Australian Wetlands Database

Ramsar wetlands

   or go to Advanced search or A-Z Ramsar site list

Currawinya Lakes (Currawinya National Park)


Key facts and figures:

Date of listing:

11 March 1996

The shoreline of the saline Lake Wyara, Photo: Rosemary Purdie

Australian Ramsar site number:



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6




About 151 300 hectares

Drainage Division or IMCRA  region:


Wetland type: 

  • N - Seasonal/intermittent/irregular rivers/streams/creeks
  • O - Permanent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha); includes large oxbow lakes
  • P - Seasonal/intermittent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha); includes floodplain lakes
  • Q - Permanent saline/brackish/alkaline lakes
  • Ts - Seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes/pools on inorganic soils; includes sloughs, potholes, seasonally flooded meadows, sedge marshes

Key features of the site:

The Currawinya Lakes Ramsar site is located in the Paroo River catchment in south-west Queensland, Australia. It is a mosaic of landforms including dunefields, lakes, alluvial plains, claypans, saltpans, mound springs and deeply weathered ranges.

It has some of the richest and most diverse wetland types in inland Australia, with unmodified permanent and intermittant, saline and freshwater wetlands, including the relatively rare Artesian Mound Springs.

The two largest waterbodies, Lake Numalla and Lake Wyara are markedly different. Lake Numalla is fresh and turbid, whilst only 3 km away Lake Wyara is saline and generally clear. Lake Numalla is also a relatively permanent water body, whereas Lake Wyara dries up regularly and becomes a vast saltpan.

The range of wetland habitats is critical in supporting an array of native fauna, in particular the abundance and diversity of waterbird species found at the Ramsar site. The permanent waterbodies support substantial breeding events by waterbirds as well as providing refuge habitat in drought conditions for birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

An array of plant communities are found within Currawinya Lakes such as: Mulga and Poplar Box low open woodlands on the sand plains; Gidgee and Yapunyah communities on alluvial plains; Mulga, Bastard Mulga, and Turpentine Mulga communities on the ranges and hills; and low open shrublands and sedgelands on dunefields and claypans.

Currawinya Lakes is highly significant to local Indigenous communities in terms of archaeological, traditional and contemporary social values. Stone arrangements, native wells, trees with bark removed for canoes and shields, and stone artefacts are evident at the Ramsar site.

Contemporary use of the area is limited by the areas remote location. A number of nature-based low impact recreational activities including nature walks and drives, wildlife watching, camping, canoeing and fishing are offered to visitors.

Justification of the listing criteria:

The Currawinya Lakes Ramsar site meets six of the nine criteria:

Criterion 1. The site contains one of the richest and most diverse samples of wetlands in inland Australia with a range of saline and freshwater wetland features, represented in an unmodified condition, including the rare wetland Artesian Mound Springs.

Criterion 2. Artesian Mound Springs within the Currawinya Ramsar site represent a unique ecological community with a conservation status of Endangered under state and national legislation. Three species of threatened wetland fauna have also been recorded: Painted Snipe; Grey Snake; and Freckled Duck.

Criterion 3. The diversity of wetland habitats is critical in supporting a remarkable variety of native fauna, in particular the abundance and diversity of waterbird species. The permanent waterbodies are particularly important for maintaining biodiversity as they provide wildlife refuge habitat in drought conditions.

Criterion 4. The site supports substantial waterbird breeding events. In particular, islands within Lake Wyara are important for species such as Australian Pelican, Black Swan, Caspian Tern, Red-necked Avocet, Silver Gull, and cormorants. During drought conditions, the permanent lakes and waterholes are important wildlife refugia for amphibians, fish, reptiles and birds.

Criterion 5. The Currawinya Lakes Ramsar site supports a high abundance of waterbirds, with counts in excess of 100,000 individuals recorded on several occasions.

Criterion 6. The Currawinya Lakes Ramsar site supports significant numbers of individual waterbird species. At least 10 species of waterbirds have exceeded the 1% population threshold required to meet this criteria. These species include Pink-eared Duck, Eurasian Coot, Black Swan, Freckled Duck, Grey Teal, Sharp-tailed Sandpipe, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Banded Stilt, and Red-necked Avocet.

Please see the More Information page for additional information on this Ramsar site and access to the Ramsar Information sheets and other associated site documents.