Funding support: Private
Number of staff: 2 for the Ramsar wetland management and 9 at the Wine and Wetland Centre
Number of visitors per year: estimated to 100000
Overall aims of the centre
A unique place where the visitor can enjoy the range of award-winning Banrock Station wines while learning about sound management of the River Murray system and the importance of wetlands.
Description of the centre
Banrock Station property covers 1800ha including:
– Floodplain and Wetlands (1000 ha)
– Mallee (300 ha)
– Cleared Mallee (151 ha)
– Vineyard (275 ha)
The wetland restoration project started in 1993 inspired the construction and naming of the Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre which was opened in February 1999, featuring the latest environmental building developments including:
• stabilised rammed earth construction using regional soil, steel framing and timbers from sustainable sources.
• Building layout, orientation, materials and insulation designed to maintain comfort in the building by natural means as much as possible.
• Rainwater collection to supplement water supply
The environmentally focused building features a wetland interpretative display (currently being revamped), wine tasting area, café and conference facilities.
Centre visitors can enjoy the range of award-winning Banrock Station wines while enjoying the view from the extensive deck and learn about sound management of the River Murray system and the importance of wetlands. A telescope and binoculars are provided for those who wish to take a closer look at the flourishing wildlife.
A series of self-guided walks were opened in May 2000 and a boardwalk trail completed in 2002 included information huts, bird hides for observing waterbirds and a boardwalk enabling tourists to walk through the reeds, on the wetland, providing a unique experience.
In 2002, the Banrock Station wetland complex was listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance (www.ramsar.org). The international recognition of this wetland also described Banrock Station as a model or demonstration site for the Ramsar Convention’s fundamental principle of ‘wise use’. It combines private enterprise with wetland conservation and rehabilitation and with raising awareness of the important values and functions of wetlands.
The majority of the land (1600 hectares) is managed for conservation and includes the wetland-floodplain and the mallee zones. The active vineyard covers 216 hectares of which 60 ha are converted to sub-surface irrigation, providing the first large-scale trial of this technology. The vineyard uses a computerised irrigation system regulated by 22 probes (with 5 sensors each) that record moisture conditions every half an hour 24/7, the system provides almost ‘real time’ data and allows the water to be used more effectively minimising stress for the vines. Water is delivered timely through the network of drippers, including more than 200km of subsurface drippers that brings water to the rootzone rather than dripping on to the soil surface as conventional drippers do. In addition, mulch is spread around the vines to reduce evaporation losses, and with the high-tech irrigation system, it is estimated that up to 20% of water can be then saved. For all their efforts, the Banrock Station Vineyard achieved the international environmental management system accreditation, ISO 14001, which implements a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets to improve its overall environmental performance.
The wetlands have now been returned to a healthy functioning wetland ecosystem, through introducing more natural wet and drying cycles and removing introduced European carp. These actions have encouraged the return of native fish and bird species along with native flora. Reintroducing a dry cycle to Banrock Lagoon is also saving precious water. About 1.15 gigalitres of river water, which is the equivalent of 1150 Olympic-sized swimming pools, has been saved from evaporation over a two-year wet/dry cycle.
Blue Mallee (Eucalyptus cyanophylla). Status: considered “poorly conserved” in the region, at the Banrock Station Wetland Complex the area of this species is being expanded through direct seeding.
River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) woodland. The associations of River Red Gum and Mallee (Eucalyptus socialis) are notable as they provide habitat for the vulnerable Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus monarchoides).
Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) vegetation associations are being actively restored in degraded areas of Banrock Station.
River Saltbush (Atriplex rhagodioides) shrubland.
Following the Ramsar listing of Banrock Station, surveys have revealed the presence on the site of two other notable plants species, namely; the Swamp Daisy (Brachycome basaltica var. gracilis) and Tufted Burr-daisy (Calotis scapigera ). Both are considered rare inSouth Australia.
There have been 164 species of birds (including 61 waterbird species), 8 species of amphibians, 10 native species of mammals, and 47 species of reptiles recorded from the site.
Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus monarchoides) – this species is listed as vulnerable nationally and also within South Australia. It favours habitats of Mallee (Eucalyptus socialis) and breeds in hollows found in River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) close to water. Banrock Station Wetland Complex provides this habitat and has a breeding population estimated at 100 birds.
Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis) – this species is listed as vulnerable nationally and withinSouth Australia. While the size of the population atBanrockSwamp is not known at present, regular sightings are made.
The presence of the above two species is significant in terms of the Commonwealth Government’s EPBC Act.
Migratory birds -Australiahas bilateral agreements withJapanandChina– the Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement (JAMBA) and the China-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement (CAMBA). These agreements seek to protect certain migratory waterbirds and some of the species listed under these agreements are found on Banrock Station. The regular presence of these species is significant in terms of the Commonwealth Government’s EPBC Act:
Great Egret (Ardea modesta)
Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia)
Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)
White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) (Vulnerable inSouth Australia)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata)
Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus)
Other noteworthy fauna sighted occasionally at Banrock Station between 1999 and 2003 include:
Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecular) –Rare in South Australia
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) –Rare in South Australia
Australasian Shoveler (Anas rhynchotis) – Rare in South Australia
Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis) – Rare in South Australia
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis) – Rare inSouth Australia
Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) – Rare in South Australia
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) – Rare in South Australia
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) – Rare inSouth Australia
Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) – Vulnerable inSouth Australia
Musk Duck (Biziura lobata) – Rare in South Australia
Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) – Rare in South Australia
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) – Rare inSouth Australia
Lace Monitor (Varanus varius) – Rare inSouth Australia (breeds at Banrock Station)
Main CEPA work areas
We involve local schools in our revegetation projects and provide kids with outdoor activities and classes, we propose visitors with interpretative material on our walking trails and currently involve the indigenous community through art exhibitions.
Top three successes
1) Restoration of wetland habitats through the manipulation of water levels
2) Open-air classrooms for schools: few offers and accessibles in the region
3) Nursery of native plants: expertise in house
Top three challenges
1) Reintroduction attempts of threatned species (bilbies and bettongs): only males have been released as a trial and suffered from feral cat predation
2) Feral species total eradication: a feral proof fence around the property was built and carp eradication through the possibility of managing the water levels (dry out every 2 years) but the pressure from outside is immense and we only can limit impact
3) Re-vegetation projects conditioned by harsh climate and in the past focused on planting trees: we tempt currently to use a more vegetation community approach from groundcover to trees
Developing nature trails
Running a new visitor centre; Managing creating habitats
Working with disabled people; Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people;
Education and communication
Working with primary schools; working with secondary schools
PR and marketing; health and safety