Jeff Keyes is the owner of Sportsman Creek Wildlife Refuge, a property located in Dilkoon, approximately 25km North of Grafton, New South Wales. The sanctuary is a recognised Wildlife Refuge which is currently used as a wildlife sanctuary and for wildlife rehabilitation, education and recreation, as well as for a small sustainable rustic furniture business, which provides Jeff with a small income and educational experience.
It is Jeff’s intent to continue the protection of this recovering area and to obtain a legally binding Voluntary Conservation Agreement with the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, which is in the final stages of approval.
The sanctuary covers 50.22 hectares primarily made up of open eucalypt woodland, with a riparian zone of dry rainforest. Vegetation species of particular note include spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), swamp turpentine (Lophostemon suaveolens), narrow-leaved angophora (Angophora bakeri), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and red ash (Alphitonia excelsa), with banksias and wattles (Acacia spp.) dominating the understory. Extensive flora and fauna surveys have indentified over 550 combined species to date, with 12 of these being listed as Threatened.
Wildlife known to inhabit the property includes emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae), lace monitors (Varanus varius), squirrel gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) and glasswing butterflies (Greta oto).
This sanctuary is featured in Wildlife Lands 15!
Our 50 hectare Clarence Valley property is named Urimbirra, a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘to take care of or preserve.’ What started out as a personal journey to allow the forest to restore itself has evolved into an information resource attracting internet visitors from around the globe. We launched the website for our registered not for profit business in 2010, and have attracted over 105,000 people worldwide seeking information about local flora and fauna.
Until 2006 the property was visited intermittently, with a basic cabin constructed and boundary fencing done before the entire property was gazetted as a Wildlife Refuge. We had some flora and fauna studies carried out, and after it was assessed as being of “High Conservation Value” the 30 hectares bordering the creek officially became the “Sportsman Creek Conservation Area” in 2012. This area includes a four hectare unlogged sand island in the riparian zone bordering Sportsman Creek, a main feeder for the Everlasting Swamp to the east and an important breeding ground for black swans, egrets, teals and ducks.
The Wildlife Refuge consists of recovering open eucalypt woodland dominated by large-leaved spotted gum, red ironbark and swamp box, home to breeding populations of rufous bettongs, long-nosed bandicoots, yellow-footed antechinus, squirrel gliders and brush-tailed phascogales. The flora in the Conservation Area includes narrow-leaved angophora, flooded gum and red bloodwood, providing habitat for barking owls, carpet pythons, yellow-bellied gliders, and green-thighed frogs. Several billabongs contain Macquarie turtles, water rats, and great barred, northern banjo, and Freycinet’s rocket frogs. To date surveys have listed 16 threatened species among the 650 identified, with this count including an amazing array of 70 species of moth and butterfly.
We believe that education, both on-site and online, is vital to increase the knowledge, awareness and importance of conservation initiatives such as the Wildlife Land Trust. One of our aims is to have privately owned Wildlife Refuges and Conservation Areas receive the same status as prime farmland has under the current legislative framework. Why shouldn’t our “conservation farming” practices be looked upon in the same light as conventional farming? We do guided walks between April and September. For more information, visit www.sportsmancreek.org