Welcome to part three of the 50 years of National Parks series celebrating that 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
It’s a special time in the organisation’s history and a great opportunity to celebrate what has been achieved over the past five decades.
Over the coming weeks additional articles of the five part series will be published by the Gloucester Advocate online to help celebrate the anniversary with 50 interesting things about the national parks of Barrington Tops and the NPWS.
10 more interesting things:
21. Early settlers used the Barrington plateau for summer grazing and a permanent residence was established on the ‘Edwards Plain’ in 1856. Edwards Hut was used for 90 years until it was destroyed by fire in 1944. The remains of Edwards Hut have been found and NPWS has placed signs at the site compiled with help from the Edwards family. In 1872, 1100 head of cattle perished in freezing conditions on the plateau.
22. The area’s steep escarpment and gorges are the result of long term erosion following two periods of volcanic activity – one about 300 million years ago and another 35 million years ago.
23. The eastern quoll - a relative of the spotted tailed quoll which is often seen in the local area - is a native marsupial carnivore believed to be extinct on the Australian mainland. The last confirmed record was from 1963, until recently when a taxidermied eastern quoll was handed in to NPWS in Gloucester. The quoll was reported to have been found dead on Barrington Tops in 1989, suggesting that eastern quolls survived here for decades longer than previously thought. It raises hope that they might persist in Barrington Tops National Park where NPWS is currently surveying for the species.
24. Another native marsupial carnivore, the threatened brush-tailed phascogale, is ‘pound-for-pound’ one of the Barrington Tops’ most voracious hunters. This unusual creature is about the size of a large rat with a distinctive “bottle-brush” tail, and is not uncommon in the area.
25. A population of the endangered broad-toothed rat is the only population outside the Australian Alps. With a diet consisting mostly of snow-grass, this native rat can eat half its body weight in food every day. Global warming is a concern for the survival of this species.
26. Dieback associated with the over-abundance of bell miners (bellbirds) is currently spreading through Barrington Tops eucalypt forests. The bell miners are territorial and can drive out other birds that normally prey on the sap-sucking psyllid insects that attack eucalypt leaves. It occurs at Copeland Tops and elsewhere locally and is mainly affecting regrowth Sydney blue-gum forest with dense understoreys.
27. Phytophthora cinnamomi is an introduced soil borne root disease that has potential to cause serious dieback of native plants. It was first discovered in the Barrington Tops area in the 1990s and is unusual here as the disease is mostly found at lower altitudes in Australia. Because it can be moved in mud or soil on shoes and vehicles, NPWS has established a quarantine zone and boot-wash stations to help prevent it spreading.
28. Some vital statistics for NPWS Barrington Tops Area:
- Reserves: about 100,000 ha across 19 reserves – four national parks, nine nature reserves, six state conservation areas including one declared Aboriginal Place.
- Recreation facilities: 44 assets including : seven camping areas, 12 picnic areas, 24 walking tracks, one homestead
- Visitation: more than 100,000 visitors each year
- Roads, tracks and trails: 1400 km on-park
- Reserve boundaries: 500 km, with 175 adjoining neighbours.
29. During the early 1900s there was a push to develop the Barrington Tops as the ‘Katoomba / Kosciusko of the North’ – a health spa-style development with hotels and ornamental lakes. There was also a proposal to dam the Barrington River and develop a hydro-electric system using the southern fall into the Williams River.
30. On a clear day you can see the Stockton sand dunes from Careys Peak lookout – a popular wilderness bushwalking destination on the Barrington Tops. There is a bronze sundial at Careys Peak installed by the Barrington Tops League in 1934.
Watch out for the next segment in the 50 years of National Parks series.