My new favourite spot

on 06 Apr 2013 

I have a new favourite spot on a BHA reserve. And it's not even on one of the reserves I look after nor is it my new favourite because of its aesthetic or ecological qualities. In fact, it's at Scottsdale and it's in pretty poor condition. The reason why I like it so much is because about all conservation issues that I can think of come together here on the one spot while it's still jampacked with interesting Australian flora and fauna.

It's on the remote northern boundary of Scottsdale, right on the Murrumbidgee River, weeds everywhere, pig incursions, erosion, carp, noise pollution from a blockie across on the other bank (probably a generator I'd say), river health issues. All that plus water dragons, Rosenberg's goanna, red-browed finches, wedgies, speckled warblers and a recuperating stand of scribbly gums and callitris.

It's steep here, which means you can actually look into the canopy of the trees below, which increases the chance of good bird photos. You can see the potential for restoration, but you also know that if this place was to be restored it would take decades and an enormous effort of many people and resources.

It is also a typical spot along one of Australia's inland rivers, so you know that if you would be succesful at restoring this site, there are literally thousand of similar sites elsewhere, all in similar need of hard work. It's along a major river, so on top of the prospect of many decades of dedication, you know that the success of any job here would depend on what happens upstream, towards Cooma.

You can literally see the story of degredation of Australia's inland rivers displayed before your eyes here, you can look in every direction and you recognise typical river problems. There are willow trees, sand slugs that have come downstream, patterson's curse, horehound, lamb's ear, wild mustard in many varieties, briar rose, and many other weeds. Later on I spot ten pigs, two adults and eight piglets scurrying along the reeds.

With all that in mind it is hard to get your head around the task at hand. Obviously, Scottsdale has had some five years of conservation managenment under Peter Saunders and he already has booked significant success in rabbit control, erosion and revegetation works around the corner from this spot on the river.

A thousand and one ideas start brewing in my head on possibilities for the future. This would be an ideal spot to start a turtle nesting site for example. The Victorian government has recently listed all Murray-Darling turtle species (three of em) on their advisory list for vertebrate animals in that state, because of the steep decline in river health in the entire system. A fox-proof turtle site along the banks of the Murrumbidgee at Scottsdale could possibly be quite an asset for the area. They've done some excellent work along the Murray in SA with contraptions like that, so research would need to be done in the viability of such a project.

As both Nardoo and JC Griffin don't have significant waterways I never really get preoccupied with riverhealth issues during work. I suppose that makes this spot along the Murrumbidgee so interesting for me. To see the myriad of waterway and riperian issues, but at the same time to enthuse about the posibilities of scoring conservation goals.

Next time I come to Scottsdale for a spell of work to assist Pete, I'll have to come back to this spot to check it out some more. Memo to self: mention the turtle idea to Pete next time I speak to him.