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)

10.26. Reference number WA26

Refuge area: Geikie Gorge

Biogeographic region: Dampierland

Type of refuge: Gorge/wetland

Lat./Long. 18°05’S / 125°43’E

Quality of refuge: Significant (3)

Area (km²): <100

Chief refuge value

A major drought refuge for freshwater fishes and marine fishes that occur well inland in the Fitzroy River4, and also provides habitat for endangered bird species.

General description

A permanent river pool within a gorge where the Fitzroy River cuts through the limestone at the junction between the Oscar and Geikie Ranges. The gorge pool is about 13 km long and 100 m wide. Cliffs of limestone rise more than 50 m above the dry-season water level; the water is fresh to a depth of 15 m4. Fringing forest along the river includes two species of cadjeput Melaleuca leucadendron and M. argentea, river gums Eucalyptus camuldulensis, freshwater mangroves Barringtonia acutangula, the figs Ficus racemosa, F. coronulata and F. hispida, and screw pines Pandanus sp. Tropical reed Phragmites karka and native passionfruit Passiflora foetida are present on the banks3.

ANZECC-listed species

Gouldian Finch Erythrura gouldiae (E)5.

Regional endemics

None identified.

Relict species

None identified.

Other significant species

Purple-crowned fairy-wrens Malurus coronatus occur in dense riverside vegetation4, 5, and red goshawks Erythrotriorchis radiatus are recorded5. Orange horseshoe-bats Rhinonicterus aurantius occur in a cave within the gorge4. There are 27 waterbird species recorded, 5 listed under treaties. Eighteen species of fish occur, including barramundi Lates calcarifer, archerfish Toxotes oligolepsis, Leichardt’s sawfish Pristiopsis leichardti, and coach-whip stingray Himantura arnak. There are large numbers of freshwater crocodiles Crocodylus johnstoni1, 2, 3, 4. See Williams for freshwater fauna of the area5.

Key threats

None current, but possibly water diversion (dam upstream), water pollution (visitor use, boats), siltation (from cattle grazing within catchment), or impacts of high tourist numbers on fauna and flora4.

Land tenure

Geikie Gorge National Park.

Key references

1. Allen (1982)

2. Australian Heritage Commission (1989)

3. Burbidge et al. (1991)

4. Jaensch and Lane (1993)

5. Williams (1979)