Western Queensland’s stock routes not only provide succour for stock during droughts, they harbour a brilliant diversity of plants and animals.

Story By Kerry Sharp

Conservation specialist Bryan Walsh has spent 12 months travelling over 80,000 kilometres from the top to the bottom of Queensland, navigating desert dunes, river crossings and boggy floodplains that fall within the boundaries of many of Australia’s most famous stock routes. His fieldwork culminated in the Enhancing Biodiversity Hotspots Along Western Queensland Stock Routes report, which identifies largely uncharted plant and animal species and threats to their survival, and recommends management strategies to protect 47 biodiversity hotspots and other valuable sites. “Predators and other impacts have all but wiped out the bilby from its former desert habitat, but a colony was discovered on the stock route near Birdsville and fieldwork has revealed the importance of the stock-route connectivity to this critical population,” Bryan says. “It’s now protected thanks to a management agreement with a local station owner.”
Bryan says there are many secrets on stock routes. “Most tourists don’t realise, when they drive out to see Australia’s iconic outback attractions – often along sealed and well-formed roads – that they are actually retracing the steps of our pioneering drovers,” he says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #93

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2014