Keep River

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
This IBA is an area of the upper Keep River straddling the Western Australia - Northern Territory border about 400 km south-west of Darwin. The IBA is defined by the area known to support Gouldian Finches but much of the area is poorly surveyed and further fieldwork is needed to better define the boundaries. The area is dominated by open savanna woodland with an understorey of native grasses on sandstone, and areas of open grassland. The area is highly monsoonal, with rain falling mostly from December to March, averaging 873 mm annually at Newry Station. The hills are drained by a network of ephemeral creeks, and the larger rivers retain pools of water through the dry season. The key features supporting the Gouldian Finches are the low grazing pressure and history of few extensive hot fires, which allow grasses to seed, persistent waterholes for drinking and hollow-bearing trees for nesting. The 400 ha Newry Station Gouldian Finch site is on the Register of the National Estate and about half of the IBA is in the Keep River National Park. The Northern Territory portion of the IBA, and additional land immediately to the north of the IBA, is classified as a site of conservation significance by the Northern Territory Government (Ward and Harrison 2009).

Key biodiversity
Small numbers of the restricted-range White-quilled Rock-Pigeon and the biome-restricted Sandstone Shrike-thrush have been recorded (NRETA 2007). The near threatened Australian Bustard is rare in the IBA (Atlas of Australian Birds database). The near threatened Chestnut-backed Button-quail and Partridge Pigeon are also likely to occur in the Keep River region, but no definitive records are available.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The frequency and timing of fires must be continually managed. Continue to support conservation management on Newry Station.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Northern Territory portion of the IBA and adjacent land to the north are included within the 'Keep River area' site of conservation significance as classified by the Northern Territory Government (Harrison et al. 2009; Ward and Harrison 2009). A new plan of management is being prepared for the Keep River National Park, and park rangers are actively managing weeds, feral animals, erosion and fire in the park. A formal off-reserve conservation agreement has been established on Newry Station to exclude livestock from an important Gouldian Finch breeding colony and populations of finches are monitored at Newry Station and Keep River National Park.

Protected areas
The IBA overlaps the Keep River National Park.

Land ownership
Mostly Newry pastoral lease and Keep River National Park; other leases in Western Australia. The national park is the responsibility of NT Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts.

Site access / Land-owner requests
Off-road access requires permission from the relevant station managers.

Louise Harrison of NRETA provided draft accounts and advice on the site.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Keep River. Downloaded from on 21/05/2022.