Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Minister for the Arts

Creating a refuge along the famous Canning Stock Route

Media release
23 April 2013

More than six million hectares of Western Australia's striking desert country straddling the famous Canning Stock Route will be protected from today with the dedication of the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area.

Environment Minister Tony Burke sent his congratulations to the hundreds of Martu traditional owners who gathered at well six, about four hours drive from Wiluna, to celebrate.

"All of this country, all six million hectares, belongs to the Birriliburu native title holders. I'd like to thank them for their decision today to dedicate their country for conservation.

"The dedication also means that Australia now has a continuous wildlife corridor of more than 24 million hectares stretching across the centre of our country, taking in seven Indigenous Protected Areas and two nature reserves, stretching from South Australia's APY Lands through the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and on through the Western Deserts.

"Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area itself takes in parts of both the Little Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert, its landscape ranging from sand dunes, sandstone mountain ranges to salt lakes and claypans.

"It's home to a surprisingly high number of vulnerable or threatened species like the black-flanked rock wallaby, brush-tailed mulgara, greater bilby and the great desert skink.

"Ancient rock art galleries and culturally significant sites are scattered throughout the area, including the extraordinary yet largely unknown Carnarvon Range.

"The Australian Government is proudly supporting the Birriliburu native title holders to dedicate this Indigenous Protected Area. We've provided $700,000 since 2009 to help them manage this vast landscape for all Australians.

"It's another great example of Indigenous Australians successfully managing their country while providing local employment through ranger programs."

Birriliburu joins an Australia-wide network of 54 Indigenous Protected Areas, protecting more than 43 million hectares across the country.

For more on the global World Indigenous Network Conference being held in Darwin from 26 May visit

For more on Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area visit