Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Ninghan Indigenous Protected Area

Ninghan Indigenous Protected Area

Map showing the location of Ninghan Indigenous Protected Area, Arnhem Land, Western Australia

Western Australia | Declared in October 2006

When we came to Ninghan, the land was degraded.
My uncle used to say that we were put here to look after the land and everything on it.
I think it's good that I learn about the IPA now so that when it is my calling to run the station I will have the knowledge to carry on the responsibilities.
Drew Bell, Traditional Owner

Learning from elders

Ninghan Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was declared in October 2006. The IPA takes its name from the gently sloping form of Mount Singleton - nyingarn, or echidna, which rises 678 metres from the surrounding plains.

Sitting at the junction of four bioregions, the property marks the transition from remnant eucalyptus woodlands to expansive mulga plains. The rolling Ninghan Ridge landscape embraces a system of smaller hills, with the verdant green ribbons of natural drainage courses leading to creamy yellow sandplains, and salt lake margins bounded with shrublands.

Ninghan IPA covers an area of around 48,000 hectares within a larger pastoral station which sits on the Great Northern Highway, 350 kilometres from Perth. The former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission purchased the property's lease for the Pindiddy Aboriginal Corporation in 1993.

The Ninghan area served as a traditional meeting place for the Badimaya, Nyoongar, Yamatji and Wongai peoples, with the locals trading balga gum for spearheads and ochre from outlying country. One of the IPA's significant cultural sites, Warrdagga Rock, is a huge granite dome featuring rock pools with semi-permanent water, and plants that flourish in the Rock's run-off.

Three generations of the local Bell family are caring for Ninghan and using their traditional knowledge to manage the land. They have reduced sheep numbers on the property from 18,000 in 1993 to around 2,300 a decade later, and the environmental benefits of reducing pressure on the land are now being seen in landscape regeneration and erosion reduction.

IPA funding is helping Traditional Owners to compile a list of Aboriginal and English plant names and their uses, to help others understand the natural and cultural significance of the Ninghan flora.

One of the main IPA objectives is to maintain the existing high level of biodiversity by fixing environmental damage caused by feral goats, and preventing the spread of weeds. IPA funding has helped the Traditional Owners find a solution, using portable goat trap yards and permanent fencing to aid the ongoing removal of goats and other feral animals. Around 9,000 feral goats have been removed from the property over a 10 year period.

IPA funding is also used for the development and implementation of fire regimes, and the installation of vegetation monitoring sites. Native sandalwood is widespread on the property, and a sustainable business venture using this renewable resource is being investigated.

Ninghan forms part of a larger area managed for conservation purposes, with two adjacent properties at Mount Gibson (managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy) and the Charles Darwin/White Wells Reserve (managed by Bush Heritage Australia) boding well for long-term environmental stewardship in the region.

Ninghan IPA is managed in line with the following International Union for Conservation of Nature categories:

Download the Ninghan Indigenous Protected Area - fact sheet (PDF - 719 KB)