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Grassy Woodland – The Shaw family’s legacy

In 2006 local farmer Merv Shaw said, “You keep telling me how special this property is, so I’ll give it to you and you can turn it into a park for the public—as long as it stays open kangaroo grassland with the large old trees that are there.”

True to his word, the 38ha site in Gobur near Alexandra, was donated to Trust for Nature in 2010 and named the Burge Family Reserve (Merv being a relative of the Burge family). On-ground works have transformed the site.

The natural values of the property are unique in the Gobur district. The flora includes seven species of eucalypts and more than 40 species of native herbs and grasses.  Threatened animals such as the Bibron’s Toadlet, Striped Legless Lizard and Diamond Firetail live on the property and it is one of few sites in Victoria where the endangered Plump Swamp Wallaby-grass occurs. There are extensive areas of grassy groundcover dominated by Kangaroo Grass.

The newly formed Burge Family Reserve Committee of Management, a group of committed local volunteers and neighbours, works with the Trust to guide future management. Representatives from the Taungurung Clans, the Australian National University, Landcare and Country Fire Authority have all also assisted with advice or knowledge about the Reserve’s management.  

Tragically, Merv was killed in a vehicle accident in 2018. One of his wishes was to see a walking track, a nature trail and seats built in the Reserve which the Committee is working on so others can enjoy the Kangaroo Grassland Merv valued so much.  

Trust for Nature reserves have been acquired over the years in different ways, some were purchased with help from governments, philanthropic organisations and community funds, others were donated to the Trust. Now any gifts of land are encouraged to be  accompanied by endowment funds to manage the land or are sold with covenants and proceeds invested in conservation.

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Kangaroo Grass meadows

The Grassy Woodlands at Burge Reserve are part of the nationally endangered Box-Gum Woodland and Derived Grassland Community.  

The best practice guidelines and ecological information provided in the National Recovery Plan for this community recognise the need to prevent the build-up of grass litter from native and exotic grasses to ensure the survival and recruitment of the smaller herbs and lilies which live in the open gaps and bare ground between the grass tussocks.  Recommended options for managing this build-up of grass litter include ecological burning or strategic grazing by stock.  

For more information search for the National Recovery Plan White Box - Yellow Box - Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland on the Department of Environment and Energy website https://environment.gov.au

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