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.
In 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.
Flying over 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 250 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 eagle. Photo: Wayne Lawler.
Grove of Antarctic beech trees in temperate rainforest. Photo: Wayne Lawler.
Tasmanian 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.
- Tasmanian devil (nationally endangered)
- Spotted-tail quoll (nationally vulnerable)
- Southern brown bandicoot
- Maidenhair spleenwort (vulnerable)
- Prickly beauty
- Rayless starwort (rare)
- Silver banksia
- Ground clematis
- White (manna) gum wet forest (endangered in Tasmania)
- 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 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 at Liffey.
This pretty weed – the same as the flower found in cottage gardens across the world – spreads quickly in the open sedgeland along Pages Creek and along tracks. 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 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
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.
Oura Oura Reserve, which was gifted 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.