Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

NSW Wilderness Red Index

Published by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd (September 1999)
2/332 Pitt Street Sydney NSW 2000 ph 02 9261 2400; fax 02 9261 2144
email keith@colongwilderness.org.au web site colongwilderness.org.au

NAME: Wollemi (Colo)
NOMINATED BY: Colo Committee on 10th October 1995.
LOCATION: 75 km north west of Sydney.
SIZE: 424,960 ha approx. nominated
288,340 ha identified in February 1997
98,990 ha of additions identified March 1999
387,330 ha total area identified March 1999
TENURE: Nominated Identified
Existing NPWS Estate (Oct. 1993)
Wollemi National Park 370,710 ha 355,840 ha
Blue Mountains National Park 27,200 ha 26,190 ha

New NPWS Estate (Oct. 1993 to Sept. 1999)
Former freehold land 200 ha 200 ha

Other tenure
Newnes State Forest 4,610 ha 2,380 ha
Coricudgy State Forest 4,030 ha 2,120 ha
Crown land 160 ha 160 ha
Putty State Forest 15,000 ha —
Freehold land 3,050 ha 440 ha
Wilderness Declared:

Wollemi National Park;

Size: 343,600 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 81%
Blue Mountains National Park;

Size: 17,400 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 4%
Wilderness Not Declared:

Wollemi National Park;

Size: 27,310 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 6%
Blue Mountains National Park;

Size: 9,800 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 2%
Crown land;

Size: 160 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: State Forest;

Size: 23,640 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 6%
Freehold land;

Size: 3,050 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: DESCRIPTION:

Wollemi Wilderness lies between the settlements adjoining the Bells Line of Road in the Blue Mountains to the south, and by farming land adjoining the Hunter River in the north. The Wollemi Wilderness is situated on the north-western edge of the Sydney Basin. The geology of the area consists of Triassic sandstone and underlying Permian sediments. The wilderness is dissected by a number of spectacular river and creek gorges. In the south the area is drained by tributaries of the Colo River, including the Capertee and Wolgan Rivers, which flow into the area from the agricultural land to the west. The catchments of Wollangambe and Wollemi Creeks and the Wolgan River which also flow into the Colo are largely contained within the wilderness. The divide between the Colo and Hunter Rivers crosses the northern section of the wilderness, with Widden Brook, Baerami and Martindale Creeks flowing north into the Hunter. There are a number of basalt caps in the north (e.g. Monundilla, Kerry, Uraterer) as well as tertiary volcanic necks that have weathered to form 'holes' such as Gospers and Davis Holes.

The Colo River, an important wild and scenic river, flows out of the wilderness and plays an important role in maintaining the water quality of the Hawkesbury River, particularly salinity balance. The Colo River is also noted for its high native fish diversity, with over twenty species recorded.

Variations in topography allow for a wide range in sclerophyllous vegetation types, which are generally representative of the xeromorphic flora of the sandstone outcrops of the Sydney region. Dry sclerophyll forest with an understorey of evergreen and hard-leaved shrubs predominantly of the Hakea, Persoonia, Boronia and Grevillia genera is the most common plant community. The high basalt peaks have patches of rainforest, Ribbon Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) and Brown Barrel (E. fastigata). To the north and west the drier inland climatic regime has given rise to a predominance of Black and White Cypress, White Box (E. albens), Tumbledown Gum (E. dealbata), and in the larger valleys, occasional Kurrajong trees (Brachychiton populneum). East of the Colo the forest cover is comprised largely of Sydney Peppermint (E. piperita ssp. piperita), Narrow-leaved Ironbark (E. crebra), Smooth-barked Apple (Angophora costata) and Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera). In the Colo Gorge, 250m deep and 100m wide, the small talus slopes support Blue Gums (E. saligna), the occasional Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa), the Coast Myall (Acacia binervia) and a thick understorey containing the unusual Cheese Tree (Glochidion ferdinandi). Pockets of rainforest are found in the smaller side gorges. West of the Colo Gorge the forest communities become more like those of the central Blue Mountains, although nearest the gorge are Red and Yellow Bloodwoods (E. gummifera and E. eximia) and Smooth-barked Apples - trees more commonly associated with coastal forests. The Mellong Swamps located along the Putty Road have a distinctive vegetation The swamps developed where an extension of the Kurrajong Fault impeded drainage to the east.

The Wollemi Wilderness is home to over forty rare plant species with approximately one-third of the total being endemic to the park. Rare plants include a red flowering sub-species of tea tree found above the Colo Gorge. The new subspecies of Leptospermum lonigerium has crimson flowers the size of a twenty cent piece.

Seventeen endangered animal species listed in the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 are found in the park. These are: seven mammals - Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis), Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis), Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and possibly even the Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus); nine birds - Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia), Gang-Gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami), Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus), Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons), Spotted Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma punctatum) and the Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis); and one snake - the Broad-headed Snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides). The Broad-headed snake occurs on Hawkesbury sandstone areas in the east of the park and is threatened by bush-rock and reptile collectors.

Other species of concern found in the area include the Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercatetus nanus), the Feather-tailed Glider (Acrobates pygmaeus) and the Scrub Turkey.

On the western edge of the National Park, and adjoining the wilderness, is the Gardens of Stone National Park which contains many unusual sandstone formations or "pagodas". Some of these features are found in the Wollangambe section of the wilderness. The national park, gazetted over former State forests of the Newnes Plateau, was left out of the 1979 Colo National Park proposal largely because of objections lodged by the Forestry Commission (FCNSW, now known as State Forests) and the coal mining industry. Significant areas of state forest within the Wilderness, affected by coal exploration or mining leases, remain unprotected for this reason.

LAND USE HISTORY:

Aboriginal: The area seems to have served as a natural buffer between a number of Aboriginal Peoples: the Wiradjuri of the south-west slopes; the Dharuk and Darkinjang of the coast and mountains; the Wonarua of the of the Middle Hunter; and the Kamilaroi of the north-west slopes as far south as the Upper Goulburn tributaries.
Twenty-five aboriginal sites are recorded within Wollemi National Park.

Grazing: By 1825 pastoralists holding "tickets of occupation" had settled in the Capertee Valley and at Dabee on the Upper Cudgegong River. Outstations were also established in the Wolgan Valley adjoining the present-day wilderness area. Further north a number of settlements were established along the winding Widden Valley which was extensively cleared. By the 1840s Nullo Mountain was settled and horses were bred in the area. Later in the century the creek valleys to the east of the Widden were also settled. In 1877, the Gosper family obtained a grant for 32 ha in 1877 in the centre of the wilderness on Mount Uraterer which, was increased by 40 ha in 1909. Other graziers made use of these basalt caps and volcanic craters. Further occupation was established on Mounts Kerry, Davis and Cameron. Holdings on the basalt caps and volcanic craters of Mt Kerry, Gospers Mtn, Mt Corriaday, Mt Wirraba, and Annie Rowan Creek are established within the wilderness.
1939-45 Putty Road pushed through from Putty to Singleton, cutting off Wollemi from the Macdonald Wilderness. The Putty Road was sealed in the 1960's.
1992 Cattle grazing continues on inholdings at Gospers Mountain and Mount Wirraba. The adjoining Wollemi Creek and Putty Creek areas, and Gospers Hole, are also grazed.
Mining Oil shale (torbanite) mining began in the Wolgan Valley to the west of the wilderness in 1873, with substantial mining from 1903 onwards. In 1905 the Commonwealth Oil Company commenced operations on a large scale in Newnes. In 1937 this industry was rationalised and moved to Glen Davis by pumping the extracted oil through Green Gully. Capertee Valley produced motor oil from 1940-1952. Numerous ruins of historical interest still exist in these areas, with extensive remains still scarring Glen Davis.
Mid - 1970's On the Newnes Plateau above the Wolgan and Wollangambe a number of mines have been planned, with one currently in operation. In 1974, Clarence Coalex Pty Ltd commenced mining on a 7,350 ha coal lease on Newnes Plateau, in the catchment of the Wollangambe River, on the edge of the Wollemi wilderness. The mine has polluted the Wollangambe River that flows through the declared wilderness area.
1975 March 21: Electricity Commission announces to the National Parks Association a proposal to construct a high voltage transmission line from Wallerawang Power Station to the Liddell power line near the Putty Road. This traverses the north-east corner of Wollemi National Park. All three options go through Wollemi Wilderness.
1977 June 17-18: Culoul Range Shale Mining Inquiry by the State Pollution Control Commission (SPCC) rejects the proposal by Autobric Pty Ltd to mine two shale hilltops on Culoul Range.
September 6: Electricity Commission advises National Parks Association of its intention to build a power station near Birds Rock in Newnes State Forest. The 6,000 MW power station was to be the biggest in the world.

Associated with the proposed power station on Newnes Plateau, a 110 metre high dam is proposed for the Colo River near Boorai Creek. A three kilometre road along Boorai Ridge and a helipad was constructed. A track from the ridge to the Colo River is established and a flow meter constructed.

1982 In 1982 plans for a major export coal mine on the Newnes Plateau at Birds Rock were finally abandoned: as the main overseas investors, the Japanese companies Mitsui and Itoh, considered production costs too high; and because of faulting and bad roof problems. Although a great deal of coal is available in the Western Coalfield, outside the National Park, it will be difficult to avoid pollution entering streams that flow through the wilderness. In the Upper Wolgan Valley at the north-western end of the Newnes Plateau major cliff collapses, following long wall mine workings, have occurred at Agnus Place colliery to the south of Blackfellow's Hand Rock, and along Lambs Creek. Several other sections of the cliff nearby are cracked and faulted. Surface fissuring and cliff collapses have also occurred in the Baal Bone Colliery lease area. Interests associated with a large coal mining company have also purchased land in the Widden Brook area on the north western edge of the wilderness.
By 1984 there were three sand mining operations on the Newnes Plateau producing 250,000 tonnes of sand a year to supply Sydney and Blue Mountains demands for concrete. A further sand mine on the Plateau adjacent to the Birds Rock Flora Reserve, which could degrade water quality in the Wollangambe and Wolgan River, was proposed in 1990. The sand resources around Mellong Swamp to the east of the Wollemi Wilderness are also being exploited. Newnes Plateau contains a number of interesting shrub swamps that are also threatened with sand mining. Although outside the Wilderness Area, these proposals will also have significant potential to pollute streams, owing to the nature of mining and preparation of the sand for sale.

1992 March 17: Drilling for coal exploration near Mt Coricudgy reported.
1998 Drilling for coal exploration commences in the section of Newnes State Forest above the Wollangambe River, north east of the Clarence mining lease.
9 October: Centennial Coal purchases the Clarence Colliery. It removes the long wall mining machine that was causing damage to groundwater aquifers and surface catchment structures, due to the collapse of the supporting sandstone strata when the coal seam is extracted.
Initially, pollution was sporadic but the current pollution licence from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) allows disposal of up to 18 ML of mine effluent. The dissolved heavy metals, iron and manganese, in the effluent greatly exceed the Environment Protection Authority pollution levels. Dissolved oxygen in the river water is greatly depleted by the effluent, killing aquatic life. Further, the river bed has becomes very slippery as the effluent forms a slippery black sludge of heavy metals when it mixes with river water. If the pollution continues to spread downstream it could place visitors to Wollangambe Canyon at risk of accident, as sandshoes offer no effective grip when rocks are covered with this film.
Forestry
operations During the early 1940's Mount Coricudgy was made a flora reserve. Shortly afterwards, the broad summit of Mount Coricudgy on the western edge of the wilderness, was extensively logged for Ribbon Gum and Brown Barrel. The area has still not recovered. The eastern side of Mount Coricudgy was logged more recently. Isolated logging has occurred along ridges on the eastern side of the wilderness (e.g. Grassy Range) but most of the wilderness remains undisturbed.
A number of pine plantations have been established in the Newnes State Forest. This was preceded by extensive clearing and logging. Substantial quantities of poorly-reserved E. oreades on Newnes Plateau have been removed for pit props. Forestry operations in Wollemi National Park were allowed to continue for four years following the park's gazettal (e.g. on Tollagong Range), but these operations tended to avoid the wilderness area. Logging continues in the Putty State Forest, a new state forest established after the creation of Wollemi National Park.
Tourism In 1974 the Australian Government, through the Department of Urban and Regional Development, allocated funds to Colo Shire for completion of a Recreational Resources and Tourist Roads Study of the Shire. Major tourist development was proposed, including a bridge to span the Colo Gorge. These studies were undertaken by Planning Workshop Pty Ltd as part of the Western Region Area Improvement Programme.
HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:

1932 Myles Dunphy and the National Parks and Primitive Areas Council announces plans for a Greater Blue Mountains National Park with "Primitive Areas". This included a "Northern Division" comprising a large section of the Wollemi Wilderness.
1974 In response to major tourism developments by Colo Shire Council, the Colo Committee is formed at the Total Environment Centre to promote the idea of a Colo/Hunter Park to protect the largest wilderness area in the State and to campaign against the development threats posed to the area.
1976 Helman et al. Report identifies Colo/Hunter (Wollemi) as one of twenty areas which satisfied its definition of wilderness.
In consultation with the Colo Committee and other local environmental groups, the Colong Committee enlarges Dunphy's Northern Division, expanding the northern boundary by 60 km to the edge of the Goulburn and Hunter Valleys. Later the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and environmental groups decide to seek the reservation of the wilderness identified by the Helman Report.

1977 June 17-18: NPWS express interest in protecting Wollemi Wilderness at Culoul Range Shale Mining Inquiry.
1978 National Parks Association publishes a Colo Wilderness lobby book. Total Environment Centre publishes "Wilderness in Danger - a Case Study of the Northern Blue Mountains".
May 5: Dick Smith sponsors a full page advertisement in Sydney Morning Herald "Colo River - NSW's Lake Pedder".

Late 1978: Defence Department plans to upgrade the Wirraba Trail to a two-wheel drive standard.

1979 February: "Wilderness and Power - the Case against a Power Station on Newnes Plateau and Suggested Alternatives" is published.
November 3-4: Mr Neville Wran visits Canoe Creek and the Colo Gorge in the Wollemi Wilderness.

December 14: 453,500 ha Wollemi National Park gazetted. Originally the park was to be dedicated to 200 metres, but Wran overrode this proposal and the park was gazetted to the centre of the Earth.

1986 Wilderness Working Group, appointed by Minister for Planning and Environment, Bob Carr, release their report, naming Wollemi as one of thirty-six identified wilderness areas in NSW.
1988 NPWS Wollemi National Park Draft Plan of Management recommends gazettal of 200,000 hectares of Wollemi as wilderness. NPWS Blue Mountains National Park Draft Plan of Management recommends gazettal of 21,000 ha of Wollangambe Wilderness in the park, as a southern extension to the Wollemi Wilderness.
1989 Colong Foundation for Wilderness release "Blue Mountains for World Heritage", proposing 897,661 ha of the Blue Mountains to be recognised as a World Heritage Area.
1992 The Prime Minister and the Premiers of all Australian states, except Tasmania, sign National Forest Policy Statement. This Statement declares "until the assessments (of forests for conservation values) are completed, forest management agencies will avoid activities that may significantly affect those areas of old growth forest or wilderness that are likely to have high conservation value".
1993 21 September: Ministers for the Environment, Ros Kelly (Federal) and Chris Hartcher (State), support "Blue Mountains for World Heritage" listing.
1994 A preliminary assessment of the Colong Foundation’s 1989 "Blue Mountains for World Heritage" proposal by the National Herbarium identifies most of the Sydney Basin sandstone National Parks and adjoining areas as suitable for inclusion in a nomination boundary.
August: The previously unknown Wollemi Pine is discovered. It stands at 40 metres tall with a 3 metre girth and the species has survived for 150 million years. (SMH 14/12/94)

1995 10 October: The Colo Committee submits a nomination for the Wollemi Wilderness under section 7 of the Wilderness Act 1987.
1997 February: NPWS identified wilderness of 288,340 ha is exhibited for public comment together with an updated Draft Plan of Management for Wollemi National Park and Draft Recovery Plan for the Wollemi Pine. This plan states the objective "to protect and maintain the known populations of W. noblis from decline induced by non-natural sources and to ensure that the wild populations of the W. noblis remain viable in the long term".
September: The NPWS acquires the 200 ha Mt Cameron inholding with the Dunphy Wilderness Fund.

December: The Colong Foundation, in association with the Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association and The Wilderness Society submit the Wollemi Wilderness Plan to the Government. This outlines a proposal for a 402,000 ha wilderness and critiques the NPWS methodology for the Wollemi assessment, which was inconsistent with other wilderness assessments The Plan recommends the expansion of the Wollemi Wilderness to protect the Wollemi pine and the removal of stock and associated overburning for "green pick" that may be the cause of seedling failure.
1998 June: The State and Federal Governments lodge a nomination to UNESCO for World Heritage listing of the greater Blue Mountains. The nomination covers Blue, Mountains, Gardens of Stone, Kanangra Boyd, Nattai, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks.
2 October: The former Mt Cameron inholding is gazetted as part of Wollemi National Park.

1999 27 February: Wollemi willow control program initiated. The 1999 program focussed on mapping the willow infestations along the Colo River, with willows along 50 river kilometres poisoned.
5 March: Environment Minister, Pam Allan, declares approximately 361,000 ha as Wollemi Wilderness. Many of the areas recommended by the peak groups are included in this revised wilderness boundary, including the section of the park containing the Wollemi Pine. Coricudgy and Newnes State Forests are not included in the wilderness, but Coricudgy is to be favourably considered for reservation within 1 year.

Also in March, Centennial Colliery propose a Water Management Scheme to remove 14 ML of polluted mine effluent from the Wollangambe River to the Coxs River catchment via Farmers Creek.

THREATS:

Colo River Dams The Water Resources Commission in Hawkesbury River Basin Preliminary Water Plan (Sydney, 1984), p 16, located a number of possible dams sites along the Colo River within Wollemi wilderness for enlarging Sydney and Gosford-Wyong water supplies. Suggested sites included:-
Wheeny Creek: Dam wall 58 metres high, storage capacity 750,000 megalitres, yield 200,000 megalitres a year, cost $100 million;

Colo River: 21 km upstream of Wheeny Creek confluence, a weir to supply Gosford-Wyong area, that would severely affect the wilderness area; and

Colo Gorge: Near the Wolgan River and Wollemi Creek confluence, "several possible storage sites...one site is just downstream of the Wollemi Creek confluence".

Despite Water Resources Commission comments that it "has no plans for storages on the Colo River", it expresses the view that "There are many other possible storage sites on the Colo River and its upper tributaries, particularly the Wolgan and Capertee Rivers". The Plan also notes that "The Public Works Department may consider new storages on tributaries of the Colo River as an alternative source of supply for the Lithgow area".

The WRC is fully aware that the area "may be suitable for dams but their development would be a sensitive issue...would be detrimental to fish stocks and would be likely to seriously affect the fauna of the brackish and estuarine waters downstream". In its section on "Dams in National Parks" the Plan continues: "Initially it would be desirable that the National Parks and Wildlife Service consider whether dams, or parts of their storages, would really be totally unacceptable in National Parks". The Colo River, however, carries large amounts of sand, making dams less practical as it would rapidly fill with sediment.

Recommendations: Dams are unacceptable in National Parks. The environmental impact of dam building and maintenance is extensive, with destruction of sensitive stream and gorge habitats being the most obvious. Recommendations for alternative ways of meeting Sydney's water supply needs are given by Grunmuller and Bacher (1991) and Macquarie University Graduate School of the Environment (1992).

Off-road vehicles The use of 4WDs in wilderness areas is highly detrimental to the environment. Such vehicles introduce weeds, degrade walking tracks, cause large scale soil erosion (e.g. "the Face" on the Wirraba Trail), damage fragile ecosystems, act as barriers to some wildlife as well as allowing feral animals to penetrate the area more quickly. Once established, the tracks take years to revegetate. Off road vehicles often carry generators, firearms and dogs, which are also inconsistent with wilderness appreciation. The State Pollution Control Commission inquiry into the recreational use of off-road vehicles found that "the use of vehicles in areas of virgin country can cause immeasurable damage to flora and fauna, cutting deep impressions as vehicles tyre-spin their way to gain traction over rough terrain. Narrow trails are widened, hillsides are rut scarred, front-end winches ropescar and ruin vegetation, archaeological relics are damaged and the possibility of fires is increased from vehicles and the activities of users of vehicles."
The Hunter and Wirraba Tracks both bisect the declared wilderness. The 1997 Wollemi National Park Draft Plan of Management recommends the cessation of access along the sections of these trails within the wilderness. Both were included in the declared wilderness in March 1999 and remain as maintained fire management roads. The Wirraba trail provides access from the east to the private inholding of Gospers Mountain/Uraterer. In 1994 the Kerry Trail was unlawfully upgraded following the January fire emergency by a private landholder. The NPWS did not take legal action in the Land and Environment Court to require restoration of the park following the trail’s construction.

Recommendations: Vehicles should be excluded from wilderness areas. Except for fire trails in perimeter areas, trails constructed during fire fighting operations should be closed and rehabilitated immediately following the operation. Freehold parcels should be purchased by the NPWS with voluntary agreement of the owners.

Fire management Hazard reduction burning, spot burning and other methods of fire management can lead to wildfires, cause local extinction of fire-sensitive species', kill wildlife, and promote erosion and stream sedimentation. The Colo River has become silted up with sand since European occupation, most likely due to clearing, changed fire frequency, and the roading associated with these activities. Fires also destroys the old growth vegetation. Often it is these very oldest plants that provide most of the nesting and roosting places. The assertion that Australia’s forest land was once some sort of grassland, and that it should be burnt more often to mirror Aboriginal burning practices, is incorrect. Dr John Benson is adamant that "most forests and woodlands of Australia would not have been subject to frequent (less than ten-year) burns".
NPWS believes that 70% of all wildfires in Wollemi are human-caused. Despite the fact that fuel reduction burning is itself a cause of wildfires, park management continues to permit frequent burning of the park to reduce fuel loads in the wilderness.
Recommendations: Maintenance of management trails in wilderness areas does not comply with the management principles laid down in the Wilderness Act. The existing trails serve little purpose. The best prescription to avoid fires in wilderness areas is to confine management trails to the edge of the national park to control the spread of fire into the wilderness from outside. Where a fire occurs within a wilderness area it should be dealt with by remote area techniques or, if the risks are too great for this direct approach, control should be exercised from the relative safety of perimeter trails. External management trails can also be used to prevent fire spreading to adjoining areas.

Trails established during fire fighting emergencies should not be maintained but be ripped and revegetated. Where absolutely necessary, helicopter landing areas could be cleared for fire control purposes. Fuel-reduction burns should be undertaken where they are most effective, that is close to the assets being protected (eg. towns and rural districts). Most wildfires burn into parks, not the other way around, and broad-area control burns of wilderness are ineffective in controlling such external fires.

Effective fire fighting in wilderness requires constant aerial or satellite surveillance in bushfire danger periods to enable rapid detection and response. Such an approach eliminates the need for fire towers in wilderness areas. To effectively tackle fires in remote areas while they are still small, more fire fighters need to be trained as ‘smoke jumpers’ and helicopter crews.

The protection of wilderness values in fire management plans needs to be a priority. During fire emergencies bulldozers should not be allowed to scar the scenery by cutting fire control lines on steep slopes. All too often these measures fail to contain a wildfire. Decisions on damaging suppression practices should be addressed during management planning, not in a fire crisis.

Horse Riding The Bicentennial National Trail runs along the western edge of the wilderness entering the Wollemi National Park near Mt Gundangaroo and Mt Coorongooba. Horseriding use of the trail was established with no prior public consultation.
Horseriding damages wilderness values and its environmental impacts include: introduction of exotic weeds contained in droppings as seeds; soil compaction, erosion and widening of walking tracks; clearing associated with pickets and corral construction; and disturbance of native wildlife and wilderness solitude.

The passing of the Trail through wilderness areas is completely contrary to the promises given by the Bicentennial National Trail organisation that : "In all cases where the Trail passes through or near national parks, the route has been determined through consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to ensure that the Trail does not encroach on any existing or future Wilderness Areas" (emphasis added). The trail organisers also foreshadowed relocation of the trail from an area of St John’s Wort infestation at Sandy Camp.
Recommendations: That the National Trail be re-routed around the Wollemi National Park via Coxs Gap, Lee Creek and Growee to the west of the Bylong Laburinth, as recommended by the Wollemi Wilderness Plan.

Mining The Newnes Plateau is currently subject to coal mining enterprises which have resulted in hundreds of cliff collapses and pollution of the Wollangambe River. Clarence Colliery is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to extend the mining lease eastwards towards the Wollangambe River. The colliery installed a long wall mining machine in October 1993 that was subsequently pulled out of the mine after disastrous environmental impacts. Total extraction of the coal seam has caused surface subsidence of about two metres as the coal seam is almost completely removed. Most worrying is the destruction of ground water acquifers - a future source of fresh water. Areas such as the upland sphagnum swamps, pagodas and the spectacular cave overhangs at Gooches Crater could also be seriously damaged. Water pollution from the Clarence Colliery continues to increase with discharges of up to 18 megalitres daily.
The Plateau also faces further exploitation in the form of sandmining causing sediment pollution of the Wollangambe downstream.
Recommendations: No mining should be permitted in the NPWS identified Wollemi Wilderness. The effluent from the Clarence Colliery should be treated to meet Environment Protection Authority (EPA) standards and diverted to the Farmers Creek catchment to provide adequate environmental flows to the Coxs River via Lake Lyall, subject to a full environmental assessment and public review. Other mines should be prohibited from discharging polluted water to pristine streams (e.g. Springvale colliery’s daily discharge of 5 megalitres of polluted mine effluent to the headwaters of the Wolgan River must cease).

Agriculture Some of the western streams in Wollemi, especially the Capertee River, flow through extensive agricultural and pastoral areas. These waterways often carry excessive sediment loads due to land clearing in the catchment. Significant amounts of fertiliser also enter these streams which facilitates the spread of exotic weeds and trees (such as willow, poplars and castor oil plants).
Recommendations: The NPWS should hold discussions with the Catchment authorities, the Environmental Protection Authority, and other Government authorities to ensure appropriate catchment management for streams with catchments and headwaters within the park, to control pollution entering the Colo River system. Streambank protection schemes, such as those coordinated by Greening Australia should be encouraged, especially for the Capertee River. Exotic trees should be removed from these waterways.

The NPWS supported Willow eradication program, along the Wollemi River, should be supported by bushwalking and conservation groups (see contacts below).

Inholdings Inholdings are a frequent source of: fires; the spread of weeds; and feral animals within national parks. They are associated with illegal grazing of the adjoining national park and compromise wilderness values. Maintenance of such properties requires the upkeep of vehicle tracks which are inconsistent with appropriate wilderness management.
Recommendations: Acquisition of inholdings by the NPWS with the agreement of the owners should be negotiated and funded through the Dunphy Wilderness Fund. In the short term, local environmental plans, which include these inholdings, should be revised so as to prevent subdivision and land speculation. Gospers air strip should be rehabilitated to a wilderness condition as proposed in the Draft Plan of Management.

CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
2/332 Pitt Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Contact: Keith Muir (Director) Ph: (w) 02 9261 2400
FAX: 02 92995713
e-mail keith@colongwilderness.org.au

Colo Committee
C/- Haydn Washington
Lot 35 Widdon Trail
NULLO MOUNTAIN via RYLSTONE NSW 2849
Contact: Haydn Washington (Director) Ph: (h & FAX) 063 79 6257

RELEVANT CORRESPONDENCE:

See Colong Foundation Files:

Blue Mountains: Newnes, Plan of Management - Wollemi, Sand Mining, Blue Mountains - Gardens of Stone National Park.

RELEVANT ARTICLES:

Colong Foundation, Bulletin:

Colong Bulletin, 57, "Wran visit to Colo", p 1.

Colong Bulletin, 84, "Sand Mining at Bell".

Colong Bulletin, 101, March 1987, "The Wilderness Act", p 5-7.

Colong Bulletin, 107, March 1988, "Blue Mountains and Wollemi Draft Plans of Management", p 3.

Colong Bulletin, 131, March 1992, "The Wilderness (Declaration of New Areas) Bill", p 1.

Colong Bulletin, 137, March 1993, "Biodiversity", p 3-4.

Colong Bulletin, 138, May 1993, "Blue Mountains World Heritage Forum", p 3-5.

Colong Bulletin, 164, September 1997, "Blue Mountains for World Heritage" p5.

Colong Bulletin 167, March 1998, "Olympic Heritage", p9.

Colong Bulletin 169, July 1998, "A last! Blue Mountains Nominated for World Heritage Listing", p1; and also "Threats to the Blue Mountains National Park" p7.

Colong Bulletin 170, September 1998, "The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Nomination", p1.

Australian Conservation Foundation, Habitat:

Issue 5(3), (1977) The Colo. p 3-8.

Issue 7(4), (1979) Wollemi: A new park for all seasons, p 6.

See Also:

Washington H (1981) Colo Wilderness - a Wilderness Won? In Mosley, J G and Messer, J (eds) Fighting for Wilderness, Fontana/ACF, pp 23-44.

Copyright - The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd

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