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Engage & inspire

Highlights from 2020-21 of our work helping people to experience, connect with, and learn about the bush to inspire support for its conservation.

A gift like no other

Located just 100km north of Melbourne, Bush Heritage’s newest reserve, on Taungurung country, protects 87 hectares of habitat for species such as the Powerful Owl, Brown Quail, Brush-tailed Phascogale and Regent Honeyeater.

With Tallarook State Forest on one side and Mount Disappointment State Forest on the other, the Round House Reserve, as it will henceforth be known, provides an important stepping-stone for these native animals in what is a heavily fragmented landscape.

Long-time Bush Heritage supporter Annelie Holden has owned and cared for the property since 1972, with support from her late partner George. Originally, the couple had intended to gift the Round House to Bush Heritage in their Wills. But after George passed in 2014, Annelie decided to bring her gift forward so she could see the impact of her donation in her lifetime.

Annelie Holden at the Round House Reserve. Photo
Annelie Holden at the Round House Reserve. Photo

Our long-term plan is for the Round House to become an engagement and education hub; a place where donors, volunteers, Taungurung Traditional Owners and staff can come to connect with the bush and each other, learn new skills and conduct workshops.

In the short-term, our focus is on developing relationships with the Taungurung community and neighbouring landowners, upgrading and repairing the reserve’s infrastructure to increase its capacity, and developing conservation and visitation management plans.

I feel more and more that the environment is fundamental to everything. All life depends on it and if we don’t conserve it, then all life is going to be the poorer.
- Annelie Holden (supporter, volunteer, and former owner of the Round House)


We started our 30th year with a bang, launching our Bush Heroes campaign to acknowledge and thank the passionate individuals behind our work. The hero of the campaign was a 60 second TV commercial, which was produced in-house and given free airtime by the Seven Network.

We also ran a special Bush Heroes-themed bushtracks cover, featuring Olkola Elder Mike Ross, which was personalised with our supporters’ names to acknowledge their contribution to our journey.

The results were excellent: we increased our 25-29 year-old donors by almost a quarter, gained more than 2000 new social media followers, and generated close to 6000 unique impressions through the campaign.

Staying connected

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Bush Heritage shifted from in-person events to online, launching a series of webinars to keep our donors engaged and connected during what was a challenging year for all.

We also hosted two live Bush Nights storytelling events on Instagram, another standalone event on Facebook Live, and our virtual Women in Conservation Breakfast, which attracted a record number of attendees.

BushTracks Winter 2020
BushNights Smoke Stories

In total, we presented 35 virtual events, proving that as a community, we can be more resilient than ever in the face of adversity.

Connecting virtually during 2020 was a little gift, reminding us that community and connection can still be strong, even when we are apart.
- Eliza Herbert Content Producer & Bush Nights Coordinator

A very Bush-branded partnership

When global skincare brand Kiehl’s approached us about partnering around their ‘Future Made Better’ sustainability commitment, we were curious.

Kiehl's and Bush Heritage design

We discovered that 98% of their formulas are made with at least three renewable ingredients – meaning they can be replenished or regrown; that they’ve reduced water waste by 78% to date; their raw ingredients support responsible farming practices in over 600 communities worldwide; and, since 2009, they have recycled over 13 million empty jars and bottles.

To celebrate our partnership, Kiehl’s created an Australian flora-inspired topper – designed by Sydney artist Dave Homer – for their best-selling Ultra Facial Cream, donating $2 per jar sold to Bush Heritage, to the tune of an impressive $20,000.

Women on a mission

Our annual Celebrating Women in Conservation Breakfast, held in conjunction with Trust for Nature, turned 10 this year.

More than 800 people tuned into the event, which was streamed online for the first time, to hear trailblazing women speak on the theme of ‘Resilience and crisis recovery’.

Leading the conversation was Keelen Mailman, OAM, the first Aboriginal woman to manage a cattle station, and Melia Benn, one of only two female Aboriginal barristers in Queensland.

They were joined by MC Tanya Ha; Trust for Nature CEO Vic Marles and Chair Gayle Austen; Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change The Hon. Lily d’Ambrosio; and Bush Heritage President Sue O’Connor.

Keelen and Melia’s unwavering connection to country brought home the power of nature to heal, and of women to lead.