Shire of Coorow

Area Located ~290 km north of Perth and covers  ~4,190 square kilometres.
Towns Leeman, Coorow, Green Head, Gunyidi and Marchagee
Annual Rainfall Average annual rainfall of 390mm, with higher rainfall in the coastal areas than inland regions.
ABS Profile Coorow ABS profile

Click features on the map for more information. View full page map

A total of 1,085  people reside in the Shire of Coorow (ABS 2014) and the town of  Leeman is the most populated with over 350 residents.

The population of  the Shire of Coorow is in decline, with a 0.5% decrease since 2011.
The Shire of Coorow has a fairly diverse population  with approximately 2.6% of the population having indigenous heritage, 16.5% being born overseas and 83.5% born in Australia.

Estimates of the resident populations as at 30 June are released annually for Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Australia by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The estimates are generally revised 12 months later and final estimates are available after the following census. Visit the ABS website for further details.

The economy of the Shire of Coorow  is mainly agricultural, which accounts for ~ 56% of  business and over 320,000 hectares of  land use. Manufacturing and logistics, transport and retail are also important industries within the Shire, accounting for 8.8% and 5.3% (respectively) of local business (RPS, 2014).

Employment by sector (Service related industry, Retail related industry, Agriculture, fishing and forestry, Mining, Manufacturing, Construction, Other) is depicted in the chart below.

Land use in the Shire of Coorow is predominately nature reserves, agriculture, residential, industrial and commercial.

Priority conservation reserves includes Lesueur National Park, South Eneabba Nature Reserve, Alexander Morrison National Park, Pinjarrega Nature Reserve, Marchagee Nature Reserve, Capamauro Nature Reserve and Watheroo National Park.Namming Nature Reserve, Twyata Nature Reserve and Badgingarra National Park.

Nature Reserves

  • Watheroo National Park

    The Watheroo National Park covers an area of 44,481 hectares and is located in the Shires of Coorow, Moora and Dandaragan. The national park is characterised by sand plains mostly dominated by heath and woodlands of Eucalypts.

  • Lesueur National Park

    The Lesueur National Park covers an approximate area of 27,235 hectares and lies in the Geraldton Sand plains IBRA region. The national park is home to approximately 900 native plant species, with four rare or threatened species being recorded in the park including the Mount Lesueur Grevillea, Forrest’s Wattle, Lesueur Hakea and the Laterite Mallee.

  • Conservation reserves in the NAR

    To view all the reserves in the Northern Agricultural Region, visit the Land use theme page or view the nature reserve map.

  • Alexander Morrison National Park

    Declared in 1970, the Alexander Morrison National Park covers an area of 8 500 hectares and is located in the Shire of Coorow. It was named after Alexander Morrison (1849-1913) who was the first official Western Australian government botanist in the Bureau of Agriculture between 1897-1906.

    The National Park is characterised by sand plains and low lateritic breakaway overlying sandstone and shale. The vegetation in the National Park comprises of sand heaths and small areas of low woodland and Mallee.

    For more information about the park visit the DPaW website.


The coastline of the Shire of Coorow is dominated by Kockatea Shale which was formed in the triassic period from volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The Kockatea Shales consists of shale, minor siltstone, sandstone with deposits of calcareous and sandstone. Underlying the town site of Leeman is the Woodada formation formed during the mesozoic period from sedimentary and volcanic rocks. The Woodada formation comprises of fine to medium grained sandstone, interbedded with laminated siltstone. Lying east of the Kockatea Shale is the Lesueur Sandstone formation formed during the triassic period from volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The Lesueur Sandstone formation consists of very fine to coarse grained quartz sandstone, with subordinate granule conglomerate and minor siltstone. East of the Lesueur Sandstone formation is the Eneabba formation and Cattamarra Coal Measure. The Eneabba formation and Cattamarra Coal Measures were formed during the Jurassic period from volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The Eneabba formation consists of interbedded red-bed sandstone and siltstone. The Cattamarra Coal Measure consists of siltstone, shale, claystone, coal and sandstone.

The eastern portion of the shire is dominated by the Commberdale subgroup and south west terrain which forms part of the Yilgarn Craton. The Coomberdale subgroup comprises of sandstone, siltstone, dolomite rock and silica minerals. The south west terrain comprises of granite rock formed from igneous, metamorphic and gneiss rocks. The remainder of the eastern portion of the shire is underlined with the Billeranga sub-group, Yarragadee formation and the Cattamarra Coal Measures. The Billeranga sub-group was formed during the Mesoproterzoic era from sedimentary and volcanic rock. The Billeranga sub-group comprises of sandstone, siltstone, basalt and volcanic sandstone.

Much of the coastline of the Shire of Coorow comprises of deep sandy calcareous sands forming part of the complex dune system and some gravelly soils overlying limestone outcrops. The flat terrain along the coast comprises of saline and salt lake soils. To east of the salt lakes exists seasonal wet plains which are characterised by red calcareous clayey soils. The soils underlying much of the middle portion of the shire are described as deep siliceous sandy soils overlying undulating low hill rises with gravelly ridge crests and the occasional remnant dune. The eastern portion of the shire is dominated by lake systems comprising of saline and salt lake soils. Much of the areas surrounding the lake system is a plain with low dunes and depressions consisting of deep sandy and sandy earth soils.

Please go to the below link for more information on soil and geology in the region

Priority Fauna Species

IBRA Regions

  • Lesueur Sandplains (Geraldton Sandplains 2)

    The Geraldton Hills is located in the LGAs in the middle portion of the region. This subregion is characterised by Proteaceous scrub heath dominates the undulating sandplain lying over the Permian and Cretaceous strata. Outwash plains associated with the drainage lines are dominated by York Gum and Jam woodlands. The lateritic mesas, sandplains, coastal sandplains and limestone are rich in shrub-heaths (Desmond and Chant, 2001c).

  • Ancient Drainage subregion (Avon Wheatbelt 1)

    The Ancient Drainage subregion occurs in the eastern LGAs of the NAR. This subregion is characterised by Proteaceous scrub occupies much of the lateritic hills and outcrops. The alluvial plains associated with the drainage lines is dominated by eucalypts, Casuarinas, York Gum and Jam wattle woodlands (Beecham, 2001a).

Threatened Ecological Communities

  • Lesueur-Coomallo Floristic Community A1.2

    The Lesueur-Coomallo Floristic Community A1.2 is an Ecological Community occurring within the Geraldton Sandplains IBRA Bioregion that has been identified as Endangered at State level, being endorsed in 2001. The Floristic Community has only been identified on one 31 hectare area within Lesueur National Park and is currently at threat from altered fire regimes, dieback (Phytophthora sp.), plant and animal pests, and mining.

    The Lesueur-Coomallo Floristic Community A1.2 is described in Interim Recovery Plan No. 106 (pg 3) as being: Species-rich heath with emergent Hakea obliqua on sand with faithful species of Hakea obliqua and Beaufortia aff. elegans and constant species of Dasypogon bromeliifolius and Stirlingia latifolia over well-drained grey sand over pale yellow sand on lateritic uplands. Associated species include Allocasuarina humilis, Calothamnus sanguineous, Hibbertia hypericoides, Hypocalymma xanthopetalum and Schoenus subflavus.


  • Herbaceous plant assemblages on bentonite lake beds (Vegetation Types 1,2,3&7) and margins (Vegetation Types 4,5&6) of the Watheroo-Marchagee region

    This TEC occurs within the Geraldton Sandplains IBRA Region. The following description is from the Herbaceous plant assemblages on bentonite lake beds (Vegetation Types 1,2,3&7) and margins  (Vegetation Types 4,5&6) of the Watheroo-Marchagee region Interim recovery plan no. 108 (pg 2):

    The plant community comprises herbaceous plant assemblages dominated by a combination of Triglochin mucronata, Trichanthodium exile, Asteridea athrixioides and Puccinellia stricta (Vegetation types 1,2,3&7) on the lake beds, and a combination of Podolepis capillaris, Angianthus tomentosus and Pogonolepis stricta (Vegetation types 4,5&6) on the lake margins, of bentonite lakes in the Watheroo-Marchagee region. These herbaceous plant assemblages are characterised by a dependence on a bentonite (saponite) substrate – naturally restricted to the lake beds and margins of perched, ephemeral freshwater playa lakes and claypans of the Watheroo-Marchagee region. Whilst most lakes comprise only herbaceous species, there are a number with varying densities of Casuarina obesa trees, and shrubs of Melaleuca lateriflora subspp. lateriflora and Acacia ligustrina.

    Current Status: WA listed as Endangered.


Priority Ecological Communities

  • Lesueur-Coomallo Floristic Community M2 (Melaleuca preissiana woodland)

    Woodland dominated by Melaleuca preissiana along sandy drainage lines, with faithful species of Anigozanthos pulcherrimus and constant species of Chamaescilla corymbosa, Petrophile brevifolia and Xanthorrhoea reflexa.

    Category (WA) – Priority 1

    For more information visit the DPaW website.

Coastal Assets

  • Primary and Secondary Coastal Dunes

    Primary dunes (from low water mark) and secondary dunes. Valued for recreational, aesthetic and cultural reasons, along with the services provided for storm protection  and habitat.

Marine Assets

  • Seagrass Meadows

    Seagrasses are flowering plants that complete their life cycle submerged in seawater. Western Australia has the world’s highest diversity of seagrasses, with 27 species occurring in shallow waters off the coast. Seagrasses form a vital component of marine ecosystems through their services as primary biomass producers, sources of habitat (including breeding and nursery areas) and dissolved oxygen, sediment traps, and nutrient cycling. Seagrass distribution is determined by a combination of shelter, sediment, turbidity, nutrient, temperature, current and tidal influences.

    Extensive seagrass meadows occur in protected near-shore areas of the NAR, where clear water, low nutrients and sandy sea floors prevail, and are dominated by the long strap-like Ribbonweed or Strapweed (Posidonia spp) and the thin-stemmed Wireweed (Amphibolis spp).

    Seagrass habitats are fragile and susceptible to damage and can take many years to recover from disturbance, such as physical damage/removal and shading due to algal blooms (as a result of increased nutrients), and sedimentation (due to dredging activities and erosion in catchment areas).

    More information on seagrasses in Western Australia can be found in the following publications: Flowers of the Ocean: WA’s Expansive Seagrass MeadowsThe Wonders of Weed Information Sheet; Fisheries Fact Sheet: Seagrasses; Establishing Reference and Monitoring Sites to Assess a Key Indicator of Ecosystem Health (Seagrass Health) on the central west Coast of Western Australia (see references).


Groundwater Areas

  • Jurien Groundwater Area

    The Jurien Groundwater Area spans over 5,000 km2 of land and has a total groundwater availability of around 84 million m3/year. Groundwater usage is low, with 21 per cent of resources allocated. There are also significant amounts of groundwater available in the Parmelia/Leederville formations. The superficial formation contains important resources near the coast, although the quality and quantity of groundwater is variable (DoW, 2010).

    For information on the allocation plan click here.

  • Gascoyne Groundwater Area

    The Gascoyne Groundwater Area extends north to Kalbarri and bounds the Arrowsmith Groundwater Area east to pastoral country. The largest groundwater aquifer occurs in the Yarragadee Formation, which has an estimated yield of 22.5 million m³/year (NACC, 2005). Groundwater from fractured rock aquifers in the eastern, inland part of the region is predominantly saline and poor yielding. This region of the Gascoyne Groundwater Area falls under the Carnarvon Artesian Basin Allocation Plan.

  • Arrowsmith Groundwater Area

    The Arrowsmith Groundwater Area spans approximately 10,300 km2 of land and currently has a total groundwater availability of around 151 million m3/year. The largest groundwater aquifers occur in the Yarragadee and Parmelia formations that together receive over 80 per cent of the total direct rainfall recharge, although the quality is variable. The Superficial formation is an important resource near the coast, and similarly to the deeper aquifers, the quality and quantity of the groundwater is variable.

    For information on the allocation plan click here.


  • Yarra Yarra and Monger Lakes

    Drainage Basin Length (km) Catchment Area (km2) Average Stream Salinity (mg/L) Key Characteristics
    Yarra-Yarra and Moore-Hill 350 17,700 >35,000 Yarra Yarra Lake is the terminal point for an extensive chain of salt lakes. The major lakes in the system include Nullewa Lake, Weelhamby Lake, Mongers Lake, Lake Goorly, Lake DeCourey and Lake Hillman.Approximately 42 % of the Yarra Yarra Drainage Basin is in the NAR. Due to the basin’s flat terrain, drainage is generally uncoordinated, with each lake having its own internal drainage system. However, in wet years the lakes overflow along a broad drainage line, ending up in Yarra Yarra Lake. It is uncertain if there is a surface or groundwater connection between Yarra Yarra Lake and the Coonderoo River, a tributary of the Moore River.
  • Moore River

    Drainage Basin Length (km) Catchment Area (km2) Average Stream Salinity (mg/L) Key Characteristics
    Moore-Hill 288 13,450 3000-35000 The Moore River’s eastern reaches (Moore River East) which originates near Dalwallinu, and northern reaches (Moore River North) commences east of Coorow. The major tributaries are the Coonderoo River and Gingin Brook. The Moore River enters the ocean at Guilderton and the estuary is only open to the ocean for a few weeks each year.


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Birdlife Midwest

Contact: Sally Vigilante

Green Head Coastcare Group

Contact: Jenny Griffiths

Leeman Coastcare Group

Contact: Michele Flanders
Home Leeman WA 6514

Liebe Group

Work P.O. Box 340 58 Johnston Street Dalwallinu WA 6609 Australia Phone: 08 9661 0570 Website:

Moore Catchment Council

Work P.O. Box 337 Moora WA 6510 AustraliaWork 1 Padbury Street Moora WA 6510 Australia Phone: 08 9653 1355 Website:

Northern Agricultural Catchments Council

Work Geraldton Office 201 Lester Avenue PO Box 7168 Geraldton WA 6530 Work Perenjori Office Corner of Fowler Street and Timmings Street PO Box 95 Perenjori WA 6620 Work Jurien Bay Office 69 Bashford Street PO Box 872 Jurien Bay WA 6516 Phone: (08) 9938 0100 (Geraldton) Phone: (08) 9973 1444 (Perenjori) Phone: (08) 9652 0872 (Jurien Bay) Website: NACC Website

Waddi Forest Land Conservation Committee

Contact: Fiona Falconer
Work C/- Post Office Coorow WA 6515 Phone: (08) 9952 3255

West Midlands Group

Phone: (08) 9651 4008 Website:

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