Spotlight on Star Swamp blaze

Star Swamp Bushland Reserve is recovering after a large bushfire tore through six and a half hectares of land. 

WA Police and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services responded to the fire last Tuesday.

The blaze started near Elvire Street in Waterman’s Bay and spread at a rapid rate. 

Authorities say investigations are underway but believe the fire was deliberately lit and are encouraging anyone to come forward with information. 

The 96-hectare reserve in Waterman’s Bay is well loved by locals. Video: Oliver Lane.

More than 80 bird species call the reserve home along with a diverse range of mammals and reptiles.

Friends of Star Swamp secretary Christine Curry says during her almost 40 years of working with the group the fires have become all too common. 

“This particular fire … it’s burnt right through and it will have killed off a lot of the insect population, a lot of the reptiles, goannas,” she says. 

“We think the birds mostly were able to get out of the way, but anything small that couldn’t get out of the way is basically gone so that diminishes the population of those sort of creatures.”

While many plants struggled to cope with the blaze, Grass Trees have endured. Photo: Oliver Lane.

In 2021, the bushland caught ablaze and authorities believed arson to be the cause.

Ms Curry says the community response has been immense. 

“Everyone is terribly concerned, everyone in this local area has a real sense of ownership of this reserve, so there has been offers of help, offers of condolence and all that sort of thing.” 

Christine Curry

University of Western Australia conservation biologist Stephen Hopper says Perth is extremely diverse.

“Perth is is one of the most biodiverse cities on the planet, certainly in terms of plants and the obvious wildlife, which you see begins with bird life, insect life as well,” he says.

“Mammals are less often seen, apart from the feral things like rabbits and foxes, if you’re lucky you’ll see [a] quenda or little bandicoot.”

Much of the reserve escaped damage thanks to the work of fire fighters. Photo: Oliver Lane.

Professor Hopper says the effects of bushfires can be devastating and not all species are capable of bouncing back quickly. 

“We’re learning about this all the time and it’s very clear that many things that people presume cope with fire well actually need a good break between fires for their populations to bounce back,” he says. 

“Some things will come back and can cope with fire and cope with frequent fire, but there are many which need very careful management with long intervals between fires.” 

WA Police are offering a $25,000 reward for anyone with information about the fire that leads to a conviction.

Reports can be made at or by calling 1800 333 000.