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          Clarkesdale

          Visitor Information

          While the Spring and Summer seasons are the best time to see birds, the Sanctuary has brilliant birding opportunities all year round. Open to visitors throughout the year you are encouraged to make contact before your first visit.

          Campers are welcome, and there are excellent facilities that cater to a number of un-powered sites. Booking is essential for planned overnight stays and group visits. Contact the Sanctuary Manager below.


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          Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary dam

          Clare Miller Environment Centre

          Officially opened in December 2011, the Environment Centre was created to honour Clare Miller’s contribution to Clakesdale Bird Sanctuary since its inception over 40 years ago.

          Clare Miller Environment Centre at Clarkesdale Bird SanctuaryThe need for such a facility was identified in the Clarkesdale Management Plan in 1999. The Centre, funded largely by generous donations,was built to be an education hub at the Sanctuary, as well as raising awareness on the decline of woodland birds.

          Planning is underway to increase the number of schools that visit Clarkesdale. The Sanctuary provides students with hands-on skills such as identifying birds, survey techniques, and invasive weed control. It also gives them the opportunity to see woodland birds in their natural environment and investigate the important relationships within this fragile ecosystem.

          Pioneer Conservationist

          Gordon Clarke always admired the views and the birdsong when droving sheep between his family properties at Piggoreet West and Linton Park. For many years what is now the Bird Paddock at the Sanctuary was used as a holding paddock to and from the shearing shed at Linton Park. The paddock was never intensively grazed but gold mining left many scars.

          In the 1950s, Gordon became aware of a decline in woodland birds in his local patch. He purchased the 31 ha Bird Paddock in 1957, although it was infested with weeds. Realising that removal of the invasive weeds would reduce the protection for the woodland birds, he began planting Australian native species that would offer them food and shelter. The ideology of planting indigenous species would not become fashionable for another 20 or 30 years.

          Gordon Clarke amidst native revegetation at Clarkesdale 1977

          In 1980 Gordon purchased Grantiella, a 13 ha block on the south side of the road opposite the Bird Paddock. This block was first farmed in 1910 and at one stage was an orchard with plums, pears, apples, almonds and cherries. An uninhabitable cottage on the site was used for many years as a meeting place for devoted birdwatchers and volunteers. It now entertains feathered residents such as, Bassian Thrush, White-browed Scrub Wren, Bronze-winged Pigeon, Crimson Rosella and Brown Goshawk.

          Candlebark gums at Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary

          Themeda grasslands around Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary

          History

          Gordon Clarke donated the Bird Paddock and Grantiella blocks to BOCA in 1975 and 1980 respectively and Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary was born. Named after Gordon's great grandfather who settled a parish in the area called Clarkesdale.

          During the 1980s, Gordon purchased several other adjacent hobby farm blocks to add to the Sanctuary. He donated these extra parcels of land to Trust for Nature to covenant and set about creating more bird habitat with a wide range of Australian plants.

          Gordon Clarke died in 1996 at the age of 89 years. He derived much enjoyment and satisfaction from his project and secured its future by the endowment of the Gordon Clarke Trust Fund. His example has been an inspiration to many and he always insisted that the needs of the birds must come first.

          Partnerships

          Active participation in many forms has been a conspicuous feature of the evolution of Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary since its inception.

          Contact Clarkesdale

          Emily Noble, Coordinator Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary

          360 Linton-Piggoreet Road, Happy Valley VIC 3360
          T 03 5344 7688
          E emily.noble@www.bianchun.tw

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