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Nardoo Hills

1,007 ha
210km NW of Melbourne
Traditional Owners:
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.
Southern Boobook Owl. Photo Jeroen van Veen.

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 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.

Mature tree at Nardoo Hills. Photo James Cowie.

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

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.

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.

Volunteers ready to tackle weeds at Nardoo Hills.

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.
A Robust Greenhood Orchid. Photo Jeroen van Veen.

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.