RIVER OF SAND
Named after an Aboriginal word meaning ‘river of sand’, the Warrego flows through a semi-arid country with an erratic annual rainfall of between 350mm and 500mm.
The Warrego catchment features open forests of mulga, brigalow, cypress pine and gidgee growing on the flat and undulating plains. Downstream, the country also supports River red gums, coolibah and River cooba. The landscape comprises grasslands and saltbush shrubs that support sheep and cattle, the principal industry along the river. The river flow is too erratic to support irrigation.
The Warrego River is basically an ephemeral stream and can go for years with little or no flow. Substantial flows of water only reach the Darling in wet years or after large rainfall events in southern Queensland. There have been seven wet years between 1950 and 2010. The largest of these events was in 2008 when the town of Charleville was innundated.
Maintenance of a drying phase is critical in maintaining the health and productivity of ephemeral streams such as the Warrego. There is concern that high water use at times of low flow may place the environment under greater stress, causing further degradation.
Below Wyandra, the river forms a series of out-flowing creeks and anabranches. During floods, they allow water into the Nebine Creek, a tributary of the Culgoa River. Cuttaburra Creek also connects the Warrego, via a system of channels and wetlands, with the Paroo.
The Warrego is one of the few rivers where Silver perch native fish breed naturally. Golden perch and Murray cod are also common.
A large number of animals and plants in the Warrego catchment have been listed under Commonwealth and state legislation. About 35,000has of the 78,4000ha catchment is conserved and protected in four national parks and one conservation park.
In 2001, the Australian Bush Heritage Fund bought Carnarvon Station to protect threatened birds and animals.
Weeds and feral animals are a problem. Woody weeds are a particular problem in the Warrego catchment. These invasive native species up to three metres high have spread because of reduced fires and their dislike by livestock