Sunday, March 23, 2008

Abercrombie River National Park

Abercrombie River National Park preserves the largest remaining intact patch of low open forest in the south-west central tablelands area. Casuarinas stand beside deep waterholes on the park's three main waterways. Camp on the banks of the Retreat or Abercrombie Rivers and fish for trout, go swimming or canoeing in the waterholes (when not in drought conditions).

Abercrombie River and Retreat River are important habitats for platypuses and eastern water rats. Wallaroos, red-necked wallabies, swamp wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos are often seen in the eucalypt forest.

Access 120 km west of Sydney, 40 km south of Oberon along Goulburn Road (unsealed).Oberon, phone 6336 1972The park varies widely in altitude and geology. In the north-east, the landscape reaches 1128m above sea level, and you'll find rich volcanic soils. The southern end of the park is much lower - only 500m at the Abercrombie River - and has much poorer soils from sedimentary rock. This landscape diversity has led to a wide variety of plant communities. In the high-altitude areas in the eastern section of the park, you'll find mountain gums and peppermint, which is typical of the Southern Tablelands. This type of plant community has been much reduced elsewhere, due to land clearing for pine plantations and forestry.

At lower altitudes, there are open forests of inland scribbly gum and red stringy bark. Along the rivers and creeks, there are tall river oaks, tea trees and bottlebrushes.Argyle apple grows in this park. This is close to the northern limit of its distribution.Wallaroos, red-necked wallabies, swamp wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos are often seen in the park's eucalypt forests. Wombats and echidnas live on the slopes and river flats.Up in the trees, there are greater gliders, sugar gliders, brush-tailed possums and ring-tailed possums. Over 60 species of birds are also found in the park - including the peregrine falcon.Down by the park's rivers, you might be lucky enough to see a platypus.

If not, you might spot a Gippsland water dragon, sunning itself on a rock during the warmer months. You'll also hear the calls of a variety of frog species.The rivers and creeks are home to trout cod and Macquarie perch, both of which are protected by law. River blackfish, silver perch and Murray Cray are also found here - all of these species are rare in the region. If you catch a trout cod, Macquarie perch or silver perch, you must carefully return it to the water.


The rivers and creeks throughout the park offered food and shelter for local Aboriginal tribes, possibly the Wiradjuri or Gundungarra people. These tribes probably used the Abercrombie River as a trading route for stone tools and even shells from the coast. The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture – including recreational, ceremonial, and spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine. They are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that is still passed on today. We work with local Aboriginal communities to protect this rich heritage.

To find out more about Aboriginal heritage in the park, you can get in touch with the local Aboriginal community. Contact the park office for more details. The area that now forms the national park was prospected during the 19th century gold-rushes, and there are still some diggings, water races and sluice boxes left behind by the miners. There's also an early 20th century wattle-and-daub hut in the park.

History Of Belair National Park

Aboriginal History - The Kaurna Aboriginal people were the original inhabitants of the area now known asBelair National Park. The park falls within the 'country' of the Kaurna people which extends from CrystalBrook in the north to Cape Jervois in the south and inland to the Mount Lofty Ranges. It is probable that thePeramangk Aboriginal people of the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges also utilised the area.The Kaurna people referred to the area now known as Belair National Park, as 'Piradli' meaning 'baldness'.This was in reference to the area's appearance when looking south from the Adelaide plains - 'bald like themoon'. The description provides an insight into the 'fire stick farming' activities of the Kaurna people, as asignificant part of the Adelaide Plains and foothills contained open grassland and woodland prior to theestablishment of the suburb of Mitcham in 1837.

European History -

1837 The first European people to traverse the Belair area were crewmen from the ship Coromandel. They fled here after deciding to abscond to the bush.

1840 - Governor Gawler initiated action to set aside an area fora government farm on which sick horses and bullocks from anumber of government departments could be agisted.

1842 - Government gained legal title to the farm andproceeded to use the land to grow hay and take care of stockbelonging to the survey and police departments.

1849 to 1852 - Governor Young gives orders for the commissionerof police to take charge of the farm and to use it for horses Enjoying a mixed game of cricket during the.employed in the Gold Escort and other police services early days

1881 - A proposal was put forward for the subdivision of the farm into small agricultural holdings and wasdrawn up for the consideration of the Commissioner of Crown Lands. The reaction of the public to thisproject was surprising.

1883 - A Bill was passed in both houses of Parliament statingGovernment Farm could not be sold by the Government butthere were no restrictions on the uses to which it could be put.

1886 - 202 ha of the Farm were handed over to the Woods andForest Department as a Forest Reserve. About 80 ha of thereserve, covered with a crop of young saplings, principally RiverRed Gums with a few South Australian Blue and Peppermint Gums, were thinned and pruned so that the remaining 35,000young saplings would grow into trees of considerable value. A day at the races

1891 -In 1888 a naturalist named Samual Dixon complained about the clearing of River Red Gums within the forest reserve. After three years of debate the area was finally dedicated in 1891 'for the sole purpose of a public national recreation and pleasure ground' and it was to be controlled by 12 commissioners.

1892 - The first board of commissioners was appointed and the park at Belair became the second national park established in Australia.

1920 - The commissioners as a group, began to change their policies toward conservation of native plants and animals. Before this time, the community had little appreciation of native flora and fauna, and with little financial support from the Government, the commissioners could not have been expected to develop different policies.

1922 -Pressure in the early 1900s from groups such as the Native Fauna and Flora Protection Committee resulted in less exotic plantings being planted. The last large scale planting of non-Australian species was 700 Japanese cherries planted on 6 ha of land in Sparkes Gully and named 'Victory Remembrance' to commemorate the Allied victory in the First World War. These trees are still present in Sparkes Gully today.

1923 - The commissioners decided that all future plantings were to be indigenous to the state so they would conform with the naturalness of the park.

1929 - Belair National Park was well established and developed with 42 tennis courts, several pavilions and ovals, other facilities and a well developed road network. This was to accommodate the increasing number of visitors and play an important social function during and after the years of the Great Depression.

1934 -Trees were cleared to make way for a nine hole golf course which was built as a means to raise revenue for the park.1934 to 1946 - Problems with fires and weeds were on the increase. Serious fire outbreaks occurred in

1934, 1938-1940 and 1943-1946.1941 -The nine hole golf course was extended to an 18 hole golf course. It is now one of the most popular public golf courses in the country today.

1945 - During the Second World War the park was used for military camps which occupied Main, Gums and Tea-Tree Ovals plus all nearby pavilions, arbours and tennis courts.

1961 - As a result of the growing demand for outdoor recreational pursuits and a better quality of life, Belair National Park needed relief from overcrowding and overuse of the facilities.

1972 - The National Parks Commission terminated and control of the park passed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Belair Recreation Park was gazetted in 1972.

1991 - Re-dedication of Belair Recreation Park to Belair National Park.Today - Belair National Park reflects the history of the evolution of park management in South Australia. The aim of park management is to pursue excellence in the facilitation of recreation and social interaction with the natural environment. Belair is an essential component of the natural ecosystem and habitat continuum of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Complementing the outstanding presentation of the State's native fauna at Cleland Conservation Park, Belair National Park has firmly established its place as a key regional visitor attraction, showcasing the State's parks system, contributing to community awareness of our natural environment and promoting advocacy and support for the Department for Environment and Heritage and the environment in general.

Belair National Park

Belair National Park is an 835 ha urban national park reserve located just 13 km from the Adelaide City centre.

Belair National Park has important natural, cultural/historical and recreational values and is the birthplace of the national park system in South Australia. The park was dedicated in 1891, making it the first National Park in South Australia.

The park lies within the Mitcham and Adelaide Hills Council areas, and forms part of a chain of national park reserves located along the Adelaide Hills-Face zone. The park is a part of our Southern Lofty District which comprises 21 parks. It has become the gateway to other national park reserves in the state, as it is often the first port of call for many of the 250,000 local, interstate and overseas visitors who come here each year.

Department for Environment and Heritage Southern Lofty DistrictPO Box 2Belair SA 5052 Australia
Phone: (61 8) 8278 5477 Fax: (61 8) 8278 8587

Booderee National Park

Booderee National Park and Botanic GardensWelcome to BoodereeBooderee National Park and Booderee Botanic Gardens are the names chosen by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community for the former Commonwealth Jervis Bay National Park and Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens.

Booderee is an Aboriginal word from the Dhurga language meaning 'bay of plenty' or 'plenty of fish'.

The White-bellied Sea Eagle is one of the many birds you can see around the park. This large white and grey eagle is the guardian of the Aboriginal people of Wreck Bay, and is represented in the park logo.

The National Park and Botanic Gardens were handed back to the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community in 1995. The Community and the Australian Government, through the Director of National Parks, now jointly manage the Park and the Botanic Gardens.
Everyone benefits from proper management of the Park, especially the visitors. Park use fees contribute to the cost of protecting the values of the Park and at the same time also help with maintaining visitor services and facilities.

In recognition of its heritage value, the Park and Botanic Gardens are on the Register of the National Estate.
There are a number of permits required for activities in Australia's National Parks.

Booderee National Park and Botanic Gardens offer a broad range of recreational opportunities within a magnificent natural setting. The Park is approximately three hours drive from Sydney or Canberra, located on the South Coast of New South Wales between Nowra and Ulladulla.
For ideas on activities and places to visit within the Park, see our suggested itineraries.
School Holiday ActivitiesThere are a number of fun activities in the park during the school holiday period.

Camping in Booderee National Park - Booderee offers three camping areas located within the Park supported by various levels of amenities. Bookings are essential and may be made up to four months in advance.

Weekend sites at Green Patch and Bristol Point are generally fully booked up to a month in advance during the warmer months from October through to May. Sites at Cave Beach are more readily available, but do require you to leave your car and walk to the campsites located 300 metres from the parking area. Campsites at Green Patch and Bristol Point are allocated on a ballot system for the Christmas school holidays.
To make a camping booking or to obtain further information, contact the Booderee Visitor Centre:

The Visitor CentreBooderee National ParkJervis Bay 2540
Phone: 02 4443 0977Fax: 02 4443 8302

To find out what the weather is like on the South Coast go to the Bureau of Meteorology web site.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tarkine bushfire destroying Australia's largest temperate rainforest

Australia's largest temperate rainforest is currently burning out of control. The Tarkine wilderness area in the north west of the island state that is now under threat of being lost to wildfire.

The fire is burning in the Arthur Pieman Conservation area, the Mount Donaldson Nature Recreation, and in the state forest near Corinna. 17 000 hectares have burnt so far, and windy conditions forecast for Thursday are causing concern for firefighters.

The Tarkine region covers over 440 000 hectares, from the Arthur River to the north, the Pieman river to the south and the Murchison Highway to the east.

The region contains a diverse range of landscapes, including fragile sand dunes; coastal vegetation; mountainous areas like the Meredith range; and the huge expanse of temperate rainforest.

The region takes its name from the Tarkiner Aboriginal people that inhabited the area. There are hundreds of significant Aboriginal sites in the Tarkine, mostly concentrated in the coastal region.

The Tarkine is home to more than sixty species that are listed as rare, threatened or endangered. It is a core habitat area for the Tasmanian wedge tail eagle, the largest eagle in Australia.

Dr Phil Pullinger is the president of the Tarkine National Coalition, an environment group established in 2004 that have been campaigning for the preservation of the Tarkine and eventual establishment of a Tarkine World heritage area.

Phil was not surprised to hear that the fire was started by a car that crashed and caught alight. The crash occurred on the Western Explorer road, known to locals as the road to nowhere. More than one hundred people were arrested while protesting against the roads construction in the mid 1990's. Conservationists such as Phil Pullinger argued that the construction of the road would dramatically escalate the risk of wildfire in the Tarkine region.

"Most wildfires are caused by humans, either by arson or misadventure. The more roads that are built into pristine wilderness area, you certainly escalate the chances of wildfire. If that access road wasn't there, the vehicle wouldn't have rolled and the fire may not have started".
"Buttongrass plain are well adapted to fire, it is a natural part of their life cycle, however there are significant parts of myrtle rainforest that have been destroyed by the wildfire. Wildfire is not a natural part of myrtle rainforest."

"This fire underscores how fragile this place is. If we want to have the Tarkine and its outstanding natural values so that future generations can enjoy the area, and our eco tourism industry can prosper, then we are going to have to have firmer guidelines about how the area is managed. That means being clear about how we manage access points into the area, and protect it as a national park. We need the Parks and Wildlife Service well funded, so that there are rangers and information for visitors. If the Tarkine is going to be enjoyed by future generations, this needs to happen now."

Chris Arthur, Parks and Reserve Manager of the West Coast in Tasmania agrees that the area currently burning has significant natural value. "Some of this myrtle dominated temperate rainforest could be up to 800 thousand years old."

However Chris Arthur says it is not as devastating as it first appears. "One of the things that people need to realise is that these rainforests are precious, but fire is very much part of the ecology of these forests and it's a basic form of accession."

Road to Nowhere

The Tasmanian Greens are concerned that the Tarkine wilderness area may never recover from the impact of the fire that is still burning. The Greens claim their warnings that the Western Explorer road would prove an ignition source for wildfire have been regrettably proven correct.
Greens senator Christine Milne is seeking closure of the road, known locally as the Road to Nowhere.

She explained that there were many claims that the road was going to be a tourism mecca. "We said it would do nothing of the sort. It was always going to be a very difficult road to maintain. It would open up an inaccessible area to logging and arson. In the case of this fire, it appears not to be arson, however without that road, the fire that is there at the moment would not be burning."
"The Greens argued strenuously about the dubious claims about tourism. Interstate visitors don't often make it to the Tarkine as hire car companies rarely insure their cars to travel on gravel roads such as the Western Explorer Road."

"There were many thousands of Tasmanians who marched against the road. This is a fantastic area, it could be a tourism mecca. There would be much more value to people if the road was changed to a high class walking and cycling track."

Senator Milne has a long held dream that the Tarkine could be a location for a world class triathlon event. "Athletes could cycle down the road, paddle up the river, and run along the beach. It would become globally renowned as the Three Peaks race has become for sailing and as the Overland Track has for bushwalking. I think Tasmanians don't realise just what a fantastic resource the Tarkine is as a wilderness destination. It is the most magnificent temperate rainforest that should be managed appropriately. It is not just a mecca for four wheel drives."
Daniel Hanna, the CEO of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania agrees that the Tarkine is an under utilised area for tourism.

"The only thing I agree with Senator Milne on is that the Tarkine has immense tourism potential. It already has a very strong brand, particularly amongst interstate visitors. If people want to see an area they need to be able to access it. There is an argument for upgrading this road rather than closing it."
"We know that a lot of visitors need access to the area with vehicles. Having walking trails and cycling trails would be good, but we need a combination."

Eco tourism is already happening in the Tarkine. Tarkine Trails have been running trips in the Tarkine for six years, and have had a great deal of international interest in wilderness. Numbers going on the walks have doubled in the past year, with interest coming mainly from the mainland and overseas. Walkers who are currently walking with the company in the Tarkine have had to backtrack, and other trips planned for the next month may have to be cancelled.

Company founder Mark Davis commonly indicated the fire will have an impact on business, but more importantly, a huge impact on the Tarkine. "The only way to avoid this kind of fire is to give it a boundary and world heritage listing and then it has a brand. World Heritage listing gives it a greater value in the mind of the public, who will then give it the respect it deserves."
Mark explained that he regularly sees locals driving four world drive vehicles over ancient Aboriginal middens. "The drivers justify it, saying that driving over the rocks is safer than driving on the soft beach. They see no harm in it as they have been doing it for years. However they are destroying what is an outdoor museum and a very special part of our heritage. There are many Aboriginal middens, hut depressions and relics along the Tarkine coastline, but if people access the area without knowledge of what living history is there, they may destroy it. "
Whilst the road plays an essential role in utilising the Tarkine, Mark Davis is concerned about people who may not be aware of the best way to respect the region.

"Unless the Tarkine gets World Heritage listing, the damaging four wheel driving will continue. Eco tourism companies like us have a high level of credential when it comes to respecting the wilderness. If the park was protected restricted access could be granted which would result in more people being able to experience this beautiful area. The best outcome for everyone is world heritage protection."
"Lighting fires to draw attention to yourself when lost is not the best way to respect the unique environment. If the area was given World Heritage status, access would be restricted, and rangers and parks staff would be able to protect the region more."

"This is the largest asset that North West Tasmania has. The Tarkine has an extraordinary story and amazing ecological values. It is absolute madness that it hasn't been listed on the World Heritage Register."

The process to get the Tarkine listed on the World Heritage Register starts in Australia. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service have produced a report indicating the Tarkine has world heritage values. These claims have been confirmed by the international union of conservation of nature (IUCN), however before the region can be listed on the World Heritage register, it must be granted national heritage status and protection.

A proposal for National Heritage listing was put forward in 2004, however it has taken until 2008 for the Australian Heritage Council to undertake the first formal assessment of the Tarkine. If the Tarkine is listed on the national heritage register, an application for registration on the World Heritage register may be made.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) is a large rock formation in central Australia, in the Northern Territory. There is something totally awe-inspiring about Uluru. There it sits in the centre of Australia, located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park close to the small town of Yulara (aka Ayers Rock Resort). A huge monolith, 862.5 metres above sea level, 1395 km south of Darwin and 465 km south west of Alice Springs, rising out of the desert. Uluru, which means ‘great pebble’ in the Aboriginal language.

Uluru is a 3.6km-long rising 348 metres above the surrounding countryside. It has an area of 3.33 sq. km and a circumference of 9.4 km. It experiences an average of 200-250 mm of rainfall per annum and a typical desert temperature range which can fall to -8°C at night-time in winter and rise to 47°C during the day in summer. Uluru is notable for its quality of changing colour as the different light strikes it at different times of the day and year, with sunset a particularly remarkable sight. It is made of sandstone infused with minerals like feldspar (Arkosic sandstone) that cause it to give off a red glow at sunrise and sunset. The rock gets its rust color from oxidation.

It is sacred to the Aborigines and has many storied springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Ayers Rock was the name given to it by European settlers and Uluru is the Aboriginal name. Uluru is adjacent to an Aboriginal settlement, and to the tourist town of Yulara. In 1985 the Australian Government returned ownership of Uluru to the local Aboriginal people, the Anangu, who then leased it back to the Government for 99 years as a National Park.

Summer 21-36 (celsius)
Autumn 13-28
Winter 4-20
Spring 15-31

Fly from any capital city and land at either Alice Springs or Ayers Rock.Flight from Alice Springs to Uluru takes approximately 40 mins.
Catch a train from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth and connect with “The Ghan” from Adelaide, to Alice Springs.From Queensland, catch “The Inlander” from Townsville to Mt Isa, then coach or fly.
Three main highways, fully sealed roads, the Stuart from Adelaide to Darwin; The Barkly from Townsville through to Mt Isa; from Perth join the Victoria Highway at Kununurra.

Sydney 2954 kmMelbourne 2278 kmBrisbane 3509 kmPerth 3628 kmAdelaide 1544 km