Lee Point in Darwin is home to the Gouldian finch, one of Australia’s most beautiful and endangered birds, but three-quarters of the area is set to be demolished next week in order to build 800 defence houses.


Binybara / Lee Point is a stretch of old-growth savanna woodland in the northern suburbs of Darwin that connects Casuarina Coastal Reserve, the Northern Territory’s most visited park, with Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve. This 27km stretch of bushland is the last wildlife corridor in Darwin and the hollows present in the old-growth trees are essential habitat, especially for the many species of birds found there.



The area is so abundant in biodiversity that there are more bird species found at Binybara / Lee Point than in Kakadu National Park, the largest national park in the country. The most notable species is the rainbow-coloured and endangered Gouldian finch. 


Gouldian finch | Photo by Laura Wolf on flickr

What’s the problem?

In 2019, Binybara / Lee Point was earmarked as a new defence housing suburb, with plans to bulldoze over 100 hectares of savanna woodland for the development.

Darwin’s Traditional Owners, the Larrakia people, were not consulted on the plan and are adamantly against the development. Alongside environmentalists, birdwatchers, and locals, the Larrakia have been fighting to save Binybara / Lee Point for years.

In 2022, development plans were put on hold when birdwatchers discovered hundreds of Gouldian finches living at Binybara / Lee Point. At last count, the estimated number of Gouldian finches in the wild was less than 2,500

Environmental Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed to reassess the development in light of the new findings, as birdwatchers from around the country flocked to Darwin to witness the rare bird. Biodiversity Watch estimates that 10,000 visits were made to Binybara / Lee Point between May and August 2022, with an estimated 48% of these visits being made by tourists. 

However, just weeks ago, Ms Plibersek announced that the original housing plans could go ahead with a few small tweaks such as a 50-metre buffer zone around a dam frequented by the finches. Plibersek acknowledged that the development would still have ‘significant’ impacts on the Gouldian finch.


Photo by Laura Wolf on flickr

Trees Have Already Been Felled

Bulldozers began work at Binybara / Lee Point on Monday 3rd of June and were met by a blockade of protestors where 11 arrests were made.

On Thursday 6th of June, Larrakia Traditional Owners made an emergency application to Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to halt the bulldozing in order to prevent the desecration of Aboriginal cultural heritage at Lee Point. Upon this application, Defence Housing Australia was asked to cease and desist bulldozing until Monday 17th of June in order for the application to be assessed.

At this stage, it’s unknown whether work will begin again at Binybara /Lee Point on Monday or whether the emergency cultural heritage application will be successful. 


Buffalo Creek in Casuarina Coastal Reserve

What can I do?

Join Binybara Camp

If you’re in Darwin, the Larrakia are calling for supporters to join the Binybara camp at Binybara / Lee Point at 7am on Monday 17th of July when bulldozers are expected to begin work again. 

Contact a Minister

If you don’t live near Binybara / Lee Point, give a minister a call and tell them the Darwin community doesn’t want Defence Housing Australia to develop Binybara / Lee Point. 

Environmental Minister, Tanya Plibersek – (02) 6277 7920
Defence Minister, Richard Marles – (02) 62777800
Assistant Minister for Defence, Matt Thistlethwaite (responsible for Defence Housing Australia) – (02) 62774840

Follow Larrakia Locals

Follow @uprisingofthepeopleltd and @envirocentrent for on-the-ground information on what’s happening at Binybara / Lee Point.


Feature photo by Laura Wolf on flickr