New parks protecting ancient culture

The NSW Government is handing back more than 15,000 hectares of land to Aboriginal owners in the State’s central west which will be reserved to form the new Mt Grenfell National Park and the Mt Grenfell State Conservation Area.

Rocky landscape, Aboriginal cultural heritage Mount Grenfell Historic Site

The new National Park and State Conservation Area will add 15,285 hectares to the exising Mt Grenfell Historic Site effectively forming a protective ring around some of the most significant Aboriginal art and cultural sites in Australia.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said these new reservations mean the protected area at Mt Grenfell now covers nearly 17,000 hectares.

“This area is home to the renowned Ngiyampaa rock art galleries and a rich cultural landscape of immense significance to the Aboriginal community,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Reserving these lands supports Aboriginal owners in maintaining their physical and spiritual connection to Country.“
Environment Minister Matt Kean said the return of these lands to their traditional owners not only has immense cultural significance but an important environmental significance as well.
“These parks are irreplaceable and an important part of our commitment to add 400,000 hectares of national park to our network by the end of 2022,” Mr Kean said.

“The new parks build on existing protections, securing outback ecosystems including habitat for some 130 bird species and 12 threatened species.”

The new park will be Aboriginal-owned land held by Cobar Aboriginal Land Council and co-managed with the Mount Grenfell Board of Management and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Key facts

The new Mount Grenfell National Park and adjacent Mount Grenfell State Conservation Area lies about 70 kilometres north-west of Cobar in the dry back Country of the Cobar Peneplain. They surround the Mount Grenfell Historic Site which was handed back to the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan Aboriginal owners in July 2004 and leased back to the NSW Government for management as part of the national parks system.

In recognition of the Aboriginal cultural significance, ownership of these two new reserves is also to be handed over to the Traditional Owners and leased-back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for co-management with the Mount Grenfell Board of Management.

  • Size: Mount Grenfell National Park is 9,189 hectares and Mount Grenfell State Conservation Area is 6,096 hectares.
  • Aboriginal heritage: The reserves are an important part of ngurrampaa (Country) for Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan. They provide resources which are of importance in people’s lives: spiritually, as a physical connection to Creation stories and Creation beings; culturally, through providing opportunities for cultural practice; and physically, through the provision of food, water, shelter and resources. All these facets of Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan life is found in the one location. The reserves are rich in the physical evidence of Ngiyampaa culture including rock art, campsites and hearths associated with a waterhole, quarries, ochre pits, grinding grooves, artefact scatters and scar trees. Many other sites are yet to be discovered.
  • Bioregional significance: Mount Grenfell National Park and State Conservation Area make a contribution to a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system by:
    • increasing the level of protection for the Cobar Peneplain bioregion from 2.61% to 2.82%
    • Increasing the level of protection for the Barnato Downs subregion from 3.3% to 4.14%.
    • protecting one landscape type (Mt Grenfell Ridges) that is currently not represented in any other reserve and another landscape (Barnato Wide Valleys) which is inadequately protected with only 20 hectares sampled in national parks system.
  • Ecosystems: The reserves:
    • increase the protection of eight vegetation communities, including two communities that were not previously sampled in Mount Grenfell Historic site (Belah-Rosewood Open Woodland and River Red Gum - Poplar Box Riparian Woodland).
    • support at least 234 native plant species, many of these traditional food and medicine resources for Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan. Those used for food include the seeds of a range of plants such as Yaama (kurrajong), Mithirr (miljee), nardoo, Kawanthaa (quandong), Wilkarr (wilga) and Yarrayipipan (rosewood), all of which were ground for flour and baked into johnny cakes.
  • Threatened species: The reserves provide a range of habitat types with varying structural complexity and floristic diversity which supports 195 bird and animal species. The most diverse groups of animals recorded are bats (13 species) and birds (134 species), including 12 threatened species. These include the kultarr, yellow-bellied sheathtail-bat, little pied bat, inland forest bat, Corbens long-eared bat. Other threatened mammals expected to use this habitat are the stripe-faced dunnart and bristle-faced freetailed-bat.
  • European heritage: The reserves provide an example of turn-of-the-century pastoral occupation in the Western Division of New South Wales.

Media: Mt Grenfell