Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish

Fitzroy falls spiny crayfish. Photo: Rob McCormack

Scientific name

Euastacus dharawalus

Status in NSW

Critically endangered.


The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is a dark olive-green or brown crayfish with a pale orange or cream coloured underside. It has short spines on its claws, body and legs which distinguish it from the Common Yabby which is smoot-shelled. It also has a large inner spine on each of the claws.

Species similar in appearance

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish in its natural environment may be confused with the common Yabby (Cherax destructor) which has been introduced to the Wildes Meadow Creek catchment from the Murray-Darling Basin. The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish can be distinguished by its larger size, and the presence of short spikes on its claws, carapace and abdomen while the Yabby is smooth shelled.

Features of the Common Yabby Features of the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish
  • Smooth body and claws
  • Body colour pale to dark brown, or blue-green
  • Can be caught using permitted fishing methods
  • Short spines on claws, body and legs
  • Body colour dark olive-green or brown, underside pale orange or cream
  • Usually larger than Common Yabby
  • No catch permitted

An image showing the different features of the Common Yabby and the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish. To discuss the content of the image contact the fishing information line 1300 550 474

Wildes Meadow is the only region in the world where this critically endangered species lives. You can help protect the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish:

  • Learn the difference from the Common Yabby
  • Look out for Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish and report sightings*
  • If you think you’ve caught one, release it unharmed.

It is illegal to catch and keep, buy, sell, possess or harm Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish without specific approval. Penalties can include fines of up to $220,000 and up to two years in prison. Causing damage to the habitat of a threatened species without approval is illegal and penalties also apply.

Report illegal/suspicious fishing activities online or call the Fishers Watch Phoneline 1800 043 536.


The maximum reported size of the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is 86 mm OCL and 300 grams.


The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is a rare species of Australian crayfish endemic to a small location on the NSW Southern Highlands. The species is only found in Wildes Meadow Creek NSW, surviving as a remnant population, restricted to a small length of the waterway upstream from Fitzroy Falls.


The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish occurs in flowing stream conditions. It creates burrows in the soft stream bed below the waterline, where it spends extensive periods of time.

A Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish on a riverbank. Image by Alex Pyke

Why is the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish threatened?

  • Habitat degradation from clearing, construction of Fitzroy Falls Reservoir and degradation of riparian vegetation
  • Predation from, and competition with, the common Yabby (Cherax destructor) which has been introduced to Fitzroy Falls Reservoir from the Murray Darling Basin
  • Potential illegal harvest or misidentification with the common Yabby
  • Predation by exotic species including foxes, cats, and introduced salmonids
  • Alteration of river flows
  • Combined with their limited distribution and extremely low abundance, the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is particularly vulnerable to extinction

More information

Watch a video about a University of Wollongong honours project on the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries (4:29 mins).

Please note: unless a permit has been obtained by DPI, the use and possession of yabby / opera house traps are banned in public waters east of the Newell Highway and in three stretches of river west of the Newell Highway. For more information please go to