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8,074 ha
140km NE of Longreach
Traditional Owners:
Bidjara people

Sometimes, the more we learn about a Bush Heritage property, the more we realise just how little we know about Australia’s wild places. That’s definitely true of Edgbaston Reserve.

It’s home to what scientists have called the most significant natural springs for global biodiversity in the entire Great Artesian Basin and one of the most important in the world.

Fed by water travelling hundreds of kilometres beneath a dry, arid environment, these isolated springs have given rise to the evolution of 23 endemic (found nowhere else) animals and 26 endemic species in total. It’s the site of important ongoing research into endemic diversity and its conservation.

Two nationally threatened fish – the Red-finned Blue-eye and Edgbaston Goby – 11 types of snail, a small crustacean, a flatworm, a spider and a species of dragonfly reside exclusively in the spring-fed pools at Edgbaston.

Freshwater ecologist Pippa Kern in the springs at Edgbaston. Photo Andera Zimny.

The reserve’s flora is also exceptional. Surveys have revealed that Edgbaston is home to 15 newly discovered plants, many yet to be named.

Given its small size, Edgbaston is surprisingly diverse, spanning the Mitchell Grass Plains and Desert Uplands.

The reserve protects 27 regional ecosystems, including two listed as ‘endangered’ and six as ‘of concern’.

Galahs in open gidyea woodland on Edgbaston. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

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

What Edgbaston protects

Edgbaston protects plants that are found nowhere else. Several (such as the critically endangered Tall Pipewort and Aloe Pipewort) are completely new to science. It also protects the endangered Blue Devil, Salt Pipewort, Artesian Watermilfoil and Spring grass, and the vulnerable Hydrocotlye Dipleura.

Animals: Twenty-three animal species are found nowhere else in the world, including the Red-finned Blue-eye (endangered fish), Edgbaston Goby (vulnerable fish), the only spring-endemic dragonfly described to date (Nannophya fenshami), the yet-to-be-described Edgbaston shrimp and amphipod, and the highest taxonomic diversity of springs-specific snails including 11 species (three new to science) from three different families.

In addition to the spring communities, the reserve protects species that reside across the arid zone such as the Squatter Pigeon, Brolga, Australian Bustard, and Black-headed Python.

Vegetation communities: Artesian springs community (endangered), Spinifex hummock grassland, Cane grass grassland, Mitchell grass grassland, Microcybe wattle shrubland.

A fight for survival

In 1990 the Edgbaston Springs surprised the world when they revealed the presence of a tiny blue-eye type of fish with striking red fins – the critically endangered Red-finned Blue-eye.

Found in just a few shallow springs fed by underground aquifers on Edgbaston Reserve, the Red-finned Blue-eye is one of Australia’s tiniest and most threatened freshwater fish.
The tiny Red-finned Blue-eye. Photo Adam Kereszy.

Its biggest threat is an invasive fish introduced into Australia in the 1920s in an ill-considered attempt to control mosquitoes.

We’ve now fenced all Red-finned Blue-eye populations to provide protection from mosquito fish (Gambusia), and have isolated important springs with barriers to prevent them entering during floods. We’re also expanding captive breeding and, in exciting news, captive bred fish have been successfully translocated back into one of the naturally occurring artesian springs.

Red-finned blue eye. Photo Vanessa Hunter.

What we’re doing

Work to control invasive Gambusia, which feed on small fish, invertebrates and fish eggs, will help the survival of both the Edgbaston Goby and the Red-finned Blue-eye. It will also help the endangered spring communities – which include everything from snails to spiders and aquatic plants – from suffering further degradation.

Controlling feral pigs is another management priority – they can trample and churn up a wetland spring in just one feeding session.

We control nationally significant noxious woody weeds such as Prickly Acacia and Parkinsonia, which invade the Artesian Springs, Lake Mueller, Mitchell grass downs and alluvial and riparian woodlands. 

We’re also working hard to restore and look after the Lake Mueller wetlands and springs basin. In flood this basin provides habitat for raptors, ducks, shorebirds, waders and large numbers of Brolgas.

History and cultural values

Little is known about the Aboriginal cultural heritage of Edgbaston but it’s likely that the Lake Mueller wetlands and springs were and still are significant food and water sources.

Edgbaston also has a pastoral history dating back well over 100 years, when the region was established as Aramac Station.

Dancing Brogla. Photo Alec Brennan.

Edgbaston Reserve was bought in 2008 with help from the Australian Government and The Nature Conservancy. We’d also acknowledge support from The Nature Conservancy’s David Thomas Challenge and Desert Channels Queensland, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program.