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Burrin Burrin

Established:
1999 
Area:
411 ha
Location:
80km east of Canberra
Traditional Owners:
Ngunawal, Ngarigo, Walbanga, 
Ngambri & Walgalu people

In the 1970s environmental activist and thinker Richard Sylvan came across a bushland property destined to be cleared and decided to buy and protect it. He called it Burrin Burrin – a little piece of quiet and beauty among the busyness of farm land that surrounds it.

Burrin Burrin is mountain country, a place of deep, walled valleys and ferny valley floors.

During daylight hours these valleys normally echo with the calls of Superb Lyrebirds, while at night they can be filled with the resonant ‘whoo-hoo' of a Powerful Owl, or ring with the yap of a Sugar Glider in danger.

Eucalyptus forest with a ferny understory at Burrin Burrin. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
Greater Gliders end their flights from tree to tree with such slaps that distinctive echoes reverberate through the forest.

Just like their airborne predator, the Powerful Owl, these gliders are highly dependent on old growth forest for survival, and spend much of their time foraging for food in the highest parts of the tree canopy.

They also need the deep tree hollow dens only old growth forests can provide, with a single glider using up to 20 different dens within its home range.

All this is protected thanks to our generous supporters.

A Sugar Glider resident at Burrin Burrin. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

What Burrin Burrin Reserve protects

Animals: Gang Gang Cockatoo (vulnerable in NSW), Greater Glider, Spotted Quail-thrush, Glossy Black-cockatoo (vulnerable in NSW), Flame Robin (vulnerable in NSW)

Plants: Contoneaster, Pomaderris, Hairpin Banksia, Climbing Apple Berry, Thick-lipped Spider-orchid, Budawangs Wallaby Grass

Vegetation communities: Southern Ribbon Gum forest, Swamp Gum forest, Brown Barrel forest, Silvertop forest, Yellow Box grassy woodland (nationally critically endangered).

What we’re doing

For a long time Burrin Burrin has been one of those rare properties in such good natural condition, little management was needed.

We found a pine seedling in there once, the odd thistle, and only one rabbit. It's never been cleared or farmed and so the forest was robust enough to resist invasion by exotic species.

Our monitoring found the reserve to be an important refuge for a number of threatened bird species, including Gang-gang and Glossy Black Cockatoos.
Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum). Photo Graeme Chapman.

Fingers pointed and cameras whirred on one visit when our team spied a Powerful Owl feasting on a Greater Glider while a Wedge-tailed Eagle flew overhead. The group stood wide-eyed as the spectacle unfolded. It was fantastic to get such a good view of the owl, which is the largest in Australasia and classified as vulnerable in NSW.

The Powerful Owl. Photo Peter Saunders.
The Powerful Owl. Photo Peter Saunders.

Bushfires

Burrin Burrin was one of our reserves impacted by bushfires in 2019-20. Before this it wouldn't have seen a fire for 60 years.

With fires predicted to become more frequent, it may not have the recovery time to regenerate back to the state it was, but species will adapt and come back nonetheless.

Shortly after the fires, rains fell and we saw green sprouts shooting up through burnt soil, Native Cherry trees that managed to evade the fire, Lyrebirds, a Red-necked Wallaby and fresh wombat scat.

The sounds of birds rang through the air. The bush is still singing; wildlife persists, in spite of everything; supported by locals digging in to help the recovery.