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About Dalton Park and Its Management, The Oolong Sanctuary Development, A General Description Of Calendarah and The Pristine Block by Greening, Australia and a Preliminary Field Inspection of Oolong Sanctuary by NPWS, Southern Directorate

An exciting new conservation program is being developed at Dalton Park, which includes the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary and a long-term based program of natural resources management for protecting and restoring grassland, wetland and woodland to recreate the habitat that will meet the needs of the native species and to link the vegetation habitat/remnants together to allow movement of species within them. (Click to view examples) It is supported by the community and the corporate sector trough the Friends of Oolong Inc, to work cooperatively with State and Federal Government agencies and with a strong focus on education.

About "Dalton Park" and its Management:

Dr Gianni William D'Addario, a retired scientist (Click to view CV, contact phone number and address)  purchased in 1987, a broad acre sheep farm, which he named Dalton Park. He had clear objectives in mind, which long preceded the National Strategy and, since the time of the purchase, he undertook an intensive program of rehabilitation of the ecosystem. The emphasis has been on water conservation, salinity and weed control, protection of wildlife, the design and construction of wetlands and the breeding of native waterfowl under licence. All works so far have been carried out with family support and financed by personal savings.

Cape Barren geese and wild ducks breed on the property. They have established their territory in the protected wetlands. Temporary residents are migratory birds and ducks, including whistling ducks. The whole property has been baited for the last fifteen years in cooperation with the Yass Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB). Eighteen dams and several ponds were added to the farm for native waterfowl, birds, frogs and birds. The farm has 60% native grass, tree and shrub cover. Chemicals, pesticides or herbicides are not used on the property. Goats and domestic geese have been used in the past now we rely just on waterfowl to control weeds. Ostrich manure has been used to fertilise the pasture. Rainfall is reasonably well distributed throughout the year with greater intensity falls during winter.

About the Oolong Sanctuary Development with the Animal Farm, the Waterfowl Wetland Reserve and the Natural Habitat of Dalton Park:
After 75 fauna species were recorded in a 4-acre area around an abandoned mine at Dalton Park, the investigation was extended to cover the whole of the Natural Habitat of Dalton Park, which is an habitat/remnant. Two of the nearby properties also habitat/remnants as well as the linking wildlife corridor were eventually included in the study and a conservation program was initiated. The program includes a complete inventory of the endemic fauna and flora of the assemblages and the construction of a model of remnant/habitats linked by wildlife corridors. Four landholders support the program on their land. The total land involved so far is about 546ha.

The Animal Farm (76ha). The improved pasture (48ha) within the Yellow Box woodland is located in the western portion of the property and includes some scattered mature large trees, native and exotic grassland, some wetland and also 28ha of woodland. To see the avian breeding complex located in the southwestern portion of the farm with the Dalton village on the top left (click to view) The domestic stock included a self-replacing flock of superfine Merino sheep and a small Mohair goat stud. Sheep were depastured outside the vermin proof fenced area. The Animal Farm is what was left of Dalton Park still under pasture. The fibre production partly supported financially the costs associated with the promulgation of the program and the setting up of the sanctuary. Farm buildings include a shearing shed with a weekender attached to it, a machinery shed and a fully insulated and air-conditioned building with avian incubating facilities suitable to incubate any type of eggs, from ostrich to pheasant. A large green house is being used for the germination and propagation of the native understorey: shrubs and forbs as well as White Box and Yellow Box trees. A large garage was added to be used as a lecture room for visiting schools.

Electric Fences: Two different types of vermin proof fences have been designed and built to assess their efficiency in function of their cost: One type was to protect the Waterfowl Wetland Reserve and the other the extended wetlands within the Animal Farm. The type required to protect the whole Natural Habitat to the north and east has been designed but not yet erected. Very costly vermin proof fences are not necessary the most efficient. A successful cost effective compromise has been reached. Baiting, to keep the protected areas vermin free, has to be carried out regardless of the type of fence constructed. Trapping for wild cats is also essential with fresh bait (rabbit). (Project no.9) Dr D'Addario, manages the farm and the sanctuary and with his son Frank, electric contractor and casual workers constructed the 1.9m-electrified fence to enclose about 28ha of the Animal Farm to protect the grassland and wetland. A bracket holding a pulsating wire was set about 6 inches from the ground. It was noted that foxes and rabbits do not penetrate the netting even if only one hot wire was set not too far above the ground. They try to dig under and stop the digging at the level of the pulsating wire. Unfortunately this type of electric fence does not deter cats. Baiting and trapping there is carried out at regular interval and also at any time the presence of wild cats is detected.

The Waterfowl Wetland Reserve (8ha). The reserve is located on the western slopes of the property, between the Animal Farm and the hilly Natural Habitat. It contains a large man-made lake with two islands. The picture shows the lake at its lowest level during the recent extended drought. Several covered ponds are near the lake to protect wild duck nests from eagles and crows. The wetland was designed by the owner and constructed by the former NSW Soil and Conservation Department at the owner's expense. A 1.8m-electrified vermin proof fence surrounds the man-made wetland from 1988. Two brackets hold the hot wires on the fence at six inches and four feet respectively above the ground. Only goats were allowed there occasionally to remove weeds. Mature trees up to 15m in height are scattered throughout the reserve. Reforestation has been carried out but unfortunately all planted trees did not survive a long drought. A slow natural revegetation with native trees and shrubs is taking place. Several species of frogs have populated the ponds. The dragonfly is back!

The Natural Habitat (152ha, part of the Oolong Sanctuary). This section includes an east-west ridge (75Om a.s.l) separating two north-south elongated valleys. Two vegetation formations occur there, woodland (dominant tree species is Red stringybark with subordinate Applebox) and open heathland, which resulted from extensive clearing. Most of the trees are small, being about 8m in height, with scattered mature trees up to 15m in height. The understorey consists of a cover of low shrubs, herbs, forbs and grasses. The herb layer is relatively well developed. The floral assemblages provide home sites and feeding areas for a number of vertebrate faunal species. A dam was constructed near a perennial spring.
Domestic stock has been removed to assist the preservation of small mammals (bandicoots, dunnarts, and endangered species like potoroos and bettongs) and to encourage the growth and regeneration of the understorey. This has resulted in a drop in farm production. Selective grazing could be reintroduced in the future, if necessary. A healthy habitat would ensure not only the preservation of small marsupials such as the Brown antechinus and the common Dunnart but also Swamp Wallaby, Red-necked wallaby, Echidna, Common Brushtail Possum, Sugar Glider, birds, insects, frogs, wild flowers, orchids, etc. With proper management the breeding and translocation of some threatened and endangered species maybe undertaken in the future. The habitats of the Oolong Sanctuary as well as many other several scattered habitat/remnants in the region (Click to view examples) are oasis surrounded by cleared grazing land, which is bounded by the Cullarin Range to the east, the Midgee Range to the north and east and the Mundoonen Range to the southwest. These remnants are the ultimate refuge for several small vertebrates, including an exceptional concentration of bird species, some from the dry woodland from further west. Some of Oolong's beautiful echidnas are very big. They cannot leave the natural habitat unless revegetated corridors are maintained to connect the few remaining tree cluttered along the upper reaches of the Lachlan River to the north and across the river to the Cullerin Range or to the south. Outside the sanctuary small native animals would inevitably fall prey to predators and vermin. This is evident by animal remains during droughts. It is hoped that in the near future more nearby landholders will agree to participate in a rehabilitation management of the habitat/remnants within their properties. A natural corridor for fauna movement between several of these properties is provided by crown roads. Bush's Lane, the access crown road to the sanctuary, is also part of a natural corridor, which needs to be restored and protected from grazing and tree felling. (See project no.30 for more details). (Click to view airphoto) In this airphoto several corridors are visible as well as the disturbed area, shown as a white strip, where a pipeline has been buried. The portion of this strip, crossing the sanctuary is going to be seeded with native grasses (see project no 31 for more details also on the management strategy of White Box-Yellow Box Woodland remnants).
Any progress and further management developments at Dalton Park will be reported under NEWS.

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General descriptions of "Calendarah" and "Pristine Block".
Visited 3/5/01 Dr Donna Windsor and Mr Andrew Johnston, Greening Australia, Central West

"Calendarah" This site was dominated by E.macrorhyncha and E. rossii with occurrences of E.goniocalyx and E.melliodora. Although some past clearing and livestock grazing was apparent this remnant can generally be described as slightly to moderately degraded and the level of degradation variable throughout the site. The understorey contained a relatively diverse array of native plants generally consistent with this vegetation alliance. Pultenaea cunninghamii, Grevilla lanigera and Pomax umbellate were additional species to those found on [the Natural Habitat of Dalton Park]

Due to the high grazing pressures, many of the soft and palatable understorey species were not observed. Subsequently the species remaining in the understorey were generally prickly and unpalatable (eg. Acacia gunnii, Lissanthe strigose). Removal of grazing pressure is likely to result in the recovery of many 'unapparent' species and an increase in the general health of this remnant community.

"Pristine Block" The Pristine Block (Click to view photos) contained the same vegetation alliance as the Natural Habitat of Dalton Park and "Calendarah", however, species diversity was critically low, presumably due to the lack of disturbance. The majority of the remnant consisted of a relatively even age stand of E.macrorhyncha and sparsely scattered epacrid shrubs. The dense canopy cover and thick layer of leaf litter probably resulting from a lack of disturbance, has caused the suppression of the dominant vegetation (regeneration) as well as many other species associated with this vegetation alliance.

Experimental manipulation is probably warranted to enhance the quality and diversity within this remnant. Selective removal of patches of eucalypts, combined with the reduction in leaf litter is probably required to increase species diversity. Some patch scarifying would also be beneficial. As controlled patch burning is not likely to be an option, these techniques may have to be undertaken by hand.

Careful monitoring of flora and fauna would be essential before any disturbances are implemented, as would subsequent monitoring procedures.

A coordinated management plan of these two properties and of the Natural Habitat of Dalton Park would allow the complete study and understanding of endangered remnants, the model of which is to be applied to other areas.
The Oolong Sanctuary program developed within a farm with somewhat reduced production but assisted by the government participation and community support should encourage nearby landholders, already involved with projects under Landcare to join in this conservation program. Landholders could have a portion of their land set a side as natural habitat and be able to build the corridors, which are so desperately needed to link the several isolated habitat/remnants in the region. They could undergo also various other projects related to the preservation of the flora and fauna, re-establishing perennial native grasses.

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Preliminary Field Inspection of "Dalton Park", "Calendarah" and "Pristine Block".
Location: County King , Parish Dalton;‘Dalton Park’ Lots 239,267, 258, 209; ‘Calendarah’ Lots 337, 325, 'Pristine Block' Lot 342.

Visited 13/5/01 by Mr Rainer Rehwinkel, Threatened Species Officer and Mr Scott Seymour, Ranger, NPWS, Southern Directorate.

Conservation Assessment:
For the complete Field Inspection, please click 'Preliminary Field Inspection' and 'Woodland Survey-part 1, 2, 3' at the bottom of this page.
(Please note that the pre 1750 data are derived from the modelling of ecosystems undertaken as part of the comprehensive Regional Assessment Process, which formed the basis of the Regional Forest Agreements. Reference: "NPWS Data 2000")

"The sites surveyed in the remnant vegetation in this area did not identify any rare or threatened species. However these remnant assemblages are significant, as can be seen from the tables. The Northern Slopes Dry Grass Woodland and Tablelands and Slopes Dry Herb/Grass Woodland are part of the White Box - Yellow Box Woodland which now has a preliminary listing as an endangered ecological community in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995. The crown reserve road "corridor" contains a good sample of the preliminary listed White Box - Yellow Box Woodland community and in conjunction with the adjacent cleared and semi-cleared grazing lands supports a relatively diverse suite of species.

Regionally, these woodlands are habitat for a number of threatened species, particularly birds such as Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia), Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii), Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus),
(*) Speckled Warbler (Chthonicola sagittatus),
(*) Diamond Firetail (Emblema guttata) and
(*) Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata).

None of these were recorded during the assessment".

[Our note: after the conservation assessment was issued, additional field works were carried out by other specialists and bird species marked (*) have been identified and recorded by Dr Tony Saunders, Cumberland Bird Observers' Club (September 2001 survey). The Regent Honeyeater was only absent from our habitat at the time of the inspection, owing to the abundance of flowering trees on the coastal areas. (Mr David Gerring, Regent Honeyeater recovery coordinator, personal communication)]

About the definition of "White Box-Yellow Box Woodland" and its listing:

"White Box-Yellow Box Woodland" as defined by the NSW Scientific Committee is similar but broader than "Grassy White Box Woodland" as defined under Federal legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

Ms Suzanne Dobbie, Project Officer, Biodiversity Management Unit, Biodiversity Research & Management Division, NSW National Park & Wildlife Service is coordinating the national recovery plan, being prepared in accordance with the EPBC Act. The plan is still in the preparation stage, and the draft was due to be completed early 2002. More information about the EPBC Act and the implications of listing under the Act at www.ea.gov.au (and follow the EPCB Act).

For more information about the listing of "White Box-Yellow Box Woodland" under the NSW TSC Act or the NSW Scientific Committee, please contact Ms Sue Chate, Executive Officer, on 9585 6940, email sue.chate@npws.nsw.gov.au or go to the NPWS website www.npws.gov.au

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Preliminary Field Inspection| Woodland Survey-part 1| Woodland Survey-part 2| Woodland Survey-part 3|
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