Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Some thoughts of Barron Thurat Myles Dunphy

Myles Dunphy

(Editor’s note: ‘Barron Thurat’ was a pseudonym occasionally used by Myles Dunphy, most notably in The Katoomba Daily of August 24, 1934, when the local Blue Mountains newspaper included a ‘Blue Mountains National Park Special Supplement’ submitted by the National Parks and Primitive Areas Council. The following extracts are taken from this detailed and visionary prospectus.)
The sign of the axe
The task of subjugating wilderness is the past rightly was reckoned to be a manful job. Sturdy men and trusty axes, confronted with primeval bushland, steadily hewed a wide and wasteful way through it and out the other side. Later on, tree destruction became a kind of national complexus, it went altogether too far; it became spiteful. For some settlers the very zenith of land ‘improvement’ was a holding absolutely short of trees – a grassy desert. Rain-drags never were considered; wind-breaks rarely. Sometimes a settler – after much mind travail – might plant a couple of pine trees for a little shade which he thought his beasts might need.
In the early days, wilderness was considered to be Public Enemy No. 1. There were no half measures about the way our fathers dealt with land cover – or the creatures thereof. Tour the country now and grieve for some of the results. Progress here was built upon ten million log-fires, half a million bright-edged axes and a continuity of steady effort. We have to admire the energetic determination of our honoured progenitors, whilst wishing they had mixed a little more intelligence with their plain and fancy and all too proficient axe-work.
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