Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park

Jointly managed by the Gumbaynggir People of the Nambucca Valley and the National Parks and Wildlife Service

Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park LogoOn the 23 April 2010 a new National Park was created protecting coastal lands and the adjacent Warrell Creek located between Nambucca Heads and Scotts Head on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

The new National Park is called Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park, pronounced gargle wungarn, the Gumbaynggir Aboriginal words meaning South Beach.  It contains significant Aboriginal cultural values including cultural sites demonstrating the continuous use of the area by Aboriginal people for many thousands of years. The National Park also protects undisturbed coastal dune systems, patches of rainforests, palm forests, coastal shrubland, and heath, and the estuarine communities of mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass beds along Warrell Creek.

Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park overlooking Nambucca Heads at the mouth of the Nambucca River south to Warrell Creek and Scotts Head.

The new Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is Aboriginal land that the Aboriginal people of the Nambucca Valley want to share with the rest of the community, and is the result of the NSW government and the Nambucca Heads and Unkya Local Aboriginal Land Councils negotiating a resolution to land claims lodged between 1984 and1995.

The NSW Government recognising the importance of these lands and waters to the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal community also had a desire to protect the significant coastal and estuarine values of the area and maintain public access and enjoyment.  The Aboriginal community represented by the two Land Councils and a panel of respected Aboriginal community members, known as the Aboriginal Negotiation Panel, also had a desire to see the land conserved and available for use by the public.  This common position enabled the Aboriginal community and the NSW Government to agree to settle the Land Claims by creating an Aboriginal owned and leased back National Park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

A few of the Land Council and Aboriginal Negotiation Panel members. From left, Uncle Rob Bryant, Gary Williams, Anne Francine Edwards, Uncle Harry Mumbulla and Michael Donovan.

In recognition of the great significance of the area's land and waters to the Gumbaynggir Aboriginal community of the Nambucca Valley the new Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is jointly managed by the Aboriginal owners of the land and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service which is part of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW).

The coastal land of the Nambucca Valley and the waterways of the Nambucca River and Warrell Creek hold special significance to the indigenous community.  The Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of these lands and waters.

"South Beach is very important to us, apart from the spiritual significance, it was a gathering place to teach young people about the seaside, the sea, the fish, plants and animals as well.

Now that it is an Aboriginal hands it gives us a feeling of security.  We continue to carry out our cultural practises" - Aunty Jessie Williams, Gumbaynggirr Elder

Aboriginal people continue to use these lands and waters to gain sustenance and live their culture. Camping and fishing are popular activities still practiced by Aboriginal people in the new National Park.  The knowledge handed down throughout the generations of Aboriginal people that have lived in the area will be central to the management of the new National Park.

Uncle Martin Ballangarry

Page last updated: 27 February 2011