Reef Aid

Mackenzie Water Quality Program

We are working with landholders in the Mackenzie and Dawson river catchments to stop 1,144 tonnes of sediment from entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon per year. Through meaningful grazing practice changes, we can keep soil and nutrients on farm, improve land condition and help protect the health of the Reef.


This project is working with the landholders of properties close to the Woorabinda and Duaringa townships of Central Queensland, on the traditional lands of the Barada Kabalbara Yetimarala People, Gaangalu Nation people and Wadja people.

While these properties in the Mackenzie and Dawson River catchments may seem a long way from the Reef, they are part of the larger Fitzroy River Basin – the largest catchment emptying into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

By adjusting grazing practices on land, we can have big impacts on Reef health by retaining nutrients and sediment and improving land condition. 

The Challenge

Sediment runoff from far inland can travel through river systems all the way to the Great Barrier Reef, causing problems by smothering coral and reducing clarity of the water, which impacts on the growth and health of the seagrass and coral ecosystems.

Sediment also transports nutrients and chemical contaminants onto the Reef system, encouraging algae growth and Crown of Thorns starfish infestations.

The way grazing is managed on farms inland, like those in the Mackenzie and Dawson river catchments, can change how much sediment and nutrient runs off into river systems and reaches the Reef.

Grazing land can have high sediment runoff when it has poor vegetation cover, soils prone to erosion, or impacts from cattle movement. Supporting graziers with solutions tailored to their land, vegetation and farming practices can help improve and maintain vegetation cover and resilience.

The Solution

By working with landholders who are looking to care for the Reef through their farming operations, we can keep sediment and nutrients on farm and create healthier, more economical grazing lands.

We are working with partners to build the foundations of sustainable, productive, and healing farm management with landholders. We have developed a set of goals for farming outcomes across a range of different metrics that are underpinned by expert regional assessments and align with landholder interests.

Greening Australia, the landholders, and the local Woorabinda Rangers are co-developing effective farm management techniques that re-establish the traditional connection and management of Country alongside modern, sustainable farming techniques.

We are working with landholders on: implementing land condition monitoring to inform future stocking and cropping decisions; adjusting cattle inventory to suit seasonal land capacity; rotational grazing practices; ongoing protection of vegetation cover; and cultural training.

Together these aspects will assist with healing Country where it is needed and ensure that ongoing farming practices protect land and sea Country long term while also remaining profitable. 
The Mackenzie Water Quality Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, delivered in collaboration with Woorabinda Pastoral Company, Woorabinda Shire Council, and Resource Consulting Services.

The Mackenzie Water Quality Program is part of the Fitzroy Water Quality Program regional initiative.

For more information about this project or any of our programs, please send us an online query.