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Carp control on the Murrumbidgee River Photo: Annette Ruzicka
Carp control on the Murrumbidgee River Photo: Annette Ruzicka





1,328 ha


75km South of Canberra

Traditional Owners:

Ngambri and Ngarigo people

Just 45 minutes south of Canberra, this unique reserve is home to some of Australia’s most threatened temperate ecosystems.

As around 300 hectares of this 1,328 hectare property had been cleared for farming, Scottsdale is often a hub of volunteer activity, restoring these cleared areas so they can help support some of the threatened species occurring in the natural parts of the reserve.

Scottsdale protects endangered grassy box woodlands and temperate grasslands. It also harbours many rare birds, animals, fish and reptiles.

Volunteers involved in revegetation at Scottsdale. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Scottsdale’s home to a remnant of Australia’s last ice age, the Silver-leafed Mountain Gum. Adapted to a time when this part of the world was much drier and colder, just 10 populations of this little mallee tree are thought to exist in Australia, and it's vulnerable to extinction.

Wrapped around Scottsdale’s northern and western flanks is the Murrumbidgee River, which cascades over natural rock weirs and through deep tree-fringed pools. The Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach is a partnership supporting the recovery of native fish in the river.

All this is protected thanks to our generous supporters.

The Common Wombat is a common sight at Scottsdale. Photo Steve Parish.

What Scottsdale Reserve protects

Animals: Rosenberg’s Monitor (vulnerable in NSW), Speckled Warbler (vulnerable in NSW), Peregrine Falcon, Brown Treecreeper (vulnerable in NSW).

Plants: Currawang (spearwood), Curved Rice Flower, Button Wrinklewort, Silky Swainson-pea, Silver-leafed Mountain Gum.

Vegetation communities: Yellow-box grassy woodland (nationally critically endangered), Scribbly Gum-black Cypress-pine Forest, Tablelands Frost Hollow Grassy Woodlands, Southern Tablelands Natural Temperate Grassland (nationally endangered).

What we’re doing

Restoring an entire ecosystem is a tricky business, but at Scottsdale we hope to do just that by helping natural regeneration along, by replanting key species of the precious yellow box woodland.

A project aiming to restore 300 hectares of woodland is being carried out by Greening Australia – and we’ve jointly funded it with the Australian Government.

Yellow Box seedlings grown in the Scottsdale nursery. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

How do we create an environment that favours native plants when the soil has a long history of fertiliser, grazing and cultivation? African Lovegrass is a major headache. One successful strategy we’ve used has been removing the top 10cm of nutrient-enriched topsoil. We then direct seed with a mix of native trees and shrubs. 

Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach

The Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach (UMDR) has been established to demonstrate ways of supporting the recovery of native fish. Amongst its projects are carp control research and willow reduction measures. 

Carp control

Carp are one of the world’s most invasive species and research we’re involved in has the potential to inform targeted carp removal on a much broader scale.

Not much was known about their movements and where they aggregated in the context of this upland riverine system. The project involved tagging fish and tracking their movements with acoustic telemetry. They were also lured, trapped and removed from a section of the river to learn more about their population structure.

 Electro fishing for carp. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Reducing the impact of Willow trees

Willow infestation is a major issue for native fish habitats – it can block out native plants, alter stream flows, cause flooding and reduce water quality. The UMDR works to control young emerging willows with volunteers in kayaks cutting back and removing the plants before they can establish.

Following the bushfires of 2020 UMDR volunteers have also focussed on stabilising the river banks with revegetation to prevent further erosion and sedimentary run-off that affects the water quality. 

A baby Platypus rescued from a sinkhole by UMDR volunteers controlling willows. Photo Richard Swain.

Volunteers – the spirit of Scottsdale

It would be no understatement to say that volunteers have made Scottsdale the place it is today.

In one year alone they clocked up nearly 1,000 working days helping with revegetation, tackling weeds and feral animals, carrying out survey work, looking after infrastructure, mapping and closing rabbit warrens, and more.

The majority are locals who care deeply about their patch of bush, but they also come from further afield.

The volunteer-run nursery on Scottsdale is a case in point, with volunteers regularly on site to tend to the seedlings and grasses such as Bulbines, Trigger plants, Chocolate Nodding, Yam Daisies and Blue Devils, which are grown from seed.

Our podcast, Big Sky Country, featured the following episode on the volunteers of Scottsdale.

What does it take to restore a native woodland? A bucket, hammer, trowel, seedlings and a whole heap of people power. These ingredients are abundant at Scottsdale Reserve on Ngarigo and Ngunnawal Country in NSW where for over seven years, volunteers have been showing up week after week to help plant over 40,000 trees.

Episode details >

Cultural values

Scottsdale is within the traditional lands of the Ngambri and Ngarigo people. It was also part of a trade route with the neighbouring Yuin people.

We’ve worked with the Traditional Owners to carry out cultural heritage surveys, unearthing artefacts, including stone axes and tool-making materials, so we can ensure important sites are protected.

The purchase of Scottsdale was made possible with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program, as well as our generous supporters.

Species at Scottsdale


Stories from Scottsdale

Volunteer on Scottsdale Reserve. Photo Bee Stephens.

BUSHTRACKS 27/03/2023

Green thumbs

The sound of constant hammering is not what most people would call beautiful, but it’s a sound that brings joy to Phil Palmer, Reserve Manager of Scottsdale Reserve on Ngunnawal Country, NSW. A weekend of tree planting at Scottsdale Reserve restores the land and soul.

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Electro-fishing on the Murrumbidgee River.


Bush Broadcast: Bringing native fish back to our rivers

Join our special guests as they showcase an exciting project that supports the endangered Macquarie Perch in the Upper Murrumbidgee River.

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Ecologist Brett Howland inspecting Themeda grasslands at  Scottsdale Reserve, NSW. Photo Phil Palmer.

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2022

Ashes to orchards

How the Black Summer bushfires kick-started a restoration revolution at Scottsdale conservation reserve in NSW.

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Adventurous volunteers on the Murrumbidgee River. Photo Rohan Thomson/Pew Pew Studio.

BUSHTRACKS 07/10/2021

A river in recovery

The bushfires of January 2020 left Australia’s second longest river, the Murrumbidgee, thick with ash and silt. Now, its waters are clearer thanks to a community-led effort to restore its health.

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Volunteers weeding from kayaks.


Adventure & weed busting on the Murrumbidgee

In this hour-long webinar you'll hear from Paul Bateman who has been part of a volunteer project controlling weeds along the Murrumbidgee River.

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BLOG 16/06/2021

Fish & flows key to future of upper 'Bidgee

Representatives from conservation groups, NSW and ACT state governments and the community came together in Canberra recently to discuss the future of the upper Murrumbidgee River.

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BLOG 24/03/2021

Fish funding for the 'Bidgee

Some recently announced federal funding will directly support native fish species in the upper Murumbidgee River.

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BLOG 11/03/2021

Nest boxes replace lost tree hollows

For the past 10 months I've been leading a project to install a suite of nest boxes at Scottsdale Reserve on Ngunnawal country in southern NSW as part of our ongoing efforts to restore the reserve after bushfire.

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Kangaroo Grass at Scottsdale. Photo Peter Saunders.

BUSHTRACKS 15/01/2021

My happy place (Brett Howland)

Right up in the northern corner of Scottsdale Reserve, up near the Murrumbidgee River, there's a rocky outcrop that retains much of its pre-European beauty, having never been ploughed or pasture improved.

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BLOG 26/11/2020

Jord International help in the hills

In this turbulent 2020 year Jord’s annual Bush Heritage trip was hosted on the Tarcutta Hills Reserve to “do some good”, have some rest and relaxation and strengthen team bonding. This COVID year we could not be joined by our workmates from overseas and interstate but nevertheless people from our Sydney and Newcastle offices took part in an activity which has become an annual institution at Jord.

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BLOG 14/07/2020

Enriching grasslands after fire

In February this year about 73% (1006ha) of Scottsdale Reserve burnt in the Clear Range bushfire. Around 84% of its native grasslands were affected and more than 50% of the reserve’s woodlands burnt at such a high intensity that the native seed bank was destroyed.

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BLOG 03/03/2020

An unexpected Koala found

I telephoned Phil Palmer the Scottsdale Reserve Manager, and unusually the telephone was not engaged.  He immediately requested that I not take my eye off the koala for a moment until he arrived.  About a minute later a very excited Phil arrived armed with his camera phone. Lo and behold it turned out to be the first confirmed record of a koala for the reserve (and my first proper look at a wild koala).  

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BLOG 28/02/2020

Bushfire on-ground assessments

It's been a very busy few weeks here at Bush Heritage. I have been out to our bushfire affected reserves in New South Wales to survey the impact alongside our Senior Leadership team, local reserve staff and ecologists.

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BLOG 07/02/2020

Bushfire update from Scottsdale

On Saturday 1 February, the Orroral (Namadgi) and Clear Range fires swept over the Murrumbidgee River and onto the western half of our Scottsdale Reserve. This has been a tense and challenging time and we are eternally grateful for the heroic efforts of the RFS and the extraordinary people on the ground fighting for our beloved Scottsdale. Importantly, our people remain safe and our community strong.

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BLOG 03/02/2020

Scottsdale under fire

As we know from this unrelenting bushfire season, a lot can change in the space of a weekend. When I wrote to you on Friday with an update, we were hopeful that our Scottsdale Reserve, located between Canberra and Cooma, would remain unscathed. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the NSW Rural Fire Service and our on-ground staff (themselves with personal property under threat), a large proportion of Scottsdale has been, and continues to be, impacted by bushfire. As you can imagine, it’s been a tense and challenging time.

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BUSHTRACKS 16/12/2019

River people

Antia Brademann discovers that for the people who live and work on the upper Murrumbidgee River, it's more than just a waterway; it's a way of life that connects them all.

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BLOG 11/11/2019

Sowing for success at Scottsdale

The bush regeneration gods have smiled on Scottsdale Reserve this week, right in time for our new grassland seeding project. After many months without rain, to our complete and total joy, it started raining on the Monday afternoon before seeds were sown! By 6pm Monday it was snowing and it continued to interchange between snow and rain all night.

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BUSHTRACKS 17/09/2019

My happy place (Phil Palmer)

I’ve grown up on rivers; I spent my childhood on the Murray River and then I spent 20 years on the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley, and now I’m down here living alongside the Murrumbidgee River. So, mountain rivers have always been a big part of my life.

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BLOG 03/09/2019

A special moment in time

It was a beautiful afternoon settling into my position on the bank of the great Murrumbidgee River to be part of the annual Platypus and Water Rat survey on Scottsdale Reserve in New South Wales.

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BLOG 08/05/2019

Adventure Paddling on the Murrumbidgee

I've just returned after spending 9 days being involved with our volunteers in the Adventurous Paddling Program, which is helping to improve fish habitat in the Murrumbidgee River near Scottsdale Reserve, as part of the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach.

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BUSHTRACKS 11/12/2018

Platypus patrol

A group of dedicated volunteers is helping to shed light on Platypus populations in the upper Murrumbidgee River.

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BLOG 28/09/2018

Platypus watched at Scottsdale

An extra hardy bunch of volunteers braved temperatures as low as -8 degrees to survey Platypus at Scottsdale Reserve during August! Though our volunteers were not disappointed, sightings were down this year and Platypus seemed more wary and shy.

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BUSHTRACKS 20/06/2018

Nursing our natives

A new state-of-the-art nursery at Scottsdale Reserve will generate up to 10,000 native plants a year with almost no environmental footprint, thanks to solar technology, wetland filtration and a waste water recycling system.

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BLOG 04/01/2018

A frog blog

My husband and I are addicted to nature, but especially to any amphibious creature. Frogs are our absolute passion and whenever we get the chance to search for them, photograph them or just sit in silence and listen to them, we do.

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BUSHTRACKS 07/12/2017

Like moths to a flame

The value of moths in nature is often undervalued, if not completely overlooked. But this incredibly diverse insect order underpins many food chains and ecosystems. From birds to bats, lizards and small mammals, moths and their larvae are important food sources for many species, and they also help pollinate some native plants.

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BUSHTRACKS 04/10/2017

Loving a river to life

Restoring the riverbanks of the Upper Murrumbidgee has provided new hope for the endangered Macquarie Perch.

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BLOG 12/09/2017

Murrumbidgee Platypus surveys

In the last week of August 10 volunteers conducted the annual platypus survey on the Upper Murrumbidgee River at Scottsdale Reserve, in association with Cooma Waterwatch coordinator, Antia Brademan and Reserve Manger, Phil Palmer.

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BUSHTRACKS 06/12/2016

Scottsdale’s loveable larrikin

Chilly temperatures can’t deter a small group of Bush Heritage volunteers from getting to know one of one of Australia’s most iconic species – the Platypus – a little bit better.

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BLOG 02/11/2016

A frog census on Scottsdale

This month has seen two volunteers wandering through the bush on Scottsdale in the semi-darkness, visiting the wetter areas, carrying with them iPads, microphones and thermometers, and performing esoteric rituals. No, we're not completely crazy, we're just taking a census of the frog population!

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BLOG 27/10/2016

Kosciuszko to Coast spring bird surveys

Staff at Scottsdale Reserve​ hosted the annual K2C (Kosciuszko to Coast) spring bird surveys on 9 October. A total of 82 species were recorded. Highlights included a new species for the survey list; a pair of Pied Butcherbirds at Stonehouse, south of Williamsdale.

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BLOG 04/05/2016

Seeds sown at Scottsdale Reserve

Browse the latest conservation news from our ecologists and land managers, posted during May 2016.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/12/2015

Second chance for striped legless lizard

At first glance, the striped legless lizard looks like a tiny colourful snake, with pink sides and a yellow throat. But its thick, fleshy tongue is unforked, it has visible ears, and two scaly flaps as hind legs. It munches on moths, crickets and spiders, and can spring more than 10cm into the air.

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BLOG 03/08/2015

One in a million

How long would it take, without being a professional photographer, to capture an image as special as this one? Although you can only see four wedge-tails in this photo there were actually five actively hunting this mob of roos.

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BLOG 16/06/2015

Fish monitoring array installed

All fish monitoring stations in a 90km long fish tracking array in the Upper Murrumbidgee River have now been installed thanks to project staff and some pretty dedicated volunteers. This was no mean feat, as deployment of the monitoring stations required 8-hour long paddles into remote sections of the river to ferry in the equipment, including lengths of railway iron that are used to anchor the monitoring stations in the river.

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BLOG 11/06/2015

Carp trapping trial

The carp trapping program at Bush Heritage Australia's Scottsdale Reserve is moving into its next phase, with a small team of inventors on board to design a heating system for the trap. What? Sounds like we are really trying hard to make those pesky carp just a little too comfortable? Perfectly correct!

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BLOG 25/04/2015

Maccas & tagged carp

NSW DPI (Fisheries), working with Bush Heritage Australia at Scottsdale Reserve have now completed their European carp tagging operation. As a result there are 31 'electronically tagged' carp in the upper Murrumbidgee River. Any anglers catching a tagged carp will be given a reward for releasing and reporting the 'catch and release' of the fish.

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BLOG 14/04/2015

Canberra bird surveys

The bird surveys, which are part of our Kosciuszko 2 Coast partnership, have started on their 6th year, with plenty of helpers and plenty of birds to see. A total of 87 species were recorded, which is a high number for the autumn surveys when many of the summer migrants have departed the region.

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BLOG 01/03/2015

Judas carp tagged to show their movements

Six European carp were electronically tagged by NSW Fisheries staff at Scottsdale Reserve last week to help shed light on when and where carp move along the upper Murrumbidgee River. This information is currently a key knowledge gap in the upper Murrumbidgee catchment and is critical for the better management of this pest fish species in upland river systems.

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BLOG 16/11/2014

Hi-tech acoustic fish tracking

A series of acoustic telemetry receivers have now been deployed in a 20km stretch of the Upper Murrumbidgee River, centered around Bush Heritage Australia's Scottsdale Reserve. This hi tech fish monitoring equipment will be used to track carp and native fish to help threatened fish species management.

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BLOG 05/09/2014

Gungoandra Creek rock weir

There's a very exciting project that was finished at Scottsdale this week! Nearly four years in the planning, design and funding the Gungoandra Creek rock weir and fish way has been successfully constructed over the last three weeks. It's the most significant component of the erosion control plan that volunteer soil consultant Peter Fogarty has helped Scottsdale with.

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