Bon Bon Station

Last updated: Thursday 13 October, 2016
Location of Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia.

Established: 2008
Area: 216 700 ha
Location: 650km NW of Adelaide

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Bon Bon Station Reserve is a former sheep property in the Stony Plains and Gawler Bioregions of South Australia. At around 70km long and 30km across it's roughly the size of Sydney!

Lake Puckridge from a plane. Photo Julia Harris.
Lake Puckridge from a plane. Photo Julia Harris.
Bon Bon has a wonderful diversity of vegetation communities and land systems including the buckshot plains, mulga (Acacia aneura) and western myall (Acacia papyrocarpa) woodlands, salt bush and blue bush (chenopod) shrub lands, sand dunes and salt lakes. 

This region features boom and bust cycles typical of arid, inland Australia. Rainfall is highly variable and averages only 150mm a year. 

Western Myall tree over Pearl Bluebush. Photo Julia Harris.
Western Myall tree over Pearl Bluebush. Photo Julia Harris.
Lake Puckridge is the most significant of the salt lakes. Circular and about 3km across it sits in the centre of the reserve like a mini Lake Eyre, capturing water from a number of drainage lines. It’s named after a family who owned the property in the 1950s and 60s.

During boom seasons Lake Puckridge and smaller freshwater lakes and swamps provide important habitat for water birds such as Black-winged Stilts, Red-necked Avocets and Grey Teals.

What we’re doing

Reserve Manager Mike Chuk (rear) with volunteers Peter and Margie Calder. Photo Julia Harris.
Reserve Manager Mike Chuk (rear) with volunteers Peter and Margie Calder. Photo Julia Harris.
The current Reserve Managers, Mike Chuk and Julia Harris, have worked on Bon Bon since early 2013 and were joined by Field Officer Kate Holmes in mid-2016. They're regularly joined by volunteers, other staff, Green Army teams, scientists, contractors and students.

Weed control 

A Buffel Grass tussock. Photo Cathy Zwick.
A Buffel Grass tussock. Photo Cathy Zwick.
The major weed threat is from invasive Buffel Grass introduced from Africa, which out-competes native species and can increase the frequency and intensity of fire.

Further north in Central Australia, vast areas are now infested with Buffel. At Bon Bon Buffel is still in the early stages of infestation – it’s mostly found along roads, tracks and a number of creeks. Even so, eliminating it will take years of dedicated work and monitoring.

Reserve Manager Mike Chuk spraying Buffel Grass. Photo Julia Harris.
Reserve Manager Mike Chuk spraying Buffel Grass. Photo Julia Harris.
Through a partnership with South Australian Government agencies all 65km of the Stuart Highway passing through Bon Bon was sprayed. We’ve also sprayed along tracks and creek lines. 

Feral pests

Rabbits are a destructive environmental and agricultural pest – they damage native plants and compete with native wildlife for food and shelter. They can also cause soil instability and erosion.

The Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. Photo Steve Parish.
The Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. Photo Steve Parish.
We were funded through a South Australian Native Vegetation Council grant to map and rip rabbit warrens on Bon Bon. The mapping of the most sensitive land systems was done in 2012–13 and ripping in early 2016. Over 950 warrens have been treated with help from Wayne Willis (senior Aboriginal custodian). Before starting we consulted with four senior Aboriginal men and women, led by Bill Lennon.

Fox and cat control is also undertaken.

Fire management

Maintaining cleared fire breaks. Photo Mike Chuk.
Maintaining cleared fire breaks. Photo Mike Chuk.
Our fire strategy aims to limit the risk of landscape-size wildfires and limit affected areas should one occur. Our fire plan identifies a series of graded fuel breaks through the mulga woodlands in the south of the reserve.

Erosion control

Erosion has been identified using historical information and aerial surveys. One of the areas in need of significant repair works was the Old Stuart Highway south of the homestead. 

Bon Bon became one of two pilot properties for the Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) Pilot Project in the South Australian rangelands. This work was funded by the South Australian Arid Lands Board through its Commonwealth funded Waters Programme.

Honours students Cara and Chris (left) checking pitfall traps with volunteers Nicky and Finney. Photo by Julia Harris.
Honours students Cara and Chris (left) checking pitfall traps with volunteers Nicky and Finney. Photo by Julia Harris.
Earth banks to repair zones on the Old Stuart Hwy were designed by the EMU project and built in 2011.

Monitoring

Our ecologist, Sandy Gilmore, manages annual surveys of vegetation structure, soil surface, photo point and bird monitoring. Every 5 years an ecological outcomes performance report and scorecard is produced. 

History and cultural values

Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara on-country vistit to Bon Bon. Photo by Julia Harris.
Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara on-country vistit to Bon Bon. Photo by Julia Harris.
The Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people are the Traditional Owners of Bon Bon. We’re working together to survey and protect culturally significant sites and to develop an Indigenous Land Use Agreement. This will set out the ongoing relationship between us.

The buildings and infrastructure on reserve reflect Bon Bon's 130-year history as a sheep station. During this era it was home to a large community including station managers, overseers, stockmen and Aboriginal families.

The Crested Bellbird. Photo Rob Drummond
The Crested Bellbird. Photo Rob Drummond
Bon Bon Station was originally part of the Mount Eba Station lease and was taken up by T.P. Gourlay in 1902.  It's named after Bon Bon Billa Well; a dependable water supply in the early days. Bon Bon Billa is understood to mean “bellbird” and likely derived from the local Aboriginal language (Source: 'Kingoonya A way of life' by Robert J. Munro).

We’re working with the South Australian Museum to archive a number of historical documents and have set up a museum of pastoral relics in the old Workers Quarters near the Homestead.

Bon Bon was bought in 2008 with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program; the Government of South Australia’s Department of Environment and Heritage and funds from supporters.

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