Meaning “Wombat” in the Ngarigo LANGUAGE
And the 1860-acre Baŋadan reserve in the NSW southern tablelands has such a large colony of healthy wombats that they’ve created a unique “wombat halo”: a circular area of some 70 hectares that has been grazed/denuded of all trees and bushes, leaving only native grasses and earth mounds in-situ.
- The common wombat is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal.
- They’re such accomplished burrowers early settlers called them ‘badgers’. (Hence, localities such as Badger Creek in Victoria and Badger Corner in Tasmania were named after the wombat.)
- Its closest relative is the koala, which also reside on our reserve.
- The wombat’s short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and ‘cuddly’ appearance make it one of Australia’s most endearing native animals.
- A distinctive adaptation is their backward-facing pouch, which ensures that female wombats do not push soil into the pouch and over its young when digging.
Despite its name, the common wombat is sadly no longer common. It inhabits the mountainous coastal country of south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and Flinders Island in Bass Strait. Wombats used to occupy the other islands of Bass Strait, however, through hunting, it has become extinct there. It has been a protected animal in New South Wales since 1970.
The reserve’s birdlife is also something special. Turquoise parrots, Powerful owls, Superb lyrebirds, robins, and kookaburras can regularly be seen and heard.
As well as animal and bird life, Baŋadan is also home to a remnant of Australia’s last ice age, the Silver-leaved mountain gum. While now propagated successfully in nurseries, less than a dozen native sites of this little mallee tree are thought to exist in Australia.
The reserve also protects natural temperate grasslands, which are critically endangered, as well as dry sclerophyll woodlands and riparian forest. Scattered across patches of this habitat is evidence of koala bark chewing. Yep, in addition to eucalypts, our koalas feed on the bark of the brittle gum – a unique aspect of their feeding ecology that has not been observed outside of the highlands. Such trees have chewing incisions on their trunks, often at koala head height when the animal is standing on the ground.
Other indications of the uniqueness of this koala population are:
- The rugged and generally infertile country and high altitudes which they inhabit; and
- Two unique genotypes have been identified from genetic analysis of samples gathered during the survey.
Since the 2019-20 fires, numerous animals have flocked to Baŋadan for sanctuary, food and water. Unfortunately, several foxes, deer and goats have also turned up, so our priority now is to consider whether we need to commence a feral animal eradication program or let the property ‘rewild’ with these new inhabitants. There’s also some new weeds following the recent rains that need dealing with.