In this article, we use an autoethnographic approach to explore relationships between landholders and government agencies and natural resource management projects. We use this exploration to argue for a holistic, collaborative approach to decision making around the implementation of biodiversity conservation on private and public land. This approach aligns with principles underpinning reconciliation ecology, which emphasises the inclusion of grass-roots communities for promoting biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes where approaches to the management of natural resources may be contested. We present three projects (Environmental Champions; Fencing Incentive programmes; Plains-wanderer programme) and other research from the Mid-Murray Valley region of southern New South Wales to highlight the positive and negative aspects of relationships between landholders and others in natural resource management. We argue that for a more collaborative approach; we need to build relationships based on understanding, trust, respect, ownership and partnerships between rural communities, landholders, education and research institutions and government agencies as recognised in reconciliation ecology.