Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The Dunphy Wilderness Fund

Established in September 1996 by the NSW Government to celebrate the contribution made by Myles and Milo Dunphy to conservation, the Dunphy Wilderness Fund provides a million dollars per annum for the purchase of private and leasehold lands within NPWS identified wilderness areas.

In 1997, the Carr Government enshrined the family wilderness partnership of Myles and his son Milo Dunphy into legislation by a minor amendment to the Wilderness Act.

The Dunphy Wilderness Fund has significantly improved the protection of wilderness areas in NSW. By 2007, the Fund had acquired 60 properties for $11 million, protecting about 76,934 hectares including key areas of Mummel Gulf, Guy Fawkes, Washpool and Tuggolo wilderness areas. The average land purchase price was $143 per hectare.

In the last ten years, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife has raised $1.5M for wilderness acquisition in NSW. The Budawang Committee contributed over $73,000 for the acquisition of Crown leasehold lands at Corang Peak in the Budawang wilderness. Two women - Catherine Clare White and Genevieve Little - made generous bequests. These gifts enabled the purchase of 1,846 hectares near Sassafras adjacent to the Ettrema Wilderness and 240 hectares with a four kilometre frontage to the Endrick River adjacent to the Budawang Wilderness. The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife also undertook a major fundraising campaign to protect 13,000 hectares of the Macleay Gorges Wilderness at Green Gully.

Areas of the most significant acquisitions include Guy Fawkes (over 24 000 ha), Macleay Gorges (over 24000 ha), Ettrema wilderness (2500 ha) and Washpool wilderness (2700 ha).

Other areas where the Dunphy Wilderness Fund has been used to acquire land include:

  • Southern NSW: Brogo, Budawang and Deua West;
  • Central eastern NSW: Nattai, Kanangra, Wollemi and Yengo; and
  • Northern NSW: Levers, Timbarra, Tuggalo, Willi Willi, Cataract and Cathedral Rock.

The Dunphy Wilderness Fund is currently without Government funding.

NSW environment groups are seeking a new allocation of Government funding of $15 million over 5 years for the Dunphy Wilderness Fund to build on the work of the last ten years. These funds would be sufficient to acquire 200,000 ha of wilderness-quality private land.

In the United States philanthropists have played a crucial role in protecting wilderness areas.

The first park east of the Mississippi River was the first park created solely by 'land' donors. The initial US national park purchase of 5,000 acres by John D. Rockerfeller in 1916 secured the core of the Acadia National Park. In the 1920s Rockerfeller helped fund land-acquisition of the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah and Blue Ridge National Parks and acquisition of additions to Yellowstone National Park were also made (the Grand Teton National Park). Another prominent philanthropist was Percival P. Baxter of Maine. He purchased 202,000 acres to create the Baxter State Park surrounding Mt Katahdin. The donor attached one condition to his gift; the requirement that the park remain for all time inviolate from mechanical intrusions. At a little nook in the park called Thoreau Spring there is now a bronze plaque which recites Percy Baxter’s creed:

"Man is born to die. His works are short-lived. Buildings crumble. monuments decay, wealth vanishes, but Katahdin in all its glory forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine" (quoted in Udall, S. (1964) Crisis, Avon Books, New York).

Wilderness supporters in NSW can still bequest a green legacy for future generations and for nature through the Colong Foundation for Wilderness. With your support our wilderness vision  can be achieved. Simply make a donation to the Colong Foundation. Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible.