The Northern Gulf Region comprises of the Norman Catchment (including the Clara, Yappar, Norman and Carron Rivers), the Gilbert Catchment (including the Smithburne, Etheridge, Einasleigh and Gilbert Rivers) the Staaten Catchment (including Clark, Vanrook Creeks, Red and Staaten Rivers) and Mitchell Catchment (including the Lynd, Tata, Walsh, Palmer, Alice and Mitchell Rivers).

Due to the variety of habitat types and the remoteness of the Northern Gulf, the rivers found within the region are probably some of the most diverse but poorly known systems in Australia (Burrows, 2000). The length of the waterways in the region is enormous…the Mitchell Catchment alone contains 15,425km of major stream length, and this catchment only accounts for 36% of the total area of the Northern Gulf.

Monsoonal rainfall events typically occur between December to March, and then become scarcer into the remainder of the year. Most rivers and creeks stop flowing and dwindle to a series of permanent and semi-permanent waterholes. The marine environment of the south-east Gulf Carpentaria is highly reliant on the monsoonal flows from these rivers, which flush nutrients into the Gulf. Monsoonal flow also enables spawning runs from the Gulf out across floodplains and far upstream into fresh water breeding grounds.

Riparian corridors are important habitats, and if degraded can be avenues for weed spread through the region. The Great Artesian Basin underlies most of the Northern Gulf Region, and several major springs are fed from this source.

Wetland habitats provide wintering, feeding and breeding grounds for biodiversity, especially migratory and wetland birds. Eight of Northern Gulf’s wetland areas have been listed as nationally significant. Most of these listed wetlands are in the extensive coastal flood plains area.

These rainfall patterns, water cycles and water bodies are very vulnerable to climate change, and predictions of prolonged droughts combined with more isolated but extreme rainfall events will impact on all aspects of these hydrological systems and all the life which depends upon it.

Note: Further goals and activities which support this Resource Condition Target are included in the Grazing Lands Gulf coasts and Northern Tablelands sections.

For more information about water resources and conditions in the Northern Gulf, see our regional NRM assessments above.