Ellie's story

Published 21 Sep 2011 

Ellie SobeyPhoto by Matthew Hollingworth

“When I was little, my mum gave me a Bush Heritage t-shirt but it wasn’t until I grew older that I came to know what it meant.

The conservation ethos was threaded through my family, so when I was looking for a practical way to put my environmental science studies to use, Bush Heritage was a natural fit.

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When I first saw Scottsdale Reserve, I thought Bush Heritage really had their work cut out for them. The valley floor was dominated by weeds and where rabbits had dug their warrens, the ground looked like a moonscape.

I mapped the locations of rabbit warrens on Scottsdale’s upper slopes. This involved covering every square metre on foot to find and plot all the warrens using a GPS – so that others could come back later and treat them.

Scottsdale Reserve vistaScottsdale Reserve vista

You have to work very slowly, so you see some amazing things. One particular day I was working along a creekline and noticed a hooded robin building a nest. I stopped and watched through my binoculars. The male robin was perched nearby, keeping guard, as the female flew back and forth to the nest.

Scottsdale is home to a lot of threatened species. Near the old shearing shed you can see small flocks of diamond firetails and hear the calls of stubble quail. It makes you realise the potential of the place.

In the early mornings, a rolling mist can settle on the valley floor. If you’re up high, all you can see are the mountain peaks, the drifting clouds and the slanted, windswept trees.

Thankyou for 20 years of conservation

It’s fantastic to return to Scottsdale and see new vegetation beginning to grow over the warrens I worked on last year. It’s the reason I choose Bush Heritage to volunteer for – I know the hours I put in are backed up by a strategic, scientific approach.

I’m proud to say that in the last year, rabbit numbers have dropped by 80%, especially since rabbit numbers elsewhere in Australia are exploding as a result of the recent wet years. That keeps me motivated to get out to the reserves again and continue to contribute.

I’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary by getting out there and enjoying it.

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