Australian Wetlands Database

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Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey Basin)

Overview

Key facts and figures:

Date of listing:

17 March 1996

Lake Pinaroo (2007), Photo: Natalie Middleton

Australian Ramsar site number:

49

Criteria: 

1, 2, 3, 4

State/Territory:

New South Wales

Area:

800 hectares

Drainage Division or IMCRA  region:

Lake Eyre

Wetland type: 

  • R - Seasonal/intermittent saline/brackish/alkaline lakes and flats

Key features of the site:

Lake Pinaroo is located within Sturt National Park in the arid north-west corner of New South Wales. The lake is the largest terminal basin in the Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields biogeographic region.

Lake Pinaroo only fills when Frome Swamp overflows during intense local rainfall events. However, once full the lake holds water much longer than any other wetland within the region and can take up to 6 years to become dry again as there is no point of outflow. Therefore, it provides a reliable breeding area for a substantial number of waterbirds and is also considered to play an important role for birds migrating from surrounding wetlands including Coongie Lakes and the Paroo wetlands.

Generally there is very little vegetation found on the bed of Lake Pinaroo and Neverfail is the dominant species. Coolibah regrowth is found on the high ground of the lake margins. The surrounding sand dune country is vegetated with Hopbush, Turpentine, Saltbush, Budda, and Whitewood.

Sturt National Park supports an extremely diverse range of bird species and approximately 150 species have been recorded. When full, Lake Pinaroo supports large numbers of waterbirds and waders and the common species include Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Black-tailed Native-hen, and Wood Duck.

The Ramsar site and surrounding areas also provide valuable habitat for a number of threatened species including the Grey Falcon, Australian Bustard, Brolga, Freckled Duck, and Black-breasted Buzzard. Lake Pinaroo also supports a number of native mammals and reptiles such as Forrest's Mouse, Fat-tailed Dunnart, Sandy Inland Mouse, and Beaked Gecko.

Although there are no officially recorded sites of Indigenous heritage in Lake Pinaroo, Sturt National Park has an exceptionally high density and variety of Indigenous sites including hearths, middens, ceremonial sites, quarries and abundant stone artefacts, suggesting that a large Indigenous population once occupied the area.

The early explorer Charles Sturt built Fort Grey adjacent to the lake as a base from which to launch expeditions into the Simpson Desert, and there are a number of pastoral industry remnants in the area. The lands within the Ramsar Site are permanently dedicated as National Park and are currently used as a nature conservation area with tourism associated activities.

Justification of the listing criteria:

The Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey) Ramsar site meets four of the nine criteria:

Criterion 1: Lake Pinaroo is found within the Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields biogeographic region. It is the largest terminal basin found in NSW within this biogeographic region. The size of the lake and its capacity to retain water play a crucial role for the survival of many species of plants and animals in the immediate and surrounding areas.

Criterion 2: Twelve threatened animal species have been recorded at the site, including the Freckled Duck and Interior Blind Snake. The Striped-faced Dunnart, Eastern Long-eared Bat and Forrest's Mouse have been recorded in Sturt National Park and would likely occur within the Ramsar site as well.

Criterion 3: When filled to capacity, Lake Pinaroo holds water much longer than any other wetland within the region, providing a reliable breeding area for substantial numbers of waterbirds. Lake Pinaroo also provides an important non-breeding refuge for birds that have bred on other wetlands, particularly inter-dune swamps that hold water for relatively short periods (four to six months).

Criterion 4: Lake Pinaroo supports plant and animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles and provides refuge during adverse conditions. The lake only fills when Frome Swamp overflows during intense local rainfall events, however once full can take up to six years to become dry again. The size of the lake and its capacity to retain water play a crucial role for the survival of many species of plants and animals. It can support up to forty waterbird species and acts as an important stop-over site for migratory wading birds.

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.