John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve

One man's special gift to future generations
Bush Heritage's Jen Grinrod enjoys twilight at the John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve.Bush Heritage's Jen Grindrod enjoys twilight at the John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve.
Photo: Matthew Newton

Bush Heritage Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen and Ecologist Paul Foreman explain the importance of the reserve for flora and fauna in central Victoria.

John Griffin wanted to leave a legacy for future generations of Australians. The John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve is that special gift - an ancient woodland haven for bushland birds that are declining across Victoria, a home for endangered reptiles and mammals, a place where rare and beautiful plants such as the red-cross spider orchid can thrive.

In October 2011, John Griffin's family and friends gathered to experience John's gift. After two years of discussions and meticulous planning, the family have decided that preserving this precious area of bushland is the perfect way to honour the last wishes of their father, uncle and friend.

"It was just terrific for us to see the reserve," says John's daughter Sally. "It was a joyous occasion, with good people, memories and conversation. The birdsong was melodious and noisy in that marvellous raucous way... we had birds - cockatoos and galahs - flying overhead."

Old-growth woodlands

 Most of the ancient woodlands of central Victoria were cleared during the early days of settlement. Remarkably few places retain their original trees. And much of the box and iron-bark dominated woodlands and forests that remain are regrowth.

Reserve manager Jeroen van Veen with old-growth long-leaved box tree.Bush Heritage's Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen with an old-growth long-leaved box eucalypt. Photo by Matthew Newton

Grass trees
Grass trees occur on the reserve but are rare in central Victoria. Photo by Matthew Newton

This is why the John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve is so unique and important. It has never been cleared and retains exceptional stands of very old trees, including long-leaved box and yellow gum. Some of these are truly gigantic and may be over 300 years old.

Large trees with hollows are important nesting sites for birds such as parrots and owls, and for mammals such as brush-tailed phascogales. The endangered swift parrot frequents this region and relies on the prolific nectar production of large trees. It is likely that over time Bush Heritage reserve staff and volunteers will make many exciting discoveries in the reserve.

The John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve sits strategically between St Arnaud National Park and the Dalyenong Nature Conservation Reserve. Along with neighbouring properties, many of which also have large old trees, the property plays an important role in allowing wildlife such as lace monitors, small mammals and woodland birds to move through the landscape.

What this reserve protects

Lace monitor
Lace monitor (goanna).
Photo: Craig Allen

Swift parrot
Swift parrot.
Photo: Chris Tzaros

Vanilla sun-orchid
Vanilla sun orchid.
Photo: Jeroen van Veen

The old growth woodlands of the John Colahan Conservation Reserve are high quality habitat for a range of threatened species which require large trees with tree hollows or fallen timber for their homes, and diverse ground flora.

The reserve protects these significant species and communities:


  • Swift parrot (nationally endangered)
  • Lace monitor (threatened in Victoria)
  • Fat-tailed dunnart
  • Woodland blind snake
  • Brown treecreeper (threatened in Victoria)
  • Crested bellbird (threatened in Victoria
  • Painted honeyeater
  • Black-chinned honeyeater


  • Yellow box
  • Red-cross spider-orchid (nationally endangered)
  • Stuart Mill spider-orchid (nationally endangered)
  • Southern swainson pea
  • Old growth long-leaved box
  • Old growth yellow-gum
  • Grass tree

Vegetation communities

  • Grassy woodland (vulnerable)
  • Heathy dry forest
  • Box ironbark forest
  • Alluvial terraces herb rich woodland

What we’re doing on the property

Bush Heritage ecologist Paul Foreman measures an old growth long-leaved box eucalyptus.Bush Heritage ecologist Paul Foreman measures an old growth long-leaved box eucalyptus.
Photo by Matthew Newton

The bushland of the John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve is in exceptionally good condition. Rabbits and invasion by pastoral weeds are threats that we must manage to ensure that its conservation values are protected.

The reserve is one piece in a wider landscape jigsaw which is owned and managed by many different groups and individuals. As a member of the Kara Kara Conservation Management Network, Bush Heritage is working with neighbours, other non-government organisations and government departments to ensure that our conservation efforts are successful both on the reserve and in the wider landscape.

Orchids in need

Red cross spider orchidRed-cross spider orchid. Photo by Jeroen van Veen

Rare orchid species are found in the John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve and nearby Nardoo Hills Reserve. Many of these, such as the red-cross spider orchid and Stuart Mill spider orchid, occur in low numbers in isolated populations.

Bush Heritage is working with the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to develop and implemented management plans taylored to the needs of each species and population.

Page Last Updated: Friday 16 December 2011
Map of John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve
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Quick facts

Established  2011
Area 96 ha
Location 185 km NW of Melbourne


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.

Unfortunately, it's not possible to visit the John Colahan Reserve.

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


Bush Heritage Australia gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution of the Estate of John Colahan Griffin which made the purchase and long term management of this property possible.

Traditional ownership

The John Colahan Griffin Nature Reserve is within the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people.