Two New National Parks Formally Established

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation The Honourable Leanne Linard
A watercourse within the new The Lakes National Park.
  • Queensland's newest national parks have been formally dedicated - The Lakes National Park near Hughenden and Malbon Thompson Range National Park near Cairns.
  • A number of other protected areas have also formally been expanded.
  • The areas are now protected under Queensland law in perpetuity.

The number of national parks in Queensland has officially increased by two.

The Miles Government has formally dedicated The Lakes National Park near Hughenden and Malbon Thompson Range National Park near Cairns.

Both properties were acquired and added to the protected areas estate in recognition of their outstanding natural and cultural values.

The Lakes, a former cattle property, was acquired by the government in 2022 through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which brokered contributions from international philanthropic organisations, the Wyss Foundation and the Art into Acres initiative through Re:wild (private US charitable foundations). TNC committed up to $US1.829 million (around $AUD2.7 million) to the purchase.

The Lakes is home to four hypersaline watercourses, classified as Wetlands of High Ecological Significance. These watercourses provide critical habitat for many species of waterbirds while protecting the headwaters of the South Gregory River – which feeds into the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

The property is also home to unique species like the giant burrowing cockroach and two newly discovered species of clam-shrimp, which are only found in this national park's lakes.

Part of the 43,000 hectare property estate covers a portion of Gudjala First Nations peoples' traditional Country.

Malbon Thompson Range National Park is located about 35km south-east of Cairns and covers 620 hectares of undisturbed coastal lowlands, covered by rainforests interspersed with kauri pines and eucalypts.

Sitting adjacent to Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve, the dedication of the new national park enables permanent protection of a major environmental corridor spanning about 37 kilometres between Yarrabah and south to the mouth of the Russell River in the internationally-recognised Wet Tropics World Heritage area.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will progressively open both new parks to visitors over the coming years as preparations are finalised.

Eighteen other national parks have also been formally expanded, with the land expansions, including the two new national parks, totalling more than 59,000 hectares.

As stated by the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard:

"The Miles Labor Government is doing what matters by protecting areas of high environmental and cultural values in perpetuity for future generations of Queensland.

"The dedication of these two new national parks as well as the expansion of 18 other parks further demonstrates our commitment.

"Since 2015, our Labor Government has added more than 1.23 million hectares to Queensland's protected area estate and, since just the start of this year, we have acquired around 550,000 hectares for future dedication as national parks.

"The Lakes was the first major property acquired following the release of our government's Queensland's Protected Area Strategy 2020-2030, a major ongoing plan to support the growth and management of our national parks and other protected areas.

"We will continue to work with our partners to identify other areas of high environmental and cultural value for protection.

As stated by Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt:

"The formal dedication of the new Malbon Thompson National Park is great news for our local community and for Far North Queensland's unique natural environment.

"I am advised that the new national park is in exceptional ecological condition and provides essential habitat for the endangered southern cassowary and key habitat for other protected wildlife including roosting sites for seabirds.

"By dedicating this area a national park, we are protecting it in perpetuity for the benefit of our environment and community."

As stated by Director of Conservation at The Nature Conservancy, Tony Jupp:

"We are thrilled to see this fantastic biodiversity hotspot become a protected place and delighted to have been able, with the generous supports of our donors, to help to protect it for nature conservation and enable people to come to visit the area and see the unique lakes.

"The Lakes has significant conservation values, including endangered regional ecosystems and ecosystems that have low or no protection in the existing protected area estate, such as the tall eucalypt forests dominated by Lemon-scented Gums, and Northern Cypress Pine woodlands.

"These forests support a high density of arboreal animals including Northern Greater Gliders and Common Brushtail Possums."

As stated by a spokesperson from the Gudjala people:

"The Gudjala people were very pleased to hear that the Queensland Government had acquired The Lakes to dedicate it as a new national park.

"The park will provide strong protection to our sacred places and preserve our cultural heritage values to ensure our strong connection to our country is maintained, as well protect the unique plants and animals that exist across the Gudjala ancestral lands.

"We look forward to working closely with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure these places are conserved for future generations."

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