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Yourka Reserve, north Queensland. Photo by Martin Willis.
Yourka Reserve, north Queensland. Photo by Martin Willis.

Yourka

Established:

2007

Area:

43,500 ha

Location:

130km south of Cairns

Traditional Owners:

The Jirrbal & Warrungu people

On the way to Yourka Reserve you pass through one of the most diverse landscapes on the continent. Behind the rainforest of the eastern side of the great divide, the rain shadow brings the vegetation back to moist eucalypt forest and then woodlands.

Tall white Queensland Blue Gums line the rivers that run west, in this area feeding the Herbert River and its huge flanking Paper Bark and Blue Gum trees.

Yourka sits in the the Einasleigh Uplands. It also covers a variety of geology, resulting in a variety of ecosystems from tall wet eucalypt forests to open Iron Bark and Lemon-scented Gum woodlands down to riparian lowland woodlands.

Mature weeping paperbark fringing Herbert River, Yourka Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

Mareeba Rock Wallabies socialising at Yourka. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Yourka's residents comprise some 300 plant species, 131 bird species, 38 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and 27 native mammals, including a population of Mareeba Rock-wallabies.

There are localised areas of granite outcrop with steep faces and occasional overhangs, which they use as a refuge. The main one is Tiger Hill in the south.

Two sightings of Tree Kangaroos have also occurred on the reserve.

All this is protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

What Yourka Reserve protects

Animals: Koala (endangered), Red Goshawk (nationally vulnerable), Masked Owl (northern) (nationally vulnerable), Square-tailed Kite, Greater Glider (northern) (nationally vulnerable), Long-nosed Bandicoot, Brush-tailed Possum, Rakali, at least 3 species of Night Jar and a variety of Quail and Button Quail species.

Plants: Trigger plants, Dodonaea uncinata (a rare hopbush), Range bloodwood, Boronia occidentalis (a rare boronia), Green truffle orchid, Donkey Orchids.

Vegetation communities: Moist eucalypt woodland, Heathy woodland, Gum-topped box woodland, Tall riparian forests, Bloodwood–ironbark woodland, Poplar gum woodland.

Billabong at Yourka Reseve Photo: Leanne Hales

What we’re doing

The property’s pastoral history didn’t involve large scale land clearing, which happened nearby so it was quick to return to essentially intact bush land. But through disturbance by stock and vehicles a number of significant weeds established. Having removed domestic cattle, we’re now working to remove weeds such as Siam weed, Grader grass, Giant rats tail grass  and Lantana.

Fire management is particularly important for the control of Siam and Lantana.

Fire also plays an important role in regenerating tree and shrub species and stimulating fresh grass growth in the grassy woodlands.

Feral pigs, which damage sensitive wetlands, also need active management.

The Red Goshawk

One of Australia's most distinctive raptors is also one of the rarest. It's thought to have been here as long as the marsupials and eucalypts – right back to Gondwana. It's the largest goshawk, the rarest (with perhaps only 700 pairs left in the wild) and very elusive (with its vast home range, quiet nature and habit of changing nesting areas).

Listed as vulnerable in Queensland, Red Goshawks have been spotted in the Blue Gums near the Herbert River. Square-tailed Kites have also been recorded. Such sparsely distributed species need large habitat areas, which Yourka provides.

A Red Goshawk. Photo David Baker-Gabb.

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

Cultural values

Yourka Reserve includes traditional lands of both the Jirrbal and Warrungu people.

Stories from Yourka

Fire on Yourka Reserve, Jirrbal and Warrungu Country, QLD. Photo: Alistair Hartley

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Team spark

Teamwork, firebreaks and prescribed burning protects Yourka Reserve.

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BLOG 05/04/2023

Subterranean science on Yourka Reserve 

On Yourka Reserve, far north Queensland, a group of scientists were trawling through the dirt, looking for fungi in 2019. What they found has been confirmed as a new species in the Austroboletus genus.

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BLOG 08/02/2023

Fighting fire in the dry

A recent wildfire on Yourka Reserve has revealed the benefits of best practice controlled burning in tropical north Queensland.

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Grasstrees on Yourka Reserve. Photo Scott van Barneveld

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Call of the woodlands

Sound could hold the solution, according to Bush Heritage eco-acoustic researchers on a mission to save Australia’s birdlife.

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BLOG 01/09/2022

Platypus spotted on Yourka Reserve!

We recently found a Platypus in Cameron creek - the first record of the species on Yourka Reserve. It's a sign of good river health and hopefully, there are more sightings to come.

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Paul Hales conducting a controlled burn. Photo Martin Willis.

BUSHTRACKS 14/06/2022

The art of burning in the rain

How aerial, controlled burning is utilising climatic conditions at Yourka Reserve on Jirrbal and Warrungu country in Queensland.

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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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BLOG 29/03/2021

Most Magnificent Broodfrog you’ve never heard of

A newly formed working group in north Queensland could spell good news for the beautiful Magnificent Broodfrog. ‘Magnificent’ is certainly a great descriptor for this little frog, which only grows to a mere 28 mm - about the length of the end of your thumb. Its vividly coloured body exhibits flickering and swirls of orange, blue, brown, and bright yellow, with a strikingly marbled black and white belly.

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Leanne and Paul Hales at Yourka Reserve.

11/02/2021

Yourka Bush Chat

In this 50-minute webinar, Paul and Leanne Hales (Healthy Landscape Manager and Volunteer Coordinator) share their stories with you direct from beautiful Yourka Reserve lookout.

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BLOG 12/11/2020

Koala found on Yourka Reserve

Yourka Reserve is on the northernmost edge of the iconic Koala’s distribution, but we’ve never recorded a species confirmation… until we followed a late-night growl! After a spotlighting run at our Yourka Reserve in far north Queensland last month, some volunteers from Conservation Wildlife Management (CWN) reported hearing a distinctive call that they thought sounded like a Koala.

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BLOG 26/08/2020

Siaming solo in 2020?

Annual 'siaming' at Yourka Reserve took on a whole new look in 2020. This year, for the first time in 11 years, we faced the daunting prospect of siaming solo. With travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of covid-19, it was impossible to recruit a team of volunteers to help with the annual survey and treatment.

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BUSHTRACKS 12/06/2020

Six months on

Silver linings shine as Bush Heritage’s Yourka Reserve in far north Queensland regenerates following a significant bushfire last year.

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BUSHTRACKS 13/04/2020

My happy place (Leanne Hales)

My favourite part of Yourka Reserve is not actually a place, it’s a colour. Somewhere between blue, green, grey and silver is a shade I call Themeda Green.

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BLOG 26/03/2020

Bouncing back at Yourka

Recent camera trapping at Yourka Reserve confirmed that the residents of Tiger Hill are bouncing back after Summer wildfires.

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BLOG 31/01/2020

Bushfires update

As we enter a new month, I would like to take a moment to update you on recent developments towards our post-bushfire recovery. The devastation wrought has been confronting. My heart remains with those affected, those still fighting fires and those on the ground beginning the long process of recovery.

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BLOG 19/12/2019

Feral fish & fencing at Yourka

I have a personal interest in fish and wetlands. Yourka has beautiful Eastern Rainbowfish, Purple Spotted Gudgeons, and Spangled Perch throughout its waterways, as well as Flyspecked Hardyheads, Olive Perchlets,  Midgley's Carp Gudgeons, Sooty Granters, Hyrtl's Tandan and probably others in some locations.

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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 29/01/2019

Yourka detective work

What mammal is that? In partnership with WWF, Terry Mahney set up 40 camera traps on Yourka Reserve for 50 nights to survey for endangered species and got 150,000 shots!

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BLOG 25/09/2018

Tea Tree Orchid flowers through the dry

Even at the driest time of year, there are species that thrive - perfectly adapted to their environments and the harsh conditions. The Tea Tree Orchid, found in the paperpark stands of Yourka Reserve, chooses this time of year to flower and is a fragrant and vibrant feature in the greying, dry-season landscape.

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BLOG 15/03/2018

Wet season flooding in the north

This year the Wet season has been late to arrive but it's making up for lost time in northern Queensland. With daily rainfall totals exceeding 10 inches for four days straight, the creeks and billabongs of the Upper Herbert River catchment have surged across the landscape and turned the Yourka shed into a island.

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BLOG 19/02/2018

Fairytale fungi at Yourka Reserve

The wet season in far north Queensland is the perfect time to go searching for fungi and the Hales kids from Yourka Reserve are keen to share their latest, exciting find.

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BLOG 21/12/2017

Lessons from a bush classroom

Tassie-based volunteer, Kim Eastman certainly has a beautiful way with words. Last year her blog post about 'Grandparenting at Goonderoo' garnered comments and compliments from so many supporters and readers who share the value of a 'bush education' for our future generations.

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BUSHTRACKS 07/12/2017

Dealing with the devil

A long-term control program on Yourka Reserve is saving native animals and plants in Queensland from one of the world’s worst invasive weeds.

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BLOG 09/11/2017

Fauna trapping at Yourka

After a successful field trip back in September, three environmental science students from James Cook Uni returned to help with Spring fauna trapping at Yourka Reserve. The students helped set and check pitfall, funnel, cage and Elliot traps over four consecutive trapping nights, and also conducted spotlighting transects after dark.

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BUSHTRACKS 04/10/2017

The gliders of Yourka

Australia’s blink-and-you-miss-it marsupial is the latest glider confirmed on Yourka Reserve, in far north Queensland. Is it a possum? A mouse? What is it?

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BLOG 22/08/2017

The day the house arrived

Thursday 17th August was a monumental day for Yourka Reserve. It was the day that the much anticipated staff housing arrived. Three trucks, a crane and a house (in two pieces) arrived. Watching the arrival of the Yourka house was a little boy's dream come true and 7-year-old Seeley Hales was front and centre from the second it left the bitumen near Innot Hot Springs to the moment it pulled on to the reserve five hours later.

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BLOG 01/06/2017

When geckos attack

Thirteen new fauna species were added to the Yourka species list thanks to a week of survey work in late May. The additions included four mammals, five amphibians and four reptiles, including this feisty little gecko, who likes to punch well above his weight.

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BLOG 22/05/2017

Feathertail gliders confirmed at Yourka

Spotlighting again this week at Yourka and we're thrilled to announce there has been another addition to the species list - weighing just 10g-15g and floating over 20m between trees, it's the Feathertail Glider!

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BLOG 15/05/2017

Night watch at Yourka Reserve

Reserve Manager Paul Hales has made the most of mild conditions and an extra pair of hands (Dr Steve Murphy) to conduct edge burning at Yourka Reserve. The night fire-line patrols were the perfect chance to spotlight for both native and feral species. Freshly burnt country draws predators such as cats, dingoes and owls and reserve staff don't miss the chance for opportunistic feral animal control or additions to the species list.

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BLOG 18/10/2016

(Little) man on a mission

The billabongs of Sunday Creek valley are a well-known feature of Yourka Reserve in far north Queensland, so when our friends from the Australian and New Guinea Fishes Association (ANGFA) recently told us that there were feral fish present in the one below the Yourka shed we were a bit disappointed.

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BLOG 01/10/2016

Bowerbird caught in the act

According to the Field Guide to Australian Birds, the male Great Bowerbird is a sedentary fella who prefers to adorn his twin-walled bower with bleached bones and shells. But at Yourka Reserve, we know differently.

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BLOG 05/03/2016

Conservation dogs at work on Yourka

Australia Day 2016 saw six keen CWM members and two scent dogs in training arrive at Yourka, for what is hopefully the first of many trips in an ongoing working relationship. New volunteers on two and four legs are going to help us step up feral animal control projects in the North.

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BLOG 07/07/2015

Recognition as a Nature Refuge Area

One year since its declaration as a Nature Refuge Area, Bush Heritage Australia's Yourka Reserve has completed all NatureAssist-funded projects on the property, significantly boosting the Reserve's conservation capabilities and allowing Yourka to continue on a trajectory of sustainable land management independent of project funding.

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