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Sunset reflected in artesian spring on Edgbaston Photo: Wayne Lawler/EcoPix
Sunset reflected in artesian spring on Edgbaston Photo: Wayne Lawler/EcoPix

Edgbaston

Established:

2008

Area:

8,074 ha

Location:

140km NE of Longreach

Traditional Custodians:

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’.

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

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

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 DevilSalt 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.

Red fins, blue eyes, can't lose

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’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.

Species on Edgbaston

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Stories from Edgbaston

Red-finned Blue-eye. Photo Calumn Hockey.

03/06/2024 03/06/2024

Unique nature reserve in western Queensland granted highest level of protection in Australia

Together with Bidjara Traditional Owners, we've celebrated Edgbaston Reserve’s new Special Wildlife Reserve status.

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Traditional Owners at Edgbaston.

26/09/2023 26/09/2023

Back to Bidjara Country

It didn’t take long before evidence of a rich cultural history was found. Ancient stone tools, rock art and the connecting of storylines and songlines characterised the first Bidjara cultural heritage survey in August.

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Bush Broadcast Live from Edgbaston

28/03/2023

Live from Edgbaston

Join staff, Jo Axford, Dean Gilligan and Tony Mayo, as they chat about the interlocking conservation measures protecting this unique landscape and its species.

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A spring at Edgbaston. By Peter Wallis

BUSHTRACKS 27/03/2023

Where the fish flow

The fight to save a tiny fish could hang on efforts to halt the upstream spread of its invasive foe.

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BLOG 12/01/2023

Striped Rocket Frogs expand range

A Striped Rocket Frog has been discovered on Edgbaston Reserve in central Queensland, a significant western range expansion. Normally found on the east coast, it's unusual to see it in the arid zone!

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BLOG 30/03/2021

Autumn fauna at Edgbaston

It’s not how some people would spend their holidays; early mornings and late nights, grappling reptiles, camping in wet muddy conditions… Nevertheless, myself and four other volunteers took time off from our regular work to help Dr Pippa Kern undertake the autumn fauna surveys at Edgbaston Reserve in central Queensland recently.

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BLOG 16/02/2021

Moving day for Australia’s smallest freshwater fish

A new home for some of Edgbaston’s Red-finned Blue-eye fish is good news for the critically endangered species. Last week, 27 fish from our captive breeding program were successfully translocated into one of the naturally occurring artesian springs.

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BLOG 10/11/2020

Edgy fauna survey, spa and salon

It has been a dream come true to spend the last two weeks helping with the spring fauna survey at Edgbaston reserve. I’m resting in the shade of the old, tin shearing shed, like the roos under the trees nearby, with some gusty afternoon breezes keeping it balmy, the sun beating down outside and a 360 degree view of vast open land. How lucky am I?!

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BLOG 21/09/2020

Studying the weird, whacky and wonderful

Over the last year I was privileged enough to study the ecophysiology of the fish at Edgbaston Reserve for my honours project at uni. Below is a little summary of my impressions of Edgy and my work. Let me say, what a year, what a project, what a place!

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BLOG 22/07/2020

A fire management first

Set between the harsh, arid desert uplands and escarpment of the Aramac range and the fertile black soil plains to the south, Edgbaston Reserve is a truly unique and diverse area. Last week Bush Heritage staff began its program of fire management activities on Edgbaston for the first time since purchase of this property.

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BLOG 29/04/2020

Rain at Edgbaston

Travelling through outback Queensland after rainfall is cause for excitement. Semi-arid Australia transforms as the seedbank germinates, floodwaters permeate through Country, and wildlife breeds/disperses while water and vegetation is abundant. Edgbaston Reserve recently provided us an opportunity to witness this transformation in all its glory.

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BLOG 07/04/2020

Getting ecological at Edgy

Having never been this far north-west before I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first visit out to Edgbaston Reserve in Central Queensland.

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BLOG 11/02/2020

Women working hard for conservation

I've been reflecting on how fabulous it is that Bush Heritage provides a workplace where women are urged to succeed in many varying roles, including those in that locals often tell me are 'men’s jobs'.

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BUSHTRACKS 06/06/2019

Museums of evolution

The artesian springs on Edgbaston Reserve are strongholds for ancient life, such as the world’s only population of the Red-finned Blue-eye fish. Thanks to a three-part conservation approach, their numbers are beginning to recover.

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BLOG 02/05/2019

Meeting a Mulga Snake

At Edgbaston Ecologist Pippa Kern demonstrates how snakes are more concerned with escaping and hiding than biting people by watching calmly as a released King Brown slithers past her feet. Snakes are wonderful creatures. Respect.

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BLOG 15/03/2019

How Red-finned Blue-eyes evolved

The Red-finned Blue-eye fish is remarkable for being found in just one small group of artesian springs on Edgbaston Reserve in central Queensland. But how did it get there?

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BLOG 18/01/2019

Volunteering at Edgbaston

Coming from mainly a plant ecology background, it was great to have the opportunity to help out on the recent trapping survey at Edgbaston reserve. We started off the week with digging pitfalls traps. This was a relatively new experience for me and I can confirm its pretty hard work in the high 30˚C heat!

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BLOG 03/10/2018

A holiday with a difference

Hard working volunteers, Ann and Frank Ingwersen share their observations and images from a recent round trip to Edgbaston and Pullen Pullen Reserves in Western Queensland.

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BLOG 10/08/2018

The arrival of baby blue-eyes!

This year Edgbaston has been humming with activity, as we implement the ambitious plan to recreate artesian spring habitat in order to breed the critically endangered Red-finned Blue-eye fish. And we've had an early success!

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BLOG 18/04/2018

Artificial springs at Edgbaston

Out at Edgbaston Reserve we've been busy getting our artificial springs up and running in preparation for the introduction of the critically endangered Red-finned Blue-eye. This has involved plumbing our new bore to three artificial springs, introducing artesian spring vegetation and invertebrates to create wetlands that replicate natural habitat.

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BLOG 23/02/2018

New threatened species at Edgbaston

As the new freshwater ecologist at Edgbaston reserve, I have been spending some time exploring the incredible spring complex. Recently I stumbled across an exciting visitor - an Australian Painted Snipe!

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BLOG 06/12/2017

Saving water to save a species

A new hole we just drilled at Edgbaston is not boring at all. In fact, it's a new artesian bore and we're very excited about it. It'll replace the old one, which has a cracked head and is wasting precious water.

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BLOG 19/03/2017

Gambusia spread after heavy rains

Rain events and flooding at Edgbaston Reserve allow many species to move between the springs. Unfortunately this is how the small feral pest fish Gambusia (Gambusia hollbrooki) invades precious Red-finned Blue-eye habitat. Freshwater Ecologist Rob Wager and volunteer ecologist Christina Kindermann were fortunate to be able to monitor a rainfall event and the dispersal of Gambusia.

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BLOG 14/03/2017

Stumbling onto a Brolga nest

Right behind me something crashed through the spinifex and squawked in a harsh guttural croaking sort of way. I jumped and ran. There was no thought of fight - I thought I was about to be consumed by frogzilla!

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BLOG 13/03/2017

Plum-headed Finches at Edgbaston

Have you ever seen thousands of Plum-headed Finches in one place? Freshwater Ecologist Rob Wager has been watching numbers of this species increase at Edgbaston Reserve.

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BLOG 15/06/2016

Reptile encounters at Edgbaston

Edgbaston Reserve is known for its endangered fish, plants and snails living in the artesian springs. It's also home to a variety of reptiles that make you stop what you're doing until they've moved along. In my recent visits to Edgbaston as a volunteer, I've had a couple of encounters with some pretty cool reptiles.

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BLOG 12/05/2016

Swags, snails & sunrises for the iROOS

In this post, University of Queensland student, John McLaughlin, shares some of the highlights of a recent iROOS trip to Edgbaston Reserve and explains why it's so important to leave the lecture theatre behind for a while and head bush to experience 'real life' conservation work.

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BLOG 22/04/2015

Water works on Edgbaston

We're fortunate to have recently had Dr Ken Tinley volunteer his time on Edgbaston to give advice on measures to repair and restore problematic aspects of the catchment's run off that were causing problems for the endangered red-fin blue-eye fish.

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BLOG 30/03/2015

Edgbaston’s hidden charms

As part of my doctoral research I've spent a lot of time on Bush Heritage Australia's Edgbaston Reserve. I've guided a lot of people through its plains and pockets with an expectant gaze to the faces of my visitors, looking for a reflection of the excitement I feel, but am always shocked when the sentiment expressed is 'underwhelmed'. So, for my first blog post I wanted to share three tips to help one understand why I think Edgbaston is the jewel of Bush Heritage's Queensland crown.

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