Monday 30 October 2017


National Parks are special places, vital for biodiversity protection.  They are also places where humans who appreciate nature can re-connect with a world that is in some ways simpler and certainly more natural than our everyday world.

The New England National Park has been my favourite for many years.

I first visited this national park nearly 40 years ago with my husband and two young children.  Since then I've been back many times with my kids, with friends and on several occasions with my grandchildren. 
A wonderful natural area, perched on the edge of the New England plateau, it overlooks the Bellinger Valley.  From the escarpment at Point Lookout you look east across ridge after ridge of densely vegetated land.  In the ravines and valleys, where the dense rainforests are, the vegetation is dark green.  Along the ridges, the domain of eucalypts and species that live in drier areas, the green is paler.

One of the views from the escarpment
Sometimes you look down onto cloud which fills the valleys and gives the impression of a white sea with islands of vegetation rising from it.

I've explored many walking tracks in this park – from those meandering through the tree ferns to steep trails descending through majestic, mossy Antarctic Beech, remnants of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland.
Some tracks follow swiftly flowing creeks plunging for a while over huge granite boulders.  Then these creeks seem to rest, turning into deep shadowed pools which look inviting but which are breath-catchingly cold even in mid-summer.

Highlights of many visits have been encounters with the Superb Lyrebird, an outstanding mimic and an extremely shy bird.  I remember one magical time many years ago when I saw a male lyrebird, tail unfurled and magnificent, practising what must have been his mating ritual.  He danced and carolled and mimicked while I watched entranced.

Male Lyrebird

Special places like the New England National Park and other national parks like Washpool, Gibraltar Range and Yuraygir are now under threat from the state government’s cost-cutting and restructure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the body responsible for biodiversity protection and management of the national parks estate.

            - Leonie Blain

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on October 30th, 2017.