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View from Sneakers Gap over Woolshed flat and Mt Lambert. Photo Cathy Zwick.
View from Sneakers Gap over Woolshed flat and Mt Lambert. Photo Cathy Zwick.

Carnarvon Station


59,000 ha

200km south of Emerald

Traditional Custodians:
Bidjara people

Carnarvon sits in the Brigalow Belt bioregion – one of the most extensive, fertile and well-watered areas in northern Australia.

The Brigalow Belt covers 1.6 times the area of Victoria but has been mostly cleared of vegetation and is maintained that way (regrowth is cleared). Species once dominant on the more fertile plains have been reduced to small patches.

Landscape-scale conservation is now only possible in the least productive and rugged terrain. Extensive patches of this remain and within these are pockets of the ecosystems once on the plains.

White Stallion Lookout.

Carnarvon Station is one such pocket – a 60,000 hectare valley in the midst of the largest remnant in the bioregion, adjacent to Carnarvon National Park, which covers mostly rugged ranges.

Our reserve extends conservation down to the grasslands and fertile valleys to help make the reserve estate a microcosm of what once was.

Of around 320 animal species found on the reserve so far, at least 10 are threatened. This reserve also protects hundreds of plant species, five of which are threatened.

Misty morning at Carnarvon Station Reserve.

What Carnarvon Reserve protects

A Dingo on Carnarvon Station. Photo Kent Womack.

The nationally endangered Northern Quoll has been recorded on Carnarvon in the past and more recently within the adjacent national park. Carnarvon also has its own endemic snail, Pallidelix simonhudsoni and protects the following significant species and communities:

Animals: Koala, Herbert's Rock Wallaby, Greater Glider, Dingo, Squatter Pigeon, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Corben's Long-eared Bat, Adorned Delma, Pale Imperial Hairstreak, Tusked Frog.

Plants: Austral Cornflower (Rhaponticum australe), a sedge (Cyperus clarus), Spiky Anchorplant (Discaria pubescens), Tall Velvet Sea-berry (Haloragis exalata subsp. velutina), King Bluegrass (Dichanthium queenslandicum).

Vegetation communities: Bluegrass grasslands, vine thicket, Brigalow scrub, spring wetland communities, redgum forest, Poplar Box woodlands, Mountain Coolibah woodlands.

What we’re doing

Carnarvon Station was a  cattle station for 140 years, so our first priority was removing stock to protect the grasslands and sensitive natural springs.

Conservation involves a lot of the resource-intensive work that might take place on a farm – boundary fences are needed to keep out stock. Access tracks have to be maintained and feral animals and weeds managed.

Significant run-away erosion has been stabilised and infrastructure such as the historic homestead have been restored so staff can live on reserve and maintain its assets.

Austral Cornflower (Rhaponticum australe) is a significant species occurring in the grasslands. Photo Rebecca Diete.

Some of the precious alluvial grasslands and grassy woodlands have been cropped in the past and in the process they were infested with weeds such as  Johnson Grass and Buffel Grass. With help from volunteers, these have been held in check while the native species regained hold. 

Removing  feral horses and pigs has also been important. Horses destroy shelter for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife, cause erosion, and trample springs and watercourses, ruining important turtle and frog habitat. Pigs root up earth around the springs, fouling the water and degrading the wetland habitats encircling the springs.

Planned burns reduce the extent of wildfires threatening life and property. They allow for the retention of vegetation islands within burns as refuges and arks for wildlife.

Our results

Grasslands are now dominated by native species. So much so that we're now harvesting Bluegrass seeds to sell to other local landowners for use in rehabilitating cleared or degraded grasslands in the surrounding region.

Planned burns have seen a mix of species return across the valleys. The Poplar Box and coolibah woodlands that were cleared are regrowing rapidly. Those that were spared clearing, some still showing scar trees from precolonial times, are now in a varied sea of native grasses.

The most spectacular difference has been in the  upland coolibah and ironbark woodlands. Here the removal of feral horses has seen bare earth return to dense grass and herbs. The return of managed burns has also seen acacias return to the mid-storey of the woodlands.

Learn more about our Conservation Management Process and how we measure our impact or download a full ecological scorecard for the reserve below.

History and cultural values

Keelen Mailman is a Bidjara woman who lives on the neighbouring  Mt Tabor Station. For many years the Bidjara people were denied access to Carnarvon Station, even though it's part of their traditional lands. That's all changed.

An Eastern Snake Necked Turtle. Photo Cathy Zwick.

“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 he’d lived as a child for the first time in years.”

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

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

Carnarvon's purchase was made possible with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program, as well as our generous supporters.

Visiting Carnarvon Station

From 1 June to September 30 it’s possible to book a camping spot at Carnarvon Station and to explore the reserve for yourself. Visit our Carnarvon camping page to register your interest and download the camping guide with details of what you’ll need.

Species at Carnarvon


Stories from Carnarvon

BUSHTRACKS 11/01/2024

Blue wings, smelly ant

The search for an ant leads scientists to Carnarvon Station Reserve and one of Australia’s rarest of butterflies.

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Sandstone escarpment at Carnarvon Reserve. By Terry Cooke

BUSHTRACKS 27/10/2023

A case for nature

In 2020, Queensland’s first Special Wildlife Reserve was declared at our Pullen Pullen Reserve on Maiawali Country to recognise the significance of the reserve’s Night Parrot population. Now, we're on a mission to achieve the status for five of our other Queensland reserves, granting the highest level of protection for privately owned property in Australia.

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BLOG 21/02/2022

What has all this rain meant for our fire team?

The 2021/22 La Nina has brought significant rainfall to the eastern seaboard of Australia, while the west has seen below average conditions. Here are some weather highlights from the first few months.

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Alison and Chris Wilson at Carnarvon Reserve.


Seeds of Innovation at Carnarvon

Join Chris and Alison Wilson in this webinar to discuss harvesting native Bluegrass seed at Carnarvon Station Reserve and rehabilitating degraded grasslands.

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BLOG 07/04/2021

Win-win for native grasslands

Rare native Australian grasslands have been given a new lease on life thanks to an innovative seed harvesting project at our Carnarvon Station Reserve.

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BLOG 04/03/2021

La Niña’s sweet relief finally arrives at Carnarvon

When people think about bushfires, the temperature of the oceans don't always spring to mind. But these sea surface temperatures are one of the biggest culprits in driving the large landscape-scale fires that have been occurring across much of Australia in recent years, like the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.

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Sunset at Bon Bon Station Reserve. Photo Paul Bateman.

BUSHTRACKS 21/01/2021

The blue grass of home

Vital species live in Carnarvon Station Reserve’s endangered bluegrass grasslands. A new seed harvesting project is helping to ensure their survival in the face of climate change.

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BLOG 28/04/2020

Beautiful King Blue

Ecologists at our Carnarvon Station Reserve in central Queensland have recently confirmed the existence of an endangered bluegrass species on the reserve.

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BLOG 17/12/2019

Adapting to 'black swan' fire events

Some thoughts on the Australian fire crisis and an update on Bush Heritage's fire control efforts by Richard Geddes, Bush Heritage Australia's National Fire Program Manager

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BLOG 02/10/2019

How lucky I am!

I first arrived at Carnarvon Station Reserve in mid-July, only a few weeks after accepting a PhD project, which is a collaboration between The University of Queensland, and Bush Heritage Australia.

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BLOG 14/03/2019

Be prepared for remote travel

Autumn marks the unofficial start to the volunteer season for our remote area reserves. Michael Uhrig, volunteer team leader from Currumbin Reserve, issues a timely reminder about the importance of being well prepared for remote area travel, following his experiences during summer caretaking at Carnarvon.

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BLOG 28/02/2019

On the hunt for the Carnarvon quoll

In 2008, the Northern Quoll was detected by camera trap on Carnarvon Station Reserve for the first time. Since then, some effort was made to find more quolls on the reserve, but with no luck. A recent sighting in the neighbouring national park and the purchase of 20 quality camera traps for the reserve has prompted a renewed effort to find this nationally endangered marsupial.

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BLOG 07/10/2018

Fauna monitoring with the iROOS

The University of Queensland's environmental volunteer group, the iROOS, enjoyed an amazing week at Carnarvon Station Reserve helping the resident ecologist, Bek Diete, with fauna surveys. It was well worth the long journey and has left us all glowing with gratitude for everyone who made it possible.

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BLOG 09/10/2017

iROOS get dusty on Carnarvon

Students from The University of Queensland joined forces with our Central Queensland Ecologist to monitor large vertebrates on Carnarvon using soil plots and spotlighting.

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BLOG 17/12/2015

Carnarvon's valuable volunteers

Living on a remote reserve comes with many challenges and, believe it or not, leaving the reserve can often become one of the major ones – especially during wildfire season or leaving behind a menagerie of orphaned wildlife.

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BUSHTRACKS 20/03/2015

Quest for the northern quoll

High up on the rocky sandstone range of Carnarvon Station Reserve, a dozen cameras wait like silent sentinels. Activated by movement, they snap away at the furred, scaled and feathered creatures that happen by: busy little pebble mound mice, an inquisitive rock rat, slow-moving freckled monitors, dingoes and flighty bronze‑wing pigeons.

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BLOG 13/10/2014

New snail species for Carnarvon

A minor interruption to the Bush Blitz with 33ml of rain over the past two days but that hasn't stopped our scientists from heading out on foot surveying for new species of plants and animals.

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