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Landscape at Evelyn Downs. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
Landscape at Evelyn Downs. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Australians called to help buy our largest nature reserve

Published 15 Nov 2023

At a time when Australia needs urgent action to turn around the biodiversity crisis, Bush Heritage Australia has a rare opportunity to purchase Evelyn Downs Station and protect a unique landscape that is around the size of the ACT. 

Ecologist Graeme Finlayson.

This spectacular property, located in South Australia's Painted Desert, is of high ecological and cultural value and will provide habitat for over 60 plant and animal species of conservation significance.

Bush Heritage is calling on Australians to help raise $2.4 million towards purchasing the land and contribute to efforts to halt the crisis wiping out Australia's native plant and animal species.

Located 150km north of Coober Pedy on the unceded lands of the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara, Evelyn Downs is a 235,000-hectare pastoral property. It borders the Mount Willoughby Indigenous Protected Area and is close to the Tallaringa Conservation Park.

The purchase of Evelyn Downs would contribute to a combined nature corridor spanning over 1.9 million hectares of protected land and be Bush Heritage’s largest acquisition in its 32-year history.

Rob Murphy, Co Interim CEO and Executive Manager of Conservation Operations, expressed the crucial role of supporters in expanding conservation efforts. 

"We hear from our supporters all the time that they want us to be doing more, protecting more. And we’ve listened to that. We’re now asking our supporters, and anyone out there who wants to make a real difference, to help us achieve one of our most important acquisitions in Bush Heritage's history.”  

Evelyn Downs boasts a breath-taking landscape of rocky outcrops and creeks lined with Coolabahs and River Red Gums. These natural features provide vital refugia for desert species, including the endangered Arckaringa Daisy and the nationally vulnerable Bronzeback Legless Lizard. 

Tree-lined creek at Evelyn Downs. Photo George Munn.

Notably, the property lies outside of the South Australian Dog Fence, offering Bush Heritage the opportunity to explore the role of dingoes in a landscape both ecologically and culturally. 

Beyond its ecological significance, Evelyn Downs holds immense cultural value for Traditional Owners. Senior Elder Bill Lennon of the Tjirilya Aboriginal Corporation said that it is important to acknowledge culture and share knowledge when protecting Country. 

“The Country needs health. We can all learn from each other. And I think we’ll get along pretty good.”  

A statement from Tjirilya Aboriginal Corporation said, “As long-term Aboriginal custodians and land managers on Mount Willoughby Station and the region, we look forward to the mutual help and support that we in Tjirilya Aboriginal Corporation and the Bush Heritage team can give each other in nurturing our munda (our land) for the benefit of ecological, environmental, and Aboriginal heritage into the future.” 

Rob Murphy emphasised the urgency of taking action for the environment. 

"When you think about the environment and the challenges we are facing globally, we know that action is required urgently. So, I think this chance that we have now with Evelyn Downs is a great reminder that we can all be a part of change."  

Bush Heritage invites all Australians to join us in being part of the solution. You can support this national conservation effort by donating today.

About Bush Heritage Australia

Bush Heritage Australia is a leading not-for-profit conservation organisation that protects ecosystems and wildlife across the continent. We use the best science, conservation and right-way knowledge to deliver landscape-scale impact. We’re on the ground, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the agricultural sector to make sure our impact is deep, sustainable, and collaborative.

Media contact

Coco McGrath: 055 635 035

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