This is a walking tour through the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park, 50 hectares of bushland and over 4km of walking tracks, in Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast. Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park attracts hikers, canoeists, nature lovers, bird watchers, artists and photographers.
A wide variety of flora and fauna can be found in seven ecosystems:
* Subtropical Rainforest,
* Wet Eucalypt Forest,
* Dry Eucalypt Forest,
* Broad-leaved Paperbark Forests,
* Swamp-oak Forests,
* Sedgelands, and
Koalas, sugar gliders, water dragons, flying foxes and over 130 bird species have been identified in these habitats.
Kooloonbung Creek and its habitats are the legacy of millennia of climatic shifts and global sea level fluctuations. Sand was blown in during ice ages when the seas were much lower. At the end of the last ice age, about ten thousand years ago, sea levels rose and flooded coastal valleys, forming the present-day Kooloonbung Creek tidal flats.
Kooloonbung means “seeds beside a creek or salt water swamp” in the Birpai language. Kooloonbung Creek was highly valued by the indigenous Birpai people and it is clear that with its many habitats, would have been a great store of all kinds of food and resources.
Kooloonbung Creek was a water source for the colony of Port Macquarie, described by the explorer Oxley in 1818 as a free-flowing stream. Early records refer to gardens on the western bank of what was then called Shoal Arm Creek, which used to be deep enough to allow steamers to tie up at wharfs behind the Historic Cemetery.
In 1831 the Surveyor General wrote to the Colonial Secretary submitting a plan for the Governor’s approval. This included the creation of a Government Domain for public recreation on the eastern bank of Kooloonbung Creek: “I would submit that being well surrounded by water and the burying ground being in the most retired part of it, this is an eligible spot for a promenade or a place of recreation”.
A long bridge was built across the creek by convict labour in 1897 and a weir constructed to ensure water above the tide level remained fresh. The weir was removed during reclamation works in the 1960s, the freshwater lagoon drained, and tides reclaimed the creek and the mangroves have reclaimed the tidal flats.
In the 1970s there were many schemes proposed to develop the site into canal estates, sports fields, real estate and even a music bowl. In 1973 the Port Macquarie Conservation Society began a campaign to save Kooloonbung Creek.
In 1979 Hastings Council commissioned a planning study which recommended the area be managed as a natural ecosystem. In 1984, funding became available and Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park was gazetted by the Lands Department in 1985, for “promotion of the study and preservation of native flora and fauna”.
Text: Michael Eddie, Krissa Wilkinson.
Photography: Michael Eddie, Krissa Wilkinson, Rex Moir, Peter Woodard, Silva Vaughan-Jones, Mardeb Productions, Black Diamond Images.
Narration: Rachel Jacket.
We acknowledge Port Macquarie – Hastings Council for the use of text in current signage in Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park. We especially acknowledge Skye Frost, Rebecca Doblo and Rebecca Montague-Drake of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for their kind assistance.
We acknowledge the Birpai people as the traditional owners of this land.
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