Biodiversity publications archive

Refugia for biological diversity in arid and semi-arid Australia

Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 4
S.R. Morton, J. Short and R.D. Barker, with an Appendix by G.F. Griffin and G. Pearce
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995

10. Refugia in Western Australia (continued)

10.17. Reference number WA17

Refuge area: Lower Murchison River

Biogeographic region: Geraldton Sandplain

Type of refuge: Wetlands/gorge

Lat./Long. 27°43’S / 114°10’E to 27°52’S / 114°32’E

Quality of refuge: Significant (3)

Area (km²): <1,000

Chief refuge value

A wetland and gorge system providing habitat for moisture-dependent plants and animals in an otherwise dry environment.

General description

A length of river 125 km from 42 km south-east of Kalbarri to the mouth at Kalbarri. Includes estuarine waters, permanent river, and seasonal river. There are permanent river pools with fringing vegetation of Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Casuarina obesa. Permanent pools include Bully Pool and Woonana Pool1.

ANZECC-listed species

None identified.

Regional endemics

Tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii has a population in Kalbarri National Park and in nearby private land near Northampton3.

Relict species

The gorge of Murchison is the only known locality in the area for the primitive fern Psilotum nudum1.

Other significant species

Murchison River hardyhead Craterocephalus cuneiceps occurs in both estuarine and inland sections1.

Key threats

Fox and possibly cat predation1,2. Siltation of river pools may occur because of overgrazing in the catchment, water pollution in the estuary (from town of Kalbarri), and excessive human disturbance from large numbers of tourists at gorge pools1.

Land tenure

Kalbarri National Park, Murchison House pastoral lease.

Key references

1. Jaensch and Lane (1993)

2. Australian Heritage Commission (1989)

3. Kennedy (1992)

4. Allen (1982)