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1,328 ha
75km South of Canberra
Traditional Owners:
Ngunawal 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.
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.

Cultural values

Scottsdale is within the traditional lands of the Ngunawal people and is very close to Lake George, where the Ngunawal creator being (Budjabulya) is thought to reside. It was also part of a trade route with the neighbouring Yuin people, and home to the Ngunawal clan totem, the Platypus (mulagun).

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

The Murrumbidgee River is a favourite haunt of Platypus, the Ngunawal clan totem. Photo Dave Watts.

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