Held in early March, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Parks Week provided communities and individuals with a unique opportunity to ‘connect with nature’ at iconic locations around New South Wales. As part of a program of 39 events, seven were supported by GER and highlighted the importance of protected areas in securing the connectivity and resilience of the Great Eastern Ranges.
Partners in the Slopes to Summit (S2S) region hosted a cultural awareness day at the Blue Metal Travelling Stock Reserve, near Woomargama National Park. The event saw 60 people watch demonstrations of traditional Aboriginal practices by NPWS Aboriginal Discovery Rangers, Shane Herrington and Talea Bulger. Using natural materials from the surrounding area, participants learnt to make string and rope, create fire, throw a boomerang and fashion stone tools.
“One keen young learner took his partially-finished axe home and continued working on it all weekend we are told,” says Shane. “This is very rewarding because it means that the activities have captured young people’s imagination.
“If they go on playing or working with those ideas after the event, like this young boy has, it really helps connect them to culture as something that is living and ongoing, and that’s great,” he says.
Sam Niedra, GER S2S facilitator and co-organiser of the event, said it was great to see people of all ages viewing the landscape not just in terms of native vegetation and fauna but through a deeper cultural perspective that is too often overlooked.
“It was heaps of fun too, especially leaning traditional fire-starting methods and weaving with Red Stringybark found on site,” says Sam.
Presentations from Woomargama National Park Volunteer Group, Holbrook Landcare, the Nature Conservation Trust and Great Eastern Ranges Initiative informed the group about conservation programs in the local area and the range of opportunities people have to participate in connectivity conservation.
Other Parks Week events supported by GER included a historical tour of the south coast, exploration of Corroboree Frog territory in Kosciuszko National Park, an open day at Glenrock State Conservation Area and the Blind Valley Festival. The festival saw up to 600 people visit the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of conservation of the limestone caves site. Special caves and camping packages were available with over 300 people taking up the offer from NPWS to stay on-site where wildlife displays, community stalls and musical performances, including a special choral performance in Victoria Arch, contributed to a memorable weekend.
Parks Week, an initiative of the NPWS, encourages people to celebrate the values of national parks and other protected areas across NSW. This year’s Parks Week Connect with Nature events were supported by the GER Grants Program with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust and was another success of the on-going partnership between GER and NPWS staff across the Great Eastern Ranges.