Wildlife Land Trust / Sanctuaries / VIC / Gap Road Botanical Sanctuary

Michael Bankes is the owner of Gap Road Botanical Sanctuary, a property located approximately 20km south west of Euroa. The property is a dedicated wildlife sanctuary used for wildlife rehabilitation. It is Michael’s intent to live on the site within the next 18 months, and to create a model for other landholders to follow. Ultimately, Michael intends the property to be an endemic botanical garden with around 20% being a native botanical garden. Currently in place is a Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s wetlands grant to improve, re-establish and encourage endemic invertebrates, birds, animals and plants.

Gap Road Botanical Sanctuary covers 23 hectares at 450m altitude within the Central Victorian Uplands bioregion. The property contains a network of small interconnected wetlands which transition between rare spring soak woodlands and high quality swampy riparian woodlands (EVC 83). It is a very diverse site featuring north facing granite terraces that drop steeply from the high plateau to the lower granitic foothills. Spring fed streams run through the length of the site ensuring year round growth of soft ferns and maiden hair ferns. The buffer around these wetlands is a mixture of plant communities depending upon the aspect and altitude. They include vulnerable valley grassy forest, herb-rich foothills and rare rocky outcrop escarpments.

More than 135 plant species have been recorded on the property to date, although this list is incomplete. Seasonal wildflowers, orchids, grasses, tree ferns, ground ferns, rushes and sedges populate riparian areas. Dominant tree species include blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus), yellow box (E. melliodora), messmates (E. obliqua), candlebarks (E. rubida), silver wattles (Acacia dealbata), blackwoods (A. melanoxylon) black wattles (A. mearnsii) and tick bush (Kunzea ambigua).

This sanctuary is featured in Wildlife Lands 21!

I purchased Gap Road Botanical in mid-2015, with views to create an endemic botanical garden by regenerating the land for the benefit of people and wildlife alike. Located at an altitude of 450 metres in the Strathbogie Ranges in Central North Victoria, the 23 hectare property is blessed with many rare and significant natural features, flora and fauna. 

With the early assistance from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority I drew up a plan to clear the perennial spring creek, extend the chain of ponds and remove exotic flora at the western end of the block. To our delight this action  uncovered many more powerful features such as an eight foot waterfall. 

Recently this year the eastern wetland works were completed with the co-joining of two man-made dams into one large lake. Fencing off and planting over 1,000 endemic reeds, grasses, shrubs and trees around the lake will keep us busy during spring. This lake is both catchment and spring-fed, and already at capacity. With these new developments, virtually all man-made elements have been removed from the property and we have recorded over 135 native plant species.

The property houses an array of wildlife including koalas, wallabies, echidnas and a wide range of frogs, and native birds like wedge-tailed eagles, herons, gang-gang cockatoos and owls are found throughout the sanctuary. In the near future I will be entering into discussions with the local Taungurung group looking to engage in a smoking ceremony.