Lower Suttor River subcatchment draft HEV waters
The condition of the Lower Suttor River subcatchment is poorly known. Much of the catchment is used for grazing cattle, with large areas suffering from low ground cover and erosion as a result of grazing pressure. The subcatchment has very low proportion of its area within National Park and other protected estate.
The subcatchment contains several large, deep and persistent waterholes, mainly associated with the Belyando and Suttor Rivers. The Directory of Important Wetlands listed Scartwater Aggregation is situated on the Suttor floodplain. These river and floodplain waterholes all represent important aquatic habitat and drought refuge for fish, crustaceans and other aquatic biota. However, most of these water bodies have suffered some level of water quality impact from the surrounding land use. For example, the value of these water bodies to aquatic plants and the food web structure is affected by the high, permanent turbidity, created and/or exacerbated by the increased erosion of dispersive colloidal soils.
Two areas were assessed by the WQIP ecological values technical panel to be “effectively unmodified” (ANZECC 2000) and has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. This area includes two sections of the Nairana National Park in the very south east section of the subcatchment and the Wilandspey Conservation Park area. The Nairana National Park also includes several adjacent sections which have more recently been gazetted as protected estate as National Park Recovery. These have not been included as containing HEV waters. The eastern section of this national park covers the eastern bank of the Belyando River and both banks of the section of lower Mistake Creek before it confluences with the Belyando River. These sections of river are a good example of a large multiple channel inland floodplain river reach with good riparian habitat (‘of concern’ fringing riverine habitat RE 1.3.25/11.3.37/11.3.1). In the lower section of the Mistake there is a semi-permanent waterhole called ‘12 Mile Waterhole’. When the river ceases to flow this water hole is potentially an important dry season refuge for aquatic and other biota and is part of a network of similar water bodies in the Belyando-Suttor system. This area of the river is also associated with a vegetated swamp palustrine wetland (‘of concern’ wetland RE 11.3.27). Another small palustrine wetland exists in the north-east section of Nairana National Park. Other semi-permanent water holes also exist within this section of the Park with similar important ecological function during dry periods as ‘12 Mile Waterhole’. Endangered land zone 4 regional ecosystems are present in the north-east section of the Park.
The Wilanspey Conservation Park was gazetted in 1973 and is one of the largest parks of its type in Queensland. The Park protects a large intact, remnant stands of the endangered regional ecosystems, Acacia cambagei woodland (RE 11.4.6) and Eucalyptus cambageana woodland (RE 11.4.8), which have been extensively cleared in this region for grazing. Little is known of the water ways in this park. The area is gently undulating with few drainage lines, draining north towards Sandy Creek, without distinct riparian areas.
This subcatchment also contains three wetlands listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands. These include; Bingeringo Aggregation, Scartwater Aggregation, and Lake Dalrymple. Lake Dalrymple is a modified water body formed by the Burdekin Falls Dam. The Bingeringo and Scartwater aggregations contain some permanent or semi-permanent water holes which provide important aquatic environments. However, the water quality in these water bodies is affected by surrounding land use. Therefore, these areas were not identified as containing HEV waters.
Blackwood National Park, 180 km south of Charters Towers, also exists within the Lower Suttor subcatchment. The park was formerly part of Mt. Hope Station. Although within National Park estate, the area was not included as an area containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. Much of the landscape is sensitive to erosion once disturbed and is still recovering from degradation suffered through cattle grazing and other land use impacts. Weed infestations and surface and gully erosion are widespread. No reliable surface water exists within the Park but the steep, coarse nature of the hills in the park results in relatively high runoff during wet weather.
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