The vast Yellabinna wilderness is the largest expanse of relatively undisturbed mallee in Australia. This 4 million hectare area of high wilderness value lies to the north of Ceduna and includes the 'multiple use' Yellabinna Regional Reserve, and Pureba and Yumbarra Conservation Parks.
The Yellabinna wilderness encompasses large areas of mallee-covered dunefields with areas of open woodland. What appears at first to be a largely uniform landscape is in fact full of subtle distinctions, as well as spectacular salt lakes and clay pans, and rocky outcrops containing rockholes with their own communities of plants and animals. The series of rock holes that run through Yellabinna, connecting the entire continent's ancient highways (or songlines), are vitally important. Running from Uluru to a new proposed marina in the coastal town of Ceduna, the rock holes are a source of rare surface water and are therefore vital to life. Not surprisingly, they also form the basis of indigenous occupation and trade routes and they remain vitally important cultural sites.
In the north of the Yellabinna Regional Reserve is the spectacular Mt Finke, a stand alone outcrop that rises 200m above the surrounding dunefields. It is visible from up to 30kms away and has its own unique flora.
The great value of Yellabinna lies in its essentially undisturbed nature and its large size at the zone of transition between the semi-arid and arid areas of South Australia. Remaining woodland on the margins of agricultural regions is connected through Yellabinna to the semi-arid and arid regions to the north. Acacia and eucalyptus communities in the west and east are also linked through Yellabinna. Its vastness and relative lack of disturbance mean that Yellabinna wilderness provides refuges for plants and animals marginalised and made extinct elsewhere. Species like the Grevillea Treuriana are only found in Yellabinna, and a number of species like the Goodenia glandulosa and the tiny Ctenophorus fionii (a small rock dragon) are at the very edge of their range.
The Yellabinna area also marks a transition zone between the red sands derived from the ancient continental rocks of Australia and white sands of coastal origin. A number of ranges of formerly coastal dune ridges cross the area, preserved like nowhere else on earth.
Although Yellabinna escaped the pastoral industry due to a lack of groundwater, protection of its wilderness values is not assured. a recent declaration by the South Australian government of one million hectares as "wilderness protection zone Tracks created by visitors to the area are proliferating. Mineral exploration will leave irreversible scars on the landscape. With the de-proclamation of the Yumbarra Conservation Park, all of the remaining area is now open to mineral exploration.
Some more information is available at: http://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/outback/yellabinna/
The word yellabinna is an adaptation of the Googatha words jarla
"to speak" and binna "to listen".
The recent Asian tsunami serves as a significant warning of what the australian continent is truly capable of.