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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 145o 32.80' East  17o 16.93' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 35,418 ha
Altitude 620 - 875m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports more than 1% of the global population of the vulnerable Sarus Crane and an unquantified but apparently significant population of the near threatened Bush Stone-curlew.

Site description The IBA consists of Lake Tinaroo and an adjacent region of the Atherton Tablelands south of the lake and between Atherton and Malanda, in northern Queensland. The area is defined as including all sites which regularly support significant numbers of Sarus Cranes, including roosts and regular long-term feeding sites. This includes the whole extent of the open habitat along the shores of Lake Tinaroo. Other key roosting sites are at Hasties Swamp NP and on private land at Bromfield Crater. The climate of the IBA is tropical with warm to hot conditions throughout the year (mean maximum temperatures range from 22°C in July to 30°C in December) and most of the 1421 mm mean annual rainfall occurring in summer (Bureau of Meteorology 2007). The Atherton Tablelands is basaltic in origin and, with the exception of a few small volcanic cones, is mostly flat to gently undulating. The region mainly consists of arable land and improved pasture with numerous small wetlands and residual patches of rainforest, particularly along gullies. The region is dissected by a number of perennial streams and small rivers. Lake Tinaroo is 15 min northeast of Atherton and covers 4034 ha. The lake was formed after a dam blocking the Barron River was built in 1959. The dam is used for irrigation and recreational boating and fishing with numerous secluded inlets of varying depths and extent of aquatic vegetation. It is regularly stocked with fish in addition to large resident populations. The IBA also includes some remnant patches of rainforest supporting populations of many rainforest birds of conservation significance such as the Curtain Fig National Park.

Key Biodiversity The IBA supports regionally significant numbers of Plumed Whistling-Duck (at least 2000 in dry season), Cotton Pygmy-goose (75 - 200), Great Crested Grebe (65 - 200), Little Black Cormorant (maximum 2000) and Great Cormorant (maximum 200) (E. Scambler in litt. 2008; G. Harrington pers. comm; J. Leighton pers. comm.). The IBA also supports a substantial wintering population of Magpie Goose. The IBA is otherwise occupied by a suite of tropical grassland and wetland birds including most of the population of the Atherton subspecies of Singing Bushlark, a wide variety of raptors during winter and increasing numbers of Cattle Egret. Lake Tinaroo supports a variety of waterbirds including ducks, grebes, cormorants and coots. The following near threatened, restricted-range or biome-restricted species have been recorded in small numbers or are restricted to rainforest fragments within the IBA: Grey Falcon, Australian Bustard, Lovely Fairy-wren, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, White-gaped Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater, Banded Honeyeater, Macleay's Honeyeater, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria's Riflebird, Pale-yellow Robin and Grey-headed Robin (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: Platypus are common at Lake Tinaroo.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone non-breeding  1997-2008  1,050-3,200 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Bush Thick-knee Burhinus grallarius breeding  1998-2008  frequent  A1  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Curtain Fig National Park 195 protected area contained by site 195  
Danbulla Forest Reserve 17 protected area overlaps with site 9  
Hallorans Hill Conservation Park 25 protected area contained by site 25  
Hasties Swamp National Park 57 protected area contained by site 57  
Malanda Falls Conservation Park 19 protected area contained by site 19  
Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site 894,420 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Yungaburra National Park 5 protected area contained by site 5  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Improved grassland & pasture; Other urban & industrial areas  79%
Forest Rainforest & vine thickets  minor
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes & pools  major

Land ownership State government (including Environmental Protection Agency/Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service), local government and private.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
rangeland/pastureland major
urban/industrial/transport minor
water management major
Notes: Major storage Lake Tinaroo

Protection status Several small national parks and conservation areas.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Graham Harrington and Elinor Scambler as compilers.

References Bravery, J.A. (1970) The Birds of Atherton Shire, Queensland. Emu 70: 49-63.

Bureau of Meteorology (2007) Climate statistics for Atherton Post Office. Downloaded from on 21 November 2007.

Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (eds) (1990). The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1: Ratites to Ducks. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Scambler, E. (in litt. 2008). Site Results Birds Australia North Queensland Group Crane Counts 1997 - 2007.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Atherton Tablelands. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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