When we bought this property in 2006, two-thirds of it was cleared land – not much of a conservation reserve, some might say. But what they'd be missing is the vital role Yarrabee will play in a much bigger picture.
Candle banksias at Yarrabee, with the Stirling Ranges behind. Photo: Marie Lochman/Lochman Transparencies.
A team effort with Greening Australia, replanted native bushland at Yarrabee is playing an important part in Gondwana Link, an ambitious project to restore a 1000 km swathe of habitat from Western Australia's southwest to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain.
The reserve is considered a key property in reconnecting remaining bushland between the Stirling Range and the Fitzgerald River national parks.
The new bushland plantings are now starting to come into their own, and are providing habitat for species such as Carnaby's cockatoo, black-gloved wallabies and honey possums.
Yarrabee also protects a range of plants belonging to the Proteaceae family, an ancient lineage of spectacular flowering shrubs that include banksias, grevilleas and hakeas.
The prolific flowering of Proteaceae-rich heaths draws a host of bird and other species throughout the year, particularly during summer and autumn, when other food sources are scarce.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
Honey possum. Photo: Jiri Lochman/ Lochman Transparencies.
Marri. Photo: Chinch Gryniewicz.
Yarrabee protects Proteaceae-rich heath on deep white sand – one of the few intact patches remaining in the area.
The reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
- Honey possum
- Black-gloved wallaby
- Black-backed snake
- Western whipbird
- Carnaby's cockatoo
- Flat-topped yate
- Trigger plants
- Christmas tree
- Baxter's banksia
- Proteaceous rich heath
- Banksia woodland
- Jarrah/marri woodland
What we’re doing on the property
Yarrabee Wesfarmers Reserve, with the Stirling Ranges behind. Photo: Amanda Keesing.
The plant-destroying disease dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi) has infected parts of Yarrabee and must be prevented from further contaminating the reserve.
This deadly disease is particularly harmful to plants in the Proteaceae family (which includes banksias, grevilleas and hakeas), and has been likened to a biological bulldozer, killing dominant tree and understorey plant species.
We are also on guard against pest animals such as rabbits and locusts, which pose a significant threat to new bushland plantings.
Bush Rangers to the rescue
How do you get a bunch of school kids interested in environmental restoration? Give them a project that lets them build habitat for snakes, frogs, geckos and goannas.
At least that was the plan Bush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders came up with when confronted with piles of old farming junk at Yarrabee. And guess what? It worked.
Indoctrinating just over a dozen teenagers from Jerramungup District High School into the ways of the local reptile fauna proved all too easy.
Jerramungup students with Bush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders. Photo: Anne Sparrow.
After studying what makes good shelter for snakes and lizards, and learning how to treat these animals with caution and respect, the students ventured into Yarrabee with the mission of turning old sheets of disused iron and piles of timber into new reptile habitat.
And what the kids turned up excited even Angela, who was thrilled when they discovered swimming skinks, marbled geckos, a Rosenberg's Goanna, and five black-backed snakes, which are quite rare and a record find for the property.
This work was carried out as part of the Bush Rangers Western Australia program.