“We are being watched”.
It seemed an odd statement and it brought us all to a halt. Glen Norris, Reserve Manager and tour guide extraordinaire, was leading a convoy of four cars on a tour of Boolcoomatta Reserve, when he stopped and radioed his eerie observation back to those following.
The occupants of the cars had all met the day before. Travelling from far and wide, nine Bush Heritage supporters who had pledged a legacy to Bush Heritage in their Wills had arrived full of enthusiasm at their shearers quarters accommodation.
Supporters from all walks of life with a shared passion for the environment, conservation and the work of Bush Heritage, shook hands, hugged and huddled around the fire to warm their backsides and make new friends.
Over two days Glen took our intrepid group through wide creek beds, across flat country with low saltbush cover and up into rocky outcrops.
We saw exclosures built to establish the effect removing kangaroos, goats and rabbits would have on vegetation. We learned that unimpeded water can seep across a landscape replenishing all in its course and assisting in the delicate regeneration of native plants. We learned that Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies, once close to extinction, are making forays from neighbouring land to search out new places for residence on Boolcoomatta.
We learned too that Glen’s passionate belief in building community capacity to control weeds and pest animals and to engage in landscape-scale restoration activities, is more than just about being a good neighbour. It simply offers the best chance of restoring fragmented ecosystems.
It was on route to Dome Rock, which rises sharply and starkly out of the plain, that Glen had issued his eerie observation. He had spied a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles far in the distance atop a sheer rock face. These majestic birds were watching our ant-like progression as masters of all they surveyed, putting into perspective our small part in this vast landscape.
Arid and full of life and colour, Boolcoomatta is a wonderful testament to the fact that with belief, effort, commitment and support, a challenged landscape can begin the process of regeneration.
An enormous 'Thank-you' is due to those that organised this trip, those that shared the trip with us and to all those who've chosen to support Bush Heritage both today and beyond their own lifetimes.