Winter has been kind to Naree Station, Bush Heritage's reserve north-west of Bourke in northern New South Wales, bringing plentiful rain and turning the landscape into an emerald green paradise. We've been busy hosting visitors, volunteers and workers through the cooler months, including a donor visit in August and a tagalong-tour in September.
Carpets of flowers greeted Chris and Gina Grubb and friends when they flew in to Naree's upgraded airstrip last month. We spent a weekend touring Naree's wetlands, woodlands and sandplains, which were looking rather different to Chris and Gina's last visit in 2014 during much drier conditions.
We had perfect weather for outdoor dining and learning, and enjoyed a demonstration of drone technology by PhD student Justin McCann, who has received a Bush Heritage scholarship to study the boom and bust natural cycles at Naree.
We also hosted a tag-along tour last weekend, with participants dodging road closures and rain to get to Naree from Bourke, and engaging in some unexpected 4WD adventures to reach our Coolibah Campsite at the heart of the property. Heavy rainfall had made some of the tracks untrafficable, so we took the opportunity to explore a little more on foot - a great way to appreciate the flowers and shrubs in bloom on the different kinds of country around the campsite.
Water is lying across the landscape in many ephemeral wetlands which were dry sand and clay not so long ago, and our waterhole is full to the brink from recent pulses of water coming down the Warrego and Cuttaburra systems due to good rains in Queensland.
The vegetation, from trees to ground layer, is bursting with new growth - some of the emerging plants rearing their heads for the first time since Bush Heritage Australia purchased the property in 2012.
A combination of water and warmer spring temperatures has seen the wildlife stirring, with several species of lizards and frogs becoming noticeable in recent weeks. Birds are starting to nest and breed, including waders and ducks in the wetlands, woodland birds in the mulga, and hundreds of fairy martins in the Naree sheds!
Naree is now primed for what we hope will continue to be a good season - to the point where the ground is saturated and it will be a little while before more touring can occur. Watching the weather charts, more rain is predicted for next week both here and in our catchments to the north in Queensland, and we watch with excitement to see how much more water might flow into our wetland systems.