Australian Wetlands Database

Ramsar wetlands

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

Paroo River Wetlands


Key facts and figures:

Date of listing:

13 September 2007

Tree-lined creeks and waterholes characterise much of the Ramsar site,  Photo: Queensland Dept of Environment

Australian Ramsar site number:



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7


New South Wales


Nocoleche Nature Reserve: 71 133 hectares Peery: 67 171 hectares. Total: 138,304 hectares

Drainage Division or IMCRA  region:


Wetland type: 

  • N - Seasonal/intermittent/irregular rivers/streams/creeks
  • P - Seasonal/intermittent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha); includes floodplain lakes
  • Tp - Permanent freshwater marshes/pools; ponds (below 8 ha), marshes and swamps on inorganic soils; with emergent vegetation water-logged for at least most of the growing season
  • Ts - Seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes/pools on inorganic soils; includes sloughs, potholes, seasonally flooded meadows, sedge marshes
  • W - Shrub-dominated wetlands; shrub swamps, shrub-dominated freshwater marshes, shrub carr, alder thicket on inorganic soils
  • Y - Freshwater springs; oases

Key features of the site:

The Paroo River Wetlands, in far north-west New South Wales (NSW), is the last remaining free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin. It consists of two main parts the Nocoleche Nature Reserve and the Peery component, which contains Lakes Peery and Poloko.

Wetlands within the site include large overflow lakes, tree-lined creeks and waterholes, lignum and canegrass swamps, and artesian mound springs. The artesian mound springs at Peery Lake represent the largest active complex in New South Wales and one of the rarest landforms in Australia.

The Paroo River is one of the most important wetland systems for waterbirds in eastern Australia with 55 species having been recorded, and it supports a number of threatened plant and animal species as well as significant native fish communities.

Threatened species include the Salt Pipewort, Desert Carpet-weed, Aponogeton queenslandicus, and Spike Grass. Noteworthy flora and fauna include one of the largest stands of Yapunyah gums, a genetically distinct population of Golden Perch, Salt Pipewort, the Water Rat, and two new species of Fairy Shrimp.

The Paroo country has significant meaning to the traditional indigenous owners, the Baakandji and Budjiti people, in terms of its archaeological, traditional and contemporary social values. Artefacts are found throughout the region, and Dreaming stories on the creation of the Paroo country are closely tied to indigenous custom and law.

Contemporary use of the area is limited by the area's remote location. Parts of the area have low-impact visitor facilities whilst other areas have restricted access.

Justification of the listing criteria:

The Paroo River Wetlands Ramsar site meets six of the nine criteria:

Criterion 1. As the last free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Paroo River is a unique example of a near natural, arid inland wetland system. It maintains a natural pattern of water flow as there are no major diversions, dams or weirs. It also has two distinct sets of artesian mound springs, characterised by either deposits of sediment and salt, or depressions.

Criterion 2. Several threatened plants have been identified in the Paroo River Wetlands, including the Salt Pipewort, considered the rarest vascular plant in NSW. In addition, the artesian mound springs where this plant is found are also threatened. There are several other plant species whose only NSW location is in the Paroo River Wetlands. The Grey Falcon is listed as near-threatened and several other species of birds and reptiles are listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Criterion 3. The Paroo River Wetlands have been recognised as a significant refuge for biological diversity, as they contain unique genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. There are newly identified plant and crustacean species, and a separate breeding population of Golden Perch. The high biodiversity of bird populations is also well known.

Criterion 4. The Paroo River Wetlands constitute a key drought refuge in arid NSW and play an important role in relation to waterbird breeding events. The maintenance of species diversity relies on the assortment of habitats provided along the Paroo, including pools, floodplains and permanent or semi-permanent lakes.

Criterion 5. The wetlands of the Paroo River have been identified as being of outstanding importance for waterbirds, regularly supporting more than 20,000 waterbirds.

Criterion 7. The Paroo River Wetlands support a significant discrete component of the genetic diversity of fish, and one of the healthiest native fish communities in the Murray-Darling Basin. One species, Golden Perch, is confirmed as genetically distinct from other populations in the Basin, and it is expected that other species will show similar genetic distinctiveness.

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.