Great interest was aroused when this column announced the reserving in 1824 of the Bundanoon Gullies in the Southern Highlands in recognition of their immense natural beauty and recreational value. In 1824!
Hey, that was much less than half a century since the Colony of New South Wales was set up by Governor Phillip’s First Fleet – proof, surely, that preservation of wilderness is dear to the human heart. There’s evidence of it from ancient Greece, and from the feudal Middle Ages when barons and kings reserved tracts of forest, forbidding the peasants to enter but themselves hunting on horseback.
Yes, there were “preservationists” among the early colonists. But before them, the Aborigines were committed protectors of the green environment. Indeed the Diarists of the First Fleet tell that Aborigines gathered in anger when Phillip’s sailors began chopping down Kurnell’s trees for firewood: they muttered in protest and “made rude gestures” – here was the very first green protest of the modern era! The bush was sacred to them; it owned them; whereas Phillip installed private ownership of the bushland and shores that they had traversed for thousands of years.
UNESCO’S 35th Heritage Meeting
In June, UNESCO has scheduled its 35th meeting to judge 42 worldwide nominations for Earth’s most significant cultural sites. Already, the World Heritage List covers “more than 900 castles, walled towns, derelict ironworks, ravines, bays and rainforests”.
Perhaps our nomination of Royal National Park will be on the agenda of the 36th meeting.
Australia’s “geoheritage” needs attention
Our First National Park executive was pleased to be invited to a July national meeting of the Geological Society at Sydney University. What a keen bunch! Geology has a way of inspiring dedication.
They’d come together from the states to achieve “a national framework” which would have lobbying power with Governments to promote “an inventory-based assessment of heritage sites” – of Australia’s “geoheritage”. Our spokesperson Bob Crombie was received warmly when he appealed for reports on the rocks and soils of our famous Park – good things will eventuate!
Gondwanan heritage in Royal
All the attendees spoke glowingly of Dr Mary White’s The Greening of Gondwana (Reed), the large format, brilliantly illustrated book that tells the 400 million year story of how life, which appeared first in the oceans, struggled onto the barren land and slowly evolved to give us the varied flora that delights us today.
Gondwana and Mary’s later Time In Our Hands (i.e. rocks) are the solid bases of today’s geology and floral heritage.
Mary’s huge contribution
Having written seven big internationally-selling books, Mary wanted to help preserve wilderness within reach of Sydney. A long search led her to the three “Brothers” mountains back of Laurieton.
She bought nearly a hundred hectares on Middle Brother Mountain (only 5km off Pacific Highway). There she established Falls Forest Retreat, good for a trip or holiday or for school or tertiary seminars. Or comfortable accommodation from which to access this wonderland of unspoiled rainforest, bushwalks, waterfalls, a flowing river, and kangaroos, wallabies and birdlife galore. She has covenanted all this to save it when she departs. Ring 6556 5000