Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Birriliburu

Birriliburu

Birriliburu protected area

The photos used are courtesy ofCentral Desert Native Title Services.

Central Western Australia | Declared in April 2013

Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area stretches over 6.6 million hectares of striking desert from the nationally significant Carnarvon Range to Constance Headland along Western Australia's famous Canning Stock Route.

All of this country belongs to the Birriliburu native title holders whose connection with country has been woven over 25,000 years and continues to this day.

Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area is astonishingly diverse, ranging from sand dunes and sandstone mountain ranges to salt lakes and claypans. It covers three bio-geographic regions of Australia — the Little Sandy Desert, Gibson Desert and the Gascoyne.

The area is home to a high number of nationally significant species such as the black- flanked rock wallaby, great desert skink, and marsupial mole to name just a few.

The traditional owners call the Carnarvon Range Katjarra in their language.

Found in the south-west of Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area, the spectacular sandstone ranges have been the subject of a nationally significant natural and cultural heritage asset survey in 2012 and 2013 which has recorded their diverse plant and animal life and cultural heritage including hundreds of ancient rock art galleries.

Katjarra is so significant that the Birriliburu traditional owners nominated it as the site for their native title ceremony in 2008.

Constance Headland, called Mungarlu, is the largest and most dependable water source in the area and, like Katjarra, is remarkable for the quantity of rock art found in its long valleys. Many threatened species including the greater bilby are found here.

The last of the Birriliburu traditional owners to live completely 'on country' walked out of the desert in 1977. The old couple, as they are known, were found living at Karri Ngarri claypan in the east of the Indigenous Protected Area. Their story is told in the book and film Last of the Nomads.

Today this area serves Birriliburu traditional owners as a reminder of generations that have gone before them.

In the south-east of Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area is the Mungilli Nature Reserve. State-listed for its mythological significance for traditional owners, the Mungilli claypan's ephemeral wetlands are a highly valuable refuge for desert plants and animals.

Adjacent to the nature reserve at Mungilli outstation, a family group of traditional owners owns and runs a sustainable sandalwood harvesting operation.

Traditional owners plan to sustainably manage their country's resources for economic and social outcomes. It is hoped new tourism enterprises can also be developed as part of a future mix of sustainable Indigenous businesses.

With its dedication as an Indigenous Protected Area in April 2013, Birriliburu becomes part of Australia's National Reserve System, ensuring future generations will continue to enjoy this amazing landscape.

Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area's plan of management will provide direction to a new Indigenous ranger team who will undertake a number of on-ground activities including feral animal and weed control and traditional fire management.

Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area will be managed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Categories III and VI which utilise traditional resource management to support the conservation of specific natural features and the sustainable use of natural ecosystems.

Download this page as the Birriliburu fact sheet (PDF - 1 MB)