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Yourka Reserve

Bursting at the seams with life

Step on to Yourka Reserve and you’re stepping into one of Australia’s 15 biodiversity hotspots, regions of profound environmental significance.

This important conservation area is a stronghold for 39 regional ecosystems, some not protected anywhere else in the country. Yourka Reserve is part of the Einasleigh Uplands, and nestles up against Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Its rich animal life includes Australia’s most threatened bird of prey, the red goshawk, and a suite of mammals, including gliders, possums, bettongs, bandicoots and rock-wallabies.

Looking into the future, Yourka is expected to play a vital role in protecting the region’s biodiversity. The reserve safeguards many plant species that we previously only knew from further north, and these may be important as species distributions move south in the face of a changing climate.

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

What this reserve protects

Mareeba rock wallabies Rock wallabies. Photo: Wayne Zawler/Ecopix

Red goshawkRed goshawk. Photo: Lindsay Cupper

The highly diverse nature of Yourka makes it a sanctuary for a wide range of species, including a population of rock-wallabies, which rear their young in the huge boulder crevices found on the reserve.

Yourka also protects these significant species and communities:


  • Red goshawk (nationally vulnerable)
  • Masked owl (northern) (nationally vulnerable)
  • Brolga
  • White-bellied sea eagle
  • Greater glider
  • Long-nosed bandicoot
  • Brush-tailed possum


  • Trigger plants
  • Dodonaea uncinata (a rare hopbush)
  • Range bloodwood
  • Boronia occidentalis(a rare boronia)
  • Green truffle orchid
  • Hairy she-oak

Vegetation communities

  • Moist eucalypt woodland
  • Heathy woodland
  • Gum-topped box woodland
  • Riparian paperbard-sheoak woodland
  • Bloodwood–ironbark woodland
  • Poplar gum woodland

What we’re doing on the property

Plant surveys at Yourka ReserveBush Heritage staff members Jim Radford and Clair Dougherty surveying plants at Yourka Reserve. Photo: Jen Grindrod

Although Yourka Reserve is largely intact, its lowlands have suffered from a long history of cattle grazing and weed infestation.

That's why our first priority after buying the reserve was to remove domestic cattle, and we are now tackling weeds such as siam weed and lantana.

Fire also plays an important management role: controlled burns help to prevent destructive wildfires and to replenish Yourka's moist eucalypt forests, which are at risk from invading rainforest species in the absence of fire.

Feral pigs, which damage sensitive wetlands and may compete with native species for food, are another major threat that must be actively managed.

As a relatively new reserve, Yourka still holds many secrets. With help from local naturalists and Parks staff, our ecologists and reserve managers are focusing on biological inventory surveys to reveal what further riches this property holds.

If it's good enough for red goshawks...

When Bush Heritage ecologist Dr David Baker-Gabb first spied a red goshawk nest at Yourka Reserve, he quickly realised its importance.

'I was really excited when I found this nest because there are only 700 pairs of this bird left in the world,' he says.

This charismatic raptor, one of the rarest on earth, is considered an important barometer of environmental health.

‘They are very good indicators of highly productive land, and diversity – they are right at the top of the food pyramid,' says David. 'If it's good enough for red goshawks, it's going to be good enough for a whole range of other threatened species.'

David believes the presence of red goshawks signals that Yourka is top habitat for threatened mammals including northern quolls.

Cultural values

Yourka Reserve has sites that are culturally significant to both the Jirrbal and Warangnu people. We're currently planning a full assessment of the cultural values on the property.

Page Last Updated: Friday 20 May 2011

Map of Yourka Reserve

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Quick facts

Established  2007
Area 43 500 ha
Location Far North Qld 130 km south of Cairns


Red goshawk a good sign for new conservation reserve

Generous donation saves Australian bushland


Where we can, we offer opportunities for you to visit the places you've helped protect. We offer visits when conservation and safety considerations permit.

Unfortunately, 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 Yourka Reserve.

Generous support for the acquisition of this property was provided by over 2000 supporters, The Nature Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy's David Thomas Challenge, and the Australian Government's Maintaining Australia's Biodiversity Hotspots Program.