Hahndorf, South Australia
By Angela Cullen
This article is part of a series kindly provided to us by Trees for Life.
Yantaringa has gone through a lot of changes in recent history, but now thanks to the care and support of dedicated Bush For Life volunteers, it is making a wonderful resurgence.
Yantaringa Reserve comprises 8.4 hectares of mixed Eucalyptus obliqua (messmate stringybark)/ E. leucoxylon (blue gum) open forest on the lower slopes, and mixed E. obliqua/ E. baxteri (brown stringybark/ E. fasciculosa (pink gum) on the higher slopes.
The vegetation associations reflect the topography, aspect and soil types, and their quality reflects the varied land-use history. Some areas have been severely modified, while others have remnant vegetation in good condition with diverse understorey and several species of regional conservation significance present. The indigenous vegetation here belongs to the Hahndorf Vegetation Association, of which less than 1% remains.
Following the early settlement of Hahndorf, the name Yantaringa was given to the entire property of Mr Hunt (the landlord of the German Arms Hotel). Yantaringa is believed to be an aboriginal word meaning lookout, describing the summit of a steep hill which has panoramic views extending eastwards over the town of Hahndorf, SE towards Mt Barker and NW to Mt Lofty. After retiring, Hunt lived at Yantaringa where he established a vineyard.
The top of the hill was originally a stone reserve, with the NE and central areas quarried until the 1930s. The old quarry sites were subsequently filled with excavated materials from the construction of the SE freeway in 1974-75. In 1950 Hahndorf Primary School students planted Pinus radiata in the SW section to celebrate Arbour Day, and the central section was used as a rubbish dump until 1964.
Sadly, the entire reserve was burnt in Ash Wednesday in 1983. However, the prolific regeneration of indigenous plants following the fire prompted the Hahndorf Lions Club to initiate several activities, including the removal of pine seedlings, and the establishment of a carpark and lookout. The lookout then became known locally as Blueberry Hill.
Also following Ash Wednesday community concern about bushfire risk resulted in two large areas being cleared and slashed annually.
On a downside, the fire also caused the profuse germination of Montpellier and English broom. Pine waste from the bushfires was piled in the centre of the reserve and this area also became heavily infested with weeds.
When the District Council of Mount Barker took over care of the reserve in 1984, it was used by the council as a depot for stockpiling roadwork materials and waste. This resulted in unsightly piles of debris and further weed invasion.
Fortunately in 1995, the Mount Barker District Environmental Association identified Yantaringa as an area of significant remnant vegetation and initiated a conservation program to protect the reserve. It subsequently became a Bush For Life site in 1996.
Work began to protect the best areas of native vegetation. Broom, blackberry and watsonia were cleared, creating weed-fronts into the more degraded areas.
With minimal disturbance bushcare techniques implemented, these areas of bushland freely recovered. Other more degraded areas are improving over time through the use of spot-regeneration.
In 2006 BFL staff requested that the areas slashed by council contractors be managed for biodiversity rather than bushfire risk. With council agreement TFL bushcare contractors took over the slashing regime, and followed up by strategic spot-spraying surrounding regenerating natives several times annually to reduce the weedy grasses.
The resulting regeneration has been far more rapid and abundant that we ever could have hoped for. The areas that require slashing and spraying are reduced each year as regeneration flourishes, closing the gap between areas of more mature remnants.
The regular volunteer commitment over many years, in conjunction with the assistance of contracted Trees For Life staff has resulted in a reserve that we have hope will continue to improve in health and diversity, ensuring the long term conservation of Yantaringa Reserve.