Wildlife Land Trust / Sanctuaries / SA / Michelle and Darren’s Refuge

Michelle Cox and Darren Pegram are the owners of a property located approximately 45km southeast of Adelaide, South Australia. The property is a dedicated wildlife sanctuary, and it is Michelle and Darren’s intention to continue to maintain and conserve the native vegetation and encourage and support the growing populations of local wildlife. The property is additionally subject to an in-perpetuity Heritage Agreement (1429) with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

The property covers 7.5 undeveloped hectares, which contains remnant Eucalypt woodland featuring pink gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa), river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), and yellow gums (E. Leucoxylon). Other vegetation species such as basket grass (Lomandra longifolia), kangaroo thorn (Acacia paradoxa), rock wattle (Acacia rupicola), scarlett runner (Kennedia prostrata), Cheilanthes, and white-fan flower (Scaevola albida) exist on the property.

Wildlife species known to inhabit the property include western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus), brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), western pygmy possums (Cercartetus concinnus), tawny dragons (Ctenophorus decresii) eastern striped skinks (Ctenotus robustus) and Murray Darling carpet pythons (Morelia spilota metcalfei).

This sanctuary is featured in Wildlife Lands 16!

Returning to South Australia after six years interstate, we were looking to find somewhere in the Adelaide Hills that was commutable to work in Adelaide but still offered privacy, peace and quiet – and most importantly – bushland. Our ten hectares in the Highland Valley ticked all the boxes. It has three hectares of fenced paddocks, with the remainder native bushland under a Heritage Agreement for ongoing protection. And, with several like-minded property owners on the road, it is part of a significant wildlife corridor. 

The bushland has some beautiful old red gums and an array of other eucalypts and many sheoaks. There is a grove of Xanthorrhoea alongside a track that leads through the property as well as an impressive old wedge-tailed eagle nest in one of the dead trees. Rock faces and high vantage points provide stunning views across the valleys to the Bugle Ranges where you can take in extraordinarily colourful sunsets. This is a perfect habitat for an array of wildlife and we often see wallaroos and eastern grey kangaroos traversing the property, while in summer families of shingleback lizards are  constant companions around the house and gardens.

The red gums at the front of the house are home to a female brushtail possum who likes to show off her young, as well as rosellas, galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos, musk lorikeets and other parrots. The native gardens around the house attract eastern spinebills, blue wrens and New Holland honeyeaters, just to name a few. An old studio in the centre of the block is occupied by a 7-foot Murray Darling carpet python, likely a survivor of many that were bred and released by a fellow local wildlife enthusiast. Eastern brown and red-bellied black snakes and several varieties of dragons and skinks also reside here. Rodwell Creek runs along the bottom boundary and has a population of endangered river black fish.