Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Darling Riverine Plains - regional history

Aboriginal occupation

For information on the Aboriginal occupation of the Darling Riverine plains, see an overview of the Aboriginal occupation of western NSW.

European occupation

Pastoralists reached Menindee by 1850 and, like other towns such as Wilcannia, the town was developed as a Darling River port (NSW NPWS 1991).

A drover who camped where the town now stands during a spectacular storm gave the name to Lightning Ridge (NSW NPWS 1991). In 1902 the children of a boundary rider discovered some colourful stones which were later identified as opals. Within a year, the mining town of Lightning Ridge emerged and for some time was bathed in riches.

The town was surrounded by several huge sheep stations whose owners employed opal miners with casual positions in fencing, timber cutting, carting wool and labouring their properties (NSW NPWS 1991).

Sheep grazing, cotton growing and tourism are the primary forms of land use in the bioregion (Morton et al. 1995).

Morton et al. (1995) identified the following management problems with the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion:

  • land degradation through over-grazing;
  • declining water quality in the rivers of the bioregion, mainly as a result of removal of water for irrigation and from increased salinity caused chiefly by irrigation runoff;
  • clearing for agriculture in marginal lands; and
  • control of vertebrate pests.

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Page last updated: 26 April 2016