Paroo Floodplain and Currawinya

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The Paroo River IBA contains the lower floodplain of the Paroo, including the Paroo Overflow lakes: Tongo, Yantangabee, Poloko, Gilpoko, Peery, Nine Mile, Dick and Copago Lakes and Mullawoolka Basin, and is extended to include all of the overlapping Currawinya and Paroo-Darling National Parks and Nocoleche Nature Reserve (these protected areas were listed as a Ramsar site in 2007). Though much attention is focused on the larger lakes, many smaller waterbodies support high waterbird diversity and, for some species, significant numbers (McDougall and Timms, 2001). It also includes the Yantabulla swamp and the Cuttaburra Creek floodplain, which floods about once every three years. The Paroo floodplain is a complex network of channels, wetlands and lakes on a vast floodplain area. The lake shores and channels support samphire, lignum, canegrass, other grasses, black-box and riparian woodland communities which flood seasonally. The area receives water from local rainfall or the Paroo River. The climate is arid, with low and very variable summer-dominant rainfall; the long-term mean annual rainfall at Currawinya is 278mm. In rare events, floodwaters from the Warrego River via the Cuttaburra Creek and Channels, or south from the Darling River, may enter the Overflow. The Overflow is a complex branched system, with direction of water flow governed by volume. The bulk of the water travels down the western branch to fill shallow channels, floodplain depressions and lakes. Ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 metres deep some of these lakes retain water for up to three years. Tongo, Yantabangee, Poloko, Gilpoko, Peery, Nine Mile, Dick and Copago Lakes, and Mullawoolka Basin are a chain of Overflow lakes on the western branch that are filled sequentially by floodwaters. This filling order may be reversed if floodwaters from the Darling River back up along the Paroo Overflow. The Currawinya National Park also includes Acacia-dominated shrublands mostly on sand sheets and dunes but with some areas of uplands. Kingsford et al. (1997) estimated 400,000 waterbirds in the system: Paroo River = 108,000, Paroo River Overflow = 29,000, Mullawooka Basin = 49,000, Lake Numalla = 25,600, Lake Peery = 35,900, Lake Poloko = 28,700, Lake Wyara = 85,000, Yantabulla Swamp estimate = 80,000, Yantangabee Lake = 35,000.

Key biodiversity
Species present in regionally important numbers include Australian Pelican (max 7400 in Currawinya), Eurasian Coot (12,987 in Currawinya) and Whiskered Tern (990 in Currawinya)(R. Johnson in litt. 2007). The vulnerable Painted Honeyeater and near threatened Grey Falcon and Australian Bustard are rare in the IBA (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: A diverse reptile and frog fauna is documented for Currawinya National Park. In a relatively small mammal fauna, the koala and brush-tailed possum are notable as being at the western limits of their range in SW Queensland. A bilby Macrotis lagotis re-introduction project is underway. The Park contains several artesian discharge springs (Regional Ecosystem 6.3.23: Endangered -Nature Conservation Act (Qld))

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Upstream harvesting of water and any other activity that reduces flow through the catchment must be regulated to ensure regular natural floods.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In Currawinya, waterbird congregations have been monitored by Park staff and external researchers. Limnological and aquatic invertebrate studies occur here periodically. The University of Qld has conducted numerous studies of mulga lands ecosystem function and management here. A predator-proof enclosure of 25 sq. km has been constructed and bilbies Macrotis lagotis have been released.

Protected areas
Te IBA overlaps the Currawinya and Paroo-Darling National Parks and the Nocoleche Nature Reserve.

Land ownership
Privately owned grazing properties with the national parks under the control of State bodies - Currawinya NP = QPWS; Nocoleche and Paroo-Darling NPs = NSW NPWS.

Richard Johnson drafted an IBA account for Currawinya NP; Richard Kingsford provided count data.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Paroo Floodplain and Currawinya. Downloaded from on 07/02/2023.