Yookamurra

Yookamurra

Overview

Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary protects over 5,200 hectares in the Murraylands of South Australia, between the Barossa Valley and the Murray River.

Yookamurra is significant because it contains an area of 1,100 hectares, surrounded by a feral-proof fence, that is free of all feral predators and herbivores.  This is the third largest fox and cat-free area on mainland Australia.  (The largest is at AWC’s Scotia Wildlie Sanctuary).

The habitat at Yookamurra is impressive – in particular, it protects some of the best stands of old growth mallee still intact in South Australia, featuring trees that are hundreds of years old.

The feral-free area at Yookamurra provides a refuge for wild populations of several threatened species –including Bilbies, Numbats, Woylies and BoodiesYookamurra is also a stronghold for many species that are disappearing rapidly across Australia including Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat and Malleefowl.

Located only 2 hours from Adelaide, Yookamurra is uniquely positioned to involve the public in conservation through its school education, research and volunteer programs. Yookamurra offers activities and overnight camps for schools and universities which focus on teaching students about conservation and AWC’s scientific approach to protecting Australia’s wildlife.

Key vitals

Size/area:
5,026 hectares
Mammals:
28
Bioregion:
Murray Darling Depression
Birds:
117
Ecosystems:
9
Reptiles:
64
Plants:
159<
Amphibians:
4
Threatened plants:
2<
Threatened wildlife:
20

Wildlife

Within its 1,100 hectare feral-free area, Yookamurra protects vitally important wild populations of 4 threatened mammals:  the Bilby, Numbat, Boodie (Burrowing Bettong) and Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong).  To highlight the significance of the Yookamurra populations, the Boodie is extinct on mainland Australia except in large fenced areas while the overall Australian population of Numbats, Woylies and Bilbies has declined significantly over the last 10 – 15 years.  All four species are secure at Yookamurra.

Yookamurra is also home to a healthy population of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats, as well as small mammals such as the Western Pygmy Possum and the Fat-tailed Dunnart. 

There are almost 100 bird species on Yookamurra including the Malleefowl plus rare or declining woodland birds such as the Hooded Robin, Gilbert’s Whistler, Brown Treecreeper and Elegant Parrot.  The Bush Stone Curlew has recently been reintroduced to Yookamurra.   

Click below to view the list of wildlife species at Yookamurra:
Mammals List  |  Birds List  |  Reptiles List  |  Amphibians List  |  Threatened List

Measures of success: Ecological Health

Western Pygmy Possum
Western Pygmy Possum

AWC is the only conservation organisation to measure in a robust scientific manner the ecological health of a network of sanctuaries.  At Yookamurra, we undertake more than 1,300 trap nights, over 100 spotlight surveys and over 600 camera trap nights each year to measure ecological health indicators including:

  • The diversity and abundance of key faunal groups such as small mammalsand ground-dwelling reptiles.
  • The abundance of threatened mammals.
  • The significance of threats such as fire, feral animals and weeds.

Our performance against these indicators provides rigorous scientific data which enables us to track the ecological health of Yookamurra.

Field programs

The Field Programs at Yookamurra are focused on:

  • Maintaining the third largest feral-free area on mainland Australia.
  • Protecting four of Australia’s most endangered mammals:  the Numbat, the Bilby, the Boodie and the Woylie.
  • Delivering fire management and weed control across the property including important habitat for the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.
  • Implementing a unique science and conservation education program for schools and universities averaging around 500 visitors a year.

General description

Hooded Robin
Hooded Robin

Yookamurra is situated with the Murraylands region of South Australia, between the eastern slopes of the Mt. Lofty Ranges and the Murray River. The property has gently undulating country with a minimum elevation of 80 m and a maximum elevation of just over 90 m.

Soils are thin (0 - 50 cm) and overlie a layer of calcrete, which varies in thickness from 30 cm to 6 - 7 m.  The calcrete itself overlies a rubbly limestone.  Soils vary from a reddish brown, sandy loam to fine rubbly limestone and deep residual claypans with soils up to 3.5 m in depth.

Yookamurra falls within the southernmost extension of the semi-arid zone of South Australia.  Average rainfall at the Sanctuary is 270 mm, the majority of which occurs between May and August.   The temperature varies greatly with very hot summers (47°C is the maximum recorded) and cold winters (-6°C is the minimum recorded). 

Ecosystems and plants

Three major habitat types dominate Yookamurra: Eucalyptus shrubland (mallee); Sugarwood shrubland; and open chenopod shrubland. There are also some stands of native pine (Callitris) on the property.

The most important feature of the habitat on Yookamurra is the large area of very old growth mallee, with many trees dated over 600 years old.  These majestic old trees are a stunning reminder of the age of the landscape.  Their presence is a reminder of what the bush was like several hundred years ago, before the extensive loss of habitat across southern Australia and the arrival of feral animals.  There is also a large proportion of long unburnt habitat which is ideal for species such as the Malleefowl and Numbat.

AWC has reintroduced two threatened plants - the Desert Phebalium (Phebalium glandulosum) and Peep-Hill Hop Bush (Dodonea subglandulifera).

Staff at Yookamurra

Visitor program

Yookamurra Sanctuary offers a unique and exciting location for school camps, providing education and activities on threatened species and scientific methods of conservation. The program can accommodate schools and universities and is delivered by experienced scientists so you learn from people who are actually doing the conservation work.

Facilities include cabin style twin share rooms for groups of up to 40, shower and toilet block, Education Centre with industrial kitchen, BBQ and inside and outside dining options. Self-catering is recommended however catering options are available.

Overnight camps are conducted within the feral-proof fence amongst rare old growth mallee habitat and provide the unique opportunity to see wild populations of Bilbies, Bettongs and Numbats.

As a non-profit entity, all proceeds from the school education program are dedicated to conservation of wildlife.

To find out more about the Yookamurra Education Program here.