Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh & Naracoorte), Australia

The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites are two sites with the richest deposits of fossilized vertebrates in Australia. The two sites, Riversleigh in the north-west of Queensland, and Naracoorte Caves in the south-east of South Australia, are among the top 10 fossil sites in the world. Together, they were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the 18th session of the World Heritage Committee, which met on the island of Phuket, Thailand, on 12-17 December, 1994. The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites are recognised as outstanding representations of the evolution of Australia's fauna.

What to See in Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

Riversleigh in Murgon, Queensland, is a small gully and an extension of Lawn Hill National Park. Here, the fossils are found in limestone and in caves. At Riversleigh, scientists in palaeontological research have discovered the fossils of 35 different species of bats, the biggest concentration in the world.


Naracoorte Caves, South Australia
Naracoorte Caves, South Australia
Author: Kevin (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Thylacoleo skeleton, Naracoorte Caves
Thylacoleo skeleton, Naracoorte Caves
Author: Karora (public domain)

Also found here are fossilized remains of extinct animals such as the marsupial Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the carnivorous rat-kangaroo (Ekaltadeta), two species of marsupial lions (Wakaleo and Priscileo), the giant platypus (Obdurodon), a strange species of marsupial (Yalkaparidon), the tube-nosed bandicoot (Yarala), the Nimbacinus (ancestor of the Tasmanian wolf), and more. Mammal fossils are not the only ones found at Riversleigh. Also discovered are the fossils of birds and reptiles, including a tree-dwelling crocodile (Trilophosuchus) and a few extinct species of snakes.

Naracoorte Caves is rich with fossilized remains of marsupials. The significance of the fossils at Naracoorte is that they span the time when humans first arrived in Australia, thereby offering a valuable glimpse of the relationship between early humans and the environment.


Riversleigh is located in Murgon, at the watershed of the Gregory River, in Queensland, near the border with Northern Territory. Naracoorte Caves is located within the Naracoorte Caves National Park, in the Limestone Coast tourism region, in South Australia, close to the border with Victoria. These two sites are 2,000 km apart.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Locations: Riversleigh: S 19 E 138 43 and Naracoorte: S 37 2 4.92 E 140 47 41.82
Inscription Year: 1994
Type of Site: Natural
Inscription Criteria: VIII, IX

Location Map

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Visiting these Sites

Riversleigh and Naracoorte are two thousand kilometers apart, one in Queensland, the other in South Australia. Riversleigh is trully off the beaten path. The nearest town is Mount Isa. Adel's Grove is one of the tour operators to this site. Check www.adelsgrove.com.au

Naracoorte Caves, within the Naracoorte Caves National Park, has a camping ground and caravan park. There are 26 caves within the World Heritage area of Naracoorte Caves. Tours are available guided by professional interpreters. For details, check the Naracoorte Caves official website.

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