Mt Gee and threat to Short-tailed Grasswren.

To: Ian May <>
Subject: Mt Gee and threat to Short-tailed Grasswren.
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2008 12:51:45 +1000
Thanks for the heads-up Ian!

I visited the Gammon Ranges and the Arkaroola area a few years ago and was 
blown away by its sheer rugged, untouched beauty.

I knew little about the area, and birders talk a lot about Lyndhurst and 
the Southern Flinders ranges as good birding spots, but the Gammon Ranges 
were sensational!

I'd definently recommend birders (or anyone for that matter)  to put the 
Gammon Ranges and Arkaroola on the itinary if they are in the area. (Great 
bird diversity in general, plus specialties)   I'd rate it up there with 
the Kimberleys and Kakadu  as one of the great aussie outback experiences.

I've actually written notes to this affect back in Dec 2005 on a 
photographic field report on the area.   See the Gammon Ranges and 
Arkaroola sections at the following link: 

Its sad to hear that some of the true wilderness areas are about to 
dissappear at the hands of mining industry, and hopefully this venture can 
be stopped. 



Ian May <> 
Sent by: 
02/04/2008 01:16 PM

Birding-aus <>, 

[Birding-Aus] Mt Gee and threat to Short-tailed Grasswren.

Hi all

There is a mystical mountain in the remote North Flinders Ranges in South 
Australia known as Mount 
Gee    It is an arid wilderness 
mountain within Arkaroola 
/Mount Painter Wilderness Sanctuary and is located in the heart of the 
spectacular igneous and 
metamorphic formations characteristic of the Northern Flinders.

Mount Gee is part of the geological area known as Mount Painter province, 
one of the most highly 
mineralized areas for its size on earth. Although the mineral diversity of 
the area is huge, the 
mineralisation is minimal and commercial mining has rarely occurred there 
except for a few small 
copper mines that failed early last century and the Mount Painter mine 
where limited amounts of 
uranium were extracted for the Manhattan Project during the Second World 

The surface of Mount Gee comprises acid soils with outcrops of quartz 
crystal and granite.   There 
are underground water chasms with crystal amethyst lined walls; deep 
underground formations that are 
known to breathe when atmospheric pressure systems pass.   High on the 
mountain there are cliffs of 
rugged highly mineralised granite porphyry where prehistoric bat caves 
exist. The terrain is 
spectacular, rugged and remote, covered with woodlands of native pine, 
mallee and acacia 
interspersed with dense areas of triodia amongst which scattered clumps of 
xanthoria, cassia and 
eromophila shrublands thrive. This is one of the most delicate, beautiful 
and spectacular arid range 
areas that exist.

Importantly, this area is the centre of abundance; the heart of 
distribution for Short-tailed
Grasswren Amytornis merrotsyi, a rare and restricted South Australian 
endemic bird and close to the 
site where it was discovered. Significantly the Mount Gee/ Mount Painter 
area is also the main 
Flinders Ranges breeding area for Little Woodswallow and Painted Finch and 
also where uncommon 
species such as Broad-tailed Thornbill and Redthroat are common.   It is 
also a major habitat for 
Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby.

There is now a proposal to mine uranium on a vast scale at Mount Gee by a 
company known as Marathon 
Resources P/L.  Unfortunately there is no possibility that mining 
development could proceed in this 
area without causing massive destruction. The area and its wildlife is 
vulnerable to almost every 
impact of mining, (see 1 below) not to mention major damage that would 
occur to the visual amenity.

Destructive mineral exploration occurred here in the late 1960's and early 
70's  Exploration activity was 
halted by the SA Government 
because of environmental concerns.   These damaged areas have never 
recovered from the onslaught of 
100 drill holes in 1972.

Arkaroola was purchased as an under-developed pastoral property for the 
sole purpose of natural 
protection and conservation by Dr Reg Sprigg and his wife Griselda in 
1968. Since then, with more 
than 40 years of competent management by the Sprigg family the area has 
remained well protected. The 
area and its wildlife is seriously threatened by this development 
proposal. If you are interested in 
helping with this issue, please read and consider your response.

And how would I know any of this?   Arkaroola was once my home too and 
where Pat and I raised our 
children.  The natural values of this area and its importance to the 
nation far exceed any short 
term economic benefit from exploiting its mineral wealth.

Thank you

Ian May
St Helens Tasmania

1.               Impacts from mining relate to threatening processes that 
vary according to species and location 
affected.   As I see it, threatening processes from mining that will 
affect species occurring at Mt 
Gee include; regular human presence near vital habitat such and available 
water, disturbance, 
modification and pollution of natural water points, vibration, noise, road 
kill, major erosion, 
impeding water flows, downstream fines pollution of waterholes and 
watercourses, competition for 
naturally occurring level and open areas, blasting, chemical pollution, 
vegetation removal, major 
dust source, rubbish.


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