A bird's nest high in a tree canopy. Photo: Cory Butler
Naree Station is a former pastoral property found in one of the least disturbed parts of the Murray-Darling Basin in north-western NSW. It lies in the Mulga Lands bioregion, 150km north-west of Bourke, on the Cuttaburra Channels that connect the Paroo and Warrego rivers. Its southern boundary is the Cuttaburra Creek, and Yantabulla Swamp adjoins the property to the west.
Naree wetland at sunset
These wetlands are special. They sit in an flood zone where rainfall is very erratic, which means they're often dry for long periods.
The land's ecology reflects the boom and bust cycles of wet and dry that are typical of the rangelands of inland Australia.
Average yearly rainfall is only 300mm, but highly variable. Floods are unpredictable but when they arrive Back Creek Swamp on Naree becomes a key water bird breeding site.
Banded stilt. Photo: Peter Morrison
Local rainfall and runoff also support a wide variety of wetland types, which provide habitat for many different species.
Water bird populations have been surveyed on Naree and surrounding areas for a number of years by Professor Richard Kingsford. Our own baseline survey efforts have documented over 170 species of birds, and a comparable number of plant species since 2013, several of them vulnerable or endangered under NSW legislation.
We've also recorded 15 mammal species so far, including the vulnerable (in NSW) striped-faced dunnart, sandy inland mouse and little pied bat. This inventory will increase as we learn more about the property - thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
A narrow nosed planigale. Photo: Craig Allen
Freckled duck. Photo: Steve Parish.
Crucifix frog. Photo: Victoria Schladetsch
Naree helps protect nationally significant arid zone ephemeral wetlands, considered among the top 20 for waterbirds in Australia.
Relatively mild winter temperatures, compared with the rest of NSW and Victoria, make it a refuge for migratory birds forced to leave breeding areas in the cold season.
The rich mosaic of vegetation, including grasslands, mulga woodlands and mixed woodlands of belah, ironwood and leopardwood provides refuge in dry times for many native animals including reptiles, small mammals and birds.
Key habitats include:
- Alluvial floodplains and swamps with semi-permanent waterholes, floodplain woodlands and lignum swamps. Species associated with these habitats include freckled duck, pink-eared duck and golden perch. Nectar production attracts many birds.
- Local basins and channels with ephemeral wetlands including cane grass wetlands, coolabah swamps, open shallow lakes, marshes and clay pans, that provide habitat for species such as the brolga, spotted harrier, crucifix frog, Peron's tree frog and unique aquatic animals such as shield shrimp.
- Mulga woodlands of soft loamy soils and hard rocky soils. Their numerous tree hollows provide breeding habitat for birds such as the Major Mitchell cockatoo and white-browed treecreeper, and numerous species of bats.
- Mixed woodlands of belah, ironwood, leopardwood, rosewood and whitewood. Their diversity supports a wide range of species.
What we’re doing on the property
Naree Station has permanent reserve managers in residence. Their aim is to reduce total grazing pressure on the property, allowing the natural wetland and woodland habitats to regenerate.
Red kangaroos. Photo: Peter Morrison
High priorities include:
- repairing and upgrading fences to manage stray livestock and feral animals
- pig, goat, fox, cat and rabbit control
- fire preparation and use as a management tool
- buffel grass control.
- A property-wide monitoring plan is being developed to measure the impact of this work.
The Traditional Owners of the land are the Budjiti people. We're working to strengthen our relationship with them and create opportunities to involve them in ongoing management, helping to identify and protect cultural values on the property.
Before its purchase by Bush Heritage, Naree was a grazing property for more than 100 years and still retains some historical remnants from its earlier history of sheep and cattle production.
Brolga. Photo: George Pergaminelis
A love for life on Naree
Naree is a haven for the brolga - a large graceful bird famous for its elaborate courting dances.
"They pick up sticks and leap high in the air, flapping their wings," says Professor Richard Kingsford, an ornithologist (bird specialist) from the University of NSW, who has been surveying water bird populations on Naree since 1986.
Though brolga populations are listed as vulnerable across much of Australia, their numbers are stronger in the north and the floodplains of the Paroo and Warrego rivers, including at Naree.
"Naree still floods and dries naturally, which is important for brolgas," explains Richard. "Elsewhere in the world, rivers have been dammed and the water taken away so the wetlands have lost their vitality."
Bush Heritage now plays a significant role in conserving the habitat of the brolga.
Yantabulla Station and South Endeavour Trust
Click the map to zoom it larger
In 2015 Yantabulla Station, a property adjoining our Naree Station Reserve in the heart of the Paroo-Warrego wetlands (the last remaining free-flowing river catchment in the Murray-Darling Basin), was purchased for conservation by the South Endeavor Trust.
With skilled land managers already on the ground at Naree, it made sense for us to manage Yantabulla Station in partnership with South Endeavour Trust, as one consolidated reserve with Naree.
This more than doubled our conservation footprint in the area and provided major efficiencies.
These properties sit about 150km north-west of Bourke on the inland floodplains of northern NSW. Mostly dry, during flood events they attract tens of thousands of breeding water birds and are one of the most important water bird sites in Australia.