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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Queensland bird sanctuary saved

Media release
8 December 2009
PG/391

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Environment Minister Peter Garrett today announced a $1.79 million investment to save one of Australia’s most precious wetlands – home to more than 12,000 brolgas.

The Rudd Government’s commitment will help Queensland community group, the Wetlands and Grasslands Foundation buy and protect Cromarty Wetlands, an outstanding 1,671 hectare property just south of Townsville that will become the Wongaloo Conservation Park.

Visiting the property today, Mr Garrett said the $1.79 million Caring for our Country funding covers two-thirds of the $2.5 million purchase price. The Queensland Government and Townsville and Burdekin councils have also committed funding and the Foundation is working with community donors to raise the remainder.

“After fighting for nearly 10 years to protect this outstanding wetland, I’m confident the community will put their full support behind this purchase,” Mr Garrett said.

“Lots of people will know this place as Cromarty wetlands, but for a long time it’s had another name that I really love - the Aboriginal name for the main wetland is ‘Wongaloo’., meaning ‘quiet waters’.

“This important wetland adjoins the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and forms the core of one of the largest coastal wetland complexes in eastern Australia – a really important breeding site for brolga and magpie geese.

“Wongaloo is surrounded on three sides by national park and other conservation areas, and its protection will greatly improve the resilience of the nearby Ramsar-listed wetland.

“Protecting Wongaloo helps us create a consolidated corridor of protected habitat for species that are expected to move as our climate changes – an unbroken link all the way from the coast and wetlands to the elevated country in Bowling Green Bay National Park.

“Wongaloo is only 30 minutes drive from Townsville, so there are great ecotourism opportunities here for local businesses - it’s one of those great situations where we can benefit both the environment and the economy.

“Wongaloo is a great addition to the National Reserve System – our funding targets the best and most important Australian landscapes and Wongaloo definitely hits that mark.”

For information on the National Reserve System visit www.environment.gov.au/parks/nrs/

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