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Explore the unique landscape of the Gnaraloo Wilderness Area

Gnaraloo comprises a number of unique landscapes, roll your cursor over the highlighted areas to learn more about our wetlands, coastal areas, beaches, scrublands...

Mangroves

Lake MacLeod Blue Holes and mangroves in Western Australia

The largest inland mangrove area in Australia is located around Lake MacLeod. Mangroves are complex habitats that provide homes to plants and animals that have adapted to live in harsh saline conditions. They are also considered important carbon sinks reducing levels of greenhouse gases. However these highly sensitive environments can be easily destroyed so we are working to understand more about how we can conserve them.

Lake MacLeod

Lake MacLeod

The Lake MacLeod wetland system, on the Eastern boundary of Gnaraloo Station, is a highly sensitive environmental area. It is one of Australia’s most important stop-over and drought refuges for migratory shorebirds, and it supports Australia's largest inland community of mangroves. It is linked to the Indian Ocean and the Ningaloo Marine Park through underground water channels from as far as 18km away.

Turtle Nesting Beach

Gnaraloo Bay Rookery

GNARALOO BAY ROOKERY
Every year endangered sea turtles come ashore to nest on our beaches. The Gnaraloo Bay Rookery and the Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery are some of the larger known loggerhead nesting sites on the Ningaloo coast. But these turtles are under threat from climate change, human development, pollution and fishing. So our scientists are working with the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program to identify, monitor and protect their rookeries.

Turtle Nesting Beach

Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery

GNARALOO CAPE FARQUHAR ROOKERY
Every year endangered sea turtles come ashore to nest on our beaches. The Gnaraloo Bay Rookery and the Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery are some of the larger known loggerhead nesting sites on the Ningaloo coast. But these turtles are under threat from climate change, human development, pollution and fishing. So our scientists are working with the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program to identify, monitor and protect their rookeries.

Coastal Sand Dunes

Where the desert meets the sea

Sand dunes play an important role in protecting the coastline. They act as a buffer against wave damage during storms, protecting the land from the sea. They also provide habitat for crustaceans, shorebirds and plants. Our dunes are fragile and can be seriously damaged or destroyed, by natural causes or development. With pressure to develop Gnaraloo Bay as a tourist node, the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation is working to protect the wilderness and wildlife.

Ningaloo Reef

Gnaraloo coral - Ningaloo Reef

The Ningaloo Reef is a world heritage listed site and one of the world’s largest fringing reefs. Turtles and a huge variety of fish, sharks, whales and coral species can be found here. It is regarded as one of the last natural wonders of the ocean. But in recent years, coral reefs have come under threat from global warming and human activities. The Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation will do everything possible to keep this national treasure healthy for our future generations.

Gnargoo Range

Gnargoo Range

This area is a part of the anticline structures of the Giralia Range, Rough Range and Gnargoo Range. The geological history involved marine sedimentation, tectonic stress and the uplift and exposure of tertiary sediments. It recognised for its high conservation values, where the plateau is the sole recorded of an endemic mallee. However, very little is currently known about the Gnargoo Range and our scientists are enthusiastic to find out more.

Desert grasslands and scrublands

Scrubland at Gnaraloo

Sandwiched between the coastal dunes and Lake MacLeod, Gnaraloo has a large area of almost untouched Australian scrubland. This hot and arid environment is a home to diverse shrub, grass, and animal species, some of which are endemic and unique to the area. We know it is an important habitat for Emus, Kangaroos and Perenties. However, it has never been scientifically catalogued so there could be further undiscovered species that depend on this area to survive.

Aboriginal Heritage

There are over 140 Aboriginal sites registered in the Department of Indigenous Affairs (Western Australia) within the Ningaloo area. Such areas are protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (Western Australia) and include burial places, engravings, man-made structures, mythological and ceremonial areas, artefact scatters, grinding patches and grooves (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Commonwealth, 2008). The Baiyungu people are recognized as the traditional owners of the Gnaraloo coastline.

Under the ground – Karst

Underground cavern at Gnaraloo

Gnaraloo has a network of underground caves and caverns that were formed by dissolving, extending up to 18km inland. They sometimes form river channels and groundwater resources. These caves provide habitat to stygofauna and troglofauna, some of which are rare and believed to face extinction. Stygofauna is an ancient group of animals dating from pre-Gondwana that live in water in the underground caves. Troglofauna is a group of animals living in air spaces in the rocks in the underground caves. Many of these species are still being identified by scientists.

Where the desert meets the sea

Gnaraloo is an important destination for nationally threatened sea turtles and migratory birds, located at the southern end of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. It is an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Heritage Site that extends 260km down the Ningaloo Reef reaching inland to include a wetland of international significance. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the Ningaloo Reef to its World Heritage list, stating that its ʽlush and colourful underwater scenery provides a stark and spectacular contrast with the arid and rugged landʼ.

World heritage reef

Gnaraloo is home to stunning fish, corals, turtles, sharks and whales. The coastal and marine areas are magnificent but fragile natural assets, notable for their sense of remoteness and pristine beauty.

Biodiversity hotspot

Gnaraloo is home to a diverse and natural ecosystem. Its landscape is classified as having high environmental sensitivity and provides habitat for numerous animals and plant species.

Inland wilderness

Located on the eastern boundary of Gnaraloo, Lake MacLeod supports one of the world’s largest inland mangrove habitat and is considered to be of high national and international significance.

Breathtaking night scapes

There are so few places in the world where you can see billions of stars, planets and the milky way. Gnaraloo is one of them.

High conservation value

Gnaraloo features a magnificent geological and dynamic landscape, including its very own Gnargoo range.

Cave-dwelling organisms

Within the karst ecosystems, stygofaunal and troglofaunal species yield information about evolution of life on earth.

We are holding this for the next generation.

As environments are constantly changing in response to human activities, it is critically important to continue to protect these significant natural areas. Join us today to help us protect the Gnaraloo Wilderness Area so you and your kids can keep exploring it.

Gnaraloo is a rare and unique area as it falls within or immediately buffers:
• a world heritage area;
• a national heritage area;
• an inland wetland of international importance.

Gnaraloo is home to species protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth):
• nationally threatened species and ecological communities (for example, sea turtle and bird species); and
• migratory species (sea turtle and bird species).
These points are all listed under the Commonwealth legislation as “Matters of National Environmental Significance”.

Given the known extraordinary and significant environmental profile, importance and significance of the Gnaraloo area, it is important to value and continue to protect areas like it as an investment in the future.

The landscape and ocean at Gnaraloo are fragile and sensitive to human disturbance.

The information was compiled by Karen Hattingh, Simone Bosshard, Tessa Concannon, Tess DeSerisy, Heather Shipp and Megan Soulsby.

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