Bushblitz 2017 (1)

Great Victoria Desert dunes from the air, covered in rings of spinifex grass. Photo: P.J. Lang.

From 16 Sep. – 1 Oct. 2017, three botanists from the State Herbarium of South Australia, Peter Canty, Peter Lang and Juergen Kellermann, and a colleague from the Western Australian Herbarium, Ryonen Butcher, took part in the Bushblitz expedition to the Great Victoria Desert.

They returned with about 600 plant collections from the region for the State Herbarium. A duplicate set of specimens will be lodged with the WA Herbarium. The collections have been dried and are currently being examined and identified. Work in this environment was greatly facilitated by the use of a helicopter to access remote locations.

The Great Victoria Desert bioregion (GVD) is shared between South Australia and Western Australia. It is one of the least explored areas of both states. Two previous reports by the Biological Survey of South Australia cover the area, i.e. the reports for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands (34.3mb PDF) and the Maralinga Tjuratja Lands (20.4mb PDF). However many other areas in the regions remain unexplored. Detailled reports on two GVD areas in WA have been prepared: Queen Victoria Springs Nature Reserve (MSc thesis) and the Peterswald Hill area (12.7mb PDF). The Bushblitz study area covered the Maralinga Tjaruta Lands and Mamungari Conservation Park, including the Serpentine Lakes.

The expedition could not have been undertaken with the help and support of the traditional owners of the area, the Maralinga Tjarutja Council, senior people from Oak Valley and Tjuntjunjara, as well as the Spinifex Rangers and the Alinytjara Wilurara NRM. This is greatly acknowleged.

Bush Blitz is an innovative partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia. It is the world’s first continent-scale biodiversity survey, providing the knowledge needed to help us protect Australia’s unique animals and plants for generations to come.