Ours was Indeed FIRST!

You are wrong if you follow the myth that Yellowstone was the world’s first modern national park with our Royal coming later. Here’s the truth – that our National Park predated mighyt Yellowstone by several years.

First ‘National’. While Yellowstone was one of a number of ’State’ or other regional parks by the 1870s, our park “was in fact the very first protected area anywhere in the world to be officially named as a national park” – on 26 April 1879. So says Australia’s top authority on national parks, Dr Geoff Mosley. On that date 18,000 acres was set aside (increased in 1880 to 35,000 acres, and in 1889 to 36,320 acres).

Welcomed at once by the Herald! Three days after the historic dedication, the Sydney Morning Herald, in an article headed “A National Park”, declared “a better name could not be given”! (29 March, 1879). And a few days later it added that the area “for extent and beauty will hardly find its parallel within the same distance of any metropolis in the world”.

As to Yellowstone: it was not initially proclaimed a national park but, by the Yellowstone Act of 1 March 1872, as a “public park or pleasuring ground for the enjoyment of the people”.

Yellowstone confirms our ‘first’. When Yellowstone celebrated its centenary in 1972, its Library and Museum Association’s commemorative book Yellowstone, A Century of the Wilderness Idea, said, “But the first time the words ‘national park’ were used in the body of a public act was in the establishment of Royal National Park near Sydney, Australia, in 1879. It was then simply called ‘The National Park’ (the first legislative reference to Yellowstone as a national park occurred in 1883 in a bill relating to appropriations)”.

News! Dr Geoff Mosley will speak at Sutherland Entertainment Centre, Thursday 16 September, 6.30pm.

2 comments to Ours was Indeed FIRST!

  • Bruce Reyburn

    Hi First National

    Is it correct that the National Park was not dedicated as a public park until 1886?

    “The Royal was probably the world’s second national park: it was made a public reserve in 1879 and it was dedicated a public park in 1886.”



  • Bob Crombie

    Royal National Park was declared a national park in 1879 and was certainly the first ‘national park’ in Australia, although by no means was it therein the first reserve set aside for what we now call conservation reasons there being many such reserves set aside before it, such as what later became known as the Bundanoon Gullies, which was set aside in 1824. As to your distinction between a public resesrve and a public park, I cannot comment without seeing the original documents from which this statement was drawn.
    As to whether it was the first national park in the world is certainly arguable and it can be any of 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th depending upon the criteria that one chooses, others being in consideration include Yosemite, Yellowstone and Mackinac. Then again, if one goes back and begins to consider such reserves such as Bundanoon Gullies the water becomes even more clouded. I began to write an article examining all these issues and have included a copy of it for you. Note that I did not finish it but it certainly stimulated a lot of debate and research and changed the minds of a number of people. Alan House, a Helensburgh historian, began to research the first ten national parks in the world and has put some very valuable considerations as a result. I am looking forward to seeing his completed work, which will change many peoples minds on this matter I am sure.
    For more information see Argument for Royal National Park being the ‘first national park in the world’.pdf

    We have hired Dr Geoff Mosley to research and report our work and he is certainly considering all these matters. I am looking forward to his conclusions.

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