WIRRAMINNA is a wonderful volunteer run and community based project which fosters an understanding of native plants and animals within our local woodland environments. It occupies four hectares of formerly unused ground around the old government dam, between the school and the recreation ground in Burrumbuttock, 30 km north of Albury, in southern NSW. From its beginning in 1995, it has developed into an environmental education centre that provides opportunities for discovery and learning about the natural environment, the ecology of the local woodlands and the beauty of native plants for our gardens.
Up to 1000 primary school children visit Wirraminna annually, from schools throughout the region. It also provides a popular outing for clubs and organisations in the district, and many locals and visitors to the region call in to explore the gardens and learn about our local environment. There are picnic facilities, an electric BBQ, composting toilet, visitor centre and self-guided walks. Interpretative signs help visitors understand aspects of woodland ecology, linked by walking tracks.
Wirraminna has been created and is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers, and has been supported by a wide range of funding sources, including local government, local businesses, LLS, Natural Heritage Trust, private charities and Landcare Australia. We have very strong links with Burrumbuttock Public School, and have been State and National winners of the Landcare Education Award. The achievements at Wirraminna have inspired many other local schools to make better use of their grounds for environmental education.
In 2005 Wirraminna received financial support from the Australian Government’s Regional Partnerships program, which with matching local support enabled the construction of a rammed earth building, which has greatly increased our capacity to provide educational resources and displays. This Discovery Centre is used for school and community activities and provides display, teaching and storage resources for regional schools and the Wirraminna volunteers. The Centre can be hired for workshops and meetings and has audio visual equipment. A newly installed aquarium display of native fish has provided an exciting new window on the aquatic environment of the Murray-Darling Basin. The Discovery Centre also is home to a taxidermy collection, interpretative displays and an enclosure of eight critically endangered Southern Corroboree frogs. Wirraminna EEC is one of only three locations in Australia (other than zoos) where these tiny, yellow and black frogs can be viewed in captivity.
One of the features of Wirraminna is the large trees, remnants of the original box-gum woodland vegetation of the district, which are especially important for wildlife. As well as shedding lots of leaf litter and bark, which provides ground cover habitat, these old trees contain hollows for birds, bats, lizards and other small creatures. Hollows can take over 100 years to begin to form. Not only are old trees scarce in our landscape, so are the middle-aged ones that will become the old hollow-bearing trees for future generations. Nest boxes provide homes for wildlife while we regenerate the woodlands. Other homes for wildlife are provided by stumps, logs, twigs and fallen branches—this messy stuff is vital habitat.
One of the most obvious groups of native animals that you can see in Wirraminna are the birds, with over 150 different species spotted in the area. In the summer, dollarbirds are often seen swooping over the main dam, while ducks, herons and other waterbirds feed by the water’s edge. In the wintertime, robins can be seen in the more densely wooded areas—look out for a flash or red. Superb fairy-wrens are now resident at Wirraminna after twenty years of regeneration
Wirraminna is home to lots of other wildlife with many different kinds of lizards that make their homes under logs and in the leaf litter. Yabbies burrow in mud, frogs make foam nests in the dense reed beds. Bats flutter through the woodland at night feasting on flying insects. Keep a lookout for swamp wallabies resting during the heat of the day, and listen out for possums and squirrel gliders at night.
The Centre is continually evolving and improving our story of the beauty and interest of our natural environment and how it can be protected and enhanced.
Wirraminna is open to the public year round. Access to the Discovery Centre by appointment.
For further information please go to our website: www.wirraminna.org