Field Gnats Trip to Mount Rothwell – April 2022

Last weekend (2-3 April) was the first trip to Mount Rothwell Conservation Reserve by the Woodleigh School Field Gnats for 2022.

Mount Rothwell is a 400-hectare property located near the You Yangs. Surrounded by an electrified fence that keeps out foxes and cats, it aims to provide a sanctuary for endangered species such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Eastern Quoll, and Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby. Woodleigh School's Field Gnats have been long time associates of Mount Rothwell.

We departed Woodleigh School at 8:30am on Saturday with everyone excited about returning to Rothwell. For some, this was their first time visiting; for others, it was the first time back in a year. Joining Dr. Simpson were Ms Taylor, Mr Hennessy and some ex-field gnats, Alex, Callum and Liam. At close to 10:30am, we approached the great green gates of the reserve, and once we had parked and established ourselves at the volunteer building, the Rothwell staff came and allocated some tasks for us to complete throughout the weekend. We set to work at once, cleaning out the pens that are part of the captive breeding program for the endangered Bush-Stone Curlew. Some lucky students also took the two Dingoes out for some exercise, taking them on short walks.

After some lunch, we took a short drive out to the perimeter fence. Mount Rothwell is in the process of upgrading their predator-proof fence. Our job was to pin down the skirt; this prevents animals like foxes from digging in. We returned to the visitor's centre where we prepared dinner and set up camp. Soon after, we had a roaring campfire, board games and some good camp food. We all finished the night off with a long night walk up onto the granite rises overlooking the plains to Melbourne. We all had a blast pointing our torches and seeing various endangered species going about their business. Soon hot milo and cake were in order before exhaustion took over, and we all turned in for the night.

Sunday was another productive day. We returned to our work on the perimeter fence, going further than we thought we ever could. We all put in a lot of effort, and when we finished, we had laid down 1.3km of skirt along the new fence. We returned to the centre; while lunch preparations were underway, some of us went for a small hike up the granite rises, where we spotted Black Kites, and Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies perched high on their boulders. After lunch, we packed up and boarded the bus returning to Woodleigh. This was a highly productive weekend, and every one of us feels very proud of the work we have achieved over the two days at Mount Rothwell.

Land and Animal Management Assistant