Tag Archives: National Park

This week in 1879: Australia’s first national park

On 26 April 1879, Australia’s first national park was established. Gazetted as The National Park, it was renamed The Royal National Park in 1955 following Queen Elizabeth II 1954 Australia visit.

What is most interesting about the park is its cultural significance. During the period between 1860 and 1930, radical social changes concerning public recreation and perceptions of the natural environment were occurring.

As one of the pioneer national parks, along with America’s Yosemite and Yellowstone, The Royal National Park played an important role in the development of the national parks movement worldwide. In Australia, the park contributed to significant understanding about the cultural and natural history of NSW, and subsequent approaches to the park’s management demonstrate the increasing priority given to conservation.

Despite not initially fitting with today’s idea of conservation—rabbits, deer and foxes were originally introduced to the native environment, while mudflats and mangroves were replaced with ornamental trees and grassy plains—the park soon became a place where Sydneysiders could escape urban life.

At the turn of the 20th century, conservation became a hot and deeply debated topic. Continued logging in the park was heavily criticised and by the 1930s lobbying had begun for a National Parks Authority. The National Parks and Wildlife Service was created in 1967.

Fun facts:

  • Founded by Acting Premier of NSW, Sir John Robertson
  • World’s second oldest purposed national park (after Yellowstone)
  • First to use the term national park
  • Many argues it is the world’s first national park, given that Yellowstone was originally gazetted as a public park
  • Added to the Australian National Heritage list in 2006
  • Home to one legally sanctioned and several unofficial “clothing optional” beaches
  • Today, Australia is home to over 500 national parks

We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which The Royal National Park exists, the Dharawal people.

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