Carnarvon Station Reserve

A refuge for woodland wildlife

Abutting Queensland's spectacular Carnarvon Gorge National Park, Carnarvon Station Reserve is one of the few remaining strongholds for woodland species largely lost to the rest of eastern Australia.

The rugged sandstone hills, narrow valley floors and high escarpments of the reserve create a dramatic setting, offering natural protection to its inhabitants.

Of almost 200 of animal species found on the reserve so far, at least 12 are threatened with extinction, including the nationally endangered northern quoll. This reserve also protects hundreds of plant species, 13 of which are threatened.

The lowland woodlands and bluegrass grasslands, which cover much of Carnarvon's valley floor, are important additions to the rugged ranges of the neighbouring national park.

Nationally, more than two-thirds of these woodlands have been destroyed, but what's left protects a wide range of native species, including geckos, gliders, honeyeaters, the tiny narrow-nosed planigale and the common dunnart.

All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

What this reserve protects

Northern quoll The northern quoll.
Photo: Jiri Lochman/ Lochman Transparencies


Squatter pigeon Squatter pigeon.
Photo: Wayne Lawler/ Ecopix

Bush Heritage ecologists got very excited when remote-sensing cameras confirmed suspicions that the nationally endangered northern quoll can still be found at Carnarvon Station.

Carnarvon Station Reserve also protects these significant species and communities:


  • Squatter pigeon
  • Herbert's rock-wallaby
  • Turquoise parrot
  • Glossy black-cockatoo
  • Dingo


  • Illawarra greenhood (endangered orchid)
  • Austral cornflower (vulnerable wildflower)
  • Ooline (vulnerable tree)
  • Austral toadflax (vulnerable herb)

Vegetation communities

  • Bluegrass grasslands
  • Vine thicket
  • Brigalow scrub
  • Spring wetland communities
  • Redgum forest
  • Poplar box woodlands
  • Mountain coolabah woodlands

What we’re doing on the property

Carnarvon Station was a cattle station for 140 years, so our first priority was to remove any remaining stock before they could further degrade the area’s sensitive grasslands and natural springs.

Getting rid of feral pigs and horses is also of primary importance. Horses destroy shelter for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife, cause erosion, and trample springs and watercourses, ruining important turtle and frog habitat.

Volunteers doing fencing work at Carnarvon Station ReserveBush Heritage volunteers doing important fencing work.

Pigs root up earth around the springs, fouling the water and degrading the tiny wetland habitats encircling the springs.

Fencing out these feral animals is having spectacular results on the spring ecosystems. By building fences that allow native animals to pass, but not pigs or horses, we’ve improved not just the springs but also the surrounding areas.

As a result, we’ve seen an increase in ground-nesting birds and small mammals, and regeneration of vegetation communities at Carnarvon Station Reserve.

Coming home

Keelen MailmanBidjara woman Keelen Mailman.

Keelen Mailman is a Bidjara woman who lives at Mt Tabor Station in central Queensland. For many years the Bidjara people were denied access to their neighbouring property, Carnarvon Station Reserve, even though it is part of their Traditional Lands.

But since Bush Heritage bought the property that’s all changed.

“When Bush Heritage acquired Carnarvon Station they took steps to identify the traditional owners, which was brilliant for us,” says Keelen.

“It really touched my heart seeing the joy on the face of my old uncle when he was allowed to visit the place where he’d lived as a child for the first time in years. This land is our grassroots and there will always be that connection for the Bidjara people.”

“I have learnt how to help the plants and wildlife on Mt Tabor Station by watching the Bush Heritage ecologists at work. In return, I have taught them how to identify our cultural sites, as well as speak our lingo.”

History and cultural values

Rock paintings at Carnarvon StationRock art at Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo by Wayne Lawler/Ecopix

The Bidjara people are the traditional owners of Carnarvon Station Reserve, with a historical connection to the land stretching back at least 18 000 years before European settlement.

The reserve holds many sites of cultural importance to the Bidjara, including rock art, burial places and quarry sites.

Carnarvon Station seems to have been grazed from the early days of European settlement, with records dating back to 1884. Libby Smith has researched and documented the history of the property since European settlement, which is a fascinating reflection on the changing attitudes of Australia through the years. It includes stages in which the wholesale desctruction of native wildlife was officially approved by a 'Marsupial Desctruction Act' for the purpose of trade in exotic furs and countless thousands of koalas, possums and dingos were slaughtered. It's also been the home of notorious bush rangers, survived infestation with prickly pear and seen many owners come and go as it weathered severe droughts and floods. For history buffs, the full account can be downloaded below.

Portable Document File (PDF) Carnarvon Station: A history of European Settlement since 1863 (Libby Smith 2003) 5mb

Page Last Updated: Wednesday 27 April 2011

Map of Carnarvon Station Reserve
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Quick facts

Established  2001
Area 59 000 ha
Location Central Qld
200 km south of Emerald

Reserve scorecard


The reserve scorecard is a summary of the reserve's condition based on an ecological review conducted every 5 years.


Tag along tour, 11-14 August 2014: Come and join Reserve Manager Chris Wildson and Field Officer Thornton Kerr, as they guide you around their magnificent backyard. More about the Carnarvon tag-along tour>

For information about visiting other Bush Heritage properties see the visiting our reserves page.


Thank you to all our supporters, whose donations fund the day-to-day costs of managing Carnarvon Station Reserve.

Carnarvon Station Reserve was acquired in 2001 with the assistance of the Australian Government under the Natural Heritage Trust's National Reserve System Programme.