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Australian Heritage Database
Places for Decision
Class : Natural



Identification

List:

National Heritage List

Name of Place:

Great Artesian Basin Springs: Witjira-Dalhousie

Other Names:

Dalhousie Mound Springs Area

Place ID:

105819

File No:

3/00/260/0045







Nomination Date:

09/07/2007

Principal Group:

Wetlands and Rivers

 




Status




Legal Status:

09/07/2007 - Nominated place

Admin Status:

30/10/2008 - Assessment by AHC completed

 




Assessment










Recommendation:

Place meets one or more NHL criteria

Assessor's Comments:




Other Assessments:

:

 




Location




Nearest Town:

Oodnadatta

   Distance from town (km):

118

   Direction from town:

N

Area (ha):

50700

Address:

Dalhousie ruin via Oodnadatta, SA, 5734

LGA:

Unincorporated (262) SA

Location/Boundaries:
About 50,700ha, 118km north of Oodnadatta and 38km south-east of Mount Dare Station, comprising the Dalhousie Springs Zone, Witjira National Park Management Plan Draft 2008. The exact boundary description of this zone can be obtained from the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts or the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage. An approximate boundary is the area enclosed by a line joining the following points of Latitude and Longitude (GDA94) consecutively: 26.4708S 135.4251E, 26.4631S 135.4248E, 26.4557S 135.4257E, 26.4481S 135.4281E, 26.4414S 135.4314E, 26.4349S 135.4311E, 26.4279S 135.4276E, 26.4222S 135.4259E, 26.4163S 135.4251E, 26.3931S 135.4255E, 26.3874S 135.4263E, 26.3828S 135.4272E, 26.3772S 135.4293E, 26.3719S 135.4321E, 26.3516S 135.4475E, 26.3472S 135.4518E, 26.3315S 135.4727E, 26.3275S 135.4791E, 26.3249S 135.4850E, 26.3230S 135.4912E, 26.3221S 135.4957E, 26.3184S 135.5011E, 26.3150S 135.5082E, 26.3127S 135.5144E, 26.3111S 135.5224E, 26.3107S 135.5289E, 26.3115S 135.5623E, 26.3135S 135.5719E, 26.3157S 135.5779E, 26.3187S 135.5836E, 26.3222S 135.5889E, 26.3264S 135.5935E, 26.3311S 135.5975E, 26.3388S 135.6022E, 26.3473S 135.6051E, 26.3532S 135.6060E, 26.3591S 135.6060E, 26.3634S 135.6054E, 26.3686S 135.6246E, 26.3708S 135.6306E, 26.3737S 135.6363E, 26.3773S 135.6416E, 26.3837S 135.6483E, 26.3912S 135.6535E, 26.3967S 135.6561E, 26.4024S 135.6578E, 26.4082S 135.6587E, 26.4141S 135.6587E, 26.4200S 135.6579E, 26.4285S 135.6551E, 26.4338S 135.6522E, 26.4387S 135.6486E, 26.4432S 135.6443E, 26.4471S 135.6394E, 26.4504S 135.6340E, 26.4541S 135.6250E, 26.4556S 135.6187E, 26.4564S 135.6122E, 26.4565S 135.6056E, 26.4557S 135.5991E, 26.4535S 135.5899E, 26.4572S 135.5884E, 26.4619S 135.5859E, 26.4674S 135.5819E, 26.4762S 135.5740E, 26.4804S 135.5693E, 26.4918S 135.5697E, 26.5106S 135.5756E, 26.5201S 135.5774E, 26.5290S 135.5771E, 26.5348S 135.5758E, 26.5433S 135.5723E, 26.5504S 135.5684E, 26.5577S 135.5633E, 26.5621S 135.5590E, 26.5661S 135.5541E, 26.5725S 135.5443E, 26.5767S 135.5356E, 26.5787S 135.5294E, 26.5801S 135.5197E, 26.5802S 135.5007E, 26.5793S 135.4929E, 26.5772S 135.4854E, 26.5743S 135.4788E, 26.5711S 135.4733E, 26.5662S 135.4673E, 26.5607S 135.4624E, 26.5559S 135.4590E, 26.5599S 135.4493E, 26.5611S 135.4409E, 26.5611S 135.4329E, 26.5598S 135.4258E, 26.5568S 135.4176E, 26.5529S 135.4109E, 26.5469S 135.4042E, 26.5394S 135.3986E, 26.5313S 135.3947E, 26.5231S 135.3927E, 26.5149S 135.3922E, 26.5071S 135.3931E, 26.5000S 135.3952E, 26.4927S 135.3989E, 26.4858S 135.4041E, 26.4801S 135.4105E, 26.4744S 135.4188E, then directly to the point of commencement.

Assessor's Summary of Significance:
 
Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is one of a suite of nationally important artesian springs in the Great Artesian Basin, which is the world’s largest artesian basin.  The artesian springs have been the primary natural source of permanent water in most of the Australian arid zone over the last 1.8 Million years (the Pleistocene and Holocene periods).  These artesian springs, also known as mound springs, provide vital habitat for more widespread terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates with aquatic larval young, and are a unique feature of the arid Australian landscape.
 
As these artesian springs are some distance from each other in the Australian inland, and individually each one covers a tiny area, their isolation has allowed the freshwater animal lineages to evolve into distinct species, which include fish, aquatic invertebrates (crustacean and freshwater snail species) and wetland plants.  This results in a high level of endemism, or species that are found nowhere else in the world.
 
Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is nationally significant as it holds a suite of species which are genetically and evolutionarily distinct from other Great Artesian Basin springs, including three endemic freshwater snails, five endemic fish species and at least seven endemic crustaceans (isopods, amphipods and ostracods).  The outflows of Witjira-Dalhousie Springs also support at least one endemic plant known only from the spring complex, a native tobacco, as well as at least six plant species better known from wetter areas to the south, including duck weed, which are indicative of a wetter past.
 
Mound springs in arid and semi arid Australia are associated with traditional stories and song lines, rain making rituals and evidence for concentrated Aboriginal occupation during dry seasons and periods of drought.  The Witjira-Dalhousie Mound Springs are an outstanding example of how mound springs act as a refuge.  The spring’s significance is illustrated by the exceptionally large number of traditional song lines and story lines that originate or pass through the springs, the density of artefacts and the large size of Aboriginal camps at the springs, some up to a kilometre in length and thousands of square metres in extent (AARD 2008).
.
 
Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is regarded as one of the best examples of an artesian ‘mound’ spring complex in Australia, and Yeates (2001) also considers it “the best place (in Australia) to see the artesian processes and artesian springs in a natural state”. 
 
 
 

Draft Values:

Criterion

Values

Rating

A Events, Processes

 
Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is one of a suite of important artesian discharge springs in the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) for endemic fish, invertebrates (including hydrobiid gastropod molluscs) and plants (ANHAT 2005 & 2008).  Witjira-Dalhousie is the most important place in the Australian arid zone for endemic fish (ANHAT 2005; Allen et al 2002; DEW 2007c; Morton et al 1995a, p.95).  Witjira-Dalhousie Springs has also been ranked by CSIRO as a nationally ‘highly significant’ semi-arid and arid refugia in Australia for regional endemics of aquatic invertebrates (isopods, ostracods, and hydrobiid molluscs) and fish (Morton et al, 1995a, p.11, p.95 & p.133).
 
GAB artesian springs are important for illustrating the role of evolutionary refugia for relict animal and plant species (Morton et al, 1995a, p.11), which have evolved into distinct and endemic species in the GAB springs. Witjira-Dalhousie Springs contain five endemic species of fish: the Dalhousie mogurnda (Mogurnda thermophila), Dalhousie catfish (Neosilurus gloveri), Dalhousie hardyhead (Craterocephalus dalhousiensis), Glover’s hardyhead (C. gloveri), and Dalhousie goby (Chlamydogobius gloveri) (Fensham et al 2007, p.13 & p.42; Allen et al 2002; DEW 2007c; Morton et al 1995a, p.95).  Witjira-Dalhousie Springs contain three endemic hydrobiid freshwater snail species: Austropyrgus centralia, Caldicochlea globosa and Caldicochlea harrisi (Fensham et al 2007, p.13 & p.42; ANHAT 2005 & 2008; Perez et al 2005; Morton et al 1995a, p.95; Ponder and Clark 1990, p 301; Ponder et al 1995, p.554).  Witjira-Dalhousie Springs also has a phraetoicidean isopod (Phreatomerus latipes), which is endemic to Witjira-Dalhousie and the Lake Eyre springs, and two endemic amphipod species (Phraetochiltonia anophthalma and Austrochiltonia dalhousiensis), and five endemic ostracods (Ngarawa dirga, Candanopsis sp., Cyprideis sp., Darwinula sp. Entocytheridae sp.) (DEW 2007c; Morton et al 1995a & b).  The outflows of Witjira-Dalhousie Springs also support at least one endemic plant known only from the spring complex, a native tobacco, Nicotiana burbidgeae, as well as at least six relict plant species better known from mesic areas to the south, including: duck weed (Lemna disperma), swamp twig-rush (Baumea arthrophylla), spike rush (Eleocharis geniculata), a fringe-rush (Fimbristylis ferruginea) and two herbs: shield pennywort (Hydrocyte verticullata) and creeping brookweed (Samolus repens) (DEW 2007c; DEH(SA) 2007a; Morton et al 1995a, pp.95; Morton et al 1995b, pp.55-56; Mollemans 1989, pp.65-66; McLaren et al 1985, pp.9-12).
 
 

AT

B Rarity

 
Extant artesian springs in the GAB are a geographically rare phenomenon, each one covering a tiny area within the basin.  (Ponder 1989 p 416, Wilson 1995 p 12).  Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is regarded as one of the most important artesian springs because of its isolation, relative intactness and the extinction of other springs in the GAB (Morton et al 1995a, p.95 & p.133; Morton et al 1995b, pp.55 & 64-65; Wolfgang Zeidler pers. comm. 1/3/2005; Ziedler and Ponder 1989, p.ix). 
 
 

AT

D Principal characteristics of a class of places

 
Mound springs in arid and semi arid Australia are associated with traditional stories and song lines, rain making rituals and evidence for concentrated Aboriginal occupation during dry seasons and periods of drought. The Witjira-Dalhousie Mound Springs are an outstanding example showing the principle characteristics of mound springs as a class of Aboriginal cultural places. They are located in one of the driest zones in Australia and the Lower Southern Arrernte and the Wangkangurru Traditional Owners relied on the springs as a refuge during the dry season and times of drought. They are associated with an exceptionally large number of traditional song lines and story lines (Hercus and Sutton 1985; 64; Davey, Davies and Helman 1985), rainmaking rituals were performed there (Kimber 1997) and the density of artefacts and the large size of Aboriginal camp sites, some measuring up to a kilometre in length and thousands of square metres in extent, is unusual (Lampert 1985; Florek 1987, 1993; Kimber 1997; AARD 2008).
 
The GAB is the world’s largest example of an artesian basin with its associated artesian springs an important component of the system (Harris 1992 p 157, Perez et al 2005). It is regarded as the best example of such an artesian system in Australia (Yeates 2001, pp.64-65; Morton et al 1995a, p.11, p.95 & pp.132-134; Morton et al 1995b, pp.65-66). Artesian springs are the primary source of permanent fresh water within the arid zone since at least the late Pleistocene (the last 1.8 Million years) and are therefore a unique feature of the arid Australian landscape (Ponder 1986 p 416; Morton et al 1995b, p. 55; Bowler 1982, pp.35-45). As the primary natural source of permanent fresh water in most of the arid zone, GAB artesian springs represent vital habitat for more widespread terrestrial vertebrates, and invertebrates with aquatic larvae (Ponder 1986, p 415).  Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is one of a suite of important artesian discharge GAB Springs that are outstanding examples of the endemism exhibited by artesian springs individually and collectively.  Species found at Witjira-Dalhousie Springs include endemic freshwater hydrobiid snails Austropyrgus centralia, Caldicochlea globosa and C. harrisi, and five endemic fish species, the Dalhousie mogurnda (Mogurnda thermophila), Dalhousie catfish (Neosilurus gloveri), Dalhousie hardyhead (Craterocephalus dalhousiensis), Glover’s hardyhead (C. gloveri), and Dalhousie goby (Chlamydogobius gloveri) (Fensham et al 2007, p.13 & p.42; Perez et al 2005; Allen et al 2002; DEW 2007c; Ponder 2003; Fensham and Fairfax 2004; Morton et al 1995a, pp.55-56). 
 
Witjira-Dalhousie Springs is regarded as one of the best examples of an artesian ‘mound’ spring complex in Australia (Morton et al 1995a, p.95 & pp.133), and Yeates (2001) also considers it “the best place (in Australia) to see the artesian processes and artesian springs in a natural state” (Yeates 2001, pp. 64-65).  Kreig (1989) also states “as a geological feature the (Dalhousie Anticline) springs complex is unique in Australia. It illustrates on a huge scale the cause and effect of an artesian mound system”, including “top of aquifer, mound spring material … and large pools and rivulets of artesian water all convincingly displayed”.  These geological values are amply illustrated within the springs complex place, the core or ‘hub’ of the Dalhousie Anticline (Kreig 1989, p.26).
 

AT

I Indigenous tradition

 
Witjira-Dalhousie Mound Springs has outstanding heritage value to the nation for its association with an exceptional density of story or song lines most of which are associated with mound springs (Hercus and Sutton 1985; 64). There are twenty four recorded song lines that originate or pass through Witjira-Dalhousie Mound Springs including: the Kestrel story, the Printi and the Goanna Women, the Rain Ancestor (Anintjola), the Dog story, the Frill Neck Lizard story, the Boy from Dalhousie, the Goanna Party and the Echidna Woman, Old Man Kingfisher and Old Woman Kingfisher, the Blind Rainbow Snake, Old Man Rainbow Snake, Perentie and the Boys, the Big Boys, the Perentie Goanna Camp, the Perentie Staked His Foot and the Two Boys song line.  Unlike the traditions associated with the mound spring groups at Lake Eyre and Lake Frome, a tradition has been recorded that explains why some of the mound springs at Witjira-Dalhousie produce hot water (Hercus nd.; Hercus and Sutton 1985).
 

AT

Historic Themes:

Nominator's Summary of Significance:

Description:
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