200 metres above sea level, you could swoop down over the top of an almost vertical cliff face, plunging 800 metres straight down to the fertile valley floor below.

From the banks of Pages Creek, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a spotted-tail quoll, or platypuses searching for food.

And crossing the valley floor you would see a rich mosaic of ecosystems, including lush temperate rainforest, with its attendant Gondwanan tree species of myrtle beech and sassafras.

Oh, and if you were a Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, you'd be very special. There are estimated to be fewer than 130 breeding pairs left in the world, making places like the Liffey Valley extremely important if these eagles are to survive into the future.

All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

What the reserves protect

Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagleTasmanian wedge-tailed eagle. Photo: Wayne Lawler.

Anarctic beech treesGrove of Antarctic beech trees in temperate rainforest. Photo: Wayne Lawler.

Tasmanian echidnaTasmanian echidna, showing its fur coat. Photo: Wayne Lawler.

Liffey Valley Reserves provide important foraging habitat for two threatened birds of prey, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (nationally endangered) and the white goshawk (endangered in Tasmania).

These significant species and communities are also found on the reserves.

Animals

  • Tasmanian devil (nationally endangered)
  • Spotted-tail quoll (nationally vulnerable)
  • Southern brown bandicoot

Plants

  • Maidenhair spleenwort (vulnerable)
  • Prickly beauty
  • Mother shieldfern
  • Rayless starwort (rare)
  • Silver banksia
  • Stinkwood

Vegetation communities

  • White (manna) gum wet forest (endangered
  • Myrtle beech–sassafras rainforest
  • Stringybark dry forest
  • Stringybark forest with broad-leaf shrubs
  • Lowland grassy sedgeland

What we’re doing on the reserves

Arson and fire escaping from bush camps have been problems in the past, but active fire management is largely not feasible in this location. So we focus our attention on preventative management of fire outbreaks.

One important step has been banning campfires on all the reserves within the Liffey Valley. This is especially important to protect the fire-sensitive rainforest and old-growth eucalypts found along the rivers and creeks in the area.

Weeding foxglovesWeeding foxglove at Liffey Valley Reserves.
Photo by Beatrice Bentley

Weed control occurs annually. Among the normal suite of invasive weeds found in Tasmania, we're particularly interested in controlling the spread of foxglove.

This pretty weed – the same as the flower found in cottage gardens across the world – spreads quickly in the open grassland along Pages Creek. The tall flowering stems produce copious amounts of fine seed that allow it to multiply quickly.

Luckily, foxglove is easy to hand-weed, and even cutting the flowering stem can reduce seed-set if the stem is cut at the right time.

Bob Brown at his Liffey Valley cottageBob Brown at the house on Oura Oura Reserve. Photo courtesy of Bob Brown.

A star is born

In many ways, the creation of Liffey Valley Reserves in 1991 marks a watershed in the history of the Australian conservation movement.

Bob Brown, then a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, had recently won the Goldman Prize (an international environment award worth around $50 000) when a couple of bush blocks near his Liffey Valley cottage came up for sale.

Bob was keen to save the bush blocks from imminent logging. But he was also worried about being saddled with a huge debt he couldn't afford. ‘I tossed and turned over that,' he said.

He eventually decided to put in a bid, and asked a friend to attend the auction.

‘I was sitting in the Tasmanian Parliament and he rang at night to say you've secured the blocks at the reserve price of a quarter of a million dollars,' says Bob.

A sympathetic bank manager and some very generous donors came to the rescue, and Liffey became the first purchase for a new conservation organisation, the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, now known simply as Bush Heritage Australia.

>More about Bob Brown and the founding of Bush Heritage  

Cultural values

The Liffey Falls region was a meeting place for three Tasmanian Aboriginal groups: the Big River, North and North Midlands people.

The area's sandstone overhangs provided shelter, and stone artefacts still mark old Aboriginal campsites. Some of the old pathways are still used by walkers making their way up to the Western Tiers.

The grassland found in Pages Creek Valley (Liffey River Section) is typical of those created by persistent burning by Aboriginal people. This was done to create hunting habitat and make travelling through the country easier.

Oura Oura Reserve, which was donated by Bob Brown in 2011, played an important role in the history of the Australian conservation movement – over the years the cottage hosted formative meetings of Bush Heritage Australia, The Wilderness Society, the Tasmanian and Australian Greens, and the Franklin River Campaign.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday 27 April 2011

Map of Liffey Valley Reserves
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Quick facts

Established  1991
Area 275 ha
Location 55 km SW of Launceston

The reserves

There are four Bush Heritage reserves in Liffey Valley:

Liffey River Reserve
Coalmine Creek Reserve
Dry's Bluff Reserve
Oura Oura Reserve 

World Heritage

In 2013 Liffey River Reserve and Coalmine Creek Reserve have been included in a 170,000 hectare expansion of the 1.4 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Visiting

Where we can, we offer opportunities for you to visit the places you've helped protect. We offer visits when conservation and safety considerations permit.

Self-guided day trips are possible at two of the four reserves that make up Liffey Valley Reserves – Liffey River Reserve and Oura Oura Reserve.

For information about visiting other Bush Heritage properties see the visiting our reserves page.

News

Bob Brown gifts historic property to Bush Heritage

Brown ponders the meaning of Liffey, where the Greens began
Sydney Morning Herald

Bob Brown at Oura Oura 
Sydney Morning Herald slideshow

Privatising nature
ABC Radio National, Background Briefing

Bob Brown donates bush shack
ABC News

Bob Brown gives away greenie HQ
The Australian

Thanks

Thank you to all our supporters, whose donations fund the day-to-day costs of managing Liffey Valley Reserves.

After Bob Brown put a down payment on the Liffey River and Dry's Bluff blocks, many people contributed funds to paying off these properties in full. Judy Henderson and Bob Brown generously donated Coalmine Creek and Oura Oura reserves, respectively.