Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Betting on the bettongReclaiming Nature

Newhaven is one of the world’s largest privately-owned wildlife sanctuaries and the site of the last confirmed sighting of the elusive night parrot.

Story and photos Denis O’Byrne

Ian Hamilton stands on top of the massive crimson sandhill watching a small mob of feral camels as it glides past through the shimmering haze. Known as ‘Big Red’, the dune offers a good view over the large, dried-up saltpan at its foot. “It’s hard to believe right now,” Ian says. “But I’m told that when the lakes around here are full they’re alive with water birds and migratory waders.”

Betting on the bettongNot to be confused with its more famous namesake near Birdsville, this Big Red is located on the eastern fringe of the Great Sandy Desert in the Northern Territory, on the 262,000-hectare Newhaven Sanctuary. Established as a cattle-grazing property in 1958, Newhaven was purchased in December 2000 by Birds Australia, a Melbourne-based nature conservation group. Since then it’s been destocked and is now one of the world’s largest privately-owned wildlife sanctuaries.
It’s early September on Newhaven. The country is gripped by drought, the spinifex looks ready to burn and maximum day temperatures are already in the mid-30s. Ian, the sanctuary manager, has been busy on the grader putting the finishing touches to a firebreak.
An ex-pastoralist from Western Australia’s Murchison District, Ian, 58, doesn’t claim to be an expert on wildlife. However, his background gives him the skills necessary to manage (with the assistance of one volunteer) a large, remote property like Newhaven. Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 36 Aug/Sept 2004

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