Gluepot Reserve in the Riverland of South Australia.

Monday, Jul 15, 2019 at 17:17

Member - Stephen L (Clare SA)




Located around an hour and a half drive from the Riverland town of Waikerie, is the very unique Gluepot Reserve that is now run by Birdlife Australia. The name Gluepot was given to this station, as when the dam sinkers were working on the new dams, the clay was very sticky and with as little as few millimetres of rain, the clay would stuck to their boots and they would grow in height of over 75 mm, and they said it was like working in a Gluepot.



When leaving the bitumen just past Taylorville on the main Morgan to Renmark Road, you head north on Lunn Road for 50 kilometres on a well maintained road, which will vary from graded dirt to sandy tracks, with a number of gates to pass through. When passing through these gates, please make sure that you leave them closed, because until you reach the Reserve boundary, you are passing through active Pastoral country, with stock still grazing the surrounding country.






Gluepot Station was purchased by Birds Australia in July 1997 for $350,000 and become the first of Birds Australia purchases of land for conservation purposes and is managed and operated entirely by volunteers. Some 54,000 ha in size, it is home to 22 nationally threatened species of birds, 53 species of reptiles and 12 species of bats, some of which are nationally threatened and is part of the largest block of intact mallee left in Australia. Prior to the purchase, the first Pastoral lease of Gluepot was first taken up in April 1877 by James White under the “Waste Lands of the Crown for Pastoral Purposes Act” and over the years, the lease had changed hands a number of times. The primary use for the lease was to run sheep, but like many remote parts of Australia, the biggest challenges of all were water, fire and the ever present Dingo.

To combat the threat of Dingo’s and wild dogs, a series of netting fences were constructed as early as the 1890’s that had to be continually monitored, as the fences were continually damaged by larger animals such as feral goats, emus, cattle and even wild camels.

To sustain life for the sheep and as there was no natural water sources on Gluepot, as network of 18 large dams were built between 1888 and 1939, with the first dam to be constructed at Old Gluepot. After the purchase of Gluepot Reserve, 16 dams have been decommissioned and the 2 remaining dams have been fenced off to prevent herbivore access and thus the area is returning to its natural state prior to the constructions of the dams.




To also help in the preservation of their flocks of sheep, controlled burn offs were conducted, but nothing could help them when summer thunderstorms would wipe out large strands of Mallee. The last major bushfire that devastated 8000 ha of Gluepot Reserve occurred on November and December 2009, was caused by a number of lightning strikes, had a 300 kilometre perimeter and in total burnt out more than 120,000 hectares of scrub. The resilience of the Mallee would then spring back into life after the first winter rains and so the cycle of life in the Mallee continued.








During World War 2, Prisoners of war from the nearby Westerns Flat Prisoners of War Camp were used to extensively cut large portions of Mallee that was then burnt and used for Charcoal production. After the war, Woodcutting licenses were issued and the timber was used for the Riverland pumping stations and for household needs, with hundreds of tons of timbers being cut and railed to Adelaide for sale from the nearby Morgan Railway yards, and during its peak, 10 to 15 railway trucks of timber were sent to Adelaide every week. The clearing of this timber then opened up more land for Pastoral activities and it seemed a win win situation for those concerned.

Another activity that also occurred in Gluepot was the construction of a number Seismic Survey Lines during the 1960’s and 1970’s by the South Australian Department of Mines. These lines were used during the construction but now abandoned Morgan - Radium Hill Power Line and the search for oil by Tasman Oil and Associated Australian Oil Fields. In 2002 the Gluepot Management Committee received a grant from the South Australian Tourist Commission to mark a number of walking trails in the reserve, and parts of the Oil Lines were used in the Bluebush and Oil Line Walking Trails.



Since the purchase of Gluepot Reserve, 200 species of bird have been recorded. Of these 200 recorded sightings, 22 species are considered nationally endangered or vulnerable. Gluepot Reserve and parts of the neighbouring Bookmark Reserve have the largest populations of one of Australia’s rarest birds, the endangered Black-eared Miner. Other significant birds that breed in the Reserve are the Malleefowl, Red-lored Whistler, Major Mitchell Cockatoo and Striated Grasswren.



Gluepot Reserve welcomes visitors to the site, and it is managed entirely by Volunteer Rangers, that come from all over Australia to this very special location. The Reserve has developed superb infrastructure, including 14 marked walking trails situated in strategic areas of the Reserve; a world class Visitor Information Centre; four magnificent camping grounds set in prime birding areas; research quarters including a new 5 bedroom accommodation block; converted half of the shearing shed into an Environmental Education Centre; built a large steel 19m long storage shed; installed the Riverland’s largest self-contained solar power system; installed five elevated bird watering troughs overlooked by large bird hides and a 6 X 9 metre library/science centre building.



For those that would like to experience the area even longer, you also able to camp in one of the 4 designated camping areas, but campfires are strictly prohibited.





Further information can be found on the Birdlife web site http://www.birdlife.org.au/visit-us/reserves/gluepot or you can contact them at PO Box 345, Waikerie SA 5330 or by phone on (08) 8892 8600

Special thanks to Duncan MacKenzie for checking the information that I have written.




Stephen Langman
July 2019
Roxby Downs Special
BlogID: 7610
Views: 344

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