16 May 2024

Gulaga National Park expands by 200 ha, protecting sacred sites and koala habitat

| Albert McKnight
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Gulaga Mountain, Mother Mountain, Healing Mountain. Photo: David Rogers

The centrepiece of Gulaga National Park – Mother Mountain. Photo: David Rogers.

The NSW South Coast’s Gulaga National Park has grown by 200 ha, which will provide a higher level of protection to both Yuin sacred sites and koala habitat.

The First Nations-owned national park lies next to Tilba and Wallaga Lake, surrounding the sacred Gulaga Mountain, which is described as the place of ancestral origin for the Yuin people.

On Friday (10 May), it was announced the Gulaga National Park Board of Management would transfer their property Bellbrook Farm, which lies on the lower slopes of the mountain, to the park.

“Adding Bellbrook Farm to the park will provide the board with opportunities to promote cultural experiences at a place where visitors can be introduced to the mountain in a culturally respectful way,” a NSW Environment and Heritage spokesperson said.

“The property is also home to remnant rainforest types, river oak forests and threatened native plant species found only on the South Coast – the square raspwort and warty zieria.”

This expansion will also increase the habitat for several threatened species, being the spotted-tail quoll, long-nosed potoroo, yellow-bellied glider and glossy-black cockatoo.

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Meanwhile, a second parcel of land at the nearby locality of Dignams Creek, which is just north of Cobargo, has also been added to the national park.

The spokesperson said this land contained important habitat that might help support a small population of koalas in the area.

“Adding this land to Gulaga National Park supports the Yuin people’s aspiration to return Country to Aboriginal ownership which is aligned with the plan of management,” board of management chairperson Aunty Roslyn Field said.

“Together with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Gulaga Board of Management will now be able to restore and protect this Country.

“This place will be protected in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy, but more importantly, for future generations to appreciate Yuin culture.”

The national park now totals 4871 ha in size following the two recent acquisitions.

Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe said this particular addition to a national park was very special for the South Coast region.

“These two parcels of highly significant land contain important cultural values and unique habitats like remnant rainforest,” she said.

“I would like to thank the board of management for their decision to transfer this land and expand the park, ensuring this Country will be restored and cared for by Aboriginal people for all future generations.”

Gulaga National Park was created in January 2001, then was handed back to its traditional owners in a historic agreement signed by the NSW Environment Minister and the Yuin People in May 2006.

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In 2021, the Geographical Names Board officially assigned the dual names of Gulaga for Mount Dromedary as well as Najanuka for the nearby Little Dromedary Mountain.

“Gulaga, Mother Mountain, has two sons – the eldest is Barunguba also known as Montague Island,” Ms Field said at the time.

“Najanuka, known as Little Dromedary is her second son, but he wasn’t allowed to leave far from home like his older brother.

“Gulaga from way up the top can always see her sons in the distance and now the whole community will know them and call them by their real names.”

In 2023, the NSW Government officially gave Montague Island Nature Reserve its First Nations name, Barunguba.

In 2022, the 10,000-hectare Ben Boyd National Park near Eden was renamed Beowa National Park (which means ‘killer whale’ in the local Thaua language) following requests from locals.

The removal of the slave trader’s name from the national park was celebrated late last year.

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