One man's special gift to future generations
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
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
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."
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.
Bush Heritage's Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen with an old-growth long-leaved box eucalypt. Photo by Matthew Newton
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
What this reserve protects
Lace monitor (goanna).
Photo: Craig Allen
Photo: Chris Tzaros
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
- Grassy woodland (vulnerable)
- Heathy dry forest
What we’re doing on the property
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
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 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