|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (15/12/2006)|
|Place File No||1/16/035/0033|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
Royal National Park (Royal NP) and Garawarra
State Conservation Area (Garawarra SCA) constitute a
major centre of temperate plant species richness, having one of the richest
concentrations of plant species in temperate Australia with more than 1000
species. The place is also extremely
rich in perching birds, reptiles and butterflies and can be regarded as
exemplifying the biodiverse Hawkesbury Sandstone
Royal NP was the second National Park to be established in the world after Yellowstone and the first in Australia. Its declaration in 1879 marked the beginning of the development of Australia’s National Park system of protected areas. Establishment of the park as a recreation area for the then residents of Sydney also marks a time when public attitudes towards the Australian natural environment were becoming more appreciative. With greater access to and use of natural areas for recreation, the public’s concern for the natural environment grew and this, in part, influenced the evolution of a broader conservation movement. The establishment of Royal NP is considered to be the beginning of the Australian conservation movement.
Royal NP is a large, mainly natural area managed for both
recreation and nature conservation. The
Park features a diverse range of natural environments and is a popular
recreation destination. Most of the
originally gazetted area (1879) of the Park remains within the current Royal NP
boundary. At establishment 7,200 hectares
(18,000 acres) were reserved as National Park.
Today, with various additions of land, the Royal NP is 15,068 hectares
Garawarra SCA covers 900 hectares and adjoins the south-western corner of Royal NP. It protects rainforest in the upper catchment of the Hacking River, and also links the rainforests of Royal NP to those of the Illawarra Escarpment directly to the south. Both reserves are contiguous with a larger area of natural vegetation further to the west and south-west, which includes the Holsworthy defence training area, and various reserves including Dharawal SCA, and Sydney Water catchment areas.
As part of the Woronora Plateau, Royal NP and Garawarra SCA are deeply dissected in the west by the Hacking River system where the sandstone has been eroded into deep gorges, with a landscape of low plateaus, steep valleys, ridges and rocky outcrops. High cliffs are a feature of the coast, especially between Curracurrong and Garie. The place is part of the much larger Sydney-Bowen Basin and of Permian and Triassic age (270-180 million years ago). The Hawkesbury sandstones formed 190 to 225 million years ago, when Australia was part of Gondwana and the Sydney region was a large deltaic system comprised of freshwater rivers and lakes. The lakes were gradually filled by sand, silt and pebble-sized sediments, and over millions of years compressed into sandstone, mudstone and shale rock formations. The Hacking River system drains northwards into Port Hacking exposing the Narrabeen shales in the sheltered, coastal valleys in the southern part of the park, which weather into richer soils that support areas of rainforest and moist eucalypt forest. Elsewhere, Wianamatta shales occur as lenses within the sandstone.
Well over 1000 plant species are known from Royal NP and Garawarra SCA. The two reserves contain areas of subtropical, warm temperate rainforest that are mainly restricted to sheltered places in the upper catchment of the Hacking River valley. The park also contains a wider range of eucalypt forests including shale forests, which are significant as remnants of a community that once stretched from Sutherland to Cronulla. Shale forests occur on outcrops along the western edge of the Royal NP, near Loftus and Helensburgh. Much of the sandstone plateau supports a eucalypt woodland community which in western Royal NP grades into sandstone gully forest dominated by smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata). The region’s rainforest and wet eucalypt forests were logged for red cedar (Toona ciliata) and other valuable timbers in the past, and it is estimated that some 75 per cent of the rainforest of the Illawarra has been cleared since settlement. As a result, regional reserves such as Royal NP and Garawarra SCA are especially important for conservation purposes.
Prominent along the eastern side of Royal NP, on the sandstone plateau, are species-rich heathlands, which contain over 500 species of flowering plants. Many of the park’s heathland wildflowers are in bloom from July to November. The relict cliff top dunes to the east and south of Bundeena support an assemblage of large shrub species which once covered the eastern suburbs peninsula of Sydney. This habitat is now restricted in the Sydney region.
Freshwater lagoons occur in the park in the coastal sand sheets at Jibbon and Marley. These lagoons are of potential value for research into management of the vegetation in Royal NP. Fossil pollen recorded in these lagoons and in the upland swamps could give clues to the relationships between fire regimes and vegetation dynamics over the last 10 000 years (NPWS, 2000).
Royal NP and Garawarra SCA are recognised as supporting a rich native vertebrate fauna, a reflection of the diversity of vegetation communities and habitats present, and the park's location on the junction of the northern warm-temperate and the southern cool-temperate zones. The place is especially rich in birds with 231 species. Garawarra SCA is particularly noted for the diversity and abundance of rainforest birds. The herpetofauna (reptiles and frogs) of Royal NP and Garawarra SCA is abundant and diverse with 40 species of reptiles and 30 species of amphibians recorded. This is richer than in any other studied coastal park in New South Wales. There are at least 43 species of mammals recorded in the reserves of which 16 are bats. The tall, moist eucalypt forests and rainforests of the Hacking River catchment support the greatest diversity of birds and also the majority of the mammals known in the two reserve areas (26 out of 43 species).
Royal NP has one of the richest native insect faunas of any studied area in NSW and is the type locality for hundreds of species. It also has a diverse terrestrial mollusc fauna. The rainforests along the Hacking River are rich areas for molluscs as also are the littoral rainforest patches.
Royal NP is one of only four coastal national parks in NSW that protect land below high water mark and associated estuarine habitats. The submerged and intertidal lands of South West Arm and Cabbage Tree Basin, both in Port Hacking, are part of Royal NP. Both areas are sheltered bodies of water which support nursery grounds for juvenile fish and invertebrates, seagrass beds and a diverse benthic fauna. Cabbage Tree Basin also supports a mangrove community and is an area frequented by migratory birds (NPWS 2000).
Royal NP and Garawarra SCA were occupied by the Dharawal people whose territory extended southward from Port Hacking to around Jervis Bay. As a result Royal NP and Garawarra SCA contain an important suite of comparatively undisturbed Aboriginal sites, including rock engravings, middens, art sites, occupation sites, axe-grinding grooves, and sacred sites. Two Aboriginal Places, protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1979, have recently been declared within Royal NP at North Era Beach and Costens Point. These places are used as resting places for the remains of Dharawal people repatriated from Australian and overseas museums (Koori Mail, 5/10/2005). Royal NP also contains one place listed on the Register of the National Estate for its Aboriginal heritage values.
Evidence of Aboriginal occupation is closely correlated with environmental land units. Shell midden deposits, some with burials, have been recorded along the shores of Port Hacking, in sand dunes behind the ocean beaches in Royal NP and in rock shelters along the coast. Engraving sites have been recorded on sandstone outcrops along the coast and around Port Hacking and on the sides and tops of ridges throughout Royal NP. Shelters with pigment art have been recorded mainly along ridgelines in the park. Grinding grooves are common within the parks, sometimes in association with engravings, though more often these are found in creek lines and near waterholes.
Archaeological investigations were conducted during the 1960s into Aboriginal occupation sites at Audley, Wattamolla and Curracurrang within Royal NP. Radiocarbon dates from these sites suggest occupation from about 7000 years ago (during the Holocene) to about 1000 years. The commencement of occupation broadly corresponds with the stabilisation of sea levels about 6500 years ago (Attenbrow, 2002:18-19; 38-39).
The stone tool technologies identified at these sites conform with the established late Pleistocene / Holocene sequence in the broader Sydney region: Capertian, Early Bondaian, Middle Bondaian and Late Bondaian. Capertian assemblages are well represented at Curracurrang 1, while Bondaian assemblages (particularly middle to late) are represented at both Curracurrang and Wattamolla (Megaw, 1974). Other remains from these sites include animal, bird and fish bone, shell and shell fish hooks, suggesting the exploitation of a range of resources (refer Megaw, 1974).
Rock art sites in Royal NP and Garawarra SCA occur within a distinct stylistic variant of the broader Sydney Basin rock art style. Research has identified a stylistic boundary occurring south of the Georges River, based on the presence and proportions of different motifs and on overriding schematic differences (McDonald, 1994). Art sites in these parks include engravings of whales, anthropomorphic figures, marine and terrestrial animals and a few tracks, together with pigment art, commonly charcoal drawings of anthropomorphic figures, marine and terrestrial animals, with a smaller proportion of stencils of hands and material culture objects.
Aboriginal sites and cultural places in the parks are of importance to the Aboriginal community today for cultural revival, educational and historical reasons (Bean 2002; DEC, 2005d).
Royal NP contains many features which reflect the early management (1879-1914) of the Park. Audley in particular reflects the early period of Park management. The area was principally developed for recreation and some acclimatisation projects were also carried out in this area. The use of the area for boating (1883- ) , the picnic lawns (1890- ), the causeway (1883- ), Lady Carrington Drive (1886- ) are all features that reflect the early use and management of the Park.
Other features within Royal NP reflect the early management of the Park. These include for example the exotic plantings, some walking tracks and roads, the National Park Railway Station (1886- ), the remnant military encampment area at Loftus Heights (1886-1901), the remnant evidence of early acclimatisation experiments and the evidence in the landscape of early charcoal manufacturing, mining and forestry.
The establishment of the first National Park in Australia|
In general terms the modern nature conservation movement is commonly considered to have its secular roots in the sensibilities of nineteenth century Romanticism. Indigenous cultures also bring their own cultural traditions and practice to the “conservation" of nature. Some religious traditions have also influenced cultural attitudes to nature.
Early colonial European attitudes to the natural environment were diverse. The popular image is one in which settlers are struggling to survive at odds with their environment. The harshness and foreign-ness of the landscape are common themes in Australian art and literature. Bonyhady (2000) develops a more complex picture which shows that not all settlers perceived their environment in such harsh terms or in a purely utilitarian way. He found that “many colonists not only delighted in their new surroundings but also wanted to preserve them” (Bonyhady 2000).
In the early nineteenth century in America and England, the romantic poets and writers began to articulate a vision for the idea of a National Park. In 1810 William Wordsworth described the Lake District as a “sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy” (UK Council of National Parks 2005). In America nature writers such as Henry Thoreau and John Muir (first President of the Sierra Club) wrote in similar vein. For example in Thoreau's The Maine Woods (1864) he called for the establishment of “national preserves” of virgin forest. It was however, George Catlin, an American painter, who is credited as the first person in America to talk about the idea of a National Park. In 1832 he wrote “(we should create)...by some great protecting policy of government...in a magnificent park....a nation's park.” (USA Library of Congress 2005).
In Australia the conservation of the natural environment began in a small way with attempts to protect particular areas and or special features. Crown land reserves for parks, recreation and other public purposes were established from the earliest years of European settlement. The first parks were relatively formal areas established within the existing town areas (Mosley G. 1999).
The first colony to legislate to protect fauna was Tasmania. In 1860 it passed laws that protected various game species during their breeding season. In 1866 Jenolan Caves in NSW was declared a water reserve. In 1871 a sizeable area of bushland in Perth WA, Kings Park, was reserved (DEH Fact Sheet. Directions for the National Reserve System).
In America, in 1872, the American Congress established Yellowstone National Park. This signified for the first time, in that country, that public lands were to be set aside and administered by the Federal Government for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. A National Park was described then as “ National Parks are spacious land...areas essentially in their primeval condition and so outstandingly superior in beauty.....(that they) demand preservation intact and in their entirety ...for all the people for all time” (USA Library of Congress 2005).
The American influences which led to the eventual establishment of Yellowstone National Park are thought to be “the growing public appreciation for wilderness and wildlife, the desire to escape the increasingly urban places and the popularisation of the automobile. The emerging conservation movement in America (1850-1920) was also a major influence in the emergence of the concept of a National Park. This movement was itself influenced by the growth in science (environmental impact debates and the role of technology), by new movements in philosophy and cultural debates ( the natural world as a moral and spiritual resource and the linking of American nature to the construction of American national identity)and by aesthetic considerations including the idea that the enjoyment of wildlife, wilderness and natural beauty was a necessary recreational activity in American life. (USA Library of Congress 2005).
Establishment of Royal NP
On March 31st, 1879, the then NSW Government reserved an area (18,000 acres including an ocean frontage) from sale and on the 26th April 1879 this area was dedicated as a Reserve for the use of the public for ever as a National Park.” (Goldstein. 1979).
At its establishment the Park was called National Park. During a Royal visit to Australia, in 1955, by Queen Elizabeth II, the Park was renamed Royal NP. (NSW NPWS. 2002). It was the first park in Australia to make use of the name ‘National’.
There is no current evidence to confirm that Royal NP was established as a result of the knowledge that Yellowstone had been established earlier as a National Park.
“A group of eleven trustees was appointed to manage the park and they were issued with a Deed of Grant to develop it for rest and recreation, which included (permitted uses such as) : ornamental plantations of lawns and gardens, zoological gardens, racecourses, cricket (or any other lawful game), rifle butt or artillery range, exercise or encampment of Military or Naval forces, bathing places and any public amusement or purpose which the Governor may from time to time ....declare to be an amusement or purpose for which ....the park could be used.” (Goldstein 1979). It was clear then that the Park was established with a main focus on recreation not nature conservation.
In 1893, the official park guide stated: National Park “will remain much in the same condition as it now stands excepting, it may be hoped, that the barren heath, secluded dells, and bold sea beaches, now almost abandoned to the birds in the air, will resound with the voices of jocund crowds of pleasure-seekers, freed on every holiday from the rush and turmoil of everyday life” (Goldstein 1976). This reflected the value people placed on the natural environment at the time. It was also appreciated as ‘the lungs for the urban population of Sydney.
During the 1870s there was some community and official pressure for the creation of open spaces and recreation areas in order to abate the poor living conditions in the inner city areas of Sydney. Of particular concern was the lack of sanitation.
Another group, an acclimatisation society, was also lobbying the NSW Government for the reservation of some land for their use.
Sir John Robertson, then Acting Premier of NSW, was also sympathetic to the idea of a public recreation area for the people. “ Sir John Robertson (Acting Head of (NSW) Government) conceived and developed the idea of bequeathing to the people of this State a national domain for rest and recreation.” (Goldstein 1979).
Some commentators on the establishment of National Parks refer to the “wasted land” theory. This theory is thought to have set the pattern for the early selection of land for National Parks. In contrast to later park selection methods, based on biodiversity value, this wasted land theory meant that early National Parks were likely to be located on lands which were undeveloped, had poor soils (“wasted”) and no other clear utility value. This seems to have been the case with Royal NP. This is in stark contrast to the establishment of Yellowstone which was chosen in part because of its outstanding landscape beauty.
At the time of the Park's establishment Royal NP included marine areas within its boundaries. A claim could therefore be made that these marine areas were Australia’s first Marine Park. Tarte is of the view that “ the earliest marine protected areas that truly represented the first generation of today’s marine parks were declared under Fisheries legislation and included areas like Green Island off Cairns in North Queensland. This reserve was declared in 1937.” (Tarte 1998).
Later National Parks
Six other Australian National Parks were established shortly after the establishment of Royal NP. These early Australian National Parks include: Belair (1891), Ku-ring-gai Chase (1894), Wilsons Promontory (1898), Mt Buffalo (1898) and John Forrest (1900).
In other countries National Parks were also established as a new form of protected area. Canada established its first National Park in 1885 (Banff) followed by others in 1886 (Glacier) and 1895 (Waterton Lakes). New Zealand established its first National Parks in 1894 and 1900. The Europeans established theirs much later and generally after the Second World War. For example in the United Kingdom the following National Parks were established : the Peak District in 1951, the Lake District in 1951, Snowdonia in 1951 and Dartmoor in1951 and in France Vanoise in 1963.
National Parks are now a well established type of protected area. “A protected area is defined as an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources, managed through legal or other effective means.” (UNEP-WCMC internet site).
This definition reflects the current state of knowledge and approach to the management of protected areas. This approach has evolved over a long period and shows that there has been a change in the way National Parks have been managed.
Early parks, including Royal, were primarily managed for public recreation. Gradually the importance of conserving nature became incorporated into National Park management practice. Today parks are managed for a variety of local, state, national and international conservation purposes. Concepts such as biodiversity management, sustainable use and cultural heritage management are mainstream ideas currently being applied in the management of National Parks.
In Australia today there are 547 National Parks that form 40% of our protected area system.
Emergence of Australia's Nature Conservation Movement
Hutton and Connors (1999) have argued that Australia experienced two major waves of environmental/conservation activity; these were the activities associated with the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and those associated with the later movements in the late 1950s and post 1960s.
By the 1860s and 1870s there was an emerging growth in interest in the natural environment. This interest was further demonstrated by an increase in nature writing and in the popularity of activities such as bushwalking and early nature tourism. Early concepts of wilderness were also emerging. These ideas were often coupled with the then philosophical interest in the concept of sublime nature. Many artists were also engaged in presenting bush scenes in the popular picturesque “style” of landscape painting.
|Condition and Integrity|
Both reserves are managed as a unit by NSW National Parks
and Wildlife for both nature conservation and recreational use. The natural values in some sections of Royal
NP have been degraded through overuse, particularly in the wetter parts such as
the rainforest areas and along the coast.
Management practices are in place to rehabilitate the most seriously
Fire is a serious problem for Royal NP and has had a significant impact on vegetation structure and composition and some animal populations in recent years. Major bushfires, in which 50 percent or more of the park was burnt, occurred in the 1968/69, 1988/89, 1993/94 and 2001/2002 fire seasons. The most severe event occurred in January 1994 and affected 95.7 percent of the park. Garawarra SCA has had fewer fires than Royal NP. This could be attributed to the moist vegetation communities, the terrain and lower visitation. A major fire occurred within the park in the 1993/94 fire season and affected 52 percent of the reserve.
Pest animal species within Royal NP include cats, dogs, pigs, fallow deer (Dama
dama) and Javan rusa deer (Cervus timorensis). The deer are survivors of animals introduced to the park in the early 20th century and have had a considerable
impact on vegetation structure, regeneration of native species and soil stability. Deer control measures have been implemented with the ultimate aim of eradicating deer from the park in a humane manner.
About 16000ha, Sir Bertram Stevens Drive, Audley,
comprising the whole of Royal
National Park and Garawarra State Conservation Area.|
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This area was nominated as part of the Wara-n'hayara Plateau Area by the Northern Illawarra Aboriginal Collective Inc.
Report Produced Thu Jul 31 05:28:41 2014