Some amazing news to end 2018! – Long Point – A brand new NGT Reserve in the southern Grampians

Way back in January, when 2018 had just begun, we said that we’d have some great news to share with everyone throughout this year. So let’s recap what happened next…

Kate and Bill Moore at Kurrawonga. Photo courtesy of the Moore family.

In March we announced the incredibly generous donation of Kurrawonga at Nelson, by the Moore family on behalf of the late, highly respected field naturalists, Bill and Kate Moore. Ever since, our Education Co-ordinator and property caretaker, Nicole Mojonnier, has been doing a great job of involving the community with this beautiful patch of 100 acres of bushland situated right on the doorstep of the Lower Glenelg National Park.

Then in May we announced the NGT purchase of Walker Swamp, thanks to the support of the Glenelg Hopkins CMA and the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club, followed by more good news in June that we had the opportunity to double the restoration area to 1000 acres. At the time of writing, thanks to public support, we are just over 2/3 of the way to meeting our $150,000 target to proceed with the project without NGT carrying any deficit on the land purchase costs, and our Dunkeld-based Senior Ecologist Greg Kerr is on track to have major hydrological restoration works underway on the property in autumn 2019 (thanks to grants from the Victorian Government).

Although this was originally all the major ‘NGT Reserve news’ we had planned for this calendar year, sometimes – because of wonderful people in our community who are willing to go ‘over and above’ to work with us – fresh opportunities come along out of the blue and the stars align to make the impossible suddenly seem plausible.

Indeed, this is the story of Long Point – 500 acres of magnificent Red Gum studded country, on the edge of Dunkeld – at the gateway of the southern Grampians.

The NGT Team in Red Gum country at Long Point – December 2018

Thanks to the generosity of a major private donor, NGT was able to acquire the property a few months ago without the need for a fundraising campaign – which is tremendous news for us given that this is normally the main obstacle we encounter in the restoration process.

The “Long Point” property is 200 hectares in size (of the original 259 hectare property shown below), and is bounded by the Dunkeld Racecourse and Cemetery on the west, Old Ararat Road on the south and the Wannon River along its northern boundary. This means it is literally on the north-eastern fringe of town, which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for NGT down the track, given the popularity of Dunkeld and the Grampians for travellers seeking nature-based experiences.

Long Point – NGT’s new Reserve at Dunkeld occupies 200 hectares of the original 259 hectare allotment previously owned by W A D Carroll, as shown in this map from 1955.

The nationally threatened Striped Legless Lizard – Delma impar

Given a long history of farming, the woodland consists of a largely modified understorey of introduced pasture species, and we certainly have a few management challenges to address – like a very large resident Eastern Grey Kangaroo population which is limiting natural regeneration. But on the plus side, and despite its modified condition, grassland areas on the property are home to a population of the nationally threatened Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar), the Wannon River here is home to populations of Platypus and nationally threatened fish, and River Red Gums, which are hundreds of years old, provide the perfect building blocks for a future grassy woodland restoration project. Indeed the longevity and future of those magnificent old trees, which make Dunkeld (and Long Point) the magic place that it is, were the subject of a fascinating on-line article by Ian Lunt published a few years ago, called the Candles of Dunkeld – you can read that article here.

But before we rush into any major decisions, and given the other nearby projects we have underway that are a current priority for us (like Walker Swamp, several kilometres up-river), from the outside this property will appear to remain in ‘maintenance mode’ for the time being. This means that while we get to know the place and actively seek funding to implement our conservation plans, it will continue as a working farm, meeting similar conservation goals as the previous owner had identified for the property (woodland regeneration and threatened species).

Also note that the new conservation goals we ultimately settle on for a property of this type might end up having a slightly different focus to our other reserves, and will more than likely be experimental in nature. Grassland and grassy woodland fauna will feature heavily in our thinking, as will innovative ways of addressing the imbalances in the ecosystem that have led to the proliferation of an over-abundant kangaroo population.

If you’re as excited as we are about the future possibilities and would like to help accelerate our long-term plans for Long Point (or our other Reserves), then please consider donating to the NGT Foundation. This is also a perfect last-minute Christmas present for someone you might know who cares about the environment but doesn’t need or want any material gifts. All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible.

To close, here is the vista at our magnificent new patch of ground in the heart of the southern Grampians, as captured at our recent annual staff workshop… More exciting times are ahead, and we hope you’ll continue to be part of the journey with us!

The NGT Team at our spectacular new reserve: Long Point, Dunkeld – December 2018. Mt Abrupt is in the distance, Long Point (the grassy hill) is mid-image and the Wannon River is situated out of view at the base of the slope. The team is (L-R) Greg Kerr, Rose Thompson, Cath Dickson, Lu-Wei Spinks, Jodie Honan, Lauren Veale, Andy Lines, Lauren Kivisalu, Lachlan Farrington, Mark Bachmann, Jess Bourchier, Ben Taylor, Bryan Haywood, Mischa Peters and Richard Crew.

Mark Bachmann
Mark Bachmann
mark.bachmann@natureglenelg.org.au