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Pearcedale Conservation Park - Moonlit Sanctuary

Article in 'Solitaire', the journal for Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust's International Trainings Course alumnis, publishes in May 2000:

Michael Johnson and Mark Cairns, participants in the 1996 Summer School, are involved in developing a conservation park near Melbourne, Australia. The park is being developed by Michael's family company, and recently achieved a milestone by receiving planning approval from the local government.

The objective of the park is to work for conservation, and especially the preservation of bio-diversity, by means of:

· Education

· Conservation breeding, and

· Research

The proposal is for the Park to exhibit a range of Australian animals in a naturalistic bush environment. Visitors will walk around a bush area after dark, in small groups with a guide who will give a commentary about the animals. Casual visitors will be able to enjoy the Park during the day, and educational visits by school groups will be catered for.

The first stage of the project is to enclose about half of the area north of the Langwarrin Creek with a vermin proof fence. The two functions of the fence are firstly to prevent foxes, cats and dogs from harming the native animals within the park and secondly preventing the animals from escaping into the unprotected areas and onto the adjacent roads. A number of species of native animals will be kept in enclosures within this fence.

As most of the Australian mammals are nocturnal, the park would be open in the evening and early morning. Guided torchlight tours would be taken around the bushland to show the visitors the animals in their natural state. Animals such as bandicoots, bettongs, pottaroos, pademellons and quolls will be exhibited. The park would be open in the daytime at weekends. Then the emphasis will be on birdlife and the native flora, with a walk through bushland restored as far as possible to its original state.

The property is a triangular block of about 10 hectares, with Langwarrin Creek running through the back portion. Fifty percent is cleared, with the remaining fifty percent being ti-tree scrub. There are a number of mature eucalypts distributed throughout the property. A large number of exotic weeds were found throughout the property, especially blackberries. Extensive weed removal and replanting has occurred over the last 18 months. In excess of 2000 indigenous plants have been planted to date.

Included in the park area is a wetlands area of about half a hectare which is currently being developed. An area outside the park fence will be set aside as a wildlife corridor. The area south of Langwarrin Creek is covered by dense undergrowth, blackwoods, manna gums and other native vegetation surrounded by paperbarks. A small farm dam already contains a variety of wetland plants, and is home to a number of frog species.

The Langwarrin Creek runs through the property, and empties into Western Port Bay. We are co-operating with the Melbourne Water "Healthy Waterways" program to improve the stream-side environment. Additionally the property has been accepted under the Department of Natural Resources and Environment "Land for Wildlife" scheme.

We welcome contact or visits from all member of the Jersey "family".

Michael Johnson

Pearcedale Conservation Park

PO Box 1350

Pearcedale Vic 3912


Phone: 0500 533 111

International: +500 533 111