Twin Creeks Reserve: Community driven conservation

Narrator: Welcome to Heartland Journeys, and to Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve. A reserve of 511 hectares nestled between the highly biodiverse Porongurup Range and Stirling Range National Parks.

The incredibly passionate and dedicated group that owns and manages Twin Creeks is the Friends of Porongurup Range.

Here’s long term committee member and Twin Creeks manager Lucia Quearry introducing the Friends. Please note, this interview was recorded at a busy bee at Twin Creeks, so you’ll hear the buzz of activity in the background.

Lucia Quearry: I think it would have been back in the early 1980s a group of people that lived here in the Porongurup, decided that they would begin a Friends of the Porongurup conservation group.

And their sole purpose at that particular time was to help the Ranger in the National Park with building boardwalks, making trails, keeping things tidy in the park, doing some animal surveys as well.

Narrator: In the mid-1990s, the Friends of the Porongurup Range began expanding their focus to look at issues outside, but still relevant to the National Park. They worked with the Kalgan Land Conservation District Committee to encourage the Shire of Plantagenet to adopt the protection of riparian vegetation, as well as fencing and revegetation in its planning.
The Friends had growing concerns about what was being proposed on land around the National Park.

We became more associated with the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group, which at that time was the Kalgan LCD, and began being concerned about subdivision and development opportunities that were being promoted in the area around the National Park. We could see that there was some very good land that had nice bush on it, that was all of a sudden a target for developers.

Narrator: In 2008, the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group created the Ranges Link initiative. This aims to develop wildlife corridors between the Stirling Range and Porongurup Range National Parks. With the purchase of their Twin Creeks property, the Friends of Porongurup Range became an integral part of the Ranges Link initiative.

Into the 90s, there was funding around for sub-catchment groups to form within the larger Kalgan / Oyster Harbour Catchment Group. And we had two or three form along the north side of the Porongurup here and realised that we had some opportunities to protect some corridors of vegetation that were still left in the area from the farming days. From out of that our Ranges Link idea grew with the Oyster Harbour group. And we began to consider what we could do to try to help protect those isolated pieces of bush that were on farm property that were still quite extensive.

In the early 2000s, a block of land on Knights Road went up for sale and it was owned by a local farmer. And we were very lucky in that the block had poison on it – Gastrolobium on it. And so there were parts of the block that had never gotten cleared. Our President at that time Ann Burchell thought… this place represented the flora of the district in such a magnificent way, in that the higher upland areas of laterite, with their Jarrah-Marri complex of vegetation represented something that was very, very much like the Porongurup. And as you came down off of that laterite area and down into some of these flat-lying sandy areas that had some of them laterite underneath them, you had a whole different suite of flora. And as you continue further to the north on the property, it had some plants that you find out by the Stirlings which is pretty amazing within an area that was only about three kilometres in length.

So she came back to the Friends group saying, I think we ought to buy that property and turn it into a reserve. And that’s what we did.

Narrator: After an intense effort to raise funds for the property’s purchase, Ann’s vision was realised in October 2003 when the Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve was formally launched. The current members of the Friends of Porongurup Range recognise the central role Ann Burchell played in securing Twin Creeks, including Maggie Shanklin and Garry Mulder.

Maggie Shanklin: There’s a great appreciation that the vision of Ann Burchell to say we need to save this and set it aside as a place of conservation for the community – that inspires people.

Garry Mulder: She was the main driving force behind the whole concept of this area. Although it had been cleared and farmed, it still had a lot of remnant vegetation on it. So she just saw this as a nice diversity hotspot that had both Porongurup and Stirling mixtures in it.

And after she died, her legacy – she left basically her whole estate to the Friends which we now use to maintain the block.

She loved the sheoak spot up there. It has a lot of orchids in it, and she spent a lot of time up there and that’s where her ashes are scattered.

Narrator: Under Ann’s leadership, the Friend’s sought additional protection for the Twin Creeks reserve, including a conservation covenant through the National Trust of WA.

Lucia Quearry: Immediately Ann got to work on getting all sorts of protection status for it and made it part of the National Reserve System. Of the 500ha, 400 of it was still bush in various stages of healthiness and the other part was open paddock, and that for us was a challenge to revegetate that open paddock area as it had been years ago before it ever got cleared.

So that has been our raison d’etre down here, I suppose, is to restore those areas that had been cleared in the past. To extend the National Trust plan that covers all of the bush areas to cover the entire block of land, so in perpetuity, the whole block will be preserved. To bring it into the Gondwana Link idea by matching it into the Ranges Link properties that we have in between the Porongurup and the Stirlings and match it up with Peter Luscombe and Susie’s property to the north.

Narrator: Peter Luscombe is a farmer, ecological restoration pioneer and local plant specialist who owns the neighbouring property. Peter is restoring parts of his farm to a very high standard, including strengthening bush links to the Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve.

Peter Luscombe: Twin Creeks, it’s an adjoining property, so we’re looking at it as a contiguous Wildlife Reserve. And so we link islands of bush along the way. And basically, the management here at Twin Creeks are looking at what I’m doing now and they’re saying, well, let’s just treat Twin Creeks like you treat your place and continue on. And, and so we bounce ideas off each other. And they see what I’m doing and they’ve said, Yep, thumbs up, we’ll just do it.

Lucia Quearry: With these two bush properties, we have probably over 1000 hectares enclosed that kind of forms the jewel in the crown of our Ranges Link work that we’re doing here.

We like the idea that we are a little spot right here, but the fact that we actually fit into a bigger picture within the Ranges Link area and then within the Gondwana Link area as well, I think has become important to this group. Because the things that we’re doing, we’re not just doing for ourselves here on Twin Creeks. We’re part of a much larger operation that’s happening. I think they’re pretty proud of that.

Narrator: Like so much of the landcare work we are celebrating in Heartland Journeys, the Friends of Porongurup Range is a volunteer-led organisation. Lucia, Jeff Stoltze and Peter offer insights into why people are willing to get involved and the benefits that flow from helping.

Lucia Quearry: We rely 100% on volunteers. And I think the thing that keeps the volunteers there is the feeling that they’re actually doing something that’s going to make a difference. Feeling like what they’re doing is important, and then being appreciated for it.

Jeff Stoltze: I think most people really agree that a group of volunteers planting trees in country like this has to be totally beneficial on all counts.
For us, it’s also a big social event, people coming together and working on something together.

Peter Luscombe: People are quite happy to come on board because it’s a positive thing happening in the world today, where there’s so much negative stuff going on this is positive, bringing country back to life and supporting the rare species. There are so many pluses for it, people just can’t help to want to get involved.

Narrator: This has been a Gondwana Link production with story development by Nicole Hodgson, Margaret Robertson and Keith Bradby. Narration by Nicole Hodgson, and music by Rod Vervest. Our warm thanks to Lucia Quearry, Peter Luscombe, Maggie Shanklin, Garry Mulder and Jeff Stoltze from Friends of the Porongurup Range. Original recording by Frank Rijavec and Margaret Robertson. Audio editing by Teresa Ashton-Graham. Audio production by Kim Lofts of Blue Manna Studio.