Today I’m enormously proud to introduce our newest reserve: The Round House in central Victoria. This beautiful 87-hectare bush block has been generously gifted to us by long-term supporter and volunteer, Annelie Holden.
Annelie has been a Bush Heritage supporter since the very beginning, signing on not long after our founder Bob Brown officially started what was then known as the Australian Bush Heritage Fund.
What a fitting and generous gift to start off our 30th anniversary year, with this tangible reminder of the simple yet powerful idea that was planted three decades ago.
Annelie and her late partner George Dalton made the decision together to bequeath their entire property to Bush Heritage in their will.
When George passed away in 2014, Annelie began volunteering with Bush Heritage, mostly in our head office. She is a vital part of our Information and Relationships team (you might be lucky enough to receive a special handwritten note from Annelie with your receipt!) but she is also a keen field volunteer, helping out at our Nardoo Hills and Charles Darwin reserves. Over the years she's also visited Boolcoomatta, Carnarvon, Fitz-Stirling and Bon Bon.
Ultimately Annelie decided she would like to see the impact of their bequest in her lifetime, so she brought it forward and is gifting it to us in her lifetime, rather than in her will. She made this video in 2016 about the decision.
Now, Annelie and George’s legacy will benefit many people, for many generations.
The Round House is just 100 kilometres from Melbourne near the township of Broadford. The Traditional Owners are the Taungurung people.
Its proximity to Melbourne means it's the perfect setting for Bush Heritage’s very first engagement-focused reserve – a place we can bring donors, staff and corporate partners to share ideas, collaborate, and inspire them with our work.
My vision for the Round House is for it to be a place where we welcome multiple generations to spend time with our ecologists and field staff learning how we can all care for the land.
About two thirds of the property are classified as ‘Grassy Dry Forest’. Around half of all Grassy Dry Forests in the region have been cleared, making it a threatened ecological community, and it's important to protect the remaining areas.
Walking around the property, Kangaroos, Echidnas and Wombats are a common sight and many birds frequent the area such as Grey Shrike-Thrushes, White-throated Treecreepers and Striated Pardalotes.
Annelie and George built the two-bedroom home which perches on the top of a ridge with stunning 270-degree views in the late 1970s.
It was designed by renowned architect Gregory Burgess who has designed a number of notable Australian buildings including the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Grampians and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl refurbishment.
Annelie and George’s gift is an incredibly powerful gesture that speaks to their love of the environment, and each other.