Pindan pastures in the Kimberley

Page last updated: Thursday, 28 June 2018 - 11:50am

There are many different pasture types in the pastoral rangelands in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) provides this pasture information to be used as a reference for assessing pasture condition, and as a guide for pastoral station staff and others interested in the productivity and maintenance of the pastoral rangelands.

Assessments can be used to monitor the success of management and to set goals for improving rangeland condition.

Pindan pastures

These pastures are part of the Kimberley red soil group - spinifex pastures, and soft spinifex and curly spinifex are the identifier grasses. Use the interactive key to pasture condition to help identify pasture type.

Pastoral value

Pindan pastures have moderate pastoral value and can be grazed over the wet season when more productive country is inaccessible. Cattle grazing only Pindan pastures will need supplements.


Pindan pastures are tussock, hummock or mixed grasslands with an overstorey of acacias, occurring on sandplains, dune fields and swales. Soils are deep red sands, reddish sandy soils and occasionally yellowish sandy soils. The distribution of these pastures includes the Dampier Peninsula, Fitzroy valley and extending south from Broome; small areas of Pindan pastures are also found near Halls Creek.

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Pasture condition

Good: Pindan pastures in good pasture condition are dominated by curly spinifex and ribbon grass with even coverage. Other grasses likely to occur are perennial sorghum, white grass and soft spinifex. There is little bare ground visible and the plants appear vigorous.

Photograph of Pindan pasture in good condition
Figure 1 Pindan pasture in good condition in the Kimberley (photograph taken April 2010).  A Curly spinifex and ribbon grass are abundant and vigorous; sickle-leaf wattle is a minor component; there are no undesirable plants; perennial grass density is optimal for Pindan country.

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Fair: The vigour and density of the desirable species is moderate. The coverage of perennial plants may appear patchy or uneven, with the areas in-between supporting a sparse cover of annual grasses and forbs. Intermediate species, such as wire grass, woollybutt grass and annual sorghum, are more prominent and may make up one-third or more of the stand. Undesirable species, such as unequal threeawn and erect kerosene grass, are present.

Photograph of Pindan pasture in fair condition in the Kimberley
Figure 2 Pindan pasture in fair condition in the Kimberley (photograph taken 2010).  A Curly spinifex and ribbon grass are present, but less vigorous than when in good condition.  B Sickle-leaf wattle dominates the shrub layer.  C Undesirable threeawn grasses are present; the density of the desirable grasses has decreased.

Poor: In poor condition, the desirable grasses are absent or reduced to isolated butts amongst the dominant intermediate and undesirable species. Wire grass, woollybutt grass, annual sorghum, unequal threeawn or erect kerosene grass will dominate or co-dominate the stand. The acacia overstorey may become dense enough to reduce pasture growth.

It may be almost impossible to reverse the declining trend in Pindan pastures that have degraded to poor condition. Where Pindan pastures were historically overgrazed by sheep, recovery has been very slow (more than 100 years) and the pastures were still dominated by annual plants and undesirable grasses in 2012.

Photograph of Pindan pasture in poor condition in the Kimberley
Figure 3 Pindan pasture in poor condition in the Kimberley (photograph taken 2010).  A Erect kerosene grass dominates the grass layer.  B Broome Pindan wattle dominates the shrub layer.  C Large areas of bare soil are visible; desirable grasses are absent.

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Associated plants

Plants associated with Pindan pastures in the Kimberley
Common name
(link to DPIRD species page)

Scientific name

(link to Florabase)

Like form
Desirable species    

Ribbon grass

Chrysopogon fallax


Curly spinifex

Triodia bitextura


Soft spinifex

Triodia pungens


Oat-eared spinifex

Triodia schinzii


Buffel grass

Cenchrus ciliaris


Birdwood grass

Cenchrus setiger


Plume sorghum

Sorghum plumosum


Intermediate species    

Woollybutt grass

Eragrostis eriopoda


Wire grass, northern Wanderrie grass

Eriachne obtusa


Black speargrass

Heteropogon contortus


Limestone grass

Enneapogon polyphyllus


Undesirable species    

Unequal threeawn, feathertop threeawn

Aristida inaequiglumis


Boat panic

Whiteochloa cymbiformis


Cockroach bush

Senna notabilis


Kimberley walkabout

Crotalaria crispata


Pindan poison

Velleia panduriformis


Contact information

Kathryn Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015
Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019