Toowoomba escarpment looking down on Redwood Park

Toowoomba Escarpment Parks

Project: Toowoomba Escarpment Parks Project

Subject: research, conservation

Location: Toowoomba, southern Queensland

Traditional lands of the Giabal people.

Since 2020 A Rocha Australia has partnered with the Friends of the Escarpment Parks (FEP), supporting efforts to control weeds and monitor wildlife at three bushland parks managed by Toowoomba Regional Council, as shown on the map on the right. 

Toowoomba parks Google map
Toowoomba escarpment looking down on Redwood Park

Nielsen Park is a five-hectare remnant of Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis-dominated open forest mapped as an endangered regional ecosystem.

Key outcomes so far:

    • – Controlling invasive plants including Lantana and Asparagus Fern, allowing indigenous understorey species to establish
    • – Standardised bird surveys (BirdLife Australia 2.0 ha 20 min method), monthly for two years followed by more intensive quarterly surveys 
    • – Remote camera monitoring

Results show an over-abundance of aggressive bird species, typical of the urban location, and few small bush birds – in part also due to the park’s isolation and poor connectivity to other forest areas. Painted Buttonquail Turnix varius were discovered in the park and other small birds have returned, including two breeding pairs of Eastern Whipbirds Psophodes olivaceus, bowerbirds and visiting owls and frogmouths.

Bushland in Nielsen Park, Toowoomba
A pair of Tawny Frogmouths Podargus strigoides, a Bowerbird bower with blue plastic objects, a recently used Eastern Whipbird Psophodes olivaceus nest in a tall native shrub
A pair of Tawny Frogmouths Podargus strigoides, a Bowerbird bower with blue plastic objects, a recently used Eastern Whipbird Psophodes olivaceus nest in a tall native shrub

Redwood Park is a much larger council reserve on Toowoomba’s eastern escarpment. Cat’s Claw Creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati is one of several invasive plants that have smothered trees and shrubs in semi-evergreen vine thicket (‘softwood scrub’ or ‘dry rainforest’), an endangered ecosystem. It is home to several threatened species at risk of habitat loss, including Black-breasted Buttonquail and Powerful Owl Ninox strenua as well as fruit bats and orchids.


Key outcomes so far:

  • Slow and labour-intensive removal of Cat’s Claw Creeper, freeing native vegetation
  • Remote camera monitoring in treated areas

Results show confirmed breeding by the Buttonquail and presence of wallabies, possums, Monitor Lizards and a suite of various birds.

Australian Brush-turkey Alectura lathami, Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolor, Black Wallaby Wallabia bicolor

These videos show Black-breasted Buttonquail using a pivot-and-turn feeding method that leaves plate-shaped scrapes in the leaf litter on the scrub floor.

Duggan Park contains near-continuous woodland and forest on the city’s eastern edge. Toowoomba Regional Council has invested substantially in making this popular park accessible to people with disabilities. A Rocha Australia started working in this park more recently.

Key outcomes so far:

  • Controlling invasive plants including Lantana and Asparagus Fern, allowing indigenous understorey species to establish
  • Standardised bird surveys (BirdLife Australia 2 ha, 20 min method) monthly
  • Remote camera monitoring

Results show a diversity of bird species (57) due to better woodland connectivity. After a series of high rainfall years, breeding Painted Buttonquail were seen; other ground-feeding species included Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia melanoleuca and Brown-capped Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris

Duggan Park bird survey report – 2021 and 2022

A Rocha Australia hopes that involvement in these community projects will encourage greater engagement of Toowoomba churches in creation care.

Project in partnership with:
Friends of Escarpment Parks logo
A panoramic photo of the wetlands at Hart Road

Hart Road Wetlands

Project: Hart Road Wetlands

Subject: research, conservation, education

Location: Hart Road Wetlands, Aldinga, SA

Traditional lands of the Kaurna people 

The Hart Road Wetlands project south of Adelaide in South Australia began in 2020 in a reserve owned and managed by the City of Onkaparinga council.

A panoramic photo of the wetlands at Hart Road

Situated on a coastal plain behind Aldinga Beach, this system of artificial wetlands treats urban stormwater but was also designed to provide habitat for wildlife. Public walking paths traverse the reserve and Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park is adjacent.

Activities have involved local residents and others connected with A Rocha Australia in South Australia. 

Key outcomes so far:

  • weed and rubbish removal
  • revegetation with indigenous plant species
  • standardised seasonal bird surveys (BirdLife Australia 2.0 ha 20 min method)
  • outdoor education lessons with local Christian college classes 
  • support of local community events, including traditional reed weaving 

Results show 79 bird species recorded over three years of surveys and an emerging picture of bird usage of different habitats across the wetlands. Species of ornithological interest include Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Lewin’s Rail Lewinia pectoralis, Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla, Spotless Crake Zapornia tabuensis, and Crescent Honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus.

Hart Rd Wetlands_Three years of bird surveys report_2022

Comparison of bald wetlands following construction, 2008 with thick reed establishment, 2020

Following construction: 2008

Thick habitat establishment: 2020

Education events, different wetland habitats and rubbish removal event
Musk duck Biziura lobata, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio with chicks, White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae, Eurasian Coot Fulica atra with chicks
Traditional basket weaving with wetland reeds, Clean up Australia day event, local kindergarten visit

Further habitat restoration activities and more visitor facilities, such as bird hides and signage, are hoped for in the future.

Project in partnership with:

City of Onkaparinga Council logo
Aerial Picture, Tahlee

Tahlee Project

Project: Tahlee Centre for Creation Care

Subject: research, conservation, education
Location: Tahlee, Port Stephens NSW

Traditional lands of the Gringai people

A Rocha Australia’s first formal project ran from 2016 to 2019 in collaboration with Tahlee Ministries at the Tahlee property on the north shore of Port Stephens, NSW.

This followed the formative A Rocha Australia gathering at Tahlee in Spring 2015.

Photo of attendees at the formative A Rocha Australia gathering at Tahlee in Spring 2015, overlooking the shoreline.
Photo of a talk at the formative A Rocha Australia gathering at Tahlee in Spring 2015.

Key outcomes

  • baseline inventory of flora and fauna across the Tahlee property ecosystems, with 167 bird species identified during the surveys, including 14 threatened species
  • publication of Stuart Fleming’s paper in a regional ornithological journal
  • discovery of resident Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus by a research student
  • control of target pest plants, including African olive Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata, with local Council assistance 
  • maintaining an organic garden to supply the community kitchen
  • creation care teaching for visitors and resident students

A highlight was an April 2018 conference for the Oceania region with the Lausanne-WEA Creation Care team, co-hosted by A Rocha Australia and Tahlee. Attending were delegates from Pacific Island countries, other overseas guests and Indigenous Australians.

The project finished in 2019 when Tahlee Ministries partnered with YWAM and the property became a YWAM base.

Project Partner: 

Tahlee Minstries logo
Sweeping view of revegetated farmland from a short rise with Mallee eucalypts and red soil.

Dusky Woodswallow Reserve Project

Project: Dusky Woodswallow Reserve

Subject: research

Location: Riverina, NSW

Traditional lands of the Wirajuri people

Cassinia Environmental is establishing a new conservation reserve near West Wyalong and has asked A Rocha to assist with collecting baseline data.

Sweeping view of revegetated farmland from a short rise with Mallee eucalypts and red soil.

The 1,700 ha property includes areas of remnant woodland and 848 ha of former grazing and cropping land revegetated by direct seeding in 2013. Adjacent to Buddigower Nature Reserve, the area is renowned as a hotspot for bird species.

Key outcomes so far:

  • survey sites established within each identified remnant Plant Community Type (PCT) or vegetation class, as well as revegetated areas.
  • Systematic bird surveys using the 2 ha / 20 min search method in each survey site
  • Permanent photo-monitoring sites being established in each survey site
Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii, 3 people installing a remote monitoring camera, a Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis
Photos of Mallee and open shrubland, Pink Cockatoo, 3 people collecting vegetation information in the field

A Rocha Australia is considering how it will support research and conservation work here into the future.

Back to the Cassinia Environmental page 

Mt Sandy view_cropped

Mount Sandy Project

Project: Mount Sandy

Subject: research, conservation

Location: Meningie, SA

Traditional lands of the Ngarrindjeri people

Cassinia Environmental has a partnership site near Coorong Lakes. The overall goal here is to improve the extent and condition of Coastal Mallee and Swamp Paperbark vegetation. This is a model for sustainable landscape protection and restoration through community partnerships, here with the Ngarrindjeri people. This video profiles the Cassinia and Mount Sandy partnership. 

View looking out low shrub, wetlands and distant cleared farmland

In 2022 A Rocha Australia started to help at this site in South Australia with revegetating cleared farmland. Locally indigenous plants are being propagated in the Raukkan nursery. Over the last two years, thousands of tubestock have been planted.

In September 2023 Wilderlands Australia ecologists led a spring walk in the conservation area, revealing an amazing array of flowers. The Orchid Society of South Australia has been invited to help identify the diverse range of orchids and catalogue the number of rare Metallic Sun-Orchids.

Low woodland and shrubland; meeting around a campfire with a guitar
A group of tree planters and trays of tubestock
A boy planting a tree, trays of tubestock and a view over the field being planted with hundreds of tree guards visible
A pink flowering form of Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp., Pyrorchis nigricans (Fire Orchid or Red beaks), Xanthorrhoea caespitosa (Sand-heath Grass-tree), Thelymitra epipactoides (Metallic Sun-Orchid), Thelymitra rubra (Salmon Sun-Orchid)

A Rocha Australia looks forward to helping at this site regularly.

Back to the Cassinia Environmental page.

Capernwray students planted trees in October 2016

Capernwray Project

Project: Collaboration on the Capernwray Environmental Plan

Subject: research, conservation, education

Location: Capernwray, Burradoo, Southern Highlands NSW

A Rocha Australia has been partnering with Capernwray Torchbearers Australia since 2017 at their Wongabri property on the bank of the Wingecarribee River.

Key outcomes so far:

  • providing technical advice for on-ground environmental restoration activities
  • facilitating public seminars
  • delivering regular bible teaching on creation care to Capernwray Bible School students 
  • developing relationships with local government and community environmental groups
Capernwray students planted trees in October 2016
Sunrise bird watching at Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve during a conference in 2015

Capernwray’s property is situated in a high rainfall, fertile region heavily cleared for agriculture. The property adjoins the Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve wetland, at which over 90 species of birds have been recorded.

The corner planting site near the river before planting
October 2016
The corner planting site near the river showing good establishment and growth three years after planting
April 2019

On-ground works have focused on conserving an endangered eucalypt species, Paddy’s River Box Eucalyptus macarthurii, and restoring woodland habitat. The pre-European vegetation at the Capernwray property was the Southern Highlands Shale Forest and Woodland, now listed as a threatened ecological community at both State and National levels. Tree planting commenced in October 2016.

Remnant Eucalyptus macarthurii on the Capernwray property

Capernwray operates a Bible School and Holiday Centre on the property. Several events have been hosted here in conjunction with A Rocha Australia including: 

  • conferences on ’Caring for the Garden in a Fallen World: A Christian Perspective on Nature Conservation’ and lectures for students and the general public
  • a seminar on threatened species in the Southern Highlands, co-hosted with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • a national conference in October 2016 with A Rocha co-founders Peter and Miranda Harris as guest speakers
Project in Partnership With:
Capernwray Australia logo