Myall Lakes

These wetlands on the north coast of New South Wales were listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1999.

Lush vegetation around a water bodyThe Myall Lakes Ramsar site is 75 kilometres north of Newcastle on the north coast of New South Wales.

It covers an area of 44,612 hectares and consists of 5 separate subsites:

  • Myall Lakes National Park
  • Corrie Island Nature Reserve
  • Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve
  • part of Gir-um-bit National Park
  • part of Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park.

Why these wetlands were listed as a Ramsar site

Countries that sign up to the Ramsar Convention can nominate sites to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites). The site must meet at least 1 of 9 internationally accepted criteria.

The Myall Lakes were listed as a Ramsar site in 1999 because they meet the following criteria:

Criterion 1: Representative or unique wetlands

The Myall Lakes wetlands are a large coastal brackish lake system that are in a near-natural condition.

They are one of the two largest brackish-freshwater barrier estuaries in the South East Coast drainage division and are an excellent representative example of this wetland type in New South Wales.

They contain a unique co-existence of deep and shallow-water macrophytes (a type of aquatic plant) and the organic lake-floor mud known as gyttja.

Criterion 2: Threatened species or ecological communities

Green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea)The Myall Lakes Ramsar site supports five threatened species.

These include:

The site also supports the Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia, a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Criterion 3: Populations of plants and/or animals important for maintaining biodiversity of a particular bioregion

The site supports a rich biodiversity, including over 900 species of plants and more than 400 species of animals.

The site regularly supports a substantial number of waterbirds, including 22 migratory species listed under international agreements.

How the site is managed

Management of this Ramsar site is guided by the following:

Threats to the Ramsar site

The main threats to this site’s ecological character include:

  • nutrient and sediment loads from the catchment
  • recreational activities
  • aquatic and terrestrial weeds
  • climate change.