Pullen Pullen

Established:
2016
Area:
56,000 hectares
Location:
Queensland
Traditional Owners:
Maiawali people

Pullen Pullen Reserve was established as a sanctuary to protect what was, at the time, the only known population of endangered Night Parrots in the world.

This nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird is famous for avoiding detection, and has been described by the Smithsonian Institution as 'the planet’s most elusive bird'. Prior to 2013 the last living specimen had been collected in Western Australia in 1912.

An elusive Night Parrot. Photo Nick Leseberg.
An elusive Night Parrot. Photo Nick Leseberg.
The Pullen Pullen Night Parrot population was discovered in 2013 by ornithologist John Young, who captured several photos and a few seconds of video footage of a live bird.

Global interest in the discovery was so intense that the exact location was kept a closely guarded secret to protect the birds from disturbance.

The Queensland Government’s approval to transfer a former pastoral lease to Bush Heritage recognised the national and international significance of this land for securing survival of the Night Parrot.

We've been working closely with scientists to map the habitat at Pullen Pullen Reserve, learn about the Night Parrot’s biology, and put the necessary conservation planning in place to increase the bird’s chances of survival.

Pullen Pullen is a harsh landscape of Spinifex and Gibber plains interspersed by rocky 'jumpup' mesas and water courses lined by gidgi and Mulga trees.
Pullen Pullen is a harsh landscape of Spinifex and Gibber plains interspersed by rocky 'jumpup' mesas and water courses lined by gidgi and Mulga trees.
Dr Steve Murphy and his team captured more than 100,000 hours of sound data to better understand habitat use and aspects of breeding biology. This information is vital for guiding conservation tasks to protect the Night Parrots from feral animals, wildfire and grazing pressure from cattle and kangaroos.

The species has since been placed on the list of 20 priority bird species as part of the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Strategy.

Sanctuary at Pullen Pullen Reserve is critical for this special bird that still could be lost forever if we don’t work together for the long term to protect it.
– Rob Murphy, Bush Heritage’s Executive Manager North

What Pullen Pullen protects

Pullen Pullen Reserve is located in a bioregion that's under-represented in the National Reserve System.

A Plains Wanderer. Photo Lachlan L. Hall.
A Plains Wanderer. Photo Lachlan L. Hall.
The region is home to other endangered and vulnerable birds such as the Plains-wanderer (critically endangered) and Grey Falcon, and mammals such as the Kowari and Dusky Hopping-mouse

The reserve’s landscape features sandstone, claystone and siltstone plateaus (or mesas), skirted by long unburnt spinifex that's important roosting and breeding habitat for Night Parrots.

Away from the plateaus, extensive gibber plains support chenopod shrublands that are dissected by braided watercourses lined with gidgee and mulga.

What we’re doing

In 2020 we successfully installed important accommodation infrastructure that will give our land managers, ecologists, research partners and volunteers a sheltered base to work from. 

In this remote landscape where temperatures readily reach mid-40s, a reprieve from the elements will give us a chance to stay longer on reserve with each trip and potentially to continue conservation work in the landscape all year round.

We're confident this is a big step forward that will lead to more conservation gains, as well as help us realise opportunities to share knowledge and support connection to Country for Maiawali People, the Traditional Owners of Pullen Pullen.

A Special Wildlife Reserve

Pullen Pullen has had the honour of being declared Queensland’s first ever Special Wildlife Reserve.

This new class of protected area, legislated by the Queensland Government, provides National-Park-level protections to privately owned nature reserves.

Queensland is the only state to provide National-Park-level protection to private land, making the declaration of Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve an Australian first as well.

This status will ensure the land is permanently protected from activities such as mining, timber harvesting or grazing. It's also great recognition of the tireless work done since the land's purchase in 2016, such as feral predator control and fire management across the reserve.

Studying the Night Parrot

Nick Leseberg setting one of the many Song Meters on Pullen Pullen. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
Nick Leseberg setting one of the many Song Meters on Pullen Pullen. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Since purchasing the reserve, we've also worked closely with researchers and scientists to study the elusive Night Parrot and better understand its ecology and how best it can be protected.

PhD researcher Nick Leseberg, from University of Queensland, has finalised his PhD on Night Parrot ecology, which builds on three years of research at the reserve by Dr Steve Murphy. Nick made some important discoveries, including recording fledglings and finding nests. Updates from Nick and more of our research partners are available in the related stories below.

Cultural values

Pullen Pullen is the Maiawali word for Night Parrot. The sanctuary is on traditional Maiawali country and includes culturally significant areas such as worked stone scatters.

Our work at Pullen Pullen to protect the Night Parrot is supported by the Queensland Government’s Nature Assist program.