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Nardoo Hills

1,207 ha
210km NW of Melbourne
Traditional Owners:
Dja Dja Wurrung people

It's almost impossible to imagine the Australian bush without the sound of a laughing kookaburra or flashy show of colour from a passing lorikeet, robin or honeyeater.

But that's what we face if temperate woodlands (the most threatened wooded ecosystem in Australia) aren't better protected.

Since European settlement Victoria has lost 83% of its woodland ecosystems to land clearance.

Jeroen van Veen admires a mature Yellow Gum. Photo Peter Morris.
Jeroen van Veen admires a mature Yellow Gum. Photo Peter Morris.

Combined with drier weather patterns, this has led to a dramatic decline in woodland birds, with recent research suggesting even common birds such as the Red Wattlebird, Spotted Pardalote and Rufous Whistler are in decline.

Such concerning data is one of the main reasons we bought our Nardoo Hills Reserves – they're one of the few places left in Victoria where you can still find healthy Grassy Box and Box-ironbark Woodlands, the sort of country loved by our woodland birds.

We hope Nardoo Hills Reserves, which include Judith Eardley Reserve, the Barnett Block and Lawan Reserve (named after the Dja Dja Wurrung word for Malleefowl), will help ensure our woodland birds are heard long into the future.

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

What Nardoo Hills protects

Nardoo Hills Reserves support more than 110 bird species, including the nationally endangered Swift Parrot, which travels all the way from Tasmania during winter to feed on flowering eucalypts. It also protects:


Hooded Robin (threatened in Victoria), Diamond Firetail (threatened in Victoria), Lace Monitor (endangered in Victoria), Fat-tailed Dunnart, Chocolate Wattled Bat, Brown Treecreeper, Crested Bellbird (threatened in Victoria), Crested Shrike-tit.

A juvenile Rufous Whistler <em>(Pachycephala rufiventris)</em> on Nardoo Hills Reserve. Photo Jeroen van Veen.
A juvenile Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) on Nardoo Hills Reserve. Photo Jeroen van Veen.


Yellow Box, Drooping Sheoak, Creamy Candles, Buloke, Northern Golden Moths Orchid (threatened in Victoria), Southern Swainson Pea, Robust Greenhood Orchid (nationally critically endangered).

Vegetation communities

Plains grassy woodland (endangered), Hillcrest herb-rich woodland, Metamorphic slopes shrubby woodland, Box-ironbark forest, Broombush mallee.

Cultural values

Nardoo Hills Reserves are the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, who've shared some of their knowledge on the cultural significance of their country, including identification of more than 20 scar trees.

A Western Grey Kangaroo on the reserve. Photo Peter Morris.
A Western Grey Kangaroo on the reserve. Photo Peter Morris.

More on Dja Dja Wurrung cultural assessments >

The Paterson family owned much of the Nardoo Hills for three generations, spanning more than 100 years, so the present generation has a wealth of local historical knowledge.

What we’re doing

Climate resilient revegetation

Hotter drier conditions in the area have resulted in eucalypt dieback in some areas of the reserve. We're implementing an experimental revegetation project to build climate resilience into the woodlands.

Using climate modelling based on data from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, we're able to predict local conditions in 30 to 70 years' time.

Seeds have been collected from mid-north South Australia and central NSW, where eucalypts have already adapted to a hotter, harsher environment similar to that predicted for Nardoo Hills in 30 to 70 years time.

With help from project partners Greenfleet and Arborline, we've already planted more than 11,000 seedlings into Nardoo Hills.

Weeding out Wheel Cactus

Our volunteers have helped us all but rid Nardoo Hills of wheel cactus (a noxious weed). We use a rather unusual technique – stabbing them with herbicide. Thanks to volunteers we've removed nearly all adult plants, though follow-up to control seedlings is needed.

A huge effort has also gone into controlling rabbits, whose population has been significantly reduced by warren mapping, control and monitoring. That said, we must be vigilant to ensure numbers are kept under control.

Nardoo Hills is now free of grazing sheep, which in the past damaged the area's native vegetation.

Extinct orchid rediscovered

A Robust Greenhood Orchid. Photo Jeroen van Veen.
A Robust Greenhood Orchid. Photo Jeroen van Veen.

Everyone was astonished when the Robust Greenhood Orchid was discovered at Nardoo Hills in 2009. Last identified in 1941, it was presumed extinct.

Grazing by rabbits and livestock had previously limited opportunities for many plants at Nardoo Hills. By ending this and bringing experts onto the reserve, we're able to recognise and catalogue the full range of species present.

Remarkably, this was the second rare orchid to turn up at Nardoo Hills. A few years earlier, the Northern Golden Moths, a small yellow orchid, also made an unexpected appearance.

Nardoo Hills is now home to the largest protected population of Northern Golden Moths in Australia.

Collaborating for connectivity

This short video on our Lawan Reserve gives an insight into how our reserves are strategically important for improving connectivity, which helps support species on a landscape scale. By re-vegetating 70 hectares of this 203 hectare property we're helping create a 3,000-hectare bush corridor across the northern end of the Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve.

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