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Clancy’s Lagoon Visitor Centre

Clancy’s Lagoon Visitor Centre

Management and funding

The Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetland Reserve (MTSWR is an award winning, 5000 ha reserve managed by the Wildlife Conservancy of Tropical Queensland (WCTQ –, a non government, non profit community based organisation.

The WCTQ is a regioal conservation body that is actively involved in the design and implementation of environmental and educational projects that raise awareness of, and deliver onground conservation outcomes in tropical Queensland, Australia.

In addition to the development and management of the MTSWR, the WCTQ has provided the focus for the regional coalition of four partner organisations (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group, FNQ Wildlife Rescue Association, Cairns Frog Hospital and Tolga Bat Hospital) which together form the largest membership-based conservation organisation in Australia’s tropics.

A key objective of the Conservancy is to use its unique skills to establish a regional role in nature conservation, education and interpretation, land management and research, through building and maintaining close relationships with the community and key industries, as well as government and the research sector. Its mission is to raise awareness and encourage direct community involvement in environmental conservation and sustainable land management.

The WCTQ is in the process of developing a number of other community reserves in the region.

All running and management costs are acquired through tourism, educational visits and nature-based recreation activities. The WCTQ also receives donations and applies for grants to implement conservation projects.


MTSWR was inspired by the World Heritage and Ramsar listed Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary). In 1994, Tim Nevard conceived that surplus irrigation water leftover from the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Area could be utilised to create a series of gravity-fed wetlands set within the tropical savanna. Work on the project began in 1998 and the Reserve opened to the public in September 1999. The creation of this tropical wetland system has resulted in an area of significant regional biodiversity value.

The Visitor Centre is the focal point of the Reserve and has allowed visitors and local people to experience the wetlands, one of the largest habitat creation projects in Australia, and the surrounding tropical savannas. Each consecutive year has seen an increase in biodiversity, tourism and visitors to the area promoting environmental awareness and economic growth within the local community and the region.


The MTSWR contains 320 ha of freshwater wetlands in a series of eight lagoons and associated channels. The remainder of the Reserve is dominated by sclerophyll woodland and grassland. The focal point is the Visitor Centre situated on the edge of Clancy’s Lagoon overlooking the laggoon and the picturesque Hann Tableland.

The Centre is approximately 300m2 (3230ft2) and contains a large open deck, reception area and office, a small kiosk, ‘classroom’, and a staff/volunteer area. Interpretaive signage is found around the Centre and staff/volunteers are always available for assistance. A Centre highlight is a captive breeding population of the critically endangered Gouldian Finch as part of the WCTQ’s Gouldian Finch Reintroduction Project.

A short distance from the Centre, visitors can view the magnificent sculpture ‘The Reptile’ by prominent Japanese artist Mitsuaki Tanabe. This is one of a series of sculptures by the artist located around the world to highlight the importance of the in-situ cultivation of wild rice.

Key species/features

The website has full spp lists – there are 206 bird spp.

Important spp include roosting Brolga and Sarus Cramnes, Cotton Pygmy Geese, Black-necked Stork, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Ibis, spoonbill, grebe, inland egret, tropical cormorant, Frckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Latham’s Snipe, Painted Snipe, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Whistling Kite, Osprey, Australian Hobby, Brown Goshawk, Rufous Owl.

The savanna is an important habitat for the critically endangered Buff-breasted Button-quali, Squatter Pigeon, Brown Treecreeper and Black-throated Finch. There are five wallaby species, marsupial carnivores (e.g. Northern Quoll, Brush-tailed Phascogale).

To date hundreds of Gouldian Finches have been reintroduced in conjunction with habitat restoration. WCTQ is also translocating Freshwater Crocodiles into the wetlands to ensure a future sustainable ecosystem.


WCTQ aims to give all visitors, educational groups or otherwise, a meaningful experience in the environment and develops educational and interpretaive materials that encourage reflection, action and participation.

Interpretation and exhibitry

WCTQ has developed a centre with a vision of being within the tropical environment. The centre is a large open space that offers superb views of Clancy’s Lagoon and the surrounding landscape where visitors can get close to the birds and feel immersed in the wetlands.

Formal (school and university) learning

The WCTQ encourages visis by schools and universities and conducts a number of these throughout the year. As yet, there are no formal programmes for educational groups but tailored activities to suit teacher requirements, including special needs groups. The WCTQ is in the process of developing activities relevant to school curricula and syllabi. Contatc staff at the MTSWR for information. WCTQ does not offer professional development for teachers.

The WCTQ is in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hunter Wetlands Centre regarding collaborating on professional development, training and educational activities.”

Informal (general public) learning

On arrival, visitors receive a guide to the MTSWR outlining available activities, overviewing the Reserve, and with a map of the walking trails. Two of the four walking trails also have accompanying interpretative trail notes that can be taken by visitors on their walk describing the landscape, flora and fauna of the Reserve. There are also a number of children’s activities (e.g. Treasure Hunt).

Visitors have access to 16km of walking trails. There are also guided boat tours throughout the day and afternoon tours that visitors can join. These tours discuss flora, fauna,history, management issues and the landscape of the area.

The WCTQ holds various activities throughout the year including an annual open day with free entry and children’s activities.

Both staff and volunteers develop and implement learning programmes.

WCTQ membership is currently over 1000. Members’ benefits include free entry into the MTSWR, discounts on activities and purchases, quarterly newslatter ‘Jabiru’, and invitations to special member events.


The WCTQ welcomes peers and professional colleaguess and is happy to share information with them. It does not organise professional meetings, conferences or training programmes.


The Visitor Centre is manned by two staff, Reserve Wardens and volunteers who are actively inall aspects of visitor service including managing and assisting with educational groups, leading tours and developing education and interpretative materials. They are also involved in all conservation and land management activities on the Reserve. This provides them with a unique insight into the Reserve and its flora and fauna.

Staff activities are directed by a voluntary board of management through the WCTQ Manager.

Both Reserve Wardens manage and implement CEPA activities depending on the content and interest of the parties involved. They also train and supervise any volunteers assisting with such activities.”


Reserve Warden, E: visitor.centre@mareebawetlands

Gwyneth Nevard, Manager, E:

The WLI network is endorsed by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and coordinated by WWT.

Quick links


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