The Great Eastern Ranges are important to many communities, within and beyond the GER corridor, because of their beauty and contribution to human wellbeing. They contain many landscapes with iconic cultural and natural features.
In the flattest and lowest continent in the world, the Great Eastern Ranges are striking and unusual. They contain dramatic, rugged scenery, including waterfalls and towering trees. The ranges contain features rarely found on the Australian mainland, such as alpine ecosystems and deep limestone cave systems. These aspects of the ranges are in strong contrast to the lower, warmer and more urbanised landscapes of the coast and western slopes.
Because of their unique character, the Great Eastern Ranges are used as a place of retreat and escape from everyday life, where celebration, romance and rejuvenation can occur. The high country is an important place for leisure activities such as bushwalking, skiing and camping, and a source of artistic, creative and spiritual inspiration, particularly for city dwellers. There are also many Aboriginal spiritual and ceremonial connections to the ranges, reflecting their significance and uniqueness within the landscape.
Protecting the qualities of ‘naturalness’ and wilderness associated with the ranges is of great importance to many people, and significant areas of national parks and other conservation reserves have therefore been established in the GER corridor. For this reason, the ranges have been an important focus for the conservation movement, which emerged in Australia in the 1960s. There have been many major struggles to protect the forested country of the Great Eastern Ranges from exploitation and resource extraction.
GER engages people with the aesthetic, recreational, cultural and environmental values of the corridor in a range of ways:
- Facilitating interaction with native species and the providing the public with opportunities to experience natural areas through Citizen Science programs and ‘Bioblitzes’.
- Educating people about the diverse and beautiful environment and native species of the GER corridor and actively engaging young people through programs such as Youth Leading the GER.
- Working with partners, such as the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the National Parks Association of NSW, to highlight the beauty and importance of national parks and encourage people to visit these areas.
- Seeking out and supporting partners and projects that will engage diverse communities, from all cultural backgrounds, in creating cultural narratives and developing a sense of place centred around the GER corridor.