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Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies bounce back to Boolcoomatta

Damian Alway
Published 24 Aug 2022 
by Donna Gaskin  
about  Boolcoomatta Reserve  

Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby caught on camera at the Saddle.<br/> Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby caught on camera at the Saddle.
Plenty of food at the Saddle for this pair.<br/> Plenty of food at the Saddle for this pair.
With white, orange and brown markings, they look right at home among the rocks.<br/> With white, orange and brown markings, they look right at home among the rocks.
More Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies. This time at Eagle Rock.<br/> More Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies. This time at Eagle Rock.
Emus have also benefitted from the good conditions. <br/> Emus have also benefitted from the good conditions.

Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies have been caught on camera at a new spot on our Boolcoomatta Reserve: the Saddle.

This goes with the regular sightings at Eagle (Wallaby) Rock closer to the Boolcoomatta homestead, on Adnyamathanha and Wilyakali Country in South Australia’s arid rangelands.

The images captured appear to be a breeding pair, which we’d hope means they’re more likely to be living at the Saddle, than just passing through.

We’ve seen previous indications (scats) that the wallabies have passed through the Saddle, so I put a camera at the site to confirm our suspicions. This is the first time they’ve been captured on camera at Boolcoomatta, outside of regular sightings at Eagle Rock.

In such a good season (with plenty of rain), its evidence the wallabies are breeding and dispersing in the Olary Ranges and making the most of the long-term suppression of foxes and goats on Boolcoomatta.

This is thanks, in no small part, to our long-term partnership with the South Australian government’s BounceBack program, now celebrating its 30th year.

National Parks and Wildlife South Australia initiated the Flinders Ranges Bounceback Program in the 1990s to protect native species through the removal of foxes and feral goats, rabbits and controlling weeds.

The hills at Boolcoomatta are the eastern extent of the Olary Ranges where the landscape makes it operationally difficult to bait for foxes from the ground. BounceBack includes an aerial baiting program that’s been a resounding success.

With Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies established at neighbouring Bimbowrie Conservation Park, it’s likely that conditions and an increasing population is pushing them to broaden their range. Plumbago Station (a pastoral lease to the west of Bimbowrie) has also been involved in Bounceback to offer even more habitat for the wallabies.

We now need to keep up the pressure on foxes and goats in key areas of suitable habitat to ensure they have plenty of options on Boolcoomatta.

Analysis of scats previously found at the Saddle was conducted as part of research by Adelaide Uni to assess the genetic health of populations throughout South Australia, including the Olary Ranges. The study confirmed that Boolcoomatta wallabies (found through evidence of scats in three locations) were closely related to those on Bimbowrie. This is attributed to the success of Bounceback, which has shown wallabies have dispersed beyond the footprint of the Bounceback Operation, particularly in good seasons.

Volunteers have anecdotally spotted a pair in the south-west corner of the property too. They definitely look at home - their distinctive white stripes and yellow/orange markings blending perfectly with the rocky terrain.

Plenty of food at the Saddle for this pair.<br/> Plenty of food at the Saddle for this pair.
With white, orange and brown markings, they look right at home among the rocks.<br/> With white, orange and brown markings, they look right at home among the rocks.
More Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies. This time at Eagle Rock.<br/> More Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies. This time at Eagle Rock.
Emus have also benefitted from the good conditions. <br/> Emus have also benefitted from the good conditions.