News Of Stanley People – Luke Bayley

Perhaps you saw an article recently about Luke’s exciting new job in Western Australia in The Ovens & Murray Advertiser, alongside his photo?

He is now the regional manager for Bush Heritage Australia (Gascoyne/Murchison) in WA and living on the Charles Darwin Nature Reserve, which was formally White Wells sheep station until Bush Heritage Australia (BHA) bought it in 2003. 

BHA is the Fund originally founded by Bob Brown back in 1991, when he donated money from an environmental prize to be the deposit to buy several hundred hectares of old-growth forest in Tasmania to save it from logging.

BHA now owns about one million hectares of land of high conservation value spread throughout Australia, which it cares for and manages along national park lines, with the intention of safeguarding it forever.

The land that is now Charles Darwin Reserve has a long and diverse history.

From Aboriginal occupation to sheep station and now to conservation reserve, it has great significance, with 68,600 hectares of ancient woodlands, wildflower-studded sand plains, natural salt lakes and shrublands.

It is a remnant of ecosystems and vegetation types that once covered thousands of square kilometres of southwest WA.

The purchase of this property was made possible by a gift from Chris Darwin, great-great-grandson of the famous naturalist, together with contributions from many other donors and the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust.

The property was renamed Charles Darwin Reserve to honour the great naturalist and to inspire conservation understanding and respect for the natural world.

Luke’s partner Fiona says that volunteers and lovers of Charles Darwin help with jobs, so any Stanley nomad travelling would be welcome to visit and stay (10-bed accommodation wing with kitchen and lounge area) !

It’s only 350 kilometres (4 hours) northeast of Perth, just off the Great Northern Highway and about the same distance southeast of Geraldton, where their son, Banjo (now 4), was born.

At that time Luke was managing a huge sustainable land program in the Gascoyne/Pilbara for the Department of Agriculture and before that Fiona, Luke and daughter Tanami (now 8) had left Stanley for Wadeye, (formerly Port Keats) the remote Aboriginal community on the Daly River in the Northern Territory, where Luke was working.

The family returned to their Stanley home nearly two years ago. After term two finishes in July they will leave for three years of big sky and wide horizons in rural W.A.

The children will get a taste of how far they’re going when they all set off from Stanley in their motor home across the Nullarbor.

The children will go to the nearest school – 35 kilometres away from Charles Darwin Reserve – but on a sealed road.  Fiona plans to continue study and look for part-time social work.

Stanley will miss them – and Stanley Landcare Group will have to find a new President …

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