Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area (SCA) Declaration
Members of the Gardens of Stone Alliance which includes Wilderness Australia (formerly Colong Foundation for Wilderness), Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Lithgow Environment Group, have worked and lobbied for many years to have the Newnes Plateau Area protected as a SCA.
This was achieved in November 2021 with the declaration of the establishment of the 28,322 hectare Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.
As well as being partly former pine plantation, this area is known for its spectacular pagoda rock formations. You may have passed through parts of the SCA on your way to the Glow-worm Tunnel or maybe you have canyoned in the spectacular slot canyons in the area.
In the past the area has suffered from lack of management care with 4WD’ers and trail bike riders causing considerable damage in places in the quest to reach spots including the fabulous “Lost City”, an extensive scenic area of pagodas and panoramic valleys.
The unforgettable devastating wild fires of December 2019, during some of the worst drought conditions in history, have greatly impacted the bush and being in a colder climate with shorter growing seasons, the recovery of the bush has been a slow process. However it is recovering luckily because botanically the Gardens of Stone area is very diverse and unique and a real treasure with:
1440 Native Plant species
30 threatened flora species
18 rare or endangered species
33 vegetation communities and 16 Endangered Ecological Communities
134 Orchid species and the list goes on!
A draft Master Plan and Plan of Management for the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area was recently released and public comment was sought.
These plans include road access improvements, camping area, multi-day walk, mountain bike tracks and an adventure hub. It is hoped that nearby Lithgow, currently largely a coal mining town, can become a focus for tourism with the newly declared adjacent SCA which will attract visitors and boost Lithgow’s economy.
APS NSW is keen to ensure that the developing is done in the most sensitive manner that will protect the Flora and consequently, made submissions commenting on the Plans. Sue Fredrickson of North Shore group generously gave her time to research the topic and develop the submissions commenting on the Plans, on behalf of APS NSW.