Ikara-Flinders Ranges boundary alterations

Mr TRELOAR ( Flinders ) ( 17:32 :20 ): I rise to speak today on the motion before us that involves the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, alterations to the boundary of any national park require the resolution of both houses of parliament and a subsequent proclamation by the Governor, and that is precisely what we are doing here today.

We have heard much of the story of how we have come to be here, particularly from the member for Stuart whose electorate within this lies. He highlighted the protracted nature of the negotiations. In excess of 30 years was my calculation of it and it has not always been easy. It has been difficult, and the member for Stuart articulated how difficult these negotiations can sometimes be. For over 30 years, the government has been negotiating a mutually beneficial land swap with Willow Springs Station, the lease of which is owned by the Reynolds family. It is found adjacent to the south-eastern boundary of the national park.

This agreement was recently reached and proposes that Willow Springs Station surrenders a parcel of land, known as Block 101, with high biodiversity and landscape value from their pastoral lease for addition to the park. The proposed land to be added to the park contains significant intact biodiversity and spectacular views. The land to be added to the national park from Willow Springs is 1,350 acres in size. In return, a portion of land better suited to the pastoral activities of the Reynolds family is proposed to be excised from the park for addition to the Willow Springs Station’s pastoral lease, so it is a true land swap.

However, the land to be excised from the Ikara-Flinders National Park is 900 acres, so it is significantly smaller, a difference of 450 hectares, or 1,000 acres. The addition of land to the park does not require the approval of parliament and will proceed once parliament has considered the excision.

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is a beautiful place. I have been fortunate enough to visit it a number of times. As the member for Colton said, he first visited it as a schoolboy in fourth year. I think I was probably the same age when I first visited the Flinders Ranges. I have also been fortunate enough to visit Wilpena Pound, which of course is probably the central feature of this particular national park. The Heysen and Mawson trails also pass through the park.

The park’s most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped natural amphitheatre covering nearly 80 kilometres and containing the range’s highest peak, St Mary Peak. On 12 February 2016, the park was renamed to include the Adnyamathanha word ‘Ikara’ which means ‘meeting place’, referring to the traditional name for Wilpena Pound.

I was rather intrigued by a story my father told me many years ago about some near neighbours who were farming near Cummins, which is where I grew up and where our family farmed. It was the story of the Hill family. I knew Colin Hill, who since passed away; he certainly would be in his 90s by now. His son John and grandson Jarrad continued to farm just west of Cummins, out by our road. My farmer told me that Colin Hill’s father and grandfather had farmed wheat inside Wilpena Pound.

It intrigued me and stuck in my memory, so when this particular motion came up I decided to do a little bit of research. I found out that what my father had told me was in fact correct. In 1901, the Hill family obtained the lease over Wilpena Pound. The original John Hill arrived in South Australia in 1836 on The Buffalo, so the Hill family has been here since European settlement began. The Hill family obtained the lease in 1901, and they decided to try farming, something never before attempted so far north.

Goyder’s line had proven rather accurate with regard to agricultural expansion in the great drought of the 1880s. Wilpena Pound is some 140 kilometres north of Goyder’s line. Being in the shadow of some of the highest mountains of the Flinders, rainfall in the pound is a little higher and sometimes even snow falls on St Mary Peak. The Hill family was determined to try it. After the immense labour of constructing a road through the tortuous Wilpena Gap, they built a small homestead inside the pound, which still stands today. They then cleared some open patches in the thick scrub of the interior of the pound.

For several years, the Hill family had moderate success growing crops inside the pound. In fact, my recollection is that you can find inside the pound some old farm machinery; maybe there is a stripper and a plougher there somewhere. In 1914, there was a major flood, and the road through the gorge was destroyed. It must have been a summer flood because the irony of 1914 is that there was a very severe drought. I remember my uncle, Mick Wagner, telling me that, of all the droughts he saw, 1914 was the worst. Somewhere in that time, there must been a flood, a thunderstorm that went through Wilpena Pound and destroyed the road through the gorge.

Unfortunately for the Hill family, they could not bear to start all over again and sold their homestead to the government, so this negotiation of occupiers with government has been going on for a long time. I can only assume that in 1914 the Hill family moved from there to take up a block west of Cummins. So, there you go: it stuck in my mind and I have learned something today about the history of the park, Wilpena Pound and the Hill family.

The Flinders Ranges are largely composed of folded and faulted sediments of the Adelaide Geosyncline. Most of the high ground and ridge tops in the Flinders are sequences of quartz sites that outcrop along the strike. The flora of the Flinders Ranges is composed largely of species adapted to a semi-arid environment such as cypress pine, mallee and black oak. The moister areas near Wilpena Pound support grevilleas, Guinea flowers, lilies and ferns. Reeds and sedges grow near permanent water sources such as springs and waterholes.

Since the eradication of dingoes and the establishment of permanent waterholes for stock, the numbers of red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos and euros in the area have increased. The yellow-footed rock wallaby, which neared extinction after the arrival of Europeans due to hunting and predation by foxes, has now stabilised, and other endemic marsupials include dunnarts and planigales. Echidnas are the sole monotreme species in the park, and I am sure that since the removal of foxes and dingoes they have also increased in numbers. Bats make up a significant proportion of mammals in the area and reptiles include goannas, snakes, dragon lizards, skinks and geckos. There is also an endemic amphibian known as the streambank froglet.

I am very pleased to support the motion. I understand the difficulty of the negotiation, which the member for Stuart highlighted. Hopefully, it finishes up being a win-win situation for the government and the Reynolds family as well and that this addition to the park can be enjoyed by many people for many years to come.


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