Great Koala National Park concept plan to be launched soon

The spectacular natural features of the Nambucca Valley hinterland within the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP) and the economic opportunities they offer, were the focus of a recent GKNP tour for Labor candidate for Oxley, Susan Jenvey and Nambucca Shire councillor Martin Ballangarry OAM.

Guided by the GKNP local campaign coordinator, Caitlin Hockey and Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) volunteers, Ms Jenvey and Cr Ballangarry were shown ancient rainforest giant trees at Leagues Scrub and spectacular vistas from the Killiekrankie Lookout.

They also had the chance to see and smell the rare ringwood (aniseed myrtle) tree which grows nowhere else in the world, other than the Nambucca and Bellingen catchments.

“The experience came with a profound understanding of how to be in wild country, with an Indigenous custodial elder,” Ms Jenvey said.

 "What became abundantly clear was the need for a pathway of connections between Gumbaynggirr culture, environmental protection and nature-based tourism.

This tour was much more than the visual and sensory delight of being immersed in the forests of the Nambucca headwaters

ALP candidate Susan Jenvey

“There is no doubt that the GKNP could be a world class experience and a powerful commodity for the community of Bowraville and other mid north coast towns like Bellingen and Coffs Harbour. It could also be a healing experience.”

The group also visited areas of overlogged and degraded public native forest including those suffering from Bell Miner Associated Dieback – a stark contrast to the healthy forests.

Cr Ballangarry was shocked at the damage he saw.

“I would rather see these areas protected and managed for cultural, conservation and tourism purposes, than logged any more. There is a 40,000 plus years history of the Gumbaynggirr people respecting these special areas that needs to be practiced by everyone who uses them,” he said.

GKNP tour coordinator, Caitlin Hockey said: “We wanted our guests to appreciate the long-term economic opportunities the GKNP would provide for local and regional communities, while allowing koalas and the forests they depend on to recover from the intensive logging they are currently subjected to." 

A proposed 215km world class walking trail and 4WD, mountain biking and horse riding trails are all part of the proposal and will be the subject of a soon-to-be-launched GKNP Recreational Trails Concept Plan. 

NVCA president Paula Flack said “protecting water catchments from industrial scale logging is fundamental to securing water for downstream farms and water users including town water supplies, as well providing a safe place for koalas to live in peace.

Ms Jenvey said Labor had been working hard on a complex forestry transition policy, following its commitment to the park in 2015.