Friday, March 2, 2012

so, what have we protected?...

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - l ridge top tour ay
Spectacular: the view to the Mawson Plateau across Yudnamutana Gorge from Siller's Lookout, the outward-bound terminus of the famous Ridgetop Tour

It's with great pleasure that I post this short, non-comprehensive tour of the new Arkaroola Protection Area.

Our campaign to save the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary from the mining industry has tended to focus on those areas that were most at risk; the direct target zones for mineral exploration.

But the new bill has protected the overwhelming bulk of the sanctuary, including those sections of the Mawson Plateau both in Arkaroola itself and on the adjacent Mount Freeling station.

After 180mm of rain in 2 days earlier this week shortly - when the roads are re-opened - there's never going to be a better time to visit Arkaroola!

Here's why -

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - la nooldoonooldoona ai

Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole on the Bolla Bollana Creek.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - bq

The T-junction Waterhole on the magnificent Mawson Plateau.

arkaroola 2011 - c acacia ridge aq

Taking in the view back towards Mount Painter and the heart of the sanctuary from the Acacia Ridge walk.

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - g barraranna gorge ab

Barraranna Gorge: this freshwater crayfish or marron (Cherax albidus) lifts a riverstone with its pincers and mouth-parts while excavating its home.

arkaroola 2011 - g yudnamutana ad

Rocky walls tower above a side creek in the Yudnamutana Gorge.

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - dc paralana ac

The lush outlet creek of the Paralana Hot Springs.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h bolla bollana af

Botanising at the Bolla Bollana Waterhole.

arkaroola 2011 - d road to paralana ab

The spirit of the inland - a striking gum-barked coolibah (Eucalyptus intertexta) against red cliffs above Stubbs Waterhole.

arkaroola 2011 - j east painter bh

Following an old access track deep in the East Painter Gorge.

arkaroola 2011 - a nooldoonooldoona aq

I saw a frog! Downstream from the Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h wheal turner ap

The western edge of the ranges from a ridge above the old Wheal Turner mine works.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - dr

Wilderness hiking on the remote Mawson Plateau.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h bolla bollana ax

Euro (Macropus robustus) in saltbush country near the Bolla Bollana Creek.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - do

Idyllic wilderness camp site on the Mawson Plateau.

arkaroola 2011 - c acacia ridge bg

Descending towards the Arkaroola Village on the Acacia Ridge trail.

And that's not-nearly all! For more view the Best of Arkaroola slideshow:

Or why not just visit the newly fully protected sanctuary yourself? You know you want to!...



we won! - see photos from the protected area on flickr

At last! Nearly 5 years after we began this campaign against a potential mining operation in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, we have won!

But we didn't just stop one misguided mining project - we've stopped them all!

As of yesterday virtually all [map] of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - barring the northern-most tip and some small sections out on the plains near the 4-Mile Uranium mine - and a bit more besides (including the overwhelming bulk of the Mawson Plateau both inside Arkaroola itself and those sections on the adjacent Mount Freeling station) resides safely in the Arkaroola Protection Area, a 62 600 hectare fully-protected area from which the mining industry is completely excluded.


If you were also involved in the campaign to get the mining industry out of the Weetootla Gorge in the adjacent Vulkathunha / Gammon Ranges National Park at the Turn of the Century(!) - which also succeeded completely, removing the industry from the entire area of the park in the process - you are now a contributor to a full protection area covering more than 185 000 hectares of some of the most spectacular country in the northern Flinders Ranges.

So well done you!

Here's how Arkaroola's own From the Ark newsletter describes the news on Wednesday, the day before the legislation formally cleared both houses of state parliament:

Chocolate-coloured bubbles are bursting all over Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in a triple celebration this Leap Day. It’s been ONE BIG WEEK and Arkaroola can finally leap headlong into an exciting new future!

Just before 6 pm yesterday, February 28th, the Arkaroola Protection Bill 2011 passed through the Upper House of the South Australian Parliament. The Bill provides permanent protection for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. All but Arkaroola’s north-eastern panhandle and a narrow strip of plains country will be protected, in perpetuity, from mineral exploration and mining. This historic moment marks the culmination of a five-year campaign to protect Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, following the discovery, in 2007, of illegally buried mineral and general waste by mineral exploration company Marathon Resources. Two Amendments moved by Greens MLC, Mark Parnell, were also passed. The Amendments ensure that the Bill will protect the cultural and spiritual values of the traditional owners, the Adnyamathanha people. Traditional owners will be consulted as a management plan is developed for the Arkaroola Protection Area. The Bill will now return to the Lower House for rubber stamping. This is expected to be finalised in the next couple of days.

Last week, a nomination for National Heritage Listing, developed jointly by Arkaroola and the South Australian Government, was sent to the Australian Government. Dr Graeme Worboys, an internationally respected protected areas expert, worked very closely with Arkaroola and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to distil and articulate Arkaroola’s national geoheritage values. The nomination will now be considered by the Department of Environment, Water,
Heritage and the Arts, and if supported will be passed to the Australian Heritage Council for assessment. There are several steps involved in NHL listing and the process is expected to take twelve to eighteen months.

More than 180mm of rain has fallen across the sanctuary over the past forty-eight hours. There are bubbles everywhere! With more than 900mm of rain recorded for the past two years, and three back-to-back wet summers, a spectacular recovery is now guaranteed. BOOM is the resounding word of the moment, as floodwaters crash over rocks and Arkaroola rides the crest of a bust/boom cycle.

It’s time to take that bottle of bubbly off the ice and celebrate what we have all achieved together. As bubbles burst all over Arkaroola it’s time to leap into the future.

For more information go to:

Here's how Greens MLC- and tireless campaigner for the protection of Arkaroola - Mark Parnell greeted the news of the passage of the legislation through the Upper House the day before:

The Upper House of State Parliament has just passed a Bill to permanently protect from mining the iconic mountains of Arkaroola in the State’s far North.

The legal protection is the culmination of a long-running community and Greens campaign to ensure this magnificent part of our State is no longer threatened by damaging mining activity.

“This is a wonderful, historic day,” said Greens Parliamentary leader Mark Parnell.

“It’s taken a long time, but finally a law has been passed that ensures the permanent protection of the world famous mountains of Arkaroola.

“If a future Government wants to let the miners back in they will have to over-turn this Act of Parliament. I am totally confident that this will never happen.

“It is wonderful that all sides of politics have finally accepted what the Greens have been arguing all along: that some places are simply too precious to mine,” he said.

In passing the Bill, the Greens moved 2 successful amendments to ensure appropriate consultation with the traditional owners from the Adnyamathanha people over the management of the land.

“As this is such an important piece of legislation, it is vital we get it right and ensure that all traditional owners have a say in how Arkaroola will be managed,” said Mr Parnell.

“The Greens have been very proud to stand alongside the Sprigg Family, Adnyamathanha Elders and the many passionate environmental and heritage campaigners from across the state and across the world who have fought to protect this precious place.

“They can all be very proud of what they have achieved,” he said.

And here's how state Environment Minister Paul Caica described his government's decision:

Mr Caica said the final passage of the unprecedented legislation will ensure the cultural, natural and landscape values of Arkaroola are protected for all time.

“The Arkaroola area is a significant place for the Adnyamathanha People and their connections with this place remain strong and vibrant,’’ he said.

“Arkaroola is among the most magnificent places in the world, defined by towering granite peaks, razor back ridges, and deep gorges, encompassing ancient sea beds with fossils that are up to 650 million years old. It features unique biodiversity and is a haven for national and state conservation rated species, including 160 species of birds and the rare yellow footed rock wallaby.

“The final passage of the legislation will give a defined 62,600 ha area, known as the Arkaroola Protection Area, the highest form of protection and put in place a management planning framework to guide the future conservation of its natural and cultural values and its ongoing accessibility for visitors and scientific research.

“The Arkaroola Protection Area will meet international and national standards for what is defined as a ‘protected area’ and ensure all forms of mining, mineral exploration and grazing are banned.

“The State Government will work with the Adnyamathanha people, the Spriggs family and parties with adjacent interest to prepare the management plan.”

Mr Caica said the final passage of the Bill will mark the completion of the three-stage process to protect Arkaroola that was initiated by the State Government last year.

“The State Government immediately removed the area from operation under the Mining Act, delivered on the special purpose legislation and I am pleased to announce that we also submitted the nomination for national heritage listing on February 22,” he said.

“The South Australian Heritage Council provisionally listed Arkaroola on the State Heritage Register in October last year and they are expected to make a decision on permanent listing in March.”