TRaCK: A new research initiative for Australia's northern rivers 


As interest in the rivers and water resources of northern Australia grows, an exciting new initiative called TRaCK, the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research hub, has been formed to improve our understanding of these resources. 

TRaCK is being officially launched in Darwin today [July 31] by The Hon David Tollner MP, member for Solomon, Northern Territory. 

A consortium of research organisations and government agencies has been formed to invest more than $30 million to improve our understanding of northern Australia’s rivers and estuaries over the next four years.

The TRaCK consortium is led by Charles Darwin University, CSIRO, Griffith University, Land & Water Australia, the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and the University of Western Australia. 

The research effort will be led by TRaCK’s Director, Associate Professor Michael Douglas, based at a new TRaCK office at Charles Darwin University.
Professor Douglas said “TRaCK will increase the knowledge and capacity that is needed to underpin water planning for northern Australia’s rivers and groundwater systems.” 

“TRaCK brings together more than 70 leading researchers from 15 organisations across Australia, with support from the governments of the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, to improve our understanding of the rivers, catchments and estuaries from Cape York to Broome,” he said.

TRaCK will engage extensively with the community, including those Indigenous communities that own and manage large parts of the catchments and coasts in tropical Australia.

The research will also contribute to meeting the objectives of the National Water Initiative in northern Australia.

Northern Australia‘s rivers and catchments are valuable natural assets, many of which continue to be actively managed with Indigenous knowledge. These rivers and estuaries are also increasingly important for industries such as fishing, tourism, grazing, mining and agriculture. 

TRaCK focuses on building Australia’s capacity to protect these valuable natural assets while fostering sustainable development opportunities for the region’s people.

“At a time of increasing awareness of the value of water across Australia, it is vital that public discussion, policy and decision making about the future of our northern rivers are informed by good science,” said Bobbie Brazil, Chairman of Land & Water Australia, which is a key supporter of the new TRaCK research hub.

“TRaCK is ideally placed to fill the significant gaps in our current knowledge of these rivers. It represents a coordinated research effort that brings together social, economic and environmental research, strengthening regional research capability in the process,” said Professor Douglas.

The Australian Government is a major supporter of TRaCK, with $16 million being invested through its Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities programme and the National Water Commission’s Raising National Water Standards programme. Funding is also being provided by Land & Water Australia, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and through the Queensland Government’s Smart State Strategy in a truly collaborative national effort. 

For interview, contact: Prof Michael Douglas - Director, TRaCK, Charles Darwin University Ph: 08 89 467261 Mob: 0408 467000 Email:

For media assistance, contact: Penny Shirras - Acting Media Manager, Corporate Communications, Charles Darwin University Ph: 08 8946 6625  Mob: 0410 611 356