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Words Abbey Ernst and Robyn May | Photo Kerry Trapnell 

Abbey Ernst started work as Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries Officer in December 2018. She will work on the Queensland Government’s Paddock to Reef project, and the Federal Government’s Healthy Farming Futures project.

Words and photo Robyn May

Abbey started work as Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries Officer in December 2018 after graduating with an Environmental Management degree specialising in Coastal and Marine Environments.

As Sustainable Industries Officer, Abbey’s work is focused on encouraging the adoption of best management practices with agricultural and grazing land managers.

Words and photo Robyn May

Anthony joined Cape York Natural Resource Management in January 2019. His position supports the efficient delivery of programs by working collaboratively to develop and implement a sound organisational-wide Planning Framework and Program Logics, along with corresponding monitoring and evaluation plans.

Words Timothy O'Reilly | Photo Robyn May

The Crocodile Welcome Station Gully Restoration Project has resulted in significant reduction of the sediment load into the Normanby River catchment and the Great Barrier Reef.The Normanby Basin in south - east Cape York is the fourth largest river system flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Words Sandra Lloyd | Photo Cape York NRM

Freshwater rivers and creeks in northern Australia have cultural, environmental and economic value. These values are under threat because of introduced species including Pond Apple, Gamba Grass and feral pigs.

Words Sandra Lloyd | Photo provided

Cape York Natural Resource Management (Cape York NRM) has a range of projects focusing on water quality monitoring, grazing and horticulture, weeds and feral animals and gully erosion control. These projects combine to deliver a comprehensive approach to improving the sustainability of the industries and communities on the Cape along with protecting the natural assets and improving quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef.

Words Bianca Barling-Seden | Photo Andrew Hartwig

In recent years, traditional land and fire management has received widespread recognition, capturing government and private-sector interest.

Instructed by an Awu-Laya Elders fire management project in Cape York in 2004, traditional burning has flourished through the National Indigenous Fire Workshop, a community-led initiative supported by Cape York Natural Resource Management.

The flow-on effects of traditional burning are seen from soil conservation and estuary protection through to reef health.

Words and photo Juliana Foxlee

I am here to help with anything agriculture – that’s the message for Cape York’s agricultural community from Cape York NRM’s Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator, Andrew Hartwig.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo Andrew Brooks

Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group are working with graziers in the Mitchell catchment to help them develop their knowledge of native vegetation management in a bid to reduce erosion. 

Cape York NRM Acting Principal Program Manager Michael Goddard is managing the project. 

Words Sandra Lloyd | Photo Tropical North Queensland

Australia has 40 species of mangroves which cover around one fifth of our coastline, about 12,000 square kilometres. Cape York has all 40 of Australian species. Only Indonesia and Brazil have more species than Australia.

Words Sandra Lloyd 

Grazing is a vital and significant industry on Cape York, covering around 40 percent of the region. Graziers on the eastern Cape have an important role to play in reducing cattle-driven erosion, which in turn reduces sediment in waterways, and the northern Great Barrier Reef.

Words Robyn May | Photo Michael Goddard

The West Normanby distal gully site on Springvale Station is identified as the most important sediment source in the Normanby Basin. Targeted remediation works on active gullies are being implemented to reduce erosion and protect river and Great Barrier Reef habitats.

Words Robyn May | Photo Cape York NRM

Cape York land managers’ efforts to reduce the loss of valuable top soil, and increase grazing productivity, are being supported by a suite of native grass identification tools.

Words and photo Robyn May

Rubber vine has been treated in the Laura region by Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals (CYWAFA) Inc. with support from Cape York NRM.

Cape York NRM Gully and Grazing Project Officer Michael Goddard said the project was all about restoring native ground cover and reducing erosion.

‘The Laura River Rubber Vine Control Project is reducing the amount of rubber vine growing along the waterways, allowing the return of native grasses and minimising soil loss during rain events,’ he explained.

Words Sandra Lloyd

The Cape York landscape has ancient and fragile soils which require careful management to ensure the long-term health of the land and connecting waters of Cape York.

Lakeland horticulture producers recognise this and are improving farm management practices to help improve their soils, reduce runoff and improve the quality of water draining off their properties.

Words and photo Robyn May

Cape York NRM welcomes the Queensland Government and Cook Shire Council’s investment in Gateway to the Cape—a travellers’ rest stop and information centre in Lakeland Downs.

Gateway to the Cape Project Manager Waratah Nicholls said the $1.2 m investment in the initiative was welcome news for the community.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) is conducting a survey on pest animal and weed management. They are seeking assistance from owners/managers of agricultural properties to provide vital information about pest animal and weed management in Australia. 

You are invited to complete the survey by 15 July 2019.

Words Abbey Ernst and Robyn May | Photo Robyn May

2019 marks a decade of successful operation for the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program). 

It is through the Paddock to Reef program that Cape York NRM has effectively continued its work with landholders in the Normanby catchment of the Great Barrier Reef.  

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photos Barry Lyon

As the focus on Australia’s extinction crisis heats up, Cape York Natural Resource Management and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group are working to protect the habitat of one of Cape York’s rarest birds – the golden-shouldered parrot.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo Cape York NRM

A resilient, future-focused and adaptive Cape York farming sector is the goal for Cape York NRM’s Healthy Farming Futures project.

Healthy Farming Futures aims to help raise awareness of how climate change will impact farm practices, land condition and support the identification of adaptation strategy, increasing the resilience against the projected impacts of climate change.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo James Donaldson

Cape York NRM are partnering with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (Northern Gulf RMG) to facilitate opportunities for Aboriginal people to showcase and share their cultural fire knowledge and establish a network of Aboriginal fire practitioners.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo provided

Farmers across Far North Queensland are digging into a range of soils management programs to help secure their futures against changing climate conditions.

Words Robyn May | Photo Jessie Price-Decle

Cape York grazing families didn’t let a little thing like a Cat 1 cyclone deter them from heading to the 2019 Cape York Grazing Forum held in Laura recently

Cape York NRM ran the event in partnership with South Cape York Catchments, Rural Financial Counselling Services North Queensland, AgForce, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and was a great success. 

Words Robyn May | Photo Liam O'Neill

Harry James might have grown up in the city but he never missed an opportunity to go bush.

Harry is Cape York NRM’s first Agricultural Extension Graduate, and one of only six in Queensland.

Words and photo Jessie Price-Decle

Late season fires can destroy habitat, threaten property and livestock, and scorch groundcover leaving country vulnerable to erosion. Fighting fires is also a significant drain on people’s time and resources.

Words Jessie Price-Decle and Juliana Foxlee | Photo Jessie Price-Decle

The three-year project saw graziers make changes to their land and grazing practices to improve land condition and water quality outcomes.

The project team, made up of Cape York NRM, South Cape York Catchments, and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries staff, worked across 20 properties over the life of the project.

South Cape York Catchments Grazing Project Officer Jessie Price-Decle said the project made a difference to water quality and land condition.

Words and photo Robyn May

Many of these women have never taken a day, let alone three days, away from their roles as land managers, mothers, wives, teachers, accountants and the rest, to focus on themselves.

Some of the women attending have overcome or are still experiencing seemingly insurmountable challenges during their lives on the land. Outside their comfort zone, many shared their stories in the comfort of others who understand.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo James Donaldson

Cape York NRM is partnering with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group to facilitate opportunities for Australian Indigenous people to showcase and share their cultural fire knowledge, establish a network of Indigenous fire practitioners and protect the habitat of threatened species.

In May, Northern Gulf RMG coordinated an on- country fire workshop at Talaroo Station in the northern Gulf area. The three - day event was hosted by the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo provided

A Cape York NRM project is asking farmers what changes should be made on their properties to support them and their businesses, and funding a number of their suggestions.

Regional Extension Coordinator Oliver McConnachie explains:

‘I’m running a project to help farmers and land managers learn from each other through regular get-togethers, meetings and workshops.

Words and photo Kerri Woodcock, Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA) Coordinator

A remote sand cay off the north east coast of Cape York, Milman Island became a centre of activity during the annual turtle census in summer 2018/2019. Led by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, turtle monitoring on Milman Island has been a regular event on the turtle calendar since 1991 when it was first established as a representative monitoring beach for northern Queensland hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Words and photos Juliana Foxlee

Springvale Station Nature Refuge is located 40km south west of Cooktown. Once a cattle station, the culturally – important property is now a refuge for a diverse range of vulnerable flora and fauna.

The Palaszczuk government purchased Springvale Station in 2016 in a bid to reduce sediment flowing from the degraded paddocks into the Normanby River.

The Queensland government is now investing in a new project which will support water quality outcomes and *Bama livelihoods.

Words and photo Robyn May

‘Manage landscape and all species benefit’ was just one of the many positive comments made during the feedback session following the 2019 Cape York Indigenous Fire Workshop.

This year’s workshop was held in July at Mary Valley and coincided with the school holidays, so lots
of kids were able to attend and learn an array of traditional fire and land management techniques while spending time on Country. This is critical as these children are the land and sea managers of the future.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo Robyn May

Cape York NRM and Terrain NRM are working together to help farmers learn from each other and bring greater coordination to personal farming support services, also known as extension services.

Known as the Enhanced Extension Coordination project, the three - year initiative is designed
to improve coordination, collaboration and communication between extension networks and farmers within the Wet Tropics and Cape York catchment areas to increase efficiency, reduce duplication and improve environmental outcomes.

Words Ben Lister and Robyn May

Who Plans Here is a Cape York NRM tool accessible on our website. The tool enables users to locate plans that are in place across the region. Plans are updated regularly, with over 150 plans currently available.

Plans that Cape York NRM has permission to share can be located by searching a selected area on the site’s Cape York map—plans within that selected area will be displayed. Users will then have the option to download, or to contact the plan owner for access.

A Communications and Engagement Workshop for Extension Officers took place in Mareeba on 23 May.

Attended by a mix of Cape York NRM and Department of Agriculture staff and contractors, the full-day workshop covered body language, empathy, and managing emotions in ourselves and others.

Words Robyn May | Photo provided

When Cape York NRM’s Systems Analyst and Program Support Officer Ben Lister isn’t busy turning data into knowledge, he’s training for triathlons and perfecting the art of roasting – and consuming – coffee.

Ben’s role involves developing data collection and storage systems that support decision making for the organisation and Cape York land managers.

Story and photo provided by Yarrie Yarns

Yarrie Yarns is a social project that shares Indigenous stories (yarns) for inspiration, motivation, education, empowerment, reconciliation and crime prevention.

The yarns are shared on the Yarrie Yarns social media sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - or or

You can send ideas, stories, photos and videos via social media channels or by email to

Words Director Emma Jackson

It’s been a full program for the Board and staff in the first half of the year, with loads more to come over the ensuing months.

The teams have kicked off the dry season hard, continuing with projects from soil to gully remediation, from fire to water, and weeds to pests. Updates on many of the successes and challenges are in the newsletter, but what about the Directors? What have we been up to behind the scenes?