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Sturt's Desert Pea alongside a track at Bon Bon. Photo Julia Harris.
Sturt's Desert Pea alongside a track at Bon Bon. Photo Julia Harris.

Bon Bon Station




216 700 ha


650km NW of Adelaide

Traditional Owners:

Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara

Bon Bon Station Reserve is a former sheep property in the Stony Plains and Gawler Bioregions of South Australia.

At around 70km long and 30km across Bon Bon is roughly the size of Sydney!

Bon Bon has a wonderful diversity of vegetation communities and land systems including the buckshot plains, mulga (Acacia aneura) and western myall (Acacia papyrocarpa) woodlands, salt bush and blue bush (chenopod) shrub lands, sand dunes, freshwater and salt lakes.

A Western Myall tree. Photo Julia Harris.

A Black-winged Stilt. Photo Ben Parkhurst.

This region features boom and bust cycles typical of arid, inland Australia. Rainfall is highly variable and only averages about 150mm a year.

Lake Puckridge is the most significant of the salt lakes. Circular and about 3km across, it sits in the centre of the reserve like a mini Lake Eyre, capturing water from several drainage lines. It’s named after a family who owned the property in the 1950s and 60s.

During boom seasons Lake Puckridge and smaller freshwater lakes and swamps provide important habitat for water birds such as Black-winged StiltsRed-necked Avocets and Grey Teals.

What Bon Bon Station Reserve protects

Animals: Southern Hairy-nosed WombatStripe-faced Dunnart, Kultarr (endangered), Central Netted Dragon, Smooth Knob-tailed Gecko, Mulga snake, Sudell’s Frog.

Birds: Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Bourke’s Parrot, Crested Bellbird.

Trees: Mulga (Acacia aneura), Western Myall (Acacia papyrocarpa), Bullock Bush (Alectryon oleifolius ssp. canescens), Water Bush (Grevillea nematophylla), Quandong (Santalum acuminatum), Red Mallee (Eucalyptus socialis).

Shrubs: Pearl Bluebush (Maireana sedifolia), Bladder Saltbush (Atriplex vesicaria), Narrow-leaved Fuchsia Bush, (Eremophila alternifolia), Round-leafed Emu Bush (Eremophila rotundifolia), Brilliant Hop Bush (Dodonaea microzyga).

Small bushes: Silver Tails (Ptilotis obovartis), Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum), Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa), Twin Leaf Pigface (Gunniopsis zygophylloides), Poached Egg Daisy (Polycalymma stuartii).

Grasses: Woollybutt (Eragrostis eriopoda), Swamp Cane Grass (Eragrostis australasica), Club Spear Grass (Austrostipa nullanulla).

What we're doing

The major weed threat is from invasive Buffel Grass introduced from Africa, which out-competes native species and can increase the frequency and intensity of fire.

Further north in Central Australia, vast areas are infested with Buffel. At Bon Bon it's mostly found along roads, tracks and a number of creeks. Even so, eliminating it will take years of dedicated work.

Through a partnership with South Australian Government agencies all 65km of the Stuart Highway passing through Bon Bon is treated. We’ve also treated many kilometres along tracks and creek lines.

Wildflowers at Bon Bon. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Feral pests

Rabbits are a destructive pest but we've had funding through a South Australian Native Vegetation Council grant to map and manage warrens. Significant fox and cat control measures have become an important focus.

Maintaining cleared fire breaks with a low impact ‘groomer’. Photo Mike Chuk.

Erosion control

Erosion has been identified using historical information and aerial surveys. One of the areas in need of significant repair works was the Old Stuart Highway south of the homestead.

Bon Bon became one of two pilot properties for the Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) Pilot Project in the South Australian rangelands. This work was funded by the South Australian Arid Lands NRM Board through its Commonwealth funded Waters Programme.

Fire management

Our fire strategy aims to limit the risk of landscape-size wildfires and limit areas affected should one occur. Our fire plan identifies a series of graded fuel breaks through the more flammable areas.


Our ecologist, Dr Graeme Finlayson, manages annual surveys of vegetation structure, soil surface, photo point, small vertebrates and bird monitoring.

The Crested Bellbird. Photo Rob Drummond.

History and cultural values

The Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people are the Traditional Owners of Bon Bon. We’re working together to survey and protect culturally significant sites and develop an Indigenous Land Use Agreement to define our ongoing relationship.

The buildings and infrastructure on reserve reflect Bon Bon's 130-year history as a sheep station when it was home to a large community including station managers, overseers, stockmen and Aboriginal families.

Bon Bon Station was originally part of the Mount Eba Station lease taken up by T.P. Gourlay in 1902. It's named after Bon Bon Billa Well – a dependable water supply in the early days. Bon Bon Billa is understood to mean 'bellbird' (likely derived from the local Aboriginal language according to 'Kingoonya a Way of Life' by Robert J. Munro).

We've worked with the South Australian Museum to archive a number of historical documents and have set up a museum of pastoral relics in the old Workers' Quarters.

Bon Bon was bought in 2008 with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program; the Government of South Australia’s Department of Environment and Heritage and funds from supporters. 

Stories from Bon Bon

BLOG 13/07/2022

Bat monitoring in revegetation

Wayne and I have been at Bon Bon for 8 short months. I say short because it has not given her enough time to trust us completely with her secrets, not enough time to know how she works and what she wants from us, but enough time to feel her gratitude as Bush Heritage works to restore her to all she can be.

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BLOG 28/03/2022

Just a load of rubbish... or is it?

Having come from a comfortable suburb with all the conveniences I took a lot of services for granted, including rubbish removal. Now we are living on reserve, things are not quite so easy. What is brought in reserve stays on reserve to be re-used, unless we can find another way to remove it.

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BLOG 22/03/2022

Six new bee species from Bon Bon

A bee survey conducted in 2010 has yielded six new bee species. Identification isn’t always easy: there are 1650 described bee species, with keys to only half of them. For species not in keys, the only avenue is to compare them with type specimens in collections.

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BLOG 04/03/2022

A Bon Bon weather report

We always talk about the weather, and lately there’s been a lot of it to talk about. In South Australia there have been significant rainfall events over most of the state’s arid lands. At Bon Bon we’ve had over 60 mm of rain over two weeks, which has changed the landscape in so many ways.

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BLOG 21/02/2022

What’s in a wombat scat & why does it matter?

Bon Bon Station Reserve is home to what is believed to be the northern most population of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats. This population also holds the distinction of existing in one of the lowest rainfall zones across the species’ distribution, recording an average of just 150 mm annually.

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BLOG 18/02/2022

Grass, grass & more grass

While dust storms have been a regular occurrence across much of Australia's rangelands, at Bon Bon cryptogams are replacing heavily impacted bare soil and perennial grasses are coming back.

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BLOG 12/11/2021

The devastating impact of rabbits

The Conversation recently published an article about the devastating impact that rabbits have had and continue to exert on Australia plants, wildlife and landscapes.

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BLOG 11/06/2021

Monitoring vegetation cover remotely

I'm completing my PhD with the Spatial Sciences Group in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Adelaide in collaboration with Bush Heritage Australia. My research will be conducted at Bush Heritage’s Bon Bon and Boolcoomatta reserves in South Australian.

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BLOG 03/12/2020

Living in the Woomera Prohibited Area

In the past four-and-a-half years living on Bon Bon Reserve, we've had to evacuate for rocket launches, live firing trials and now the return and landing of the Hayabusa II – a Japanese spacecraft carrying the Sample Return Capsule from the asteroid Ryugu!

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BLOG 24/11/2020

Signs of post-drought recovery on Bon Bon

One of the most anticipated events on the calendar for our South Australian reserves is small vertebrate trapping. These surveys provide the opportunity to eyeball some of the lesser encountered critters that roam through our landscapes. This year on Bon Bon, after two years of drought we've finally had decent rainfall so we were all excited by what the surveys might find.

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Sunset at Bon Bon Station Reserve. Photo Paul Bateman.

BUSHTRACKS 25/09/2020

Surprising centipedes

How a fox stomach containing 63 centipedes could hold the key to understanding the effectiveness of feral predator management.

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BLOG 07/07/2020

Counting bunnies

European Rabbits have a high impact on our conservation targets at Bon Bon. They compete with native herbivores for resources, supress native vegetation and provide a reliable food source for foxes and cats.

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BLOG 27/04/2020

Scats used to find what was on the menu

Eleven fox scats collected on Bon Bon Station Reserve by our South Australian Arid Rangelands Ecologist Graeme Finlayson late last year were sent away for analysis to get a better picture of what is on the menu at the reserve.

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BLOG 02/03/2020

My fauna trapping experience

This year I was lucky enough to be accepted as a volunteer for the annual fauna trapping on Bon Bon Station Reserve. I'm a member of the 'Newcastle cluster' of Bush Heritage supporters – a small but keen group prepared to travel great distances to volunteer. So it was with great excitement that we set off on the long trek to Bon Bon in November.

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BLOG 01/02/2020

The biggest rainfall event in 10 years

The rains finally came. Last night we listened to the thunderstorms go over and the rain falling on the roof, and couldn’t remember the last time we heard rain like that... We woke up to the creek flowing behind the house and the chorus of birds chirping and FROGS croaking. All up we got 44.8mm, which is the biggest single rainfall event in the past 10 years.

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BLOG 24/12/2019

Caretaking at Bon Bon

As summer hits in full force, volunteer Jane reflects on her time caretaking at Bon Bon Reserve earlier this year with fellow volunteer Ronnie.

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BUSHTRACKS 22/03/2019

Battle for the bite sized

A landmark restoration project on Bon Bon is helping native species to bounce back.

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BLOG 25/01/2019

You had me at gecko!

I volunteered at Bon Bon over Christmas and after my jobs were done around the homestead, my husband and I would take off with our head torch, camera, water and GPS and we wandered along the sandy tracks, in search of one of my favourite reptiles - geckos.

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BLOG 26/09/2018

Wombats through time and space

My early days as a wildlife ecologist were spent driving around spotlighting on the back of a ute in the Murraylands of South Australia, chasing down Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats to learn what we could about this iconic Australian species. For me it was a life-shaping experience.

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BUSHTRACKS 10/09/2018

My Happy Place (Kate Taylor)

Sitting under this Western Myall and looking out over the salt lake is one of my favourite spots to stop for lunch and is luckily exactly the halfway mark when I do my rounds, checking the camera monitoring grid on Bon Bon Station Reserve.

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BLOG 15/08/2018

10 years at Bon Bon Station Reserve

Bon Bon is within the traditional lands of the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara community and this year marks 10 years since Bush Heritage Australia acquired the Bon Bon Station pastoral lease.

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BLOG 01/02/2018

The mystery songster

I work in the Bush Heritage Melbourne office but for 3 weeks of January, along with my colleague Paul Young, I took up a caretaking role at Bon Bon Station Reserve in northern South Australia. Besides continuing with the work we normally do at the Melbourne office, we took on caretaking tasks around the reserve. Caretaking at Bon Bon Reserve could not have been more fun for a couple of novice birdos.

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BLOG 09/12/2017

Fauna surveys that rocks your senses!

Is there such a thing as having too much fun in conservation work? We don't think so ... We had it ALL last week during the reptile and small mammal survey event on Bon Bon Station Reserve.

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BLOG 10/08/2017

Processionary caterpillars

Kate Taylor and husband Clint live on and manage our Bon Bon Reserve (SA). She recently noticed these creepy and dangerous sacks - home to Processionary Catepillars (Ochrogaster lunifer).

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BLOG 24/07/2017

The caretaking experience of a lifetime

When the chance presented itself to caretake Bon Bon Station Reserve, Michael ​Uhrig jumped at the opportunity. He got on the phone and asked his mother June to join him - remote caretaking roles have a minimum requirement of two people, in-line with basic remote area safety protocols - you always need backup!

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BLOG 11/05/2017

May Fauna Survey

The May fauna survey at Bon Bon Station Reserve this week was full of delights. Field Officer Kate Taylor provides an update from the reserve.

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BLOG 31/03/2017

Hector & Sadie; clean & tidy

One the less glamorous but necessary jobs for staff who live and work on remote reserves, is the management of household rubbish and other waste. Another is keeping infrastructure (such as visitors' quarters, machinery sheds, workshops, etc.) well maintained. We call these jobs our 'Hector' (trash collector) and 'Sadie' (cleaning lady) jobs. Fortunately over the years we've had a lot of help with them from keen volunteers.

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BLOG 26/03/2017

Erosion rehab success

Various infiltration and soil erosion mitigation techniques have been applied in some areas on Bon Bon Station Reserve over the past few years, where we've had the tools (and advice) available to start a repair process. We've some attached photos here to show the results so far.

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BLOG 21/03/2017

Aquatic animals in dry climate

While taking a walk around a clay pan we were very surprised to see a small snail in a tiny puddle of water leftover from the last rain. Our species list for aquatic (or water-loving) species is very short, as this is one of the driest habitable landscapes in Australia.

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BLOG 27/02/2017

Small vertebrate trapping on Bon Bon

At Bon Bon Station Reserve (South Australia) in the country's arid zone, there's a lot of baseline data being collected. One of these data sets is on the abundance and diversity of small mammals and reptile species that live in some of Australia's most harsh conditions.

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BLOG 13/11/2016

Horrible monster discovered at Bon Bon

While out in the field on Bon Bon Reserve, where I work as a Field Officer, Aaron Fenner (South Australian Rangeland Alliance Ecologist) and I were super excited to spot this amazing lizard – Moloch horridus, otherwise well known as the 'Thorny Devil'. It's a new species record for the reserve!

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BLOG 26/10/2016

Botanical bonanza

An amazing array of yellows, white, purples, blue-greens and reds have recently brightened the often subdued colours of the arid-zone landscapes across outback South Australia.

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BLOG 13/05/2016

A ripping yarn

Reducing rabbit habitat by ripping warrens has been the focus of our conservation work at Bon Bon Station Reserve over the past two months.

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BLOG 09/03/2016

A volunteer partnership at Bon Bon

Peter and Margie Calder are much valued volunteers. Over the past few years they've volunteered over 20 weeks of their time to their 'local reserve' – Bon Bon Station (it's only a day's drive away). They wrote this blog entry after completing their 8th placement at Bon Bon.

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BLOG 07/01/2016

Notes on nature - Looking back on 2015

It's time to look back on 2015 and share some of the seasonal happenings and everyday events that shaped the year at Bon Bon Station Reserve. It's a real privilege to live and work in this amazing arid environment and to have the opportunity to experience and interact with nature.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/12/2015

Line of fire

Out on Bon Bon Station Reserve, the heat can sear your skin and leave you breathless. And yet this massive piece of land, which rivals the size of Sydney, is home to some of Australia’s most extraordinary creatures like the southern hairy-nosed wombat and the rare chestnut breasted whiteface. Here's how we manage wildfire risk for Bon Bon’s diverse plants and animals.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/09/2015

Battling buffel to protect our desert jewel

Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia is a true outback marvel, an expansive landscape dotted with shimmering salt lakes, red dune sands supporting mulga trees, open ironstone plains studded with stately myall trees and stunningly beautiful expanses of pearl bluebush. Our challenge is to protect it from invasive Buffel Grass.

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BLOG 02/06/2015

Babblers group birdwatching

Two new bird species have been added to the Bon Bon bird list by a group of 19 dedicated bird watchers who volunteered some time at Bon Bon to check up on the local bird life over the Easter weekend.

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BUSHTRACKS 20/03/2015

New feral monitoring data

A new long-term monitoring program using remote infra-red cameras on both Boolcoomatta and our Bon Bon Reserve will help protect vulnerable natives such as the plains wanderer from feral foxes and cats.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/09/2014

Nic and Finney’s annual adventure

Nicky Rolls, together with her friend Saraan Finney, have volunteered on a Bush Heritage Australia reserve each year since 2007. They spent this year at Bon Bon Reserve in South Australia’s arid rangelands.

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