You are here: Home / Places We Protect / Queensland / Cravens Peak

Cravens Peak Reserve

A landscape carved from time

In 2008 Cravens Peak was singled out by the WWF as one of the top ten nature reserves in Australia.

Its catchments channel life-giving flood waters into the Mulligan River, and its wetlands are used by a host of waterbird species, many of which are listed under international migratory treaties.

It protects gibber plains, red sandy dune fields, semi-permanent waterholes, Coolabah woodlands, and one of the richest reptile assemblages on earth.

The landscapes within Cravens Peak are stunning. The Mulligan River, which carves its way through rocks 500 million years old, snakes along the north-eastern boundary of the reserve, and the Toko Range runs south-east until it disappears into the nearby Simpson Desert.

The reserve is rich in human history, and once lay at the heart of the Pituri Track, an ancient Aboriginal trading route used to exchange the narcotic plant pituri.

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

What this reserve protects

Woma python The woma python. Photo: Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparencies.

Coolibah woodland at Ethabuka Reserve Spinifex pigeon.
Photo: Aaron Greenville.

Cravens Peak is a mecca for reptiles, including the woma, a rare desert python that has become extinct across a third of its former range.

Cravens Peak also protects these significant species and communities:


  • Mulgara (nationally vulnerable)
  • Grey falcon
  • Painted finch
  • Ridge-tailed monitor
  • Inland ningaui
  • Australian bustard
  • Spinifex pigeon
  • Ariadna's ctenotus (a rare skink)


  • Pituri
  • Mulga
  • Coolabah
  • Red-bud mallee

Vegetation communities

  • Hummock (spinifex) grassland
  • Mallee
  • Mitchell-grass plains
  • Gidgee woodland

What we’re doing on the property

Now that cattle have been removed from Cravens Peak and damage from feral camels and horses has been reduced, we are seeing rapid improvement in the Mitchell grass plains and wetland areas.

We are also seeing regeneration of the gidgee and mulga woodland vegetation in the swales between the dunes.

Fire management will help reduce the risk of large wildfires, and create a mosaic of different fire-age classes, with the small pockets of native bush that are important to desert animals.

Cats and foxes often increase after good seasons, and so Bush Heritage is developing a feral predator strategy to deal with them. Weeds are also an ongoing management issue.

Controlled burns at Cravens PeakBurning a firebreak at Cravens Peak Reserve.
Photo by Nella Lithgow.

Fire-stick farming comes full circle

Large-scale and intense wildfires have become an unfortunate characteristic of Australia's arid zones since the removal of traditional Aboriginal fire-stick farming.

They are particularly problematic after big wet seasons, which feed new plant growth.

In the past such growth was kept under control by the Wangkamadla people, who regularly burnt the area as part of their land management techniques.

Now Cravens Peak is again seeing similar patterns of ‘fire-stick' farming, as reserve managers Mark and Nella Lithgow oversee a series of planned ‘mosaic burns' designed to encourage new growth and mimic natural fire breaks.

‘Unlike fire fighting methods in populated areas, water is not used as a wildfire control,' says Nella. ‘Instead, preventative measures are put in place and are used to direct and confine the fire where possible.'

Wildfires can seriously affect populations of small native mammals, and so Bush Heritage is making fire management at Cravens Peak a matter of critical importance.

History and cultural values

Cravens Peak Reserve is part of Wangkamadla country. The Wangkamadla have a long-standing connection to this land, with rock paintings and significant sites scattered across the reserve.

The reserve once lay on a trade route linking Queensland's Gulf of Carpentaria all the way to South Australia. The local narcotic plant pituri was traded in return for stone knives, seashells and even dugong-tusk daggers.

We are working closely with the Wangkamadla people to identify and learn about important cultural values.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday 27 April 2011

Map of Cravens Peak Reserve
Google Maps view>

Quick facts

Established  2005
Area 233 000 ha
Location Western Qld 470 km south of Mt Isa

Reserve scorecard


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


Studying diversity

Biodiversity of the Simpson Desert


Tag along tour, 22-26 July 2014: Point the wheels of your 4WD towards the Simpson Desert and join Bush Heritage Reserve Manager Peter Welldon and our Qld Ecologist Murray Haseler for a five-day tag-along camping tour on Cravens Peak and Ethabuka reserves. More about the  tag-along tour>

This reserve is not open to self guided visits. 

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 Cravens Peak Reserve.

Cravens Peak Reserve was acquired in 2005 with the assistance of the the Australian Government under the Natural Heritage Trust's National Reserve System Programme and The Nature Conservancy.