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Sunlight through Tarcutta woodlands. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
Sunlight through Tarcutta woodlands. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Tarcutta Hills

Established:

1999

Area:

738 ha

Location:

50km south-east of Wagga Wagga

Traditional Owners:

Wiradjuri people

At Tarcutta Hills we’re nursing back to health Tarcutta’s precious Grassy White Box Woodlands, which were once part of a network covering some 10 million hectares of south-eastern Australia.

Dramatic changes to the landscape have taken a heavy toll on these woodlands, and experts believe they’re now one of the most highly fragmented and poorly protected ecosystems in Australia.

They’ve been particularly hard hit in the Tarcutta region, putting many bird species that depend on them at risk of local extinction. But we know that over 100 bird species still feed and forage at Tarcutta, some of them among NSW’s most vulnerable.

Iron Bark flower. Photo Richard Taylor.

They include Turquoise Parrots, Brown Treecreepers, Superb Parrots, Speckled Warblers, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Hooded Robins and Diamond Firetails.

If we’re lucky, winter sees the arrival of Swift Parrots as they move up and down south-eastern Australia and across to Tasmania.

These birds are nationally endangered – there are thought to be just 1,000 breeding pairs left.

All this is protected thanks to our generous supporters.

An endangered Swift Parrot at Tarcutta. Photo Richard Taylor.

Tarcutta Hills Reserve protects

Animals: Squirrel Glider, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Tree Skink, Spotted Grass Frog.

Plants: White Cypress Pine, Small-leaf Bush Pea, Honeypot, Many-flowered Mat-rush, Kurrajong.

Vegetation communities: Mugga Ironbark Scribbly Gum open forest, Grassy White Box woodland and forest (nationally critically endangered), Red Stringybark open forest.

What we’re doing

By protecting and increasing the area of Grassy White Box Woodlands at Tarcutta, we’re playing a small but important part in Australia’s Swift Parrot Recovery Plan, an initiative to increase the amount of habitat available to this nationally endangered bird.

Ecologist Dr Matt Appleby at Tarcutta. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

This work also contributes to bolstering what remains of Australia’s Grassy White Box Woodlands, a critically endangered ecological community.

Our podcast, Big Sky Country, featured the following episode explaining our work reintroducing cultural burns to the landscape at Tarcutta Hills. 

In 2021, Wiradjuri Elder Uncle James Ingram and Bush Heritage’s Aboriginal Partnerships Manager and Yuin Walbunja woman, Vikki Parsley, walked across Tarcutta Hills Reserve in southern NSW in search of cultural artefacts. Immediately, they called for a cultural burn. The land was in need of controlled fire, and it presented an opportunity to get Wiradjuri people back out on Country.

Episode details >

Birds of a feather flock together

An important part of the Reserve Ecologist’s work is keeping a close eye on the changing face of local bird populations.

In drier times we see a lot of flowering eucalypts, which attract nectivorous birds such as the Little Lorikeet, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater and Red Wattle Bird.

Wetter weather means fewer flowering trees but more growth in the tree tops, and more leaf litter on the ground. This in turn leads to an increase in crown-feeders, such as the Striated Thornbill and Olive-backed Oriole, and ground-foragers such as the Speckled Warbler and Buff-rumped Thornbill.

A Speckled Warbler is among the birds to enjoy Tarcutta. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

Expansion

In late 2020 a 288 hectare parcel of neighbouring land was purchased, extending the reserve to 738 hectares in total.

The new block features a rare, large and healthy example of a critically endangered ecological community called ‘White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodlands and Grasslands’, which provides habitat for woodland birds such as Swift ParrotsDiamond Firetails and several species of robin.

A Squirrel Glider at Tarcutta. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

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

Species at Tarcutta

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Stories from Tarcutta

Bush Broadcast: Live from Tarcutta

13/10/2023

Bush Broadcast
Lighting the way to climate change resilience

In this webinar, live from Tarcutta Reserve, Rhys Swain, Vikki Parsley and Paul Hales chat about managing our reserves to create bushfire-resilient landscapes.

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Woodlands at Tarcutta Hills. By Annette Ruzicka

BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2023

The first of many flames

A cultural burn at Tarcutta Hills Reserve, Wiradjuri Country, lights the way for the revival of right-way fire practices.

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BLOG 31/05/2021

Fence removal on Tarcutta

Volunteers Jim and Erica (Ricki) Nash recently embarked on their first volunteer experience at our Tarcutta Hills Reserve near Wagga Wagga, NSW to remove old fencing, supervised by long-standing Volunteer Team Leader Justin Kell.

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BLOG 31/05/2021

Tarcutta Hills rabbit survey

Volunteers Tom O'Hara and Georgie McManus recently complete a rabbit survey on our Tarcutta Hills Reserve, including the recently purchased neighbouring block.

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BLOG 16/04/2021

A Squirrel Glider surprise

With its Grassy White Box Woodlands, Tarcutta Hills is perfect habitat for Squirrel Gliders, but we haven’t officially recorded them on the reserve before.

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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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Sunlight through Tarcutta woodlands. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

BUSHTRACKS 25/09/2020

Growing Tarcutta

The purchase of a parcel of land adjacent to Tarcutta Hills Reserve will extend the protection of habitat for Swift Parrots and other woodland birds.

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BLOG 15/09/2020

Weed management at Tarcutta

This year has been a volunteer year like no other. As we slowly begin to move back into our new normal, our volunteers are able to move back into the field in their home states. Volunteer Stephen Gye has written about his recent trip to our Tarcutta Hills Reserve to help with weed management.

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BLOG 31/01/2020

Bushfires update

As we enter a new month, I would like to take a moment to update you on recent developments towards our post-bushfire recovery. The devastation wrought has been confronting. My heart remains with those affected, those still fighting fires and those on the ground beginning the long process of recovery.

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BUSHTRACKS 10/09/2018

Woodland foragers

Tarcutta Hills Reserve provides vital foraging habitat for the Swift Parrot and other woodland birds, but ensuring it continues to do so in the future will require forward-planning and fast action.

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BUSHTRACKS 20/03/2015

Growing pains

Victoria Clark, a Masters student at the Australian National University, has been researching tree density and habitat quality at Tarcutta Hills Reserve in New South Wales. The forestry industry has long used thinning techniques to manipulate tree growth and height but thinning as a conservation practice is a relatively new idea that could help restore some disturbed areas.

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