At the heart of Queensland’s Brigalow Belt bioregion lies a Bush Heritage property that’s part of a disappearing world.
The brigalow shrublands of Goonderoo Reserve – a precious remnant of a once widespread vegetation type.
Goonderoo Reserve was bought because it secured a group of rapidly vanishing ecosystems – among them the brigalow shrublands.
Taking their name from the long-lived, silvery wattle known as brigalow, the once extensive Brigalow Belt shrublands have fallen prey to large-scale land clearance. Now, just 6% of the brigalow shrublands remain, with only 2% protected in conservation reserves.
These remaining patches, including those at Goonderoo, provide refuge for many woodland species – bandicoots, bettongs, sugar gliders and koalas are just some of the species found on the reserve.
Goonderoo also hosts habitat for the nationally endangered bridled nailtail wallaby, a population of which lives on a neighbouring property.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
Koala. Photo: Wayne Lawler/ Ecopix
Squatter pigeon. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix
When Bush Heritage bought this property in 1998 the previous owners were generous enough to pass on a family list of birds species recorded over several decades. Since then we’ve built on that list, and it now includes mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Goonderoo Reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
- Rufous bettong
- Long-nosed bandicoot
- Squatter pigeon
- Common dunnart
- Sugar glider
- Bluegrass grasslands
- Brigalow shrublands
- Lancewood shrublands
- Riparian forest
- Poplar box woodlands
- Red gum forest
What we’re doing on the property
One of our biggest tasks at Goonderoo is to help the shrubby woodlands regenerate – a task that’s made challenging by an introduced pasture crop, buffel grass.
Native to Africa and India, buffel grass was brought into Australia as a drought and fire-tolerant livestock feed.
Since then it has replaced native plants over large areas, as well as dramatically increasing damage from fires – buffel grass burns so hot that it kills most native Australian plants, even the fire-adapted ones.
Bush Heritage is using strategic controlled grazing to keep the buffel grass at bay, which reduces the risk of intense fire and gives the native plants a chance to get established.
Managing fire and weeds in particular helps us maintain habitat for mammals on the reserve, including rufous bettongs, koalas, bandicoots and sugar gliders.
Back from the dead
The bridled nail-tail wallaby. Photo: Pavel German
Up until the early 1970s Australia lived under the impression that the only place left to see a bridled nailtail wallaby was in the history books.
This beautiful, lively marsupial, also known as a flashjack wallaby, hadn’t been seen for 36 years.
But that all changed in 1973 when the animal was sighted on a cattle station near Dingo in central Queensland.
It was later discovered that the wallaby was part of a population of nailtails that had survived in what is now the Taunton National Park.
Since then two more populations have been established as part of an insurance policy against the loss of the Taunton animals.
One of these sanctuaries is at Avocet Nature Reserve, which adjoins Goonderoo.
We’re hoping that by restoring the shrublands and woodlands of Goonderoo, the bridled nailtail wallaby will have one more place to call home.
History and cultural values
There are Aboriginal artefacts on the reserve, showing that Indigenous inhabitants occupied the Goonderoo area.
Initially established by European settlers for sheep and timber production, the area soon became cattle-grazing country. The Spooner family settled on what is now Goonderoo during the 1940s, and the family maintains a strong interest in the reserve.