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Peery National Park, White Cliffs - Wanaaring Rd, White Cliffs, NSW, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Natural
Legal Status Registered (27/03/2001)
Place ID 102077
Place File No 1/04/371/0018
Statement of Significance
Peery National Park straddles the interface between the belt of stony ranges, mesas and footslopes which characterise north western NSW, west of the Darling and Paroo Rivers and the extensive alluvial plains and dunefields of the Paroo Overflow. Lake Peery is formed by the Paroo floodwaters collecting in a terminal playa at the base of the Peery Hills. This combination of a high stony range meeting lakebed is a unique combination in far western NSW.

The Paroo Overflow is recognised as a significant terminal drainage system and is listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands of Australia. Lakes Peery and Poloko are a particularly important water resource in the semi-arid region of NSW.

Peery Lake's long lasting water sources and valuable stone resources for making tools and other implements have made the area an important focus of Aboriginal life for many thousands of years. Sites present include artefact scatters, bone middens, quarries and specialised microblade and tula adze workshops. These are historically and culturally important to Paakantji traditional owners providing evidence for the changing technologies and ways of Aboriginal life over the last 10,000 years. The middens at Peery Lake contain mammal and fish bones and are the most extensive bone midden deposits in NSW.

Painting and engraving sites occur around the lake and in the surrounding hills. Some of the images are stylistically different to those close by at Mutawintji and Cobar. These sites have aesthetic value and are significant to Paakantji.

The Aboriginal people of the Paroo have strong spiritual, ceremonial, social and historic ties to the area that takes in Peery Lake, The Peery Springs and the Peery Hills.

The area is an important focus in the regional system of 'Dreaming Tracks'. Ancestral beings such as Kuluwirru and the two NGYATI travelled through the area creating many of the landscape features still seen in the area including boulders, rivers, the lakes and the springs. Some of the places created by Kuluwirru are particularly important as law places where the consequences of unacceptable social behaviour are demonstrated.

The various stone arrangements around Peery Lake are significant ceremonial places and relate to the information on ceremonies given by Kuluwirru. These stone arrangements remain significant to Paakantji.

Lakes Peery and Poloko have a key role in waterbird survival in north-western New South Wales. They maintain considerable populations of many species for up to 15 months from the end of a flood cycle and when all other wetlands have dried up or receded. They provide important breeding habitat for large numbers of birds.

More than 28,000 waterbirds, representing 35 species, have been counted at Poloko Lake in a single month. Fifty-five species have been recorded at Peery Lake, including the nationally vulnerable freckled duck (STICTONETTA NAEVOSA).

Artesian mound springs occupy an extremely small area of semi-arid Australia and are rare landform. The springs in Peery National Park form the largest active complex in NSW and are the only known springs in NSW that occur on lake beds. They are also the most active of the thirty known artesian spring in the NSW Western Division. As such they provide key habitat or refugia during periods of aridity.

The nationally endangered salt pipewort (ERIOCAULON CARSONII) is endemic to the mound spring habitat and is considered one of the rarest vascular plants in NSW. The only known population in NSW occurs on one of the springs on the western side Lake Peery.

Human remains associated with an epidemic in 1850 are known to lie in the vicinity of Peery Lake. These remains are important to Paakantji and Bandjigali.

Peery is one of 28 modern properties which once comprised the largest grazing property in NSW. In 1884 "Momba Station" covered 850 000 ha and stretched 140km north from the Darling River at Wilcannia and was 100 km wide. It was owned by the Momba Pastoral Company based in Adelaide, the principals of which later formed the Elder-Smith Co.

European pastoral pioneers used the springs at Peery Lake as a watering point for stock. The stone and cement trough on one of the springs is an important relic of early European pastoralism.
Australian Historic Themes: 3.5 Developing primary production
Official Values Not Available
Peery National Park contains a variety of landform features such as rounded sandstone quarzite hills and ranges, stony tablelands and alluvial floodplains on the western side of the reserve with saline with parallel sand dunes on the eastern side.

The broad vegetation communities at Peery are mulga/prickly wattle (ACACIA ANEURA/ACACIA TETRAGONOPHYLLA) and belah/rosewood (CASUARINA PAUPER/ALECTRION OLEIFOLIUS).

Flooding of the park follows general heavy rains in the catchments of the Paroo in south-western Queensland, with a higher probability of flows from January to April. Flooding of the entire system occurs about once in every five years.

Peery wetlands are comprised of terminal playas of major streams. The place experiences infrequent long inundation fed by regional runoff from major streams. The water is predominantly fresh but becomes saline upon drying.

Peery Lake is the largest of the Overflow lakes and, once filled, holds water for up to 3 years.

Artesian springs are an exceptional landform in Australia, with the majority of springs occurring, like The Peery Springs, on the southern margin of the Great Australian Basin. The mound springs in New South Wales are generally smaller than springs in Queensland and South Australia. Most mound springs in New South Wales are severely degraded from concentrated trampling by stock and water extraction for pastoral use.

Springs occur on the eastern and western margins of the north basin of Peery Lake. The western springs, which have over 20 individual outlets, are a mixture of extinct and active mounds. The active springs include an excavated trough where water is clear and bubbles strongly and other springs which have a weaker flow or seep slowly. In general, the seeps occurring among the boulders along the shore are pools up to 30 cm across and 10 cm. deep and small circular springs found on the lake bed are up to 5m across and 20cm deep with patches of water and mud in the centre. Other springs found along the shore vary from 3 - 15 m diameters and are up to 2 m high. The mounds of the active springs vary widely and some of these springs have coalesced to form large complexes up to 100 m long.

The extinct western springs are larger than the active springs and some measure over 100m diameter and 2.5 metres high with eroding margins of carbonate material. These large mounds are rare in NSW springs and are formed from minerals in solution being deposited at the mouth of the spring.

The vegetation surrounding the mounds includes large scattered river red gum (EUCALYPTUS CAMALDULENSIS) with a dense cover of sedges and herbs on the mounds. Species include the spiny flat sedge (CYPERUS GYMNOCAULOS), bore drain sedge (CYPERUS LAEVIGATUS), salt pipewort (ERIOCAULON CARSONI), white heliotrope (HELIOTROPIUM CURASSAVICUM), Ellengowan poison-bush (MYOPORUM DESERTI), sharp club rush (SCHOENOPLECTUS PUNGENS), glassworts (SCLEROSTEGIA ), and bladderworts (UTRICULARIA sp).

Poloko and Peery Lakes make up 15% of the nature reserve. The Paroo is the principal source of water for Poloko Lake. Local water can partly fill the northern end which has a deeper basin and is consequently the last to dry. Peery Lake receives water from the Paroo River at about the same time as Poloko. It can also receive substantial volumes from local runoff in exceptional circumstances. The channels and overflow swamps are vegetated with lignum, which is frequently dense; together with scattered river cooba (ACACIA STENOPHYLLA), coolabah (EUCALYPTUS MICROTHECA), yapunyah (E. OCHROPHLOIA) and black box (E. LARGIFLORENS). A luxuriant cover of sedges, grasses, forbs, nardoos and red water-milfoil develops following flooding. The playa lakes are bordered by sparse canegrass, samphires, annual saltbushes and copperburrs. Following flooding, there is an enormous influx of waterbirds to the area, and many species breed.

The Peery Springs are the only place in NSW that the nationally endangered species, salt pipewort (ERIOCAULON CARSONII) is currently known. It was first recorded in the 1880's from Wee Wattah Spring, some 50 km to the east, where it no longer occurs. Salt pipewort is a small perennial species endemic to mound springs and recorded in eight spring groups in the Great Australian Basin. The other sites include the Lake Eyre and Lake Frome supergroups in South Australia; and Elizabeth Springs and a number of springs at Edgebaston Station, in south-western Queensland.

There is a possibility of genetic differentiation between populations in different locations as a result of evolution of the species in geographic isolation. The flora and fauna of the springs of the Great Australian Basin suggest they have been isolated for a long time.

Peery Lake and The Peery Springs are significant to Paakantji Traditional Owners who have been custodians of the land, water, species and law since the Dreaming.

Aboriginal association with Peery Lake and The Peery Springs began with the activities of creation ancestors. Creation stories document the journeys and actions of the ancestors as they formed and named the land during the Dreamtime. The stories often contain knowledge relating to ceremonies and correct behaviour. At least two major stories, the Kuluwirru and the Two NGATYI stories, are associated with Peery Lake. Through these stories Peery Lake and Springs are linked into a wider area encompassing the Bullo and Paroo catchments, the Barrier Ranges and the River Darling.

One of these stories relates the journeys and actions of Kuluwirru (a big fellow). There are two written versions of the story of Kuluwirru. The other major story that took place at The Peery Springs is that of two NGATYI or Water Serpents.

Kuluwirru travelled in the west where he had skinned a kangaroo to make a bag. The kangaroo had hopped away and on dying turned into the Barrier Ranges. Upon his return to Peery Lake, Kuluwirru camped with a group of people, some of whom were his relatives. Relations between Kuluwirru and the other people quickly deteriorated. One account describes the people teasing Kuluwirru and calling him names, while in the other, Kuluwirru fell ill and thought the others had poisoned him with a water lizard. Kuluwirru sent his two male relatives out to listen to the other people when the group went out hunting Rock Wallaby. The relatives reported that the others had continued laughing at him. Determining upon revenge, Kuluwirru emptied Peery Lake into his skin bag. When the others returned, tired and thirsty, they found the water had gone and they died and were turned into boulders that can still be seen on the western side of Peery Lake.

Kuluwirru saved his relatives by knocking a hole in the rock, creating The Peery Springs, which he left to provide water for his two uncles. He also gave them rules and guidance relating to initiation. The stone arrangements in the vicinity of Peery Lake may be part of these ceremonies.

Afterwards the Peery Springs and Lake were filled by a high flood. Kuluwirru then went off with his waterbag to the head of the Darling River where he met another being, Dayeery (Willy Wagtail ancestor), whom he sent to pull up a tree root. Kuluwirru had made the root grow very long so that when it was pulled, a long, crooked channel was formed. Kuluwirru poured the water from his bag into this channel, creating the Darling River.

A male and a female NGATYI are also associated with Peery Lake and The Peery Springs. The female NGATYI laid her eggs at Ularara Waterhole on the Paroo River. The couple then travelled down the Paroo River to Peery Lake where they turned west and travelled to White Cliffs. As they travelled they named places and created lakes, creeks, soaks and swamps. These water sources were obviously highly important in such a drought prone region.

Although Peery Lake is one of the longest lasting waters sources in the Paroo Overflow, Aboriginal people experienced drought and concerns about the availability of water. There is clear evidence that The Peery Springs were associated with rainmaking ceremonies. Bonney (circa 1881) found remains of the objects used in rainmaking ceremonies when he was opening East Peery Spring with his shovel.

The evidence that Aboriginal people used the area intensively over a long time reflects the importance of Peery Lake as a water source. Artefacts are present in extremely large numbers along the shoreline of Peery Lake, especially near the mound springs. Ground stone artefacts, such as large flat milling slabs and mortar and pestles, are relatively frequent and flaked stone tools are abundant.

The Peery Hills and western side of Peery Lake contain pigment art sites with red handprints, rock engravings, stone arrangements and a range of large open campsites. These are yet to be fully documented but preliminary work suggests some of these sites may be stylistically different to those found at Mutawintji and Cobar. Specialised microblade workshops for the manufacture of backed blades are also present. Microblades are a technological phase that was developed in the last 3.5 to 4.5 thousand years. The abundance of stone tools including tulas and pirri points and the presence of specialised workshops suggests that tools may have been traded from the area.

The lunette on the eastern side of Peery Lake contains deposits of burnt large mammal and fish bones in fire hearths, which are possibly the best-preserved of such deposits in NSW.

Around the year 1850, about 10 years before any substantial European settlement in the area, the Bandjigali and Paakantji peoples were struck by an epidemic that killed a third of their population. The disease affected the limbs and seems to have come at a time of ample food and water. Survivors fled up the Paroo and Upper Darling, leaving the dead unburied on their track. Many bodies were left on the sandhills around Peery Lake.
As settlers moved into the area Aboriginal people became involved in pastoralism and continued to practice traditional songs, ceremonies and customs. Later, as large properties were broken up, Aboriginal people were moved onto missions and reserves.

Today Aboriginal people observe their links to country by telling stories and visiting the area when possible. Traditional Owners have a duty to care for country and are concerned about the conservation of natural resources in the area. They are particularly concerned about conservation of the salt pipewort ERIOCAULON CARSONII.

Peery Station was purchased by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1999. The history of Peery Station reflects a series of changes in government administration of leasehold land in the western lands of NSW since the earliest pastoralists started looking for land on the Paroo.
The first properties along the Paroo were surveyed by Surveyor Charles Arthur during 1861 and 1862. He laid out 5 mile frontages along the Paroo, with runs extending 5 miles back from the river. The blocks were in pairs, matching across the river and reflecting the early interest in the river country with its waterholes.

By 1861 all or parts of thirty eight of these runs had been taken up as "Momba", 848 000 ha in all. "Momba" was the largest single property in NSW. Parts of 4 of these runs would make up present day "Peery".

In 1884 the government introduced the Crown Lands Act, which divided the large leases into two parts. The first half, the Occupation Licence, could be retained by the leaseholder. The Resumed Area was made available for small Homestead Leases with the intention of making land available to smaller leasees and encouraging closer settlement. The land which makes up present day Peery was primarily included in the Resumed Area but was never taken up for Homestead Leases, which were concentrated in those parts of "Momba" closer to White Cliffs and Wilcannia.

In 1902, those parts of the Resumed Area not taken up as Homestead Leases were resumed back into the "Momba" Occupation Licence and the lease extended to 1943.

Under the Crown Lands (Amendment) Act 1932, the expired "Momba" lease, approximately 309 400 ha, was divided into 10 blocks, which were disposed of as new leaseholds. One of these became "Peery" Station. The construction of Peery Station in 1952, by the Barlow family, is clearly associated with the Post-War increase in the price of wool, which made more intense pastoral activity in the Paroo region feasible. The purchase of the property by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1999 acknowledged both the integrity of the arid range-lands and the marginal nature of pastoral activity in the district.

With the growing realisation that larger management units offered conservation advantages in a fragile arid land environment and more economically viable, the policy of limiting ownership of western leases was abolished in 1987 and amalgamations are slowly moving the story of "Momba" toward full circle, although it is unlikely that NSW will again see a property the size of Big "Momba".

The evidence of early pastoral activity on Peery is confined to evidence of water management such as the stone and cement trough for watering stock on one of the springs at Peery Lake and a number of bore wells scattered throughout the property.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The western springs at Lake Peery are within Reserve 230029 for Environmental Protection Notified in NSW Government Gazette 14 August 1987. Pickard (1992) reports that mounds are being badly disturbed by rooting of feral pigs.

The bore capping and control programs of the Queensland and South Australian government are beginning to reduce some of the waste from flowing stock bores. With the advent of more management of artesian water, the artesian water levels may change and affect the currently extinct mounds.

Until its purchase by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Peery Station was used for sheep production. It is in relatively good condition due to conservative stocking rates. Neither of the lakes has been used for lake bed cropping and is in relatively good condition.
About 41,680ha, 30km east of White Cliffs.
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Report Produced  Thu Jul 24 07:57:29 2014