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Woodlands at Nardoo Hills Photo: Annette Ruzicka
Woodlands at Nardoo Hills Photo: Annette Ruzicka

Nardoo Hills




1,007 ha


210km NW of Melbourne

Traditional Custodians:

Dja Dja Wurrung people (Djaara)

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. 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.

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

Mature tree at Nardoo Hills. Photo James Cowie.

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 WattlebirdSpotted 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 loved by our woodland birds.

We hope Nardoo Hills Reserves, which include Judith Eardley Reserve and the Barnett Block, will help ensure our woodland birds are heard long into the future.

Rufous Whistler with prey. Photo Rowan Mott.

What Nardoo Hills Reserves protect

Animals: 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.

Plants: 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: Hillcrest Herb-rich Woodland (depleted), Metamorphic Slopes Shrubby Woodland (depleted), Sandstone Ridge Shrubland.

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.

Ecologist Dr Matt Appleby with a tray full of seedlings. Photo Amelia Caddy.

From little trees, climate resilience grows

Volunteers ready to tackle weeds at 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.

A Robust Greenhood Orchid. Photo Jeroen van Veen.

Extinct orchid rediscovered

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. Nardoo Hills is home to the largest protected population of the Northern Golden Moths, a small yellow orchid, in Australia.

Learn more about our Conservation Management Process and how we measure our impact or download a full ecological scorecard for the reserve below.

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.

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.

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

Species at Nardoo Hills


Stories from Nardoo Hills

Woodland bird. Bush Broadcast.


Webinar: Nardoo Hills turns 20

Victoria has cleared over 80% of its woodlands. In the face of that destruction, 20 years ago Bush Heritage managed to secure critical patches of temperate woodlands within Nardoo Hills, which have been cared for ever since. It’s a beautiful milestone and a cause for celebration.

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BUSHTRACKS 18/06/2021

Our future in the field

Hayley Sime began her relationship with Bush Heritage wearing a ‘volunteer’ hat, but these days her hat rack is crowded – it now includes botanist, intern and strategic planner, such is the nature of collaborating with Bush Heritage.

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BLOG 08/06/2021

Opening the door to soil

One giant void in conservation is made up of millions of tiny particles and organisms.

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Garry McDonald with seedlings.


Climate-ready reveg

A webinar with our science staff to discuss the impacts of heat and drought on eucalypts at Nardoo Hills in Victoria and our innovative climate-adjusted revegetation project.

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BUSHTRACKS 17/09/2019

An antidote to despair

Rather than lose hope when eucalypts started dying in central Victoria, Bush Heritage scientists came up with an innovative solution using future climate scenarios.

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BLOG 04/03/2019

Greenfleet collaborate for climate

We are working on an innovative climate-ready revegetation project with Greenfleet at one of our flagship Victorian reserves.

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BLOG 14/01/2019

Julie Radford, orchid whisperer

Ecologist Julie Radford will bring her unique skillset to Bush Heritage in her new role as Victorian Ecologist.

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BLOG 28/09/2017

The importance of invertebrates

Have you ever walked around the forest at night with torch and had a good look at the sparkles on the ground that shine back at you? I still have my mum convinced that the small obvious glows shining back at night are drops of water, which of course, they are not. They're usually spider's eyes and there are usually lots and lots of them.

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BLOG 05/09/2017

A blooming good start

We're working on a new flower photographic catalogue for Nardoo Hills Reserve in Victoria. The early bloomers have made their glorious appearance and we're happy to say we're off to a great start.

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BUSHTRACKS 23/03/2017

Striking it rich in central Victoria

Gloved fingers point at a collection of maps lying on a 4WD bonnet. The group of Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Custodians and Bush Heritage staff are here to survey the Nardoo Hills reserves in central Victoria for their cultural values.

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BLOG 25/08/2016

Volunteers busy on Nardoo Hills

For most of Victoria, rainfall in 2015 was below or very much below average and our Nardoo Hills Reserve and the Wedderburn region were no exception. In 2016 the rains have been a little more forthcoming giving us an opportunity to get saplings into the softer grounds.

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Jeroen van Veen on Nardoo Hills Reserves

Hear from our man on the ground in central Victoria – Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen – as he introduces you to some of our challenges and achievements at our Nardoo Hills Reserves.

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