Conservation and cultural values
Located off the north coast of Queensland, Hinchinbrook Island is Australia’s largest island national park and is part of both The Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas. The island contains hundreds of crystal clear creeks and streams, many of which cascade off the tall mountains of the island and weave their way slowly to the Coral Sea through dense rainforest.
The streams of Hinchinbrook Island provide life giving water to its many different ecosystem types, including saltpans, open woodlands, rainforest, freshwater paper-bark wetlands and rocky mountain areas. Hinchinbrook supports a huge diversity of animal life with over 60 species of birds and 22 species of butterflies including rare and vunerable species such as the Rufous Owl, Crimson Finch, Mahogany Glider, Eastern Curlew, Grey Goshawk, Black Necked Stork, Sooty Oystercatcher, Tapping Green-eye Grog, Estuarine Crocodiles, the Diadem Leaf-nosed bat and the endangered Southern Cassowary. There is also a wide variety of plant life on the island including the rare Blue Banksia, Halifax fan palm and several rare ferns. Much of the flora and fauna that live in the forests surrounding the streams on Hinchinbrook are yet to be properly studied.
The freshwater that flows from Hinchinbrook’s many streams play a vital role in maintaining the health of the island’s extensive stands of mangrove forest. The mangrove forests of Hinchinbrook Island are some of the richest and most varied in Australia with at least 29 different species of mangrove trees. These mangroves play a key role in the survival of surrounding marine ecosystems providing shelter and food for fish.
Located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the island is surrounded by marine park waters, where fringing reefs and seagrass beds support endangered animals such as Dugong, Indo-Pacific Humped-backed Dolphins, Australian Snubfin Dolphins, the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Green Sea Turtle.
The Wargamaygan people are the traditional owners of Hinchinbrook Island and maintain strong cultural and spiritual connections with the land and rivers. The traditional ecological knowledge and health of these communities is in turn critical to the ongoing health of this area.
Inappropriate and destructive development continues to threaten Hinchinbrook Island. Environment groups have waged numerous campaigns against these types of proposals over the past two decades, in particular against the dubious schemes of developer Keith Williams. Wild Rivers adds another layer of protection and safeguard to this important place.