Characterised by a granite outcrop rising 314m above sea level, Buckrabanyule is a site of cultural significance and connected to the Dja Dja Wurrung creation story. It’s the home of Mindi, a great serpent and enforcer of cultural law.
As a place of exceptional cultural significance for the Kulin Nation, Buckrabanyule was purchased in 2021 to protect it from subdivision and development, address serious regional biosecurity issues from a Wheel Cactus infestation, and create the space for Dja Dja Wurrung people (Djaara) to return to and heal Djandak (Country).
The acquisition allowed Djaara to access the site for the first time in over 170 years and was an essential step in walking together to Dhelkunya Dja (heal country).
We’re developing a plan to manage the property with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, now trading as DJAARA. This will include a Wheel Cactus strategy, but more importantly will also capture important elements and aspirations of Djaara’s Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan.
Our first actions as joint managers will be focused on tackling the widespread and invasive Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta) infestation impacting much of the property. This weed threatens regional conservation and agricultural assets and is spreading from unmanaged ‘source’ populations such as Buckrabanyule.
It’s a huge job and we’ll be seeking to collaborate across the broader conservation and agricultural communities as well as local and state governments.
Eliminating this significant Wheel Cactus infestation at the source will be a fantastic achievement that will impact broadly on the wider Kara Kara Wedderburn landscape.
We’ve been working in the Kara Kara Wedderburn region in central Victoria for more than a decade, protecting around 2,400 hectares of bushland through our network of nature reserves. Buckrabanyule adds another important parcel of Djandak where we can work together with Djaara to heal Country.
Buckrabanyule is in the northern tip of our Kara Kara Wedderburn Priority Landscape and gives us an opportunity to use the established facilities on Buckrabanyule as an operational hub for work across the region.
What Buckrabanyule protects
The purchase of Buckrabanyule was a first for Bush Heritage – it’s not intact remnant bushland. However the bold step of purchasing a property like this will have a significant impact on remnant bushland across the entire Kara Kara Wedderburn region, and agricultural landscapes more broadly.
The acquisition was the result of many years of listening, learning and working side-by-side with the Dja Dja Wurrung People.
While on the open property market, Mt Buckrabanyule was slated for possible subdivision and development. Acting quickly, Bush Heritage was able to step in and buy the land, and will manage it together in partnership with Traditional Owners, with a view to supporting Dja Dja Wurrung to eventually acquire it.
Buckrabanyule contains important functional native grasses and forbs, and with sound integrated land management these will fill the space currently occupied by Wheel Cactus. It also contains regionally significant intermittent granitic spring soaks.
“We’re extremely proud to be able to work with DJAARA to care for and heal this incredibly special and significant place.”
What we’re doing
Wheel Cactus is a weed of national significance, with seeds spread easily by birds and other animals. This infestation is one of the most significant in central Victoria and has cultural, conservation and agricultural ramifications for the entire region if left unchecked.
Controlling it will take years of hard work and dedication but there are proven methods – we’ve successfully used them on other reserves in the region. It just requires ownership of the issue and time to implement good land management practices.
Crews of Djandak rangers have been at the site regularly since acquisition, deploying a combination of chemical, mechanical and biocontrol tactics to reduce the weed.
Further biological and archaeological studies are planned, to increase our understanding of the conservation and cultural values of the site.
The Dja Dja Wurrung’s Martinga kuli (Ancestors) have cared for this place for many generations. It’s an important cultural site, especially for the Yung Balug clan.
Dja Dja Wurrung Group CEO Rodney Carter said the relationship built between Bush Heritage and DJAARA was to be celebrated.
“Bush Heritage’s care for Djandak (Country) has been significant and has ensured that many of our plants and animals continue and have safe places at the properties they have acquired. At every opportunity they involve us,” he said.
Bush Heritage and DJAARA have worked in collaboration since 2007, cementing their partnership with a formal MOU at the start of 2021. DJAARA strives to support Dja Dja Wurrung People in their self-determination and to reach the goals in their Dhelkunya Dja (Healing Country) Plan.