GARIGAL NATIONAL PARK
Mr JONATHAN O'DEA
(Davidson) [1.45 p.m.]: I wish to speak about one of the great and largely hidden natural features of Sydney: Garigal National Park. Garigal National Park is mainly within my electorate of Davidson and only about 12 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. The constituents of Davidson are plateau people: the North Shore plateau is on the west side and the Davidson-Belrose plateau is on the east side of the electorate. Between these plateaus is a deep river valley, approximately 150 metres deep. Bantry Bay explosive reserve and the deep creek area flowing down to Narrabeen lagoon were combined with a number of other earlier recognised reservation areas to form Garigal National Park, which was declared in 1991.
I acknowledge the Garigal clan of the Guringai Aboriginal people, who were the custodians of this land for thousands of years before the arrival of Governor Captain Arthur Phillip. On 16 April 1788 Governor Phillip walked up the shoreline of Middle Harbour and set up camp in the now Garigal National Park. This marked the arrival of a different culture. The Garigal clan's strong connection to the land and reliance on it for subsistence and food collection was in contrast to the European experience of finding the land harsh and unsuitable for farming. The then European perspective was reflected in the records of Surgeon White who, while accompanying the Governor, noted that they were running low on their priorities of life: bread and rum.
After 200 years of white culture predominating and Aboriginal culture subsiding, the tables are now turning and mainstream society is now preserving areas such as the Garigal Valley and wanting to know more about the earlier Aboriginal inhabitants. Unfortunately, rum and other alcohol is now a scourge for many Aboriginal communities across Australia. On a brighter note, Aboriginal rangers now work in many of our national parks, bringing an extra educational dimension. Earlier this year an Aboriginal Heritage Office was opened in northern Sydney to promote the understanding of Aboriginal culture and to help preserve important sites for the future.
I am concerned about the environmental health of the Middle Harbour creek section of the Garigal valley. Unlike a lot of Sydney Harbour foreshores, the Garigal valley has steep sides and it is difficult to see into. Largely because of this, polluting activities have historically been allowed to occur around the perimeter of the valley without questioning as to where the effluent goes. Substantial areas on the Davidson side did not have sewerage for many years—and some still do not. Our community has gained an appreciation that pollutants from our homes do not just disappear. I have been to the floor of the valley and watched the detergent bubbles make their way to Middle Harbour. The valley lies across the landscape like a proverbial lizard. We must not poison that lizard's drinking water.
Another part of the Garigal National Park is the section in the Narrabeen Lagoon catchment. The lagoon has survived intact for the last 50,000 years and is still reasonably unspoilt, but it needs some work and attention to maintain its ecosystem. In the upcoming parliamentary winter recess the members for Wakehurst and Pittwater and I will go on an educational field trip when we will walk with some of the Friends of the Narrabeen Lagoon catchment. This energetic group, including president Tony Carr and founder Judith Bennett, is doing a great job. We all hope to secure many remaining bush areas for preservation as natural ecosystems. I acknowledge the State funding provided to Warringah council to help rehabilitate a number of the creeks that feed into Narabeen Lagoon.
Many Davidson constituents are extremely conscious of the environment and work actively to protect it. For example, only last week a local resident reported that a creek was being polluted from a building site. Ku-ring-gai council rangers followed the creek upstream to where it changed to a piped drainage system. After continuing up the manhole chain, the rangers located the pollution source and issued a fine. This was a success for Garigal National Park and the community, and hopefully will result in the builder being more environmentally conscious in future. I congratulate one of my constituents, Ian, who reported the incident. May there be more observant residents like him in the future. Increased community education and care for our natural assets will help ensure that everyone can appreciate areas like the Garigal National Park for ages to come. I will gladly assist, together with others in and around Davidson, to preserve our natural habitat and local environment.