Charles Darwin

Last updated: Friday 27 May, 2016
Map showing the location of Charles Darwin Reserve in WA.

Established: 2003
Area: 68,600 ha
Location: 355km NE of Perth, 60km E of Perenjori

Detailed map >

Visiting Charles Darwin >

Named in honour of the great naturalist, Charles Darwin Reserve lies north-east of Perth, on the northern edge of the Western Australian wheat belt.

The sheep may be gone from this former pastoral station, but there's no shortage of animals roaming its ancient woodlands and wildflower-strewn plains.

Red kangaroo amongst wildflowers on Charles Darwin Reserve. Photo Dale Fuller.
Red kangaroo amongst wildflowers on Charles Darwin Reserve. Photo Dale Fuller.
The history of extensive clearing throughout south-west Western Australia makes it an important refuge for animals and plants once widespread in the region.

Charles Darwin Reserve falls largely within the Southwest Botanical Province, Australia's only internationally recognised biodiversity ‘hotspot' – plant species diversity in the Southwest Botanical Province is higher than in tropical Australian rainforests.

York Gum Woodlands on Chalrles Darwin Reserve. Photo Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparencies.
York Gum Woodlands on Chalrles Darwin Reserve. Photo Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparencies.
The Reserve also extends into the more arid Eremean Province to the north, creating an interesting ‘melting pot' of plant species.

Charles Darwin Reserve provides habitat for over 230 animals including mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians. So far we've recorded over 680 plant species. The daisy, pea and eucalypt families are particularly well represented and the diversity of wattles is very high with over 55 species recorded.

All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

What we’re doing

Luke Bayley (left) and PhD student Tim Dhoerty fit a radio collar to a feral cat as part of a broader control program.
Luke Bayley (left) and PhD student Tim Dhoerty fit a radio collar to a feral cat as part of a broader control program.
Photo: Annette Ruzicka.
Our first tasks since purchase, with help from volunteers and neighbours, was to remove the last stray sheep, and tackle the dozens of weed species.

Feral goats are a major threat, damaging plants and causing soil erosion, so we have an ongoing goat control program, which has dramatically reduced numbers. 

In partnership with Edith Cowan University we've conducted research into the effectiveness of ground-baiting using Eradicat to control cats. The potential benefits of this research include a better understanding of predator control operations and improved land management strategies leading to conservation and agricultural protection benefits.

As part of a bigger picture, Charles Darwin Reserve is helping us understand the effects of a changing climate on Australian animals and plants. For the next 30 years, the reserve will be part of the Climate Change Observatory project – an ambitious initiative designed to see how our native species are responding to the expected drier and hotter weather.

Open Day and Blues for the Bush

Hatz Fitz at Blues for the Bush. Photo Cineport Media.
Hatz Fitz at Blues for the Bush. Photo Cineport Media.
Early October an annual celebration is held. Bush Heritage Australia and the Shire of Perenjori, with generous support from sponsors, run a Community Open Day at the Reserve followed by an open air Blues for the Bush concert. Those attending the community open day are engaged in demonstrations and discussions about important aspects of the social, cultural and economic life of this vibrant and resilient community.

Then as the sun goes down picnic rugs are spread out, the BBQ fired up, the bar opened and a Blues for the Bush concert begins. Local, Perth and interstate bands provide the backdrop for an ever-so-rare opportunity for city and country folk to meet, mingle and even dance together under the stars.

For more information see www.bluesforthebush.org.au.

Culture and history

The reserve lies on the traditional lands of the Badimaya people. Charles Darwin Reserve, also known as White Wells Station, was previously operated as a sheep station.

For more historical background, visit the Charles Darwin Reserve Community History website.

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