As at February 2019, four years since the purchase of the property, the ecological regeneration plan is well under way. Significant weed control has been undertaken and approximately 3,500 seedlings planted. Survival rates have varied with the species and seasons with an estimated overall survival rate of 70%. 2018-19 has been the worst with the record temperatures and dry conditions.
Approximately 70% of the property (11.2 ha) has been set aside for ecological regeneration and 30% (4.8 ha) will be used for hay production and other purposes.
Preliminary management zones are:
1. Grassy Woodland Revegetation (4.5 ha)
2. Maslin/Malpas Creek Swamp and Edge (3.6 ha)
3. Drainage Lines – Sedge lands (1.3 ha)
4. Pastures (4.0 ha)
5. Western Boundary Revegetation (1.5 ha, reduce impact of Victor Harbor Road)
6. Northern Boundary Revegetation (0.60 ha, extend Branson Road reserve plantings)
7. Shed, Culture Shack, (possible) House Site and Access (0.35 ha)
8. Pepper Tree Corner (0.15 ha)
Autumn – Winter 2016-18
Following on from the preliminary plantings in 2015, major revegetation has been undertaken in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The priority areas have been the swamp and swamp edge, grassy woodland establishment and the sedge beds-drainage lines. In partnership with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges about 70 species, appropriate to these three distinct eco-systems, have been identified and the majority of them have now been introduced. Several areas were selected for intensive weed management prior to the plantings.
Three years on, 2018
Yaccas and Native Lilac
Spring – Summer 2015
An on-site vegetation survey was undertaken by officers from Natural Resource Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges at Willunga. Nearby roadside sites were visited to examine remnant vegetation, particularly the grasses as a seed source, as well as the California Road Wetland, a continuation of the Maslin Creek swamp, to view ‘edge’ species.
Autumn – Winter 2015
The first planting commenced in 2015, mainly at the property entrance and on boundaries, the sandhill top and swamp edge, and included amenity and trial planting. Over 220 seedlings from over 20 species were planted with the focus on upper and mid-canopy species; Acacia paradoxa Kangaroo Thorn, Acacia pycnantha Golden Wattle, Allocasuarina verticillata Drooping Sheoak, Callitris gracilis Native Pine, Eucalyptus camaldulensis River Redgum, Eucalyptus microcarpa Grey Box, Eucalyptus porosa Mallee Box and Leptospermum lanigerum Silky (Woolly) Tea-tree.
Animals have grazed this land for many thousands of years, before settlement predominantly wallabies and kangaroos, since settlement predominantly cattle, sheep and horses. Animal protein for human consumption has almost always been part of the (agri)cultural practice of the land. Whilst a mob of up to twelve kangaroos visit regularly they are not now a food resource. Animal protein production will continue from the land but off-site. For the time being part of the land will produce hay for cattle consumption on Anacotilla Springs at Second Valley.
Anacotilla Springs is a beef production and ecological restoration project by Rob Malone and Pamela Wright. The property straddles the Anacotilla River and after a difficult and expensive fencing and watering program, cattle have been excluded from the riparian zone for the first time in 150 years. Natural regeneration of the River Redgums is fantastic.
Soil testing was undertaken and advice sought from an agronomist as to fertiliser requirements and the pasture grass mix. A chicken manure pellet with appropriate trace elements was spread in early autumn.
On a fine autumn day (29 April), after the first rains had brought growth to pasture species and weeds alike, the potential pasture areas of L50K were slashed. The aim; to promote new pasture growth for hay baling, provide ground mulch and knock down some weeds before seeding. Dan (from CL Contracting, McLaren Vale) spent seven hours on the tractor which gave the land a very different appearance.
On a fine, late spring day (17 October) the first crop of hay was harvested from an area of about 2 ha producing 173 bales.
Weed control is a major and ongoing land management issue after decades of neglect. About twenty-five weed species have been identified to date. Various forms of weed control are underway; slashing, weed eating, spraying, grubbing and hand removal.
As of April 2016 the whole of the property (except the swamp and some sedge beds) had been slashed requiring 25 hours of heavy duty tractor slashing, supported by over 150 hours of ‘walk behind’ slashing, weed eating and spraying. A Toro commercial ride-on mower now makes slashing much easier with over 500 hrs use in two years. The weed control has also enabled the lay of the land to be better seen. Many years of dried/dead plant material shaded and obscured the ground.
Targeted species include Wild artichoke/Scotch Thistle Cynara cardunculus, Fat Hen Chenopodium album and Three corner jack Emex australis along with the woody weeds Olive Olea europaea, African Boxthorn Lycium ferocissimum and Apple of Sodom Solanum linnaeanum. Eradication of Phalaris Phalaris aquatica on the swamp edge is also well underway.
Road Reserve, Woody Weeds
Olives, boxthorn, blackberries and dog roses straddling the northern boundary and into the road reserve (Branson Track) are being removed in collaboration with the City of Onkaparinga. The road reserve is being revegetated as a woodland with allowance for an access track to L50K. As of October 2018 this work has been substantially progressed. The stumps of the big olives provide interesting ‘sculptural forms
Branson Track, winter 2018