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Helena and Aurora Range—outback jewel


View from Helena Aurora RangeIMAGE: Helena Aurora Range | Rob Neave

The Helena Aurora Range (Bungalbin) is a ‘banded ironstone’ range that lies at the heart of Western Australia’s outback. It is a sanctuary for many birds, reptiles, mammals and plants, some of which you can’t find anywhere else on earth.

Located ~100km north of Southern Cross in the Great Western Woodlands, the Helena Aurora Ranges rises as a unique series of hills, ironstone outcrops and breakaways, above the flat woodland landscape that surrounds it.

We have a vision to allow everyone the opportunity to experience this incredible part of the world. We want the Range to become a wonderful new national park, jointly managed by Traditional Owners - to achieve this we need your help.

In June 2017 the WA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has advised Environment Minister Stephen Dawson that a proposal from Mineral Resources Ltd to mine the Helena Aurora Range was "environmentally unacceptable" (EPA 2017). This is the second time that the EPA has rejected this particular mining proposal, having previously recommended against it in December 2014.  

This was great news and a tribute to the groups and individuals who have worked hard over the years to see this amazing 'jewel in the crown' of the Great Western Woodlands protected.  

Unfortunately, despite these two EPA recommendations against this mining proposal as well as years of advice from government departments and scientists, the Helena Aurora Range remains vulnerable, and the final decision on the mine proposal is now in the hands of the WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can make sure he makes the right decisionby asking him to respect the EPA's advice, and protect the Range forever as a wonderful new National Park. Sign our petition now.


Why is it worth protecting?

A need for national park status

Our National Park Proposal

Why is it under threat?

What you can do to protect it!

Useful links

Why is it worth protecting?

Since time immemorial, the Helena Aurora Range has been part of the country of the Kalamaia Kapurn people who call it Bungalbin. Helena and Aurora Range is considered to have the highest conservation value among the Banded Iron Formation (BIF) ranges in the central Yilgarn; it is pristine and yet is under imminent threat from mining interests. For these reasons, Helena and Aurora Range is the immediate focus and the most appropriate BIF range to be recommended for Class A, National Park status.

After decades of soundly-based recommendations for the full and secure protection of the Helena Aurora Range (Bungalbin); and in light of the opportunity for joint management of the area with its Traditional Owners; and in response to the threat of destruction of much of the range, the time has come for the WA government to act responsibly and protect this exceptional feature of our environment. With so many of WA’s other outstanding ‘banded ironstone’ ranges destroyed or in the process of being destroyed, it’s time to right the balance and protect this exceptional example for future generations. Check out this video and see for yourself. 

It features special, ancient geology & landscapes:

  • The range is called a “Banded Iron Formation” or BIF range.
  • Banded iron is iron-rich chert (and chert is mainly silica).
  • It’s the tallest range in the Coolgardie Bioregion – Bungalbin Hill is 690m.
  • The geology of the range is about 2.6 billion years old.

The range is home to many rare, endemic and threatened species:

  • 5 Endemic flora species
  • 2 Declared rare flora
  • 14 Priority species
  • 3 Threatened fauna species
  • 10 BIF-dependent flora species
  • 1 Priority one ecological community
  • ~350 Native plant species in total
  • ~113 Native fauna species

It has long been recommended for protection:

  • Over several decades there have been repeated recommendations from scientists, government agencies and conservation organisations for the full protection of the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin);
  • First proposed for protection by WA Museum scientists in 1979-80;
  • Recommended for protection by CALM in 1994;
  • In December 2005, Helena and Aurora Range was formally included within the Mt Manning Reserve—vested as “Conservation Park–Other than Class A” (Reserve no. 48470); 
  • This lesser category of reserve was adopted by government, contrary to advice from its own scientists, under pressure from the mining industry to allow for mining as a future land use.

A need for National Park status

On the 15th October 2013, The Wilderness Society in collaboration with the Helena Aurora Range Advocates (HARA) the The Wildflower Society of WA launched a National Park proposal for the Helena and Aurora Range (launched by renowned WA nature photographer Simon Nevill). The proposal has the support of senior Traditional Owners of the area and goes into great depth of why this area should be upgraded from a Conservation Park (that allows mining) to the secure protection status of a National Park. The proposal for protection follows decades of similar recommendations from scientists and even the Environmental Protection Authority.

Download the National Park proposal

EPA Recommendation (Bulletin 1256, 2007): “Reserve [the] range as an ‘A Class’ Nature Reserve for protection of high concentrations of endemic rare flora and priority ecological communities; exceptional landforms; threatened fauna habitats; mature eucalypt woodlands that are declining in the Wheatbelt; and Aboriginal heritage.”

Why is it under threat?

Several BIF ranges in and around the Great Western Woodlands are already in the process of being destroyed by mining companies, like the beautiful Windarling Range, and many more are in the industry’s firing line. The next target in their sights is the Helena and Aurora Range, with it's extremely rich and high grade iron-ore that the Range's ecosystem is dependent on.

Despite longstanding calls for the protection of the range, Polaris Metals Ltd (subsidiary of Mineral Resources Ltd) has sought approval to begin mining the Range. The quantity of shippable iron-ore that could be produced in the entire life of the two proposed mines at the Range is less than two month's worth of iron ore mining in the Pilbara. Mining this Range is for pure greed and is not in the public interest. The damage from mining would be irreversible to this delicate, ancient and unique ecological community, considered be many as one of WA's most significant biodiversity assets.

What you can do to protect it!

There are many ways you can help protect this spectacular natural icon.

1) Sign the petition. This is the first real test of the new WA Labor government on whether or not they will respect the advice of the independent EPA. Show the Minister you support the EPAs recommendation and call for the creation of the Helena Aurora Range National Park by signing this petition. 

2) Visit the range. This jewel in the crown of the Great Western Woodlands should be treasured and enjoyed by all. Why not join us on a camping trip with guided hikes. Or even get out there on your own with friends and family. We've got maps and easy directions to get you on your way you can download here

3) Spread the word! The more people that know about this ancient & unique place the better. Share the online petition on social media, or show your friends and family just how magnificent this place is by sharing this incredible video. We hope to grow a movement of inspired and connected citizens, both local and from far and wide, who are moved to take action to protect the Helena and Aurora Range.

4) Sign and share our petition. We wish to petition Parliament, on behalf of all Western Australians, for the full protection of Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin), but we need your help. If you'd like to ensure future generations get to this this ancient place for themselves, then download, sign, share and send back a copy of our petition. Click here

5) Contact us. Why not get in touch with your local WA Campaign Office and find out more information, ways to get involved or discuss your own ideas about how we can protect this jewel in the Great Western Woodlands.

Useful links:

1. Helena and Aurora Range National Park Proposal

2. Helena and Aurora Range Fact Sheet

3. Watch a video of the range

4. Letter writing kit

5. Download our petition

6. Camping trips & information

7. Helena Aurora Range Advocates website—a very useful source of information

8. More on the wider Great Western Woodlands

9. Bungalbin: factsheet exposing the mining "balance" myth