Dookie Bushland Reserve

An excellent location for facilitating insights into natural resource management issues including fuel reduction, flora and fauna, conservation, restoration, and pest, animal and plant management.

The Dookie Bushland Reserve is the largest of its kind on an Australian university campus. The reserve is a nationally significant area of 270 ha, comprised of mainly white box and grey box grassy woodland. Such vegetation types are rare in South Eastern Australia, particularly of this size and quality. While they were once very common across the Riverine Plains of Northern Victoria and Southern New South Wales, more than 98% of the original distribution has been cleared or modified for agriculture.

Flora and fauna

The Dookie Bushland Reserve boasts an impressive array of native flora and fauna providing excellent diversity and species habitats.Over 166 native and 80 introduced plant species are present in the bushland reserve. Of the native species, nine are classified as rare, endangered or vulnerable.

The extensive fauna species inhabiting the reserve include:

  • 111 native and 5 introduced bird species
  • 5 frog species
  • 15 reptile species
  • 26 native and 4 introduced mammals

Of these, 7 birds, 3 reptiles, and 2 mammals have been classified as rare, threatened or vulnerable. These fauna include Squirrel Gliders, Swift and Turquoise Parrot, Bush Stone Curlews, Blind Snakes, Bandy Bandy Snake and Brush Tailed Phascogales. Rare birds such as the Regent Honey Eater and Grey Crowned Babbler have been sighted in the past however have not been seen for some time.

Conservation strategies

The Dookie Bushland Reserve has a varied land use history, with no agricultural impact until the 1960s when areas were used for grazing. Some areas were used for timber harvesting, while others were used for gravel extraction. The central area is in pristine condition with little or no impact since European settlement.

Since the reserve’s declaration in 1992, conservation strategies have led to major achievements including reduction of pest animals and major weeds, and massive regeneration of natural plants.

A 7.5km feral animal fence surrounding the reserve is less than 1.5 metres high, allowing kangaroo passage and deterring introduced animals including rabbits, foxes, hares and cats. Campaigns against major weeds have reduced Horehound, European Olive, Spear Thistle, Pattersons Curse and St. Johns Wort.

Regeneration of native plants was achieved through controlling the Eastern Grey Kangaroo population and limiting grazing stock access to the reserve. Areas that have not regenerated naturally since declaration are undergoing active revegetation assistance to connect the reserve with continuous vegetation along the Broken River and Mt Major.

A mature woodland environment now exists in the reserve’s centre. Typified by mature trees, a sparse shrub layer and a ground layer dominated by grasses of a tussock nature, this habitat supports native fauna.

The Dookie Biolinks Program is a community initiative, developed by a local representative committee to protect and connect existing vegetation, creek lines and wetlands throughout the Dookie region.

A significant cropping and agriculture district, fragmentation of Dookie’s natural vegetation has exposed threats to the survival of many native flora and fauna species in the region. Of the 150 bird species recorded, for example, 26 are considered threatened. The Diamond Firetail and Brolga are examples of the region’s threatened woodland and wetland birds.

The woodland vegetation in Dookie provide open grassy habitat for Bush Stone-Curlew, nectar resources and tree hollows for Squirrel Gliders and roadside trees and shrubs for Grey-Crowned Babblers.

The creek lines and wetlands provide significant habitat for many wetland flora and fauna species, like the Brolga, and it is our aim to increase and connect these remaining habitats throughout the landscape.

Program objectives

  • Improve biodiversity in the Dookie region by protecting and connecting existing habitat through the landscape
  • Improve quality and quantity of habitat specific to the requirements of threatened species in the district, focusing on wetlands, woodlands and grassy plains environments
  • Engage and inform the Dookie community on ecological protection and enhancement

Species objectives

The Dookie Biolinks Program aims to increase the abundance and distribution of:

  • The endangered Squirrel Glider
  • Selected woodland and wetland species known to be in decline e.g. Diamond Firetail, Brown Tree creeper, Jacky Winter and Brolga
  • Significant plant species e.g. Western Silver Wattle, Rock Correa, Dookie Daisy

Natural assets in the region

  • Box Ironbark Forest vegetation
  • Cypress Pine Woodland vegetation
  • Grassy Woodland vegetation
  • Wetlands and major creek lines
  • Mount Major, remnant Grassy White Box Woodland
  • Indigenous flora and fauna species

Landscape strategies

  • Connecting within the Dookie Hills landscape and the Broken River
  • Protect and enhance woodland and wetland communities

Local actions

  • Fence remnant vegetation, creeks and wetlands on private land
  • Enhance remnant vegetation, creeks and wetlands through understorey plantings, retaining logs for habitat, pest, plant and animal control and managing for regeneration
  • Coordinated weed control programs
  • Coordinated rabbit, fox and hare control programs
  • Revegetation projects, linking habitat across the landscape
  • Adopting management plans for ecologically significant natural sites