Parks of the Tweed Caldera, Australia
Mount Warning in the Tweed Caldera parks system is the first point on the Australian mainland to see the sun rise. It is now known as Wollumbin-Mount Warning, and was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after his ship Endeavour almost hit reefs off Point Danger near Tweed Heads. The mountain is an unmistakeable feature of the north coast landscape.
The Parks of the Tweed Caldera, a group of 9 national parks and nature reserves in New South Wales (NSW), are linked to the Tweed shield volcano caldera.
The forests of the area inspired some of the nation’s earliest forest preservation campaigns. From the 1970s to 2000, protests to protect the rainforests from logging began the modern direct action conservation movement. These led to the creation and expansion of a number of the Parks of the Tweed Caldera.
Contemporary management of the reserve system includes strong community involvement in order to grow a park, protect biodiversity and enable opportunities for enjoyment and appreciation. The Regional Community Advisory Committee, reserve neighbours, the Rural Fire Service, volunteers and the Livestock, Health and Pest Authority help to ensure reserves are managed effectively by providing advice and assistance. The Aboriginal community works closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to manage the parks and reserves of the Tweed Caldera. The parks system includes protected areas managed under IUCN categories Ia (strict nature reserve), Ib (wilderness area) and II (national park).
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Size and Location
The parks and reserves of the Tweed Caldera cover a total area of 55,689 hectares on the far north coast of New South Wales. The surrounding townships of the region include Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Lismore and Kyogle. Border Ranges NP and Limpinwood and Numinbah NRs form part of the NSW-Queensland border along the McPherson Range.
Flora and Fauna
The massif of Wollumbin National Park is an icon for the region and is encircled by dramatic landscapes including vertical escarpments, high waterfalls and ridgelines, plateaus and gullies of dense forest. The Parks of the Tweed Caldera are a major component of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986, and extended in 1994. The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia represent natural heritage of international significance as an ancient refuge of rainforest communities with a high diversity of plant and animal species.
The Parks of the Tweed Caldera are located in one of the most species-rich regions in Australia. Although rainforests cover only about 0.3% of Australia, they contain about half of all Australian plant families and a third of our mammal and bird species. The diverse vegetation communities include different types of rainforest, wet and dry sclerophyll forest and pockets of heath. Of particular significance are the rainforests of the border region which support the highest concentration of marsupial, bird, snake and frog species in Australia.
Millions of years ago, the volcano was much higher than today, enabling it to trap moisture laden air from the coast. Over the millennia this trapped moisture produced a myriad of streams which carved out the unique and curious landforms that today pepper the surrounds of Wollumbin’s eroded volcanic plug. The intricate network of permanent and ephemeral waterways sustains a diversity of plants and animals within and beyond the reserved estate.
IUCN Red List endangered species in the Tweed Caldera include the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor), Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus) and 4 species of frogs.
The anthropological and archaeological attributes of the Parks of the Tweed Caldera landscape have held strong connections for generations to the Bundjalung and Githabul Aboriginal peoples who have visited, camped, held ceremonies, traversed the country and called it home.
These attributes include creation places, ceremonial sites, traditional pathways and evidence of past occupation. Many of the prominent landforms of the area are also mythological sites. The forests have other important Aboriginal cultural values such as the transfer of traditional knowledge and bush food and medicine. Wollumbin is a place of great significance to the Aboriginal people of this area. The local Aboriginal peoples maintain a diversity of living cultures and a unique and deep felt attachment to these lands.
The high animal diversity of the parks is at danger from pest animals, including foxes, wild dogs, feral horses, pigs and deer. Native plants are under pressure from weeds such as bitou bush, scotch broom and lantana. Bell miner associated dieback harms the forests of the area. Fire is a natural and recurring factor that shapes the NSW environment, but rainforests are especially vulnerable to fire impact.
To address these threats, pest animal and weed management programs are identified and prioritised in the Parks of the Tweed Caldera through regional pest management strategies and integrated into planning activities. Long-running cooperative programs are in place with a variety of landholders, land management agencies and community groups for the management of weeds, pest animals and forest health. These programs are also integrated with other park management programs such as fire management. Fire management in the Parks of the Tweed Caldera is a mix of prevention, mitigation, planned use and suppression to help minimise threats to human life, property and cultural heritage and tourism. At the same time, it is designed to maintain ecological processes that support the area’s rich biodiversity and takes particular account of the sensitivity of rainforest ecosystems to fire.
Opportunities for Enjoyment
The parks of the Tweed Caldera offer breathtaking views, rainforest walks, peaceful campsites and scenic drives. The 44 kilometre Tweed Range Scenic Drive in the Border Ranges National Park follows the edge of the volcano, providing incomparable views. Camp at Sheepstation Creek in Border Ranges National Park and wake to the call of birds. Take a short walk to The Pinnacle Lookout for a breathtaking view over the caldera. For those seeking a longer walk, the Historic Nightcap Track in Nightcap National Park follows the original trail used by travellers and postal workers in the late 1800s.