The Gardens of Stone, so close to its counterpart, the sparkling urban landscape of Sydney, is a wonderful part of the Australian Bush. Its more spectacular and more accessible than just about any other large tract of bushland, yet its just off the tourist track.
Here, on the Western side of the Blue Mountains, near the historic town of Lithgow, is a playground for bushwalkers, rock climbers and camping families who regularly visit to see:
- Rare landforms such as pagodas, montane sand dunes and highland swamps, cliffs, natural arches, waterfalls, slot canyons, gorges and large caverns;
- Threatened plants and animals and rare vegetation communities, including two critically endangered animals that are restricted to the swamps; and
- Many Aboriginal rock art and other sites dating back thousands of years.
Yet this landscape of unsurpassed beauty and unique plant and animal communities is under threat.
About 40,000 hectares of our unique pagoda bush garden is unprotected and exposed to continuous threats from mining. Several coal mines in the region have already degraded the rivers and swamps of the Gardens of Stone, and if business out here continues as usual it is only a matter of time before the damage is beyond redemption. The area is currently State Forest and does not receive effective management of its many values.
The Gardens of Stone Alliance of environment groups is leading a campaign to reserve the Newnes Plateau and other sandstone uplands adjoining National Parks. Only when reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act will its beauty, its unique ecosystems and its value as a recreational haven for visitors be protect in perpetuity. And it is unique, many of its values are not protected in parks, such as the best representation of pagoda landscapes, rare montane sand dunes and peat swamps.
There are a number of threats to the conservation of the Gardens of Stone. The most significant impact is coal mining which in turn affects water quality in a significant part of the region, causes cliff collapses, pagoda cracking and swamps to dry up.