Biodiversity publications archive

Refugia for biological diversity in arid and semi-arid Australia

Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 4
S.R. Morton, J. Short and R.D. Barker, with an Appendix by G.F. Griffin and G. Pearce
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995

10. Refugia in Western Australia (continued)

10.28. Reference number WA28

Refuge area: Bungle Bungles

Biogeographic region: Ord-Victoria Plains

Type of refuge: Gorges

Lat./Long. 17°21’S / 128°21’E

Quality of refuge: Highly significant (6)

Area (km²): <1,000

Chief refuge value

Remote inland occurrence of riverine rainforest in Osmond Range immediately to the north of the Bungle Bungle massif.

General description

Masssive beds of sandstone tower nearly 300 m above the surrounding sandplain. Numerous sheer-sided canyons cut into the massif; there are arrays of sandstone towers marked with orange and black bands from horizontal bedding planes.

ANZECC-listed species

Gouldian finch Erythrura gouldiae (E) (one record only in 1989)1.

Regional endemics

None identified.

Relict species

Sheltered gorges of Bungle Bungle massif provide habitat for relicts of wetter climate3: the fern Taenitis pinnata, the undescribed palm Livistona sp. ‘Victoria River’, resurrection grass Micaira sp., the daisy Erigeron ambiguus from ephemeral watercourses, and from the chasm wall: Grevillea psilantha, Lindernia sp. nov., Stemodia sp. nov., and Plectrachne sp. nov. Riverine habitat also includes the moss Uleobryum peruvianum, the vine Stephania japonica, the shrub Comesperma secundum, and the trees Euodia elleryana and Leptospermum longifolium4.

Other significant species

Permanent and semi-permanent watercourses support closed forests: trees such as Euodia elleryana, Syzygium angophoroides, Carallian brachiata and Ficus spp.; Breynia rhynocarpa is a shrub restricted to sheltered gorges.

Significant mammals incude Ningbing antechinus Pseudantechinus ningbing, rock ringtail possum Pseudocheirus dahli, northern nail-tail wallaby Onychogalea unguifera, Kimberley mouse Pseudomys laborifex, and large-footed mouse-eared bat Myotis adversus. Chestnut-backed button-quail Turnix castanota and grey falcons Falco hypoleucos occur in Purnululu1.

Key threats

Feral livestock (donkey and cattle), presence of cat, horse, pig, camel and water buffalo, weeds, uncontrolled tourism (damage to tracks, delicate rock outcrops in Purnululu), and integration of Aboriginal aspirations into landscape management.

Land tenure

National Park and Conservation Reserve4.

Key references

1. Woinarski (1992)

2. Christensen and Haynes (1986/7)

3. Menkhorst and Cowie (1992)

4. Burbidge et al. (1991)