The paper addresses cultural assumptions about 'nativeness' and 'belonging' to place as they are implicated in notions of 'ecological restoration'. Given the centrality of complex notions of 'indigeneity' to the issue of what ecological 'restoration' means in Australia, this is a rich area for cultural and historical analysis. Case materials illustrate the negotiated and ambiguous nature of Australian ideas about what 'belongs' ecologically and culturally across the broad continent of this relatively young post-Settler nation. We seek to foreground these issues through consideration of what 'restoring' nature might mean in the context of debates about native plants, the re-introduction of an iconic species of ground dwelling bird, the removal of cane toads that are demonised as highly 'alien', and the multiple ways in which the dingo is regarded ambiguously as both native and a 'pest' that needs to be controlled and culled. By showing how 'restoration' can be understood and mobilised in a variety of ways - in terms of the 're-naturing', 're-valuing' and/or 'repatriating' of indigenous species, as well as impassioned rejection of 'exotics' - we emphasise the importance of social science for building a well-grounded sense of how environmental management priorities and approaches are informed by a wider set of cultural assumptions. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.