Visit the Bimblebox Nature Refuge website.
The Bimblebox Nature Refuge is on the lands of the Jagalingou people.
The Bimblebox Nature Refuge is located 500km west of Rockhampton and 30km north west of Alpha, in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The refuge is almost 8000 hectares of privately-held conservation reserve, featuring uncleared, intact woodland. This significant pocket of biodiversity is the home of at least 173 different bird species and hundreds of animal species. Although protected in perpetuity by a Nature Refuge Agreement, it is not protected from, and is consequently threatened by, coal mining.
In the year 2000 Glen Innes Station, north of Alpha in central western Queensland, was listed for sale. An astonishing 95% of this almost 8000 hectare property had never been cleared. However, attached to the land sale was a permit to clear almost 50% of this remnant vegetation.
A small group of concerned citizens, led by Carl Rudd, pooled their resources to purchase Glen Innes with the view to save it from being cleared and preserve it in perpetuity. Recognising Glen Innes’ rich biodiversity, the Federal Government’s National Reserve System provided two thirds of the purchase price. In 2002 a Nature Refuge Agreement was signed with the Queensland Government, creating the Bimblebox Nature Refuge that covered the whole of the property.
A goal in establishing the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, was for the property to host research and monitoring that could demonstrate and evaluate the integration of cattle production with nature conservation. Caretaker Ian Hoch and part-owner Paola Cassoni manage the weeding, maintenance, fire regime and the cattle herd, while regularly hosting research scientists. Bimblebox is a genuine example of how beef production and biodiversity conservation can co-exist.
There are seven ecosystems on Bimblebox. Most prominent are the broad silver leaf ironbark woodland, poplar box (Bimblebox) woodland and the heathland. These semi-arid woodlands encompass an understorey of native shrubs, herbs and grasses with a rich diversity of birds, reptiles and other animals. In May 2011 a flock of endangered Black Throated Finch (Poephila cincta cincta) was sighted on Bimblebox.
What visitors to the Bimblebox Nature Refuge discover is an unexpected diversity of ecosystems in an environment which manages two purposes. As a refuge for indigenous flora and fauna existing as it has for thousands of years and a sustainable cattle property. Bimblebox is also the site of ongoing research in native ecology and sustainable grazing practices.
Late 2019 Waratah Coal applied for final approvals for their proposed Galilee Coal Project thermal coal mine. Bimblebox Alliance, Youth Verdict and others lodged objections generating a Land Court of Queensland hearing began 19 April, 2022, completing the end of July 2022. You can read more here.
Waratah Coal Pty. Ltd. v Youth Verdict Ltd., The Bimblebox Alliance Inc. and others
The Land Court of Queensland‘s President Kingham recommended Waratah Coal’s applications be refused, citing unacceptable climate risk, environmental damage to the Bimblebox Nature Refuge and human rights. You can read about the successful Land Court result here.
Waratah Coal applied in December 2022 for a judicial review that was expected to generate a supreme court hearing. However on 11 February 2023, Waratah Coal withdrew its appeal
On 3rd April, 2023, The Queensland Department of Environment and Science refused the environmental authority application for Waratah Coal Pty Ltd.’s Galilee Coal Mine. See this here. There has been no ruling at this stage on the Mining Lease application.
Why the Galilee Basin is worth worrying about, Sonya Duus, The Conversation, 28 November, 2012.
“Some of these nature reserves, we’re talking about those like Bimblebox, have extraordinarily high conservation values and they would be really plus-one or two nature reserves by international standards,”
Prof. Hugh Possingham, environmental scientist, UQ
Anger as Palmer mine threatens nature refuge, ABC, Matt Wordworth, 20 October, 2011.
If Bimblebox Nature Refuge survives the current threat from Waratah Coal and other surrounding mines proposed for the Galilee Basin, it is likely to continue to be an important long-term research site, an example of sustainable rangeland grazing, and one of the very few large areas of intact remnant habitat remaining in the bioregion.
For more on the Bimblebox Nature Refuge go here.