At 473 ha, Mt Rothwell is Victoria's largest feral predator-free ecosystem. Foxes and cats were eradicated from the property more than a decade ago so that native mammal species could be reintroduced. Mt Rothwell currently holds approximately 80% of the mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) population which is currently recognised as the only stable self-sustaining population. It has the most successful captive breeding program for the Eastern Quoll, that is presumed extinct on mainland Australia, only persisting in the wild in the state of Tasmania. It also has the most successful breeding program for Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies in a semi-wild environment. Apex predators such as the Eastern Quoll and Spot-tailed (also known as Tiger) Quoll were reintroduced in an effort to balance the ecosystem. These species all historically coexisted across the landscape. Mt Rothwell participates in National Recovery Programs for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, Eastern Quoll and Spiny Rice Flower.
Habitat restoration and protection is conducted mainly through weed control, with large areas now able to support a number of diverse threatened flora.
Mt Rothwell is located on the Victorian Volcanic Plains, the third largest basalt plain in the world. Despite this less than 1% remains. There are three main habitat types or vegetation communities at Mt Rothwell all of which are threatened.
Victorian Volcanic (basalt) Plains Grasslands (critically endangered)
Herb-rich Granitic Hills (granite rocky outcrops)
Open Grassy Woodland (Box Eucalypt)
There is significant aboriginal history in the area, with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative as the local custodians from the Werribee-Geelong region. On Mt Rothwell there is a Scar Tree and over 80 stone artefacts have been found.
In 2000, Dr John Wamsley purchased what is now known as Mt Rothwell to be part of the Earth Sanctuaries company’s network of wildlife sanctuaries. The property was selected because of the extremely rare old growth grassy woodland habitat. Many of the trees pre-date European settlement. His venture did not succeed, however the property was sold in 2004 and is a now a privately owned reserve and retains a strong focus on conservation, dedicated to restoring habitats and halting the decline for many threatened Australian flora and fauna species.
The You Yangs ranges are a series of low granite ridges which dominate the Werribee Plain, with Flinders Peak rising to 347m above sea level. Mt Rothwell is the northernmost tip of the main ridge, which runs roughly north-south for approximately 9 km, with a lower extension that runs 15 km to the west.