Atherton Tablelands

Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 35,418 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2018 high unfavourable negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The IBA consists of Lake Tinaroo and an adjacent region of the Atherton Tablelands south of the lake and between Atherton and Malanda, in northern Queensland. The area is defined as including all sites which regularly support significant numbers of Sarus Cranes, including roosts and regular long-term feeding sites. This includes the whole extent of the open habitat along the shores of Lake Tinaroo. Other key roosting sites are at Hasties Swamp NP and on private land at Bromfield Crater. The climate of the IBA is tropical with warm to hot conditions throughout the year (mean maximum temperatures range from 22°C in July to 30°C in December) and most of the 1421 mm mean annual rainfall occurring in summer (Bureau of Meteorology 2007). The Atherton Tablelands is basaltic in origin and, with the exception of a few small volcanic cones, is mostly flat to gently undulating. The region mainly consists of arable land and improved pasture with numerous small wetlands and residual patches of rainforest, particularly along gullies. The region is dissected by a number of perennial streams and small rivers. Lake Tinaroo is 15 min northeast of Atherton and covers 4034 ha. The lake was formed after a dam blocking the Barron River was built in 1959. The dam is used for irrigation and recreational boating and fishing with numerous secluded inlets of varying depths and extent of aquatic vegetation. It is regularly stocked with fish in addition to large resident populations. The IBA also includes some remnant patches of rainforest supporting populations of many rainforest birds of conservation significance such as the Curtain Fig National Park.

Key biodiversity
The IBA supports regionally significant numbers of Plumed Whistling-Duck (at least 2000 in dry season), Cotton Pygmy-goose (75 - 200), Great Crested Grebe (65 - 200), Little Black Cormorant (maximum 2000) and Great Cormorant (maximum 200) (E. Scambler in litt. 2008; G. Harrington pers. comm; J. Leighton pers. comm.). The IBA also supports a substantial wintering population of Magpie Goose. The IBA is otherwise occupied by a suite of tropical grassland and wetland birds including most of the population of the Atherton subspecies of Singing Bushlark, a wide variety of raptors during winter and increasing numbers of Cattle Egret. Lake Tinaroo supports a variety of waterbirds including ducks, grebes, cormorants and coots. The following near threatened, restricted-range or biome-restricted species have been recorded in small numbers or are restricted to rainforest fragments within the IBA: Grey Falcon, Australian Bustard, Lovely Fairy-wren, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, White-gaped Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater, Banded Honeyeater, Macleay's Honeyeater, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria's Riflebird, Pale-yellow Robin and Grey-headed Robin (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: Platypus are common at Lake Tinaroo.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Atherton Tablelands. Downloaded from on 27/02/2020.