The Mary River

The indigenous peoples were the Butchulla nation and knew the Mary River as Moonaboola. In 1842 Andrew Petrie and his party rowed a whaleboat up the river until they were blocked by rapids near Tiaro. He named it the Wide Bay River.

In 1847, the Governor of Queensland renamed it after his wife, Mary.

Three hundred and seven kilometers downstream from its headwaters in the Conondale Ranges, the waters of the Mary empty into the RAMSAR listed Great Sandy Straits west of Fraser Island.

The district is recognised as a biogeographical transition zone between tropical and temperate environments. As such it supports a large number of plant and animal species of high conservation significance.

The Mary River is home to the Queensland lungfish (Neoceradotus forsteri) which is probably the world’s oldest living vertebrate species.

Turtles have outlasted their contemporaries, the dinosaurs. A turtle species which is unique to the Mary River Elusor macrurus is the only representative of its genus on earth.

Another river turtle, the white throated snapping turtle, Elseya albagula, is restricted to the Mary, Burnett and Fitzroy Rivers. The Mary River Cod (Maccullochella peelii mariensis) is one of Australia’s largest strictly freshwater fish and is endemic to the Mary River.

Why these ancient species have persisted here and nowhere else is unknown. However, the evidence is clear that the region has conserved many lineages extinct elsewhere.

Unfortunately the survival of ALL these species is uncertain as they are listed as threatened species.

The Mary River is the only large river in South-east Queensland without a major mainstream dam. Many fish migrate within the freshwater reaches of the river. Other fish species need to move between the freshwater reaches and the estuary to breed, eg Australian bass, jungle perch, sea mullet, freshwater mullet, bullrout, short and long finned eels and striped gudgeon.

The health of our district is dependent on the condition of the Mary River,  her many creeks and all the plants and animals that are sustained by her. Tiaro Landcare members are actively caring for the land and the Mary River.