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Arafura Swamp

Source: Go to the Register of the National Estate for more information.
Identifier: 83
Location: Ramingining
Unicorporated NT
State: NT
Country: Australia
Statement of
The Arafura Wetlands represent the largest fresh water ecosystem in East Arnhem Land and the largest contiguous paperbark swamp in the Northern Territory and Australia. At the end of the wet season the swamp covers an area in excess of 130,000ha. The swamp and its catchment comprises a complex mosaic of plant communities and represents the least disturbed example of this type in the Northern Territory. Its striking features include large areas of paperbark open forest, numerous lagoons and their associated flora and fauna, and grassland plains over which are scattered numerous fine examples of the spectacular and rare talipot palm (CORPHA ELATA). Other plant species of significance include LIVISTONA RIGIDA, a fan leaved palm, previously known only from the Roper River region; CARPENTARIA ACUMINATA, a feather palm, which is endemic to the Top End and known from only a small number of scattered localities; HANGUANA MALAYANA, occurring in some of the billabongs, which is not common in other wetland areas; and COLOCASIA ESCULENTA (taro), recorded in the Goyder catchment and on the Walker River. The presence of taro has considerable implications for the origins of tropical horticulture, with the first recorded traditional use of this species in Australia (Criterion A.4). Fringing the wetland are extensive woodlands and patches of monsoon forests undisturbed by buffalo and pigs. Within the catchment of the swamp are found a diverse range of landforms including eucalypt woodlands and open forests, swamps with undisturbed floating mat communities, sandstone hills, sinkholes and springs. The swamp provides an important refuge and breeding area for a diverse fauna including both CROCODYLUS POROSUS and CROCODYLUS JOHNSTONII, and abundant waterfowl including magpie geese, pygmy geese, black duck and whistling duck. Land adjacent to the swamp has the only significant breeding population of the endangered hooded parrot outside of the Katherine area.
Description: The Arafura Swamp is located on the northern coast of Arnhem Land and is the largest paperbark swamp in Australia, covering 900 square kilometres including the coastal plains. The swamp is fed by the Goyder and Gulbuwangay Rivers and numerous springs, and surrounded by low hills up to 100m high. The swamp discharges in the Glyde River, which is tidally influenced for approximately 20km back from the mouth. It is speculated that the swamp was formed as a result of the surrounding hills closing in at the northern end and forming a natural partial barrier and corresponding narrowing of the flood plain, which in turn restricts the entry of tidal influx. The coastal floodplain, swamp and surrounding hills support a rich diversity of plant communities. The plains on the coastal side support sedge and grasslands, while the swamp itself is covered by extensive paperbark forest. These grade into eucalypt open forest and woodland, which continue onto the footslopes. Other specific communities include tall reedland at the southern end of the swamp where the Goyder River enters, and floating mat communities on the billabongs and waterways. There are large areas of high quality, undisturbed monsoon forest. In the Mirrngadja region there is a considerable number of monsoon forest species otherwise regarded as exclusively coastal in their distribution. The swamp is an important refuge and breeding area for birds, fish and the fresh water (CROCODYLUS JOHNSTONI) and salt water (CROCODYLUS POROSUS) crocodiles. The area supports abundant waterbirds including magpie geese, pygmy geese, black duck and whistling duck.

Report produced : 1/8/2015
AHPI URL : http://www.heritage.gov.au/ahpi/search.html