$21m donation helps secure national park

Vergemont Station aerial view. | Newsreel
Vergemont Station in western Queensland will be preserved as national park. | Photo: Supplied by Queensland Government

A $21 million donation has helped the Queensland Government purchase a cattle property in the state’s west, to add to the list of national parks in the area.

The purchase of Vergemont Station, a 352,589ha property in western Queensland, was made possible through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, which brokered the multi-million dollar philanthropic donation to contribute to the purchase.

The State Government believes it is likely to be the single largest donation for land protection in Australia.

State Environment Minister Leanne Linard said Vergemont Station sat at the headwaters of the Lake Eyre Basin, one of Queensland’s most important inland river catchments and one of the last remaining free-flowing arid river systems in the world.

Approximately 98 percent of Vergemont Station is covered in remnant vegetation and the land lies across two of Queensland’s 13 bioregions.

It contains 34 different regional ecosystems, ranking higher than 90 percent of existing national parks in Queensland, in terms of regional ecosystem representation.

Minister Linard said eight of these regional ecosystems were not represented as comprehensively on any other property in Queensland.

Vergemont Station adjoins the recently acquired Tonkoro Station. When these two properties are combined with the surrounding Mount Windsor Nature Refuge, Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve and Goneaway and Diamantina National Parks, it will create a protected area corridor that conserves almost one and a half million hectares of Channel Country bioregion.

Minister Linard said at least 300,000 hectares of the Vergemont Station would become national park with the remainder to continue to support opal mining operations.

“This acquisition will see the total area of land currently protected or acquired for future dedication as protected areas (in Queensland) push over 15 million hectares for the first time,” she said.

The Nature Conservancy Senior Advisor Dr James Fitzsimons said the purchase of Vergemont Station created a conservation corridor which included key habitat for the night parrot and Opalton grasswren.

“The $21 million donation…highlights the power of leveraged gifts, enabling philanthropists and governments alike to achieve outcomes far beyond what is possible alone,” Dr Fitzsimons said.

“This model will be essential if Australia is to achieve its target of protecting 30 percent of lands and 30c percent of oceans by 2030.”

Vergemont Station map
| Photo: Supplied by Queensland Government