NSW WILDERNESS RED INDEX

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

NAME: Budawang
NOMINATED BY: Bushwalking & Mountaineering Club of the University of NSW (2/12/91). On 8 March 1993, Nature Conservation Council of NSW submitted a proposal for a similar area, with enlarged boundaries. The Nature Conservation Council proposal was used as the basis for the National Parks and Wildlife Service assessment. On 23 October 1996 an addition was nominated by Colong Foundation, Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs and The Wilderness Society for part of McDonald State Forest which had previously been excluded from the identified wilderness area due to claimed "management considerations".
LOCATION: 170km south of Sydney, 45km south west of Nowra and 90km east of Canberra.
SIZE: 98,560 ha (revised 1993 nomination)
1,276 ha (under investigation relating to 1996 nomination)
99,836 ha (total of 1993 and 1996 nominations)
80,605 ha (identified 1993)
TENURE Nominated Identified
Existing NPWS estate (Oct. 1993)
Morton National Park 56,621 ha 52,265 ha
Budawang National Park 16,077 ha 13,927 ha

New NPWS Estate (Oct. 1993 to Sept. 1999)
former State Forest 13,154 ha 13,154 ha
former freehold/leasehold land 264 ha 264 ha

Other tenure
State Forest 10,289 ha 0 ha
(State Forest 1996 nomination 1,276 ha under assessment)
Freehold land 794 ha 358 ha
Leasehold land 819 ha 540 ha
Vacant Crown land 542 ha 97 ha

Wilderness Declared:

Morton and Budawang National Park;

Size of nominated area: 81,710 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: 82%

Freehold (Voluntary conservation agreement);

Size of nominated area: 36 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: <1%

Wilderness Not Declared:

Morton and Budawang National Park;

Size of nominated area: 4,370 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: 4%

State Forest;

Size of nominated area: 11,565 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: 12%

Vacant Crown land;

Size of nominated area: 542 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: <1%

Leasehold land;

Size of nominated area: 819 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: 1%

Freehold land;

Size of nominated area: 794 ha
Percentage of 1993 and 1996 nominations: 1%

DESCRIPTION:

The oldest rocks in the area are Ordovician sediments. These rocks have been tightly folded and eroded during the Silurian period and unconformably overlain during the Devonian. An interesting phase in the history of the ever-changing landforms followed, producing an entrenched glacial valley about 230 metres deep in the Ordovician basement, which was subsequently filled with silt and coarse rock fragments during the late Carboniferous period (about 800 m years) and was eventually buried by Permian sediments. Remnants of these deposits can be seen as a steep conglomerate slope at the bottom of the lower cliff line below the Castle, Byangee Walls, Shrouded Gods Mountain and Pigeon House Mountain.

These mountain building processes and erosion of the mountains during the Carboniferous period, left terrestrial sediments filling a deep valley that had been excavated during the early part of this period. Alluvial deposits have accumulated along rivers in the vicinity during the Quarternary.

Basaltic extrusions occur as valley flows within some of the upper tributaries of the Endrick River towards the north-western corner of the wilderness. They have been dated at 45 million years (mid-Eocene Period) and demonstrate that the Endrick valley and adjacent streams are of very great age. The evidence emerging from studies of these basalts have implications for revision of scientific theories regarding rates of landform development on a world-wide basis, as erosion processes in the area are much slower than predicted by current geomorphological theory.

The Budawang Wilderness has a rich and varied flora consisting of over 700 species and a diverse pattern of plant communities.

On the Permian plateau the shallow soils and rocky exposures of Nowra Sandstone exhibit the same striking pattern of contour banding as found on the Ettrema Plateau to the north. There are, however, differences in species here with Common Fringe Myrtle (Calytrix tetragona) and ridged Heath Myrtle (Baeckea imbricata) forming the main constituent of the heath which fringes the bands of bare rock. A fringe of open sedgeland (characterised by Lepyrodia scariosa) also occurs, often merging with the heath. A tall shrubland (characterised by Casuarina distyla) occurs in the next band and then an open scrub community dominated by the Port Jackson Mallee (Eucalyptus obtusifolia). The outer edge of the banding is usually marked by a narrow line of small trees of Black Ash (E. seiberi) or Mottled Gum (E. mannifera ssp maculosa). There is some indication that higher soil moisture conditions may prevail in this more southerly example of contour banding.

A common feature of the sandstone plateau from Sassafras to the Castle (including the mesa tops), and in the broad "Devonian" quartzite valleys at the head of the Corang River, is a woodland/sedgeland community of Mottled Gum and understorey characterised by Lepyrodia scariosa. The Mottled Gum is also a feature of the undulating and hilly country on the western side of the wilderness from the Endrick River to the foot slopes below Mt. Currockbilly. These western occurrences have other eucalypts associated with the Mottled Gum and the sedgeland understorey is absent.

Open forest characterised by Red Bloodwood (E. gummifera) occupies many of the west facing terraces below the uppermost cliff-line of the Permian plateau. Often associated with the Red Bloodwood is the Black Ash which is a widespread dominant species on the well-drained slopes below cliff-lines, on well-drained ridge-tops and on steep metamorphic ridges in the south.

On the basalt flows of the upper Endrick tall open forests are found, characterised by Narrow-leafed Peppermint (E. radiata), while on the Sassafras basalt Brown Barrel (E. fastigata) is a feature of the tall open forest. The Brown Barrel is also found to the south on steep narrow slate ridges in association with Yellow Stringbark (E. muelleriana). Yellow Stringybark is also a feature of the slopes of the Clyde and Holland Gorges and upper slopes below the cliffs of the Castle, Byangee Walls and Pigeon House Mountain.

A tall open forest association of Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), Urn-fruited peppermint (E. piperita ssp. urceolaris) and Red Bloodwood occurs on upper slopes in the north and undulating hilly areas in the south-east. The understorey is variable and rainforest species are common in gullies. Most accessible stands have been logged.

Rainforests characterised by Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum) and Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras) occur on the basalt flows at the Vines, below the cliff-line on the western side of the Clyde Gorge near Newhaven Gap, at heads of gullies and in deep crevasses (e.g. Monolith Valley).

Cool temperate rainforests occur at high altitudes on the southern Budawang Range and are characterised by Pinkwood or Plumwood (Euchryphia moorei). This is a distinctively southern escarpment species and is on the State’s rare and threatened plants list.

More than 20 rare and threatened plant species occur throughout the wilderness, including the endemic Pigeon House Ash (E. triflora) and Budawang Ash (E. dendromorpha) which has its main occurrence at Folly Point and on the Southern Budawang Range. The rare shrub Budawangia gnidioides, endemic to Morton National Park, is found in rock overhangs within the area.

The fauna of the Budawangs is basically southern, with some representation of species that are more common further north, as a result of the presence of warm temperate rainforest.

Mammal species of note include the Native cat (Dasyurus viverrinus), Koala (Phascolarctos cinerius), Long-nosed Potoroo (Potorus tridactylus) and Platypus (Ornirynchus anatinus). The area contains possibly 147 bird species, 38 species of reptile and 20 species of amphibian.

Birds which are particularly abundant include the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Superb Fairy-wren and White-throated Needletail. Rare species include the Little Eagle, Eastern Bristlebird and Ground Parrot, whilst the Origma (or Rock Warbler) and Calamanthus (or Striated Field-wren) are at or near the limits of their range in the Budawangs.

The Australian Grayling (Prototractes maraena) (Australia's most endangered freshwater fish) has been found in the Clyde River.

LAND USE HISTORY:

Aboriginal The earliest human occupants of the Budawang Wilderness were organised in two tribes; the Wandandian's to the north of Pigeon House Mountain and the Walbanja's to the south of this prominent feature.

The archaeological record reveals widespread and, in specific locations, intense Aboriginal occupation of the area. Occupation deposits in rock shelters and in open campsites, plus axe-grinding grooves are the most commonly recorded sites, with the latter being the most obvious. Most visitors to this wilderness walk over and camp on occupation deposits oblivious to the significance of the rich history below their feet. Art sites and stone arrangements are infrequent, but attract more attention than any other sites. They are also the most fragile relics.

The distribution of shelters and open campsites indicates many probable access routes by aboriginal people into and through this wilderness country. To quote Snedden "It seems clear from the sites that the numerous valleys which can be entered from the south-western corner and the western sides (ie., Corang, Wog Wog and Endrick) have provided access" and "The valley of Yadboro River is a known access route and once on the Pigeon House Plateau the way is clear to Tianjara Plateau via Wombat Ridge or across Jindelara Creek to the coast."

Until recently the oldest site dated in the wilderness was 3500 - 4000 years old. A more recent dating (1992) has pushed the antiquity of human occupation back to 10,600 - 11,200 years ago. Given that sites near the coast, immediately east of this rugged upland and to the north in the Blue Mountains, extend back 20,000 years, it is reasonable to assume that Aboriginal occupation of the Budawangs may extend even further back into the past than so far recorded.

Grazing and
farming
The Nerriga area was first settled by Europeans in 1824, and it was from here that rough grazing was extended up the Corang and Endrick valleys and still continues there.

Sassafras, in the northern corner of the Wilderness Area was established as a settlement in 1856 and became the main access point to Nerriga, replacing the Old Wool Road.

In 1865 David Warden of Ulladulla selected the Yadboro homestead, to the west of Pigeon House and on the boundary of the current Wilderness Area.

Further settlement occurred in the 1890s with the Quilty brothers, who constructed a pass to the top of Quiltys mountain, where they grazed stock. A substantial clearing to the north of the mountain, associated with the brothers, is now contained within the national park. At the turn of the century a further clearing, known as The Vines, was established on Vines Creek 5km south east of Quiltys Clearing. Grazing subsequently occurred from Wog Wog Mountain to Mount Sassafras. A further grazing property was established around Corang Peak by the Goodsel family before the end of the century.

Mining In 1883 George Webb and William Rixon of Yadboro Flat discovered coal in the Upper Clyde Gorge. Mining was considered and numerous leases were taken up in 1888 and 1889 in the Tianjara area, but came to nothing due to inaccessibility and the irregularity of seam thickness.

In 1889 alluvial gold was discovered west of the Wilderness Area on the banks of the Clyde River, 4km below Brooman and in 1891 at the headwaters of the Bimberamala River. Mining continued intermittently until 1915.

In 1898 copper was discovered on the Budawang Range near Mount Clyde, but has never been exploited.

About 3,000 ha surrounding Mount Tianjara were excluded from the Government gazettal of 15,000 ha of land on Tianjara Plateau to Morton National Park in April 1981 because of mining objections. It was claimed that coal seams were present, underlying the Permian sandstone, although present indications for mining are not very good.

Dams The Shoalhaven Shire Council constructed a dam on the Little Porter Plateau, south of Mount Bushwalker (contained within Morton National Park) in 1967 to supply water to Milton and Ulladulla.
Logging Timber cutting began in the Corang and Endrick valleys in the early 1900's.
1913 Nomchong of Braidwood opens a sawmill on the northern side of the junction of Vines Creek and Endrick River to provide beams for the construction of gold dredges. Further mills were established at Shallow Crossing (closed ca. 1945) and Brooman (burned down in the mid 1960's).
1920s Foresters camp established at The Vines. A new road is cut to service the mill. This was to operate until the 1950's, when timber supplies in the Upper Clyde headwaters became exhausted. In 1957 the area was devastated by fires and the mill was burned down.

During this period the Forestry Commission begins extending its control of the forests in the Upper Clyde Basin.

1940s Crawler tractors were introduced for snigging logs and road building commences.
1974 Introduction of 4WD tractors allows logging to penetrate into the steeper country west of the Clyde, including the section of Yadboro State Forest within the Wilderness Area.
1983 Management Plan renews annual sawlogging quota from Yadboro and the other State Forests of the Foothills and Coastal Working Circles at 19,640 cubic metres per annum, with additional discretionary allocations for "other timber products". Pulping of timber is permitted as a by-product of other uses, but felling of trees specifically for pulpwood is not permitted.

Companies utilising timber include Allen Taylor and Company and the Batemans Bay Sawlogging Company, who handle some 44,300 cubic metres of timber a year. Mining timber for pit props and other purposes is also extracted from the area for the Southern Coalfields.

The entire timber industry workforce relying on logging of State Forests in the Batemans Bay Management Area in 1983 was 152. Eighty of these worked in sawmills.

Between 1970 and 1983 212,349 cubic metres of timber were cut from these forests, yielding 184,819 cubic metres of sawlogs.

Military aircraft Powerful Naval aircraft, such as jet aircraft and helicopters, from HMAS Albatross use the Budawang Wilderness as a "designated low-flying training area" (Airspace Danger Area 423). This allows military aircraft to fly down to 50 feet above the ground, destroying the natural quiet of the area.
Tianjara artillery range The army undertook bombing exercises on the Tianjara plateau between 1943 and 1974. An Army range was officially designated over Vacant Crown Land in December 1959. The area has suffered from blast damage, a proliferation of trails, erosion of these trails and damage to natural areas off the trails by all-terrain vehicles and other military activities. This has created a littered landscape of target debris and unexploded ordinances. This Vacant Crown Land was added to the Park in two stages (in 1981 and 1983), although the army continued some training exercises up until the late 1980s.
Nerriga Road and
the Eastern
Gas Pipeline
May 1998: Main Road 92 from Nowra to Nerriga proposed by the Howard Government as a road of "national significance." The proposal would upgrade the existing dirt road to a 40 metre wide bitumen highway, increasing the number of road kills in the area and requiring the revocation of part of the Budawang Wilderness. On May 14 the $92 million dollar proposal is shelved due to lack of Federal Government finance.

1998: The Eastern Gas pipeline development proposal is approved, originally to be within the existing Nerriga Road easement next to the wilderness. An alternative proposal was developed that would involve realigning the road and the pipeline within the Morton National Park. The pipeline construction is now being undertaken and is likely to introduce exotic weeds, such as broom bush, due to the associated soil disturbance.

HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:

1937 Myles Dunphy, Secretary of National Parks and Primitive Areas Council (NPPAC), suggests "The Clyde - Budawang Proposal" in a letter to The Parks and Playgrounds Movement of NSW. This including the Budawang Range, Clyde Mountain, Quiltys Mountain, the plateau and sedgelands and Pigeon House.
1943 NPPAC formally submits Clyde - Budawang National Park to the Department of Lands, along with Snowy - Indi National Park, Beecroft Peninsula (Jervis Bay) Primitive Reserve and Shoalhaven Gorge Primitive Reserve.
1961 NSW Federation of Bushwalking Clubs submits its Budawang National Park Proposal, basing its delineation on a map drafted in 1960 by local bushwalker and conservationist George Elliott.
1962 National Parks Association of NSW submits a proposal to the Government for a park encompassing the Shoalhaven - Clyde Rivers area, including the Budawang Range to Clyde Mountain.

Undersecretary of Lands responds by promising a review of the situation in five years, creating an excuse for inaction.

1965 A committee, later to become The Budawang Committee, is formed to further explore the area and collect historical and topographical information.

Plans for a caravan park on the Clyde Mountain successfully blocked by conservation groups.

1967 National Parks and Wildlife Act passed. Morton Primitive Reserve becomes a national park and the campaign for the Budawangs intensifies.
1970 In an attempt to accommodate the views of land holders, logging interests and conservationists, Morton National Park is extended south past Sassafras to Pigeon House, The Castle, part of the Scenic Rim and Wog Wog Mountain. The park extension does not include the Corang Peak property and accordingly the problems of access through Wog Wog continue. The boundary extensions also omit the Upper Corang and Endrick Rivers, Corang Peak, Yadboro and the Army Artillery Range.
1976 Helman et al. Report identifies Budawang as one of twenty areas which satisfied its definition of wilderness.
1977 Budawang National Park of 13,000 ha gazetted - a far cry from the proposed 127,000 ha of wilderness identified in 1943.
1978 Morton National Park of 107,026 ha is placed on the Register of the National Estate.
1981 15,000 ha of Crown Land on the Tianjara Plateau added to Morton National Park.

Budawang National Park placed on the Register of the National Estate.

Budawang National Park increased in size to 16,102 ha.

A study of recreational use of the Budawangs estimated that 5,900 people visited the wilderness annually.

1982 14,000 ha of Vacant Crown Land around Corang and Wog Wog added to Morton National Park.
1983 4,200 ha on Tianjara Plateau and upper Clyde River added to Morton National Park, taking in Rixon's mine.
1986 Wilderness Working Group, appointed by Minister for Planning and Environment, release their report, naming Budawang as one of thirty-six identified wilderness areas in NSW.
1987 An internal NPWS report proposed the Clyde River as one of the two wild and scenic rivers for NSW.
1991 Budawang Wilderness nominated by Bushwalking and Mountaineering club of the University of NSW (2/12/91).
1992 April: Terry Metherell MLA (Ind) (former Liberal Member for Davidson), holding joint balance of power in NSW with non-aligned independents, announces on 13/2/92 his Wilderness (Declaration of New Areas) Bill 1992 which includes Budawang, less any freehold or Crown leasehold land, for protection as wilderness under existing legislation.

Metherell's Bill is a crucial factor in triggering the decision by the Minister for Environment, Tim Moore, to announce on 9/4/92 a public exhibition and submission process from 21/6/93 to 21/10/93 for an National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) assessment report of the nominated wilderness (and similarly with different dates for twenty two other wilderness areas in NSW). The Metherell Bill is shelved at the close of 1992 following Metherell's resignation from Parliament but the wilderness assessment reports were eventually published in a manner similar to the timetable laid out by Mr Moore.

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 8 March: The Nature Conservation Council with the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs submits a wilderness nomination for Budawang and Ettrema with the endorsement of the original nominating group and covering a more extensive area outside Morton and Budawang National Parks. This nomination became the basis of the NPWS assessment.

21 June: NPWS Assessment Report on Budawang Wilderness and Ettrema Wilderness is released. This report identifies an area of 80,605 ha as wilderness. The report considers Budawang Wilderness and Ettrema Wilderness to be essentially a contiguous wilderness, but separated from one another by a major road. The assessment report recommends that Ettrema and Budawang Wilderness be combined and declared under the provisions of Section 8 of the Wilderness Act as one wilderness area; the Ettrema/Budawang Wilderness.

The assessment report also recommends that the Headwaters of the Clyde River be dedicated as a Wild and Scenic River under Section 67 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

September: The Fahey Government rejects the option of wilderness declaration.

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, including Morton, as suitable for inclusion in a nomination boundary.
22 September: Bob Carr, then Leader of the Opposition, censures the Premier for breaching it's promises on wilderness and commits NSW Labor to the declaration of twelve new wilderness areas.
1995 March 10: The NSW Labor Party releases its wilderness policy which commits it to declaring seven new wilderness areas, including Budawang, and nine wilderness additions in the first year of government.

May: Labor Government ceases logging in all NPWS identified wilderness areas.

August: Budawang identified wilderness placed on public exhibition for a second time.

1996 April: Government declares 68,000 ha of the Morton and Budawang National Parks as wilderness, with a further 400 ha of park to be declared along the Newhaven Gap road once alternative camping and track head facilities are established. The area of park to the east of the Tianjara trail is not declared as wilderness and the trail remains open to abuse by 4WD vehicles.

July: 1,704 ha of the former Yadboro State Forest is declared wilderness.

9th August: 112 ha of land acquired at Claydon Creek is declared.

30th August: 36 ha of freehold land at Plumwood Mountain is declared as wilderness under a wilderness agreement between the NPWS and landholder, Dr Val Plumwood. This is the first such agreement over wilderness lands in NSW.

October: Nomination under section 7 of the Wilderness Act submitted by Colong Foundation, Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs and The Wilderness Society for 18 wilderness additions or new areas, provisionally identified through the Forestry Interim Assessment Process (IAP), including 1,276 ha of McDonald State Forest proposed as an addition to the Budawang Wilderness.

December: The Forestry Revocation Act (1996) is passed by State Parliament, adding 7,630 ha of identified wilderness in State Forests to Budawang National Park and 4,130 ha to Morton National Park.

1997 September: 400 ha surrounding and including the Newhaven Gap road is declared wilderness as foreshadowed in the April 1996 announcement.
1998 29th April: In order to meet the June 1998 deadline for submission of the nomination to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Community Reference Committee for the Blue Mountains World Heritage nomination adopts a core area which excludes the outlying plateau areas of Morton National Park and Metropolitan Water Catchments.

May: declaration by Minister for the Environment of 11,450 hectares of former State Forest as part of Budawang Wilderness.

July: Bendalong and District Association produce the Greater Conjola National Park proposal which extends west of the Princes highway through the nominated wilderness to join Morton National Park at its escarpment boundary.
August: NPWS release draft plan of management for the Morton and Budawang National Parks. The draft plan proposes to confine vehicle access to the periphery of the park and limit private vehicles to public roads. However, a controlled access system of Tianjara Plateau has been proposed that would give 4WD clubs privileged access to the area. The draft plan notes: damage to walking tracks and popular camp sites on the Budawang Range, especially near the Castle; release of pigs; and unauthorised stock grazing as issues requiring management actions.
21 August: The NPWS acquires a 152 ha property on Corang Peak in the Budawang Wilderness using the Dunphy Fund. Nearly all of the acquisition costs for this purchase were donated back to the NPWS by the Budawang Committee via the Dunphy Fund.
1999 19 March: The Carr Government presents its wilderness policy to environment groups. The Government commits to complete and exhibit the assessment of Budawang addition of 3,100 ha in the McDonald State Forest by the end of 1999 and determine area for declaration by the end of 2000.

28 May: The 156 ha former leasehold land on Corang Peak is added to Morton National Park and Budawang Wilderness.

31 May: The National Parks and Wildlife Service undertake an assessment of wilderness values in the southern forest regions. This includes the area of State Forest nominated in 1996 and other adjacent parts of the Conjola Creek catchment in the McDonald State Forest. The total assessment area is 3,100 ha.

THREATS:

Most threats are associated with current and proposed logging operations in Croobyar, Jerrawangala, Macdonald, and Yerriyong State Forests. Inappropriate tourist facilities and developments within the declared wilderness are emerging as long term threats to the area.

Forestry operations The environmental impacts of logging are well documented. Logging results in: soil compaction and erosion; impaired potable water supplies; escaped regeneration burns and excessive production of CO2; introduction of noxious weeds and dieback, loss of biomass, destruction of flora and fauna; and general ecosystem degradation.
Recommendations: Logging should cease in the portions of Croobyar, Jerrawangala, Macdonald, and Yerriyong State Forests which are contained within the wilderness area and its nominated additions, and the affected areas allowed to regenerate to a wilderness condition.
Trails and Fire Management There are a number of trails and roads within Yadboro Sate Forest. The most significant is the Western Distributor Road, which constrains the eastern boundary of the wilderness. Two all weather, loose surface, logging operation feeder roads, Dingo and Fault line, are contained within the wilderness section of the State Forest, as are the Boundary, Stony Creek and Belowra Fire Trails. The last three fire trails were constructed ca. 1983 as part of the forestry operations planned for the area.

Several fire trails are also contained within the Morton and Budawang National Parks section of the wilderness. These are: Tianjara Fire Trail (18km); Endrick Fire Trail, part of which caused a further excision and which currently bisects the northern end of the wilderness (approx. 15km) and the Square Top Mountain Trail (approx. 10km). A number of these trails were originally made and used by graziers to facilitate burning off. This led to a number of associated wildfires.

The environmental impacts of trails on wilderness areas are well known. These include: soil compaction and erosion; weed introduction and dissemination by NPWS and other vehicles; facilitating the ingress of feral animal; assisting arsonists to light wildfires in remote areas; rubbish dumping; and other adverse environmental impacts related to off-road vehicle use and horseriding.

The Endrick and Square Top trails offer very little fire protection value and detract most significantly from wilderness values. They must be closed to all vehicle use. The 4WD club controlled vehicle access system for Tianjara Plateau, proposed in the 1998 draft plan of management, would increase soil erosion and damage to upland swamps in the area, as well as increasing management costs due to maintenance of these fire trails.

A number of major bushfires have affected the area since European occupation. There have been 4 major fires in this wilderness during the 1980's. One severely burnt out the Corang/Wog Wog vacant Crown Land in 1980 (a then proposed addition to Morton National Park) and was an illegal burn-off escape. A fire on the Tianjara Plateau was lit by fire authorities in an ill-considered attempt to stop the Corang/Wog Wog fire and was instrumental in burning out the heathlands of the Plateau north of the Devils Pinch and west of the Tianjara Trail. Another fire in the same year in the Belowra Creek area was a result of a series of deliberate lightings, ostensibly to encourage 'green pick' for illegal grazing. A fourth fire originated from a series of fires lit in the Clyde Gorge near Claydon's Creek in 1988. This fire burnt out all of the parkland east of the Clyde Gorge, north of the Pigeon House Trail, south of Mt. Tianjara and west of the Tianjara Trail. With the exception of some minor spot-overs, this major wildfire was prevented from leaving the wilderness.

In 1994, in the wake of a summer fire emergency in other parts of the State, the NPWS undertook a major upgrade of the Endrick fire trail south-west of Newhaven Gap, causing substantial disturbance in the identified wilderness through unnecessary widening, gravelling work and bridge construction. Several trails within the wilderness have been upgraded including the Gulf Trail, Webbs Trail, Square Top Mountain Trail, Round Mountain Trail, Alum Creek, Wombat Ridge, Pigeon House North and Tianjara Trail.

Recommendations: Maintenance of management trails in wilderness areas does not comply with the management principles laid down in the Wilderness Act. 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. Except for fire trails in perimeter areas, trails constructed during fire fighting operations should be closed and rehabilitated immediately following the operation.

The existing trails that serve little management purpose should be rehabilitated so that the number of kilometres of fire trail diminishes over time. The wilderness area is currently surrounded by perimeter trails and these should be adequate. The best prescription to avoid fires in wilderness areas is to confine management trails to the edge, to prevent the spread of fire from outside.

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. When absolutely necessary, helicopter landing areas could be cleared for fire control. If the risks are too great for this direct approach, control should be exercised from the relative safety of the perimeter trails. External management trails will prevent it spreading to adjoining areas.

Inholdings A number of other inholdings are causing management problems for the area. Burning off at Sassafras has been the cause of bushfires and Yadboro, The Castle and Monolith Valley confines are being increasingly visited by the general public with no adequate management.

The Yadboro property represents probably the greatest threat to the wilderness. It is situated in a critical position for control of access. Its current uses, allowing cattle, 4-wheel drive vehicles and horses to enter the Clyde Gorge, and its potential uses, e.g. sophisticated tourist development encouraging high tech. organised tourist activities in the park, threaten to take away the NPWS's capacity to establish an appropriate management regime.

The arguments are similar, but not quite so critical, for the inholding along the Endrick River.

Recommendations: The presence of blocks of land within national parks or at critical locations on the perimeter of national parks where use or management compromise or threaten the values of the park is not tenable. The threatening activities must cease or the land be purchased.

Water supply The Southern Shoalhaven Water Supply Strategy produced by the Department of Public Works in 1974 proposes a water supply on the Clyde River near Yadboro to supply the coastal villages around Ulladulla.

Recommendations: Water catchment and wilderness management need to be integrated to ensure protection of catchment and wilderness quality within the Clyde River Valley.

Welcome Reef
Dam
Welcome Reef Dam is a proposed storage lake located on the Shoalhaven River, 60 kilometres east of Canberra and 210 kilometres south of Sydney. It is envisaged that construction would need to start in the next 30 years depending on demand.

While raised water levels would not directly affect the Budawang Wilderness, road upgrading in the area would cause increased access to Budawang and encourage property speculation and higher land values, making it more difficult for NPWS to acquire additional land in the future. In particular, the Nowra-Braidwood road would be upgraded, and as the Nerriga-Braidwood road is cut by rising water, the Charley's Forest road would be upgraded, providing increased access to the western side of Budawang National Park .

Recommendations: A convincing argument against the Welcome Reef Dam Proposal, and 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).

Two Rivers Walk The Shoalhaven office of Labour Market Adjustment obtained federal tourism grants in 1995 for the establishment of a signposted walking track from the Shoalhaven River at Coolandel to the Clyde River at Yadboro. Much of the route passes through the NPWS identified Ettrema and Budawang Wilderness Areas, in addition to threatened species habitat. Several new sections of constructed track or major upgrades of low key "foot pads" to formal tracks are required, including in the Budawang Wilderness.

Long distance walking tracks represent a form of tourist infrastructure. They are, at least in part, contrary to the aims of wilderness management for the maintenance of opportunities for solitude and self reliant recreation.

Recommendation: The Two Rivers Walk, and further proposals such as the Great Eastern Centenery Track, should be routed so as to avoid all declared and identified wilderness.

CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs NSW
GPO Box 2090
Sydney NSW 2001

Contact: John Macris (Conservation Officer) Ph: 02 9526 7363
e-mail jmacris@amaze.net.au

National Parks Association of NSW
PO Box A96
Sydney South NSW 2000
Contact: Roger Lembit (President) Ph: 02 9781 9710
e-mail gingra@ozemail.com.au

The Wilderness Society
Wollongong/Illawarra Branch
133 Kiera Street
WOLLONGONG NSW 2500
Contact Paul Dickson Ph: 02 4226 2530
Fax: 02 4225 7024
e-mail wollongong@wilderness.org.au

RELEVANT ARTICLES:

Bulletin 138, May 1993, p 6, "Unwelcome Reef Dam".

Bulletin 140 , September 1993, p8, "The NCC Submission on Ettrema and Budawang Wilderness Assessment Reports".

Bulletin 159 November 1996, p7, "Major advances in Wilderness and Forest Protection".

Bulletin 172 January, 1999, p6, "Morton and Budawang Management Dilemmas".

RELEVANT CORRESPONDENCE:

National Parks and Wildlife Service, 17 March 1995, Re: Fire trail maintenance within Morton National Park, to Colong Foundation.

Colong Foundation, 10 November, 1998, Submission to the NPWS of the Morton and Budawang Draft Plan of Management.

National Parks Association of NSW, December 1998, Submission to the NPWS of the Morton and Budawang Draft Plan of Management.

Return to NSW Wilderness Index