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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.

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 Stilts, Red-necked Avocets and Grey Teals.

A Black-winged Stilt. Photo Ben Parkhurst.

What Bon Bon Station Reserve protects

Animals: Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Stripe-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.

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.

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

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’s 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.