Wollumbin National Park

Wollumbin is a sacred place of deep spiritual significance to Aboriginal People, particularly from the Bundjalung nation with cultural connections across Australia.

The 4,117-hectare Wollumbin National Park (formerly Mount Warning National Park) is located 12 kilometres south-west of Murwillumbah on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.

Rising to a height of 1,157 metres above sea level, Wollumbin is a remnant central vent of an ancient volcano that 20 million years ago stretched from Mount Tamborine in the north to Lismore in the south. This spectacular feature can be viewed from a range of vantage points in the surrounding massive crater, The Tweed Caldera, one of the world's largest and best examples of an erosion caldera.

Wollumbin National Park is one of the most biodiverse areas in Australia and is a Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, listed in 1986. It is home to over 200 rare and endangered plant and animal species. This includes Alberts lyrebird, tiger quolls, rose crowned fruit doves and several species of threatened plants.

Wollumbin – a highly sacred place

'Wollumbin is of the highest significance to the Aboriginal nations, particularly the Bundjalung nation in northern NSW, as a sacred ceremonial and cultural complex linked to traditional law and custom. Wollumbin is interconnected to a broader cultural and spiritual landscape that includes Creation, Dreaming stories and men's initiation rites of deep antiquity.

Bundjalung beliefs illustrate the spiritual values embodied and evoked in Wollumbin and its connections to a broader cultural landscape. These connections are important to the spiritual identity of the Bundjalung nation, many other nations and families connected to Wollumbin, predominantly men and also women.

We have a responsibility for caring for Country, our environment, plants, animals, water, earth, and sky. As the oldest living culture in the world, we are sharing our cultural knowledge and entrusting this knowledge with the broader community so that our values, tradition, and law are respected, understood and acknowledged.'

– Wollumbin Consultative Group 2022

In 2014, an Aboriginal Place was declared over the upper reach of Wollumbin, including the summit, affording Wollumbin special legal protections, recognising and protecting Aboriginal cultural values, and ensuring a greater role for Aboriginal custodians to make decisions on managing the site.

National Parks and Wildlife Service has legislative responsibility to protect the park's cultural and natural heritage values, manage the Aboriginal Place in consultation with Aboriginal custodians, and ensure public safety.

An Aboriginal Place Management Plan has been prepared to document Wollumbin's significant cultural heritage values and articulate the aspirations of Aboriginal communities about the long-term management of the site.

The plan was prepared in consultation with Aboriginal communities, including the Wollumbin Consultative Group.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service and Wollumbin Consultative Group will develop a Memorandum of Understanding to guide the future management of Wollumbin National Park.This is the first step towards joint management between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Aboriginal custodians of Wollumbin National Park, appropriately recognising the Aboriginal cultural values of the area.

The development of a Memorandum of Understanding will provide a framework for Aboriginal decision-making about the national park.

View the Wollumbin Aboriginal Place Management Plan

Aboriginal cultural values

Wollumbin is a traditional place of spiritual education, cultural lore and initiation to the Aboriginal peoples of north east NSW and south east Queensland, with songlines linking Aboriginal groups across the country to the area.

Mount Warning's cultural name is Wollumbin or more correctly pronounced (Wool-oom-bin), and is considered an extremely important part of the Aboriginal cultural landscape.

The declaration of the Aboriginal Place in 2014 recognises this significance and the stories or songlines that connect various Aboriginal communities who can see the mountain from their locality.

Wollumbin, which means 'cloud catcher' to some Aboriginal People, is the generally accepted Aboriginal name for the mountain and slope.

Under Bundjalung law, Wollumbin is a 'Men's Place', with only certain men permitted to climb the summit for cultural law and higher-level initiation purposes.

An Aboriginal Place is an area of land that has special significance to Aboriginal people. It is legally declared by the Minister Environment and Heritage under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to recognise and protect Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.

It can have spiritual, historical, social, educational, natural resource use or other significance to Aboriginal people. These places range from small ceremonial sites to mountains and lagoons and have been identified all over New South Wales.

Aboriginal Places and other areas of significance are listed on the State Heritage Register.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has the legal responsibility to protect the park's cultural heritage values and ensure visitor safety, including managing the Aboriginal Place, in consultation with the Bundjalung People and broader Aboriginal communities.

The Wollumbin Consultative Group was established in 2000 to advise National Parks and Wildlife Service on the management of the highly significant Aboriginal Place, including the preparation of the Wollumbin Aboriginal Place Management Plan.

The Wollumbin Consultative Group represents a range of Aboriginal groups and families with connection to Wollumbin.

The group operates within an agreed formal consultation guideline, with representatives from Bundjalung and adjoining Aboriginal nations community members, Elders, Native Title claimants and corporations, Local Aboriginal Land Council, ancestral families and knowledge holders.

The Wollumbin Aboriginal Place Management Plan documents Wollumbin's significant cultural heritage values and articulates the aspirations of Aboriginal communities about the long-term management of the highly significant Aboriginal Place.

The plan complements the parks and reserves of the Tweed Caldera Plan of Management, providing direction for the management of the Wollumbin Aboriginal Place in accordance with the aspirations of the Aboriginal custodians.

Wollumbin closure update

The Wollumbin Summit Walking Track will remain closed pending the development of the Memorandum of Understanding and further joint management arrangements, with future management of the park to guided by Aboriginal custodians.

Wollumbin National Park has been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19 health restrictions, safety risks associated with the summit walking track, and to permit further consultation with the Aboriginal community and other key stakeholders about future management of the site. Recent flooding events have significantly damaged park infrastructure.

The remainder of Wollumbin National Park, including the Lyrebird Track, is also closed until further notice due to visitor infrastructure being significantly impacted by recent flooding events. More information on national park flood recovery on the north coast is available on the department's website.

People will be notified of the summit walking track closure on the National Parks and Wildlife Service webpage and by email and park signs. It will also be promoted widely to local and regional tourism groups and businesses.

We have consulted with a broad range of stakeholders on the Wollumbin closures, including the local and regional tourism organisations and businesses, Tweed Shire Council, Aboriginal communities and other agencies before the closure. Stakeholders have been notified of the closure by email, through media releases and our web pages.

Some of the best views of Wollumbin can be found along The Pinnacle Walking Track and Lookout in Border Ranges National Park. You can also try Minyon Falls in nearby Nightcap National Park.

Best of All Lookout, in Queensland's Springbrook National Park, also provides a stunning view of Wollumbin.

Check the National Parks and Wildlife Service website for updated and closure alerts before you visit.

Supporting tourism in the Tweed area

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is delivering $9.5 million of visitor infrastructure improvements in the Tweed and its surrounds, including the $7.35 million Tweed Byron Hinterland Trails project, a stunning 38-kilometre, 4-day hiking trail which is due for completion in 2023. Stage 1 of the project, the redevelopment of the Minyon Falls precinct, was opened in December 2021. Further new proposals to cement the north coast as a premier NSW destination are currently being assessed.

Consultation with local and regional tourism organisations on these new proposals has commenced.

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