Deb and Brian Vanallen are the owners of Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages, a property located approximately 80km east of Busselton. The property is a wildlife-friendly sanctuary and a tourist accommodation business located within south west Western Australia’s globally recognised biodiversity hotspot. It is Deb and Brian’s intent for the property to continue to be used for the benefit of the local environment and to allow visitors to reconnect with nature while educating them on the beauty of Australian bush and wildlife.
Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages covers approximately 18.6 hectares of native bushland just outside the township of Balingup. The property rises over 100m from the valley and on the hilltop sits approximately 10 hectares of regrowth forest dominated by marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) trees with typical understorey regrowth. Among the hilltop forest sits six self-contained wooden cottages. The rest of the property is grassland.
Wildlife known to inhabit the sanctuary includes western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus), brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula) and ringtail (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) possums and many native birds. A bird survey on the property identified western gerygones (Gerygone fusca), inland (Acanthiza apicalis) and yellow-rumped (A. chrysorrhoa) thornbills, red wattlebirds (Anthochaera carunculata), brown (Lichmera indistincta) and New Holland (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) honeyeaters, scarlet (Petroica boodang) and white-breasted (Eopsaltria georgiana) robins, varied sittellas (Daphoenositta chrysoptera), rufous whistlers (Pachycephala rufiventris), grey fantails (Rhipidura albiscapa), black-faced cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae), Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen), Australian ravens (Corvus coronoides), tree martins (Petrochelidon nigricans), yellow white-eyes (Zosterops luteus), collared sparrowhawks (Accipiter cirrocephalus), nankeen kestrels (Falco cenchroides), common bronzewings (Phaps chalcoptera), red-tailed black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii), western rosellas (Platycercus icterotis), Australian ringnecks (Barnardius zonarius), laughing kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae), splendid fairy-wrens (Malurus splendens), spotted (Pardalotus punctatus) and striated (P. striatus) pardalotes.