Sunday, March 23, 2008

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.

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