Emu

A sand ridge woodlands story at Koonoomoo

Monday 3 October, 2011
Last week three generations of the Bourchier family, David, James and Angus showed staff from Goulburn Broken CMA their latest project; enhancement of their unique sand ridge woodland site on their property at Koonoomoo. Six generations of the Bourchier family have farmed at Koonoomoo. Their property was selected by family descendants in 1878, and the sand ridge part, which was sold in the 1920's was bought back after World War II. The property is 1600 hectares in size, and contains some interesting natural features.

Last week three generations of the Bourchier family, David, James and Angus showed staff from Goulburn Broken CMA their latest project; enhancement of their unique sand ridge woodland site on their property at Koonoomoo. Six generations of the Bourchier family have farmed at Koonoomoo. Their property was selected by family descendants in 1878, and the sand ridge part, which was sold in the 1920's was bought back after World War II. The property is 1600 hectares in size, and contains some interesting natural features.

Sand ridges are important and fascinating landscape features. They are really sand dunes built from wind and river deposits over thousands of years. As such, they have some unique vegetation, such as Silver Banksia, Hooked Needlewood, Murray Piine and Buloke that are suitable to sandy well drained sites.

The Bourchiers recognised the distinctive nature of the sand ridge woodland site on their property as a unique part of their farm and important to them in achieving their conservation goals.

"We had no country with Murray Pine on it, but we had some sandy hill sites that were suitable for planting, so we wanted to re-establish some sand hill species, such as Buloke and Murray pine for ecology reasons, there is only one Buloke left on the property. We also knew there were some Aboriginal burials on the site, so we wanted to protect those as well. A few years back a Freeway survey was being done through our property, representatives from Melbourne Museum and from Yorta Yorta came out to look for cultural sites, we knew where the burials were and we pointed them out to them. There were also stone tools near the burials" explains James Bouchier.

Relics of past farming use are also evident on the sand ridge site. There is an old brick well, still intact, and is about 10m deep. "The site used to be an old irrigated lucerne paddock between the 1920's and 1940's." David said.

In 2010, James saw an advertisement from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority seeking to fund Sand Ridge Woodlands Projects through funding from the Australian Government. The project was aiming to protect and enhance sand ridge vegetation and protect Aboriginal cultural sites at the same time. The Bourchier's project was ideal and a fence was erected by the Yorta Yorta/ RAD Indigenous works crew protecting two sandy hill sites from continuous grazing.

James explained the works. "The site was direct seeded in autumn this year with shrub species, and we hand planted species such as Buloke, Murray Pine, Yellow Box and Silver Banksia. A month later the direct seeding had germinated. The native grasses on the sites have also increased, and they tend to hang on and out compete the weeds, once stock are excluded. The Indigenous crew also removed 6 tandem trailer loads of weed melons from the site, this will help with the weed burden next year."

Seven year old Angus Bourchier also played a part in the project, when asked what he did, he said. "I planted 20 something trees, because Aboriginals were buried here."

Dr Natasha Schedvin, Senior Biodiversity Project Officer with Department of Sustainability and Environment added. "Sand Ridge woodlands, are important for the natural ecology as they provide crucial resources for fauna like the Endangered Squirrel Glider that are year-round woodland residents."

The Goulburn Broken CMA are seeking Expressions of Interest from landholders or public land managers who may have an area of sand ridge woodland that they would like to protect and enhance through this program funded by the Australian Government. The program provides the full cost of fencing and revegetation activities, with a works team provided, to install fencing and undertake planting in partnership with the landowner/manager. For more information, please contact Jim Begley on 5761 1574

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