AUSTRALIA

BROADWATER, MOUNT WARNING AND NIGHTCAP  NATIONAL PARKS

This Web site contains brief history of the beautiful Broadwater, Mount Warning and Nightcap National Parks, all located on the subtropical coast of Northern New South Wales, Australia.

BROADWATER NATIONAL PARK

HISTORY

Broadwater National Park, along with Yuragir and Bundjalung National Parks and Iluka Nature Reserve, forms part of a major coastal ecosystem, covering much of the subtropical coast of Northern New South Wales. These four areas form an almost unbroken chain of unique landforms, cultural heritage, diverse vegetation and native wildlife and bird habitats. The park is approximately 750kms north of Sydney and 300kms south of Brisbane. It is bounded by the holiday resort of Evans Head to the south and the village of Broadwater, affectionately known as Treacletown by many former sugar mill workers, to the north. Gazetted in 1974, it protects 4,209ha of wetlands, flat heathlands and hills, fragile coastal dunes and eight kilometres of beaches, within the boundaries of Richmond River Shire.

Aborigines of the Bundjalung language group inhabited the land long before European settlement. In provided a rich and varied source of food, with an abundance of wallabies, snakes, birds, honey, turtles and seafoods including pippies, oysters, fish and mussels. bulbs and plants were gathered around the swamps and pig face fruit was collected along he dunes. Numerous middens were evidence of this time when food was never scarce. Sacred initiation ceremonies were performed in the area until 1922. Dreamtime legends passed down from one generation to another are particularly interesting The legend of Sally Lagoon tells of a tall spirit temptress, with long fingernails, beautiful hands and long flowing black hair. She flew in from Woodenbong, an area in the hinterland and became a black rock on the beach of Sally Lagoon. Her name was Gaungun. She roamed the beaches at night, calling young men into the sea and lagoons. She sometimes appeared as a light over her territory that extended to the Wardell area. Long fingernails mentioned in the legend indicate the spirit heroine was a seductress. According to legend, if an Aboriginal woman wanted to attract a man, she would put parings of her fingernails into his drink and chant an incantation while he drank.

The No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School was stationed at Broadwater during World War II. The remains of a lookout, built during that time to observe the bombing range, can still be seen at Broadwater Lookout. Panoramic vies over the surrounding land and coastal strip are also seen from this Lookout. In the early part of the 20th century, European settlers felled some timber from the area, but they mainly used the heathlands as a refuge for their cattle during floods, or to farm bees. the western section of the Park and the coastal dunes were extensively mined for mineral sands. Sand mining was investigated in the mid 1960s and it was concluded that the area around Broadwater was the most extensive and best preserved Pleistocene (between the ice ages) inner barrier system on the New South Wales North Coast. the findings of the investigation led to the preservation of Broadwater National Park. Much of the land has been re-vegetated and is beginning to recover.

MOUNT WARNING NATIONAL PARK

HISTORY

Mount Warning is the heart of one of the world's great ancient volcanoes. It is also the plug of or central magma chamber of one of the world's largest shield volcanoes. The caldera rim was produced by volcanic action that occurred 22 million years ago. While most volcanoes bring to mind steep-sided peaks, Mt Warning's caldera has produced flat shield-shaped landforms. Unless it is shrouded in cloud, Mt Warning dominates the horizon as you travel through the Tweed Valley in Northern New South Wales, approximately 100km south of Brisbane.

The Kalibul people once occupied the region and for hundreds of years prior to European settlement, he forests around Mt Warning provided them with a constant source of food and medicines. today the mountain remains very significant to Aboriginal people. Many of their creation stories relate to the area. Their name for the mountain is Wollumbin. Two variation on the meaning of this word are 'fighting chief of the mountains' or 'brush-turkey'.

The first indicates Wollumbin is a place of warriors and fighting chiefs. the thunder and lightning are signs of great battles being fought and landslides represent wounds inflicted during these battles. Another Dreamtime story tells of the brush-turkey flying to the peak of the mountain where he was wounded in the head by a spear, the wound indicated by a point on top of the mountain. Other names they have given the mountain mean 'cloud catcher' or 'weather maker'. Today, many towns and villages of the region including Murwillumbah, Tumbulgum, Teranora and Billinga drive their names from the local Aboriginal language.

During his voyage along the east coast of Australia in May 1770 Captain James Cook gave the imposing spire its European name. sighted from the ocean, it served as a 'warning' point for sea-faring explorers, indicating the hazardous rocks and reefs encountered off the coast near Point Danger, that forms the caldera's eastern rim. Many years later, the world's first laser beam lighthouse was built at Point Danger. Other explorers made their way to the region and in 1823, John Oxley sailed into the Tweed River, reporting large numbers of Aboriginal inhabitants. Captain Henry Rous visited the area in 1828.

Earl in the 18th century, 75,000ha of unbroken lowland rainforest covered northern New South Wales. The area was referred to as The Big Scrub' but by 1900, most of the subtropical rainforest had been destroyed, leaving only remnants to survive. timbergetters had also reached the Mt Warning ar3ea in 1844 looking for red cedar, which was felled until the early 1900s. Brummies Lookout on the western edge of the Park was named after a cedargetter who is said to have used this vantage point to locate areas where red cedar could be harvested from the valley below.

In the early 1860s much of the surrounding land was clear-felled to make way for farming land. Extensive logging soon destroyed the social system of local Aborigines. Access to their land and food sources derived from it were impeded. Within a decade, the spread of European diseases and the destruction of the forest that Aborigines depended on for food and shelter, had decimated many of the local tribes and the last recorded initiation ceremony in the Tweed Valley was in 1875.

The first recorded climb to the summit was in 1868 by Arthur Nixon, Frank Low and two Aborigines, Maloney and Nelson. In 1871, botanist, Micahel Guilfoile and his party of four took three and a half days to reach the summit. In 1904 and 1908, sections of the area were declared Forest Reserve, and 500ha surrounding Mt Warning was declared a Reserve for Public Recreation and Preservation of native Flora in 1909. The Forest Reserve, which included Mt Warning, became Wollumbin State Forest in 1919. Additional land was added in 1928. It wasn't until October 1967 that Mount Warning national Park was proclaimed. The Park was included in the UNESCO, Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia (CERRA) listings in 1986. Mount Warning national Park is the best known of three New South Wales National Parks around the caldera to the World Heritage listed. The other two are Border Ranges and Nightcap National Parks.

Parks included in CERRA are considered natural world treasures because they contain examples of ancient plant and species whose origins can be traced back to the ancient super continent, Gondwana. Listing ensures they will never be logged. Subsequent additions of adjoining parcels of land have increased the size of Mount Warning national Park to 2,380ha. Perhaps one of the main attractions, drawing over 60,000 visitors to the Park each year, is that from the summit you can be the first to experience a new day dawning on the Australian mainland. 

FEATURES

Scientists believe the Mt Warning shield volcano was active for about three million years, spilling molten lava over an area of around 4,000sq kms. this ranged from Queensland's Mt Tamborine in the north to the new south Wales City of Lismore in the south, west to Kyogle and east to the rocks that make up Point Danger now Tweed heads. The erosion caldera, the Tweed Valley, is about 30km in diameter. It is estimated that the volcanic plug of Mt Warning was twice its current height 22 million years ago. today it rises 1,157m above the Tweed Valley. the basalt cap of the mountain has been eroded and washed into the valley below producing fertile soils. Towering rhyolite cliffs form the surrounding caldera while the erosion resistant central plug is made up predominantly of trachyandesite and syenite. the Tweed Pinnacle, a prominent feature of Border Ranges National Park to the north-west, marks the rim of the erodfed crater. The Tweed River and other streams have eroded the explosion site, making it larger but leaving the remnant plug of Mt Warming.

After the super continent Gondwana broke up, the Australian continent drifted northwards and became much drier. The rainforest that originally occupied much of the continent retreated to the eastern coastal strip. In the Mt Warning area, clouds pushed up from the coast create high levels of humidity. Moisture that falls as rain helps to create and maintain lush subtropical rainforests on the lower slopes and temperate rainforests on the higher slopes. Cascading mountain streams spring to life after rain. A small area of heath shrubland exists on the summit. The fertile volcanic soils also support other varieties of vegetation communities including wet sclerophyll forest and dry eucalypt forest. many rare and endangered plant species are found on the mountain. trees commonly seen in the Park include the giant stinging tree, large buttressed carabeens, flame trees, booyongs, strangler figs, Moreton Bay figs, quandong, coachwood, crahapple, Blue Mountain ash, blackbutt, mountain walnut, brush box, flooded gum, mountain wattle, bungalow palms, waling stick palms and shrubby heath. Epiphytes include staghorn and elkhorn fern, crows nest fern and wide variety of orchids. Interpretive signs identify many species along the sides of the walking track. Previously logged areas are identified by growths of lawyer vine and giant stinging trees. the upper rock faces support tussock grasses, grass trees, mountain wattles, tea trees and casuarinas.

Over 100 species of birds have been recorded in the Park. Observant walkers may spot the rare and vulnerable Albert's lyrebird. The rufous scrub-bird, marbled frogmouth and wompoo fruit-pigeon, all rare and endangered, inhabit the Park. Birds more likely to be seen or heard include the sooty owl, monarch flycatcher and the crested hawk, along with the more common catbirds, rifle birds, regent and satin bower birds, rosellas, parrots, finches, mistletoe birds, various fruit-eating pigeons, treecreepers, robins, wrens and brush-turkeys. Most rainforest mammals are nocturnal and include red-necked pademelons, swamp wallabies, echidnas, spotted-ailed quolls, brushtail and ringtail possums and gliders. Koalas may be seen in eucalypt forests. Several bat species have been recorded. The rare and vulnerable hip pocket frog, about the size of a five cent coin, survives in the Park. The male of this species has a pair of pocket like openings under the skin on his sides. After the female has laid her eggs, they are incubated by the male squatting on them. Tadpoles then climb into the males' pockets where they develop, depending entirely on their egg sacks for nourishment, until they emerge as tiny froglets. Other frogs include the great barrel frog and the red-eyed tree frog. A number of reptiles including snakes, monitors and geckos are common . Northern leaf-tailed geckos are identified by flat, leaf-shaped tails, covered with spiny scales.  

 NIGHTCAP NATIONAL PARK

HISTORY

Situated in Northern New South Wales, Nightcap National Park contains evidence of Aboriginal usage dating back at least 4,000 years. These Aborigines, the Widjabals, were known as 'clever people' amongst the rest of the Bundjalung group and the area still holds special healing and mythological significance. it is believed parts of the region may have been used for male initiation ceremonies. the lush rainforest supplied them with a constant supply of edible plants and berries, and was home to numerous animals, that were hunted for food. The leaves of bangalow palms were used to make water carriers and the bark from stinging trees was fashioned into sturdy dilly bags. Tools made from local volcanic rock have been discovered in Terania Creek Cafe.

European occupation of the area began in the early 1840s, but there are several historical accounts of timbergetters harvesting and cedar and hoop pine, years before official settlement. Many of these loggers operated illegally and were reluctant to reveal the exact location of their activities. On this is sure - European occupation wreaked havoc on the Aboriginal lifestyle that had remained relatively unchanged for centuries. In the early 1870s the first overland route connecting the Richmond and Tweed Valleys was constructed in what is now the eastern section of the Park. James E James, affectionately known as 'Jimmy Two Times', was one of the pioneering mailmen who delivered  mail from Lismore to Murvillumbah. It took three days to traverse the muddy track with pack horses. it is thought the Range was originally called 'Nightcamp Range', as travellers needed to camp out during the journey. over the years the name has become 'Nighcup Range' - the early travellers probably had many of those as well, during their campouts! The original telegraph line was erected in 1874 and followed the track. Parts of this track remain open as a historic walking trail. 

Several sawmills were built in the area to process huge amounts of felled timber and bush camp was established for timbergetters at the current site of Rummery Park camping area. Farmers also cleared vast tracts of land to make way for dairy and sugar cane farms. Vast unbroken lowlands of rainforest known as The Big Scrub confronted early settlers.  This big Scrub once covered 75,000ha of the rich volcanic soils of Northern New south Wales, but by 1900, most of it had been destroyed. The character of this original rainforest is now reflected in only 11 surviving remnants of forest, part of which is contained within Nightcap National Park. the remaining sections are protected in other national parks, state forests, nature reserves and parks. These are all that remain from the largest area of tall, subtropical rainforest on 'Australia's eastern coast. the area was declared a State forest in 1914 to protect remaining sections from indiscriminate clearing. Parts of Whian Whian State Forest adjoining the national Park continue to be a sawlog producing forest, where trees are selectively harvested and thinned.

In 1933, the Mayor of Lismore lobbied the State government to have a large tract of land set aside as water catchment area for rocky Creek Dam. the Dam provides the major water supply for both Lismore City and Byron State. In 1936 the area was declared national forest. Extensive logging was carried out in the lower ranges of the Forest between the 1930s and 1950s and locally felled timber was used for ammunition boxes during the Second World War. Cleared areas were sold for banana plantations, but thankfully most of the higher, inaccessible ranges ere left untouched.

The 16km, Kunghur Flying Fox, was erected in 1948 and was considered the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It was used to transport felled timber to the Kunghur sawmill, in the valley north of Nimbin. A manual timber brake at the top of the flying fox controlled the descent of the logs. some sections of the Flying fox still exist in the northern section of the Park. Walkers can access the site by following the Googarina Track to Kunghur Flying Fox notes. In the 1960s, groups of people seeking an alternate lifestyle settled in the Tuntable Falls region, just outside Nimbin and some still remain. In 1976, proposals to increase logging in the Terania Creek Basin, near The Channon, prompted local residents to form the Terania Native Forest Action Group. this Group effectively focused national attention on the actual extent of logging. Peaceful demonstration were performed as bulldozers and chain saws entered the area. In 1979, six weeks of protests were held. Once used as a logging camp, Terania Creek picnic area was transformed into a police camp. Many people thought the protesters to be extremely radical, but thanks to their persistent efforts, the government temporarily halted logging in 1982, pending the outcome of an environmental impact study that became known as the Rainforest Decision.

Four thousand nine hundred and forty five hectares of land was finally declared as Nightcap National Park in 1983. This followed a long and courageous defence by determined activists over logging in old growth sections of State Forest. Protestors Falls is named in their honour. Today 8,080ha of subtropical rainforest, wilderness, waterways and segments of larva flow from the Mt Warning shield volcano that erupted 22 million years ago, are protected. there are no declared wilderness areas to Nightcap National Park. The conservationists were responsible for the beginning of a movement that led to World Heritage listing for New so0uth Wales rainforests in 1986. Seven separate 'islands' of rainforest in northern New south Wales, including Nightcap Range, were nominated for listing. Officials were concerned UNESCO would consider the area disjointed, but it was ruled the area was comparable to the Galapagos Islands chain where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution. Indeed, these rainforests have equivalent scientific value. Much of the evolutionary history of our continent can be traced through this chain of rainforests. These forests, considered amongst the world's greatest treasures, are protected from logging by an international treaty. Each year, hundreds of visitors enjoy the legacy left by 'radical' conservationists.

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(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 15th January 2009)