Darwin Day: Western Australia’s Charles Darwin Reserve

12 February 2021

The most significant and important memorial to Charles Darwin in Western Australia is the Charles Darwin Reserve. It is 68,600 hectares (roughly 20km by 36km) and is located 60km east of Perenjori on the west side of the Great Northern Highway between Wubin and Paynes Find (355km from Perth).

The traditional owners are the Badimaya people and there are artefacts that show it was inhabited for at least 40,000 years. The area was taken up by pastoralists and the station was known as White Wells.

In 2001, the lease was returned to the State and in 2003 was bought by Bush Heritage Australia. A donation of $300,000 by Chris Darwin (Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson) was critical in enabling this purchase.

The reserve seemed a good way to spend his inheritance as he stated:

‘We share this planet with millions of other creatures, it’s about time we started to share out the land so the other species can survive.

‘We encourage like-minded individuals to take the leap: move from wealth to significance, because it’s something that you’ll never regret.’

Chris approved the name and spent a year volunteering on the property. He is a Bush Heritage ambassador.
Photo by Jolanda Keeble

The area is a relatively intact remnant of vegetation and is large enough to maintain habitats and species. The area extends from the woodlands and dense shrublands of the South West Botanical Province to the open acacia shrublands of the Eremean Province. 230 animals including mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and over 680 plant species have been listed.

Charles Darwin Reserve is staffed and has an active conservation program including weed and feral animal control. It welcomes volunteers and is open for limited camping. The club has run several excursions to the reserve in the past, including one in 2004 surveying the species diversity.

Margaret Larke