Tonkoro, Melrose stations to become protected areas

Published Thursday, 25 January, 2024 at 01:22 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation
The Honourable Leanne Linard

  • The Miles Government has this week purchased two western Queensland cattle stations, with the more than 200,000 hectares of land acquired to be added to the Protected Areas Estate.
  • Tonkoro Station, near Longreach and Melrose Station, near Winton, contain habitat for rare and critically endangered species.
  • Securing these properties will also help protect the headwaters of the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin, one of the last remaining free-flowing arid river systems in the world.

The Miles Government has secured key habitat for the critically endangered Night Parrot as part of the acquisition of two cattle stations in Western Queensland.

The purchase of Tonkoro Station near Longreach and almost all of Melrose Station near Winton will enable the more than 200,000 hectares of land acquired to be added to Queensland’s protected area.

The acquisitions are part of the Miles Government’s commitment to grow Queensland’s protected areas, which now totals more than 14.51 million hectares

Together, Tonkoro and Melrose stations represent a nationally significant protected area acquisition under the government’s $262.5 million funding package for protected area expansion.

These two properties will also make a major contribution to protecting the headwaters of the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin, one of the last remaining free-flowing arid river systems in the world and one of Australia’s most important inland catchments.

Both properties contain regional ecosystems and biodiversity values which are either not represented, or are under-represented, in Queensland’s existing protected area estate.

These acquisitions will consolidate suitable habitat for a range of rare and endangered species, including the critically endangered Night Parrot and the highly restricted Opalton Grasswren.

Acquiring the properties will protect, in perpetuity, two significant indigenous cultural landscapes. Tonkoro Station adjoins Goneaway National Park and is known to be part of the lands of the Maiawali people and Melrose Station adjoins Bladensburg National Park which is part of the lands of the Koa People.

Planning and engagement with First Nations people and local stakeholders will commence in the coming months. This will help determine capital and operating funding required to develop suitable infrastructure and land management operations which will create jobs and economic benefits for local communities.

Future opportunities for ecotourism will also be explored.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister, Leanne Linard:

“Queensland is recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot, with 50 per cent of species who make their home in our state found nowhere else on the planet. That’s why it’s essential that we protect areas of high environmental value across the state.

“The Miles Government is strongly committed to expanding Queensland’s protected areas.

“The 2023/24 State Budget included $30.6 million for land acquisitions to expand our network of protected areas. This investment is part of the historic commitment of $262.5 million made in 2022/23.

“The purchase of Tonkoro and Melrose stations is funded through this investment.

“Our protected area estate is also a major contributor to Queensland’s economic prosperity.

“They attract over 50 million visits per year, including visitors from around the world. This injects billions of dollars into the Queensland economy and supports thousands of jobs across the State.

“Growing our protected area estate is great for the environment and the economy.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Conservation Council protected areas campaigner, Nicky Moffat:

“One of these new properties, in particular, once dedicated as national park, has the potential to make a big difference to the recovery of the night parrot, a bird previously thought to be extinct.

“It’s a much-needed good news story for Queensland’s nature.

“The properties also contain unrepresented regional ecosystems, artesian springs and a rare wetland system.

“The properties will connect nature reserves and national parks; it’s exactly what’s needed for nature to thrive in the region.”

Further information:

Images of the properties are available here:

The acquisition of Tonkoro Station (around 138,000 hectares) will connect the protected area corridor from Diamantina National Park, Mt Windsor Nature Refuge, Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve and Goneaway National Park, creating a total protected area of 1,220,102 hectares.

The around 65,000 hectare Melrose Station, which adjoins Bladensburg National Park (84,900 hectares) would almost double the protected area to 150,721 hectares.

A two-year transitional arrangement for both properties will enable the previous landowner to meet existing cattle supply contracts and gradually destock the property and transfer the business interests and assets off the property.


Media contact: Scott Chandler – (07) 3719 7339