Mallee Cliffs National Park

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
SOS NSW Government Waratah logo 400X111

Mallee Cliffs National Park is managed under a historic partnership between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and AWC. The agreement provides an exciting, new model for collaboration between the public and private (not-for-profit) sector. As part of the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program, a feature of the partnership is the establishment of a 9,500 hectare feral predator-free fenced area within the national park, and the reintroduction of 10 regionally extinct mammal species.

Quick Facts

  • Size/area: 58,120 hectares
  • Bioregion: Murray Darling Depression
  • Mammals: 21
  • Birds: 127
  • Reptiles: 71
  • Amphibians: 6
  • Threatened Wildlife: 32
  • Plants 240
  • Threatened Plants: 4

Our work at this Sanctuary

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
© Wayne Lawler/AWC
© Wayne Lawler/AWC
© Brad Leue/AWC

The Sanctuary

Mallee Cliffs National Park is located about 30 kilometres from Mildura, in the south-west of NSW. Established as a national park in 1977, Mallee Cliffs covers 57,969 hectares of open grassy plains, spinifex covered dunes, Belah woodlands and old-growth Mallee. These habitats protect a diverse range of threatened and declining species, giving the park significant conservation value.

In partnership with the NSW Government, AWC has constructed a 37.2 kilometre feral predator-proof fence within Mallee Cliffs National Park, creating a 9,570 hectare exclosure of ecologically significant bushland which, once cleared of predators, will be home to at least 10 regionally extinct mammal species as part of an ambitious rewilding program. The program began in October 2019 with the release of the Greater Bilby into a 480 hectare, specially-designed breeding zone.

The park is located in a semi-arid zone where the annual rainfall is highly variable, and the summers are extremely hot, with a maximum recorded temperature of 50.7° Celcius. There are no permanent streams or natural water bodies within the national park.

Mallee Cliffs protects two primary vegetation communities typical of the region, Mallee woodlands and Belah-Rosewood woodland. The dominant Mallee species are Yorrell, White Mallee and Red Mallee, and some of the woodland is characterised by a spinifex understorey. Small areas of the park have been impacted by historic grazing practices during the park’s previous life as a pastoral property. The park last experienced major wildfires in 1975 and 1977 and, since then, there have been no fires aside from some minor prescribed burns. Many vegetation communities within the park are now sufficiently mature to provide important habitat for a range of threatened species.

Wildlife at Mallee Cliffs

The array of different habitats at Mallee Cliffs support a diverse range of species, and are an important stronghold for many that are threatened or declining.

In October 2019, in partnership with the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program, AWC reintroduced Bilbies into Mallee Cliffs National Park. Other endangered mammals will soon join the Bilby in the feral predator-free area including the Western Quoll, Red-tailed Phascogale, Numbat, Western Barred Bandicoot, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, Burrowing Bettong, Brush-tailed Bettong, Greater Stick-nest Rat, and Mitchell’s Hopping-mouse. Most of these species have been absent from NSW national parks for over 90 years – and nearly all are threatened with extinction across their entire range. Their return to Mallee Cliffs will help to secure their future and restore a number of important ecological processes that are vital for maintaining a healthy landscape, such as dispersing seeds and spores, and helping to retain nutrients and water in the soil.

Despite having lost almost all its small and medium sized mammals, primarily as a result of predation by feral cats and foxes, and extensive land-clearing in the region, Mallee Cliffs retains regionally significant populations of Southern Ningaui and the Western Pygmy Possum.

The park is a hotspot for birdwatching, where you can spot threatened birds such as Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and the Hooded Robin, and hear the songs of the Gilbert’s Whistler and Varied Sittella through the Mallee. Mallee Cliffs also contains important habitat for the endangered Malleefowl.

AWC Field Programs at Mallee Cliffs

The land management strategy being implemented at Mallee Cliffs involves management of fire regimes that will restore and maintain key habitats, weed control, and landscape-scale removal of feral animals.

Most significantly, Mallee Cliffs is the site of a significant rewilding program in partnership with the NSW government, involving the establishment of a large feral predator-free area, followed by at least 10 threatened mammal reintroductions.

AWC field ecologists will measure the ecological health of Mallee Cliffs over time, as we do with all our sanctuaries. This will inform our land management strategies, and indicate the success of the reintroduction program. In particular, we will be measuring:

  • The populations of reintroduced mammals such as Bilbies, Numbats and Bridled Nailtail Wallabies. We estimate that this project will deliver substantial increases in the remaining populations of at least 10 nationally threatened species (including doubling the population of two species).
  • Ecological health indicators, including threat metrics such as the density and activity of feral animals.
  • Biodiversity indicators, such as the population of important species like the Western Pygmy Possum and Mallee.

Wildlife protected at this Sanctuary

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Mammals

Numbat

The Numbat is unique among Australian mammals: it is a highly-specialised termite eating marsupial.

© Kim Wormald
Birds

Malleefowl

The Malleefowl is a large ground-dwelling bird and one of only three mound-building bird species in Australia.

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Mammals

Greater Bilby

The Bilby is an iconic Australian marsupial, instantly recognisable by its long pointed snout, long ears, soft grey fur and...

Image Gallery Awc Feral Cat & Fox Control 3 © AWC

Threats to Wildlife

Since European settlement, the impact of feral predators, habitat loss and feral herbivores on the mammal fauna of the Murray Darling basin has been significant. In western NSW, almost half of all mammal species (excluding bats) have disappeared. Because of the ongoing predation threat of foxes and cats, fenced areas are currently the only option for preventing further extinctions. Although they are not a long-term solution, they can significantly increase the populations of endangered species, and have been hugely successful at AWC’s Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in western NSW.

Latest news from the field

© Melissa Elderfield/AWC
© Wayne Lawler/AWC
© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Breaking News 07 Oct. 2019

AWC brings Bilbies back to the Mallee