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Boolcoomatta

Established:
2006 
Area:
63,000 ha
Location:
100km W of Broken Hill
Traditional Owners:
Adnyamathanha & Wilyakali people

If you drive an hour west of Broken Hill, past the backdrop of Mad Max II, feral goats and frantic emus, you'll reach a dirt track that leads to a former sheep station, now our Boolcoomatta Station Reserve.

Boolcoomatta’s 63,000 hectares contain vegetation under-represented in Australia’s national reserve system. Its sweeping plains boast chenopod (saltbush) shrublands and ephemeral wetlands. Creek beds are lined by grand old River Red Gums; squat, twisted and pocketed with bird hollows.

Looking over the plains to the Olary Ranges. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

But for the occasional waterhole, the creeks are usually dry; the average rainfall is just 190mm and highly variable.

Yet the open mulga woodlands support species such as Gould's Wattled Bat, Blue Bonnets and Red-backed Kingfishers.

Down on the saltbush plains Orange Chats, Chirruping Wedgebills, Bearded Dragons and large flocks of Emus go about their business. And watching over all of this are the dramatic Olary Ranges – some of the oldest rocks in Australia.

An Orange Chat. Photo Alwyn Simple.

All this is protected thanks to the ongoing generosity of our supporters.

What Boolcoomatta protects

Significant species and communities include:

Animals

Plains-Wanderer, Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies, Tree skink (Egernia striolata), Dusky Hopping Mice, Planigale, Emus, White-winged Fairy Wrens, Chirruping Wedgebills, Chestnut Crowned Babblers, Singing and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Australian or Richard’s Pipits, Nankeen or Australian Kestrels, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Masked Woodswallows. Orange and Crimson Chats, Zebra Finches, Budgies, Cockatiels, Brown and Rufous Songlarks.

Plants

Murray Swainson-pea (vulnerable), Purplewood Wattle (nationally vulnerable), Slender bell-fruit (nationally vulnerable), Riverine flax-lily, Wilga, Australian Broomrape, Broughton Pea.

Vegetation communities

Mulga woodland, Bullock bush shrubland, Freshwater wetlands, River Red Gum woodlands.

What we’re doing

Run for 150 years as a sheep station, Boolcoomatta shows plenty of signs that it was carefully managed, and retains outstanding examples of Saltbush plains, ephemeral streams and wetlands.

Ecologist Graeme Finlayson with a dunnart. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.
Ecologist Graeme Finlayson with a dunnart. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.

Our staff and volunteers have worked hard to control feral animals and weeds. The reserve has also benefited from effective landscape-scale goat and fox control through the national Operation Bounceback program in the Flinders Ranges.

Boolcoomatta has long-provided critical drought refuge habitat for the Plains Wanderer – an endemic species that's globally significant in conservation circles. Grasslands on the property are vital to its persistence and long-term monitoring using remote cameras and song meters help us identify areas for additional protection.

Our ecologists and volunteers have carried out plant and animal surveys, which show significant increases in shrub-dependent birds such as the Cinnamon Quail-thrush, Rufous field-wren, Redthroat and Chirruping Wedgebill.

On the edge of the reserve, jumbled rocks at the foot of steep cliffs provide hope that the nationally threatened Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby may one day expand it's range from the neighbouring Bimbowrie Conservation Park and establish a population. Over the years a handful of sightings confirm individuals have explored the area.

Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies have been sighted on our Boolcoomatta Reserve (SA). Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.
Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies have been sighted on our Boolcoomatta Reserve (SA). Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Cultural values

The Adnyamathanha and Wiljakali peoples are Traditional Owners of Boolcoomatta.

The property played a crucial role in both the pastoral and mining industries that helped expand the fledgling colony of South Australia. Many historic buildings on the property were built using local stone.

Historic map

Judy Johnson has researched and documented the social history of the property in great detail, and Eva Finzel has edited her document.

Portable Document File (PDF) Click Went the Shears: history of Boolcoomatta 1857 to 2020 (220 pages 14 Mb)

Boolcoomatta was acquired in 2006 with help from the Australian Government under the Natural Heritage Trust’s National Reserve System Program and the Nature Foundation SA.

Visiting Boolcoomatta

From June to September you can book a camping spot at Boolcoomatta to explore the reserve for yourself. Visit our Boolcoomatta camping page to register and download the camping guide with details of what you'll need.