Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (VGRNP) is a magnificent and picturesque National Park in the remote Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia. VGRNP was first proclaimed in 1970 as the ‘Gammon Wilderness National Park’ with the addition of parts of the Balcanoona Pastoral Lease a decade later. This is a park of contrasts, with deep gorges and chasms, towering mountains, ancient River Redgums that occur along usually dry creek beds, and unique freshwater springs.
The park forms part of the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha people and is rich with cultural significance. In 2005, the State of South Australia and the Adnyamathanha people entered into an Indigenous Landuse Agreement (ILUA) over the land comprising the park. They also entered into a Co-management Agreement (CMA) that provides for the use of the park by the Adnyamathanha people in such a way that their cultural, economic, social and environmental aspirations can be enhanced in a manner consistent with the management objectives. VGRNP was one of the first jointly managed National Parks in South Australia.
The Friends of VGRNP value and respect the strong connection that the Adnyamathanha people have with this land and aim to work closely with Co-Management Board, resident rangers and the local community to achieve the following Objectives as stated in our Constitution:
• To provide support to the management objectives in close co-operation and liaison with the regional staff of DEW or its successors.
• To liaise closely with the Co-Management Board and seek their approval for all the group’s on-park activities.
• Undertake projects that help protect and preserve the Park’s natural and historic values.
• Under the stewardship of DEW regional staff, conduct research and field investigation projects that assist to preserve and increase knowledge of the ecology of the Park.
• To help raise funds for projects that will help benefit the management of the Park.
• To learn and better understand the traditional and cultural values of the traditional owners of this land so as not to create negative impacts on Country but to better guide our activities.
• Liaise and share knowledge with the traditional and cultural owners and neighbouring communities
• To provide opportunities and enjoyment for group members whilst supporting the future directions of the Park.
The spectacular terrain in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park can be explored by the many hiking trails and via the 4WD tracks that lead you deep into the heart of the rugged landscape. The park is a haven for many rare and endangered plants and animals including the Flinders Ranges Gudgeon (shown on the Friends of VGRNP logo), Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby and the Iga or Native Orange that is of cultural significance to the Adnyamathanha people.
The stark wildness and landscape of Lake Frome is a unique feature of the park. This ephemeral salt lake stretches 100km long and 40km wide and plays an important role in the lives of the Adnyamathanha people. The 'Plains Block' leading out to the edge of Lake Frome is a traditional hunting ground and the area cannot be accessed after 3pm each day.
The Friends of VGRNP have initiated a range of projects in consultation with local staff and the Co-Management Board. Further information about the Friends of VGRNP can be found on our website including how to join, field trips and regular newsletters and project updates.
Our current projects include:
ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING IN WEETOOTLA GORGE
Fish observations: estimates are being made of the proportions of the nationally threatened fish (Flinders Ranges Gudgeon, Mogurnda clivicola) of different lengths as an index of age cohorts and aquatic invertebrates recorded.
Water quality measurements: pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and water hardness values are being determined at spring heads and downstream pools.
Riparian vegetation assessments: native plants surrounding springs and waterholes are being monitored to assess grazing impacts and as a measure of the overall health of the creek systems.
Weed containment/eradication: horehound and tobacco bush infestations are being dealt with by a combination of physical and chemical means in consultation with DEW Staff.
Yellow-foot Rock-wallaby monitoring: sightings and habitat assessments are being conducted to improve knowledge of their distribution.
Contact: Martin Caon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
RESTORATION OF OOCABOOLINA OUTSTATION
Oocaboolina Outstation situated a few kilometres east of Nepabunna was used as a stockman’s residence during the pastoral period of the Park. During the early 1990’s some masonry work and a new roof was completed. The Co- Management Board approved a project for the Friends group to commence restoring it. Working bees are carried out twice a year by the group. Opportunities will arise for anyone who is handy with tools or just willing to lend a hand.
Contact: Graeme Oats (email@example.com)
REVEGETATION of BALCANOONA PARK HEADQUARTERS & SURROUNDS
The Balcanoona revegetation project is a more recent addition to the Group’s activities and involves improvements to the existing, extensive irrigation system, installing plant guards and new plantings adjacent to Park Headquarters at Balcanoona. Plants were initially sourced from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden at Port Augusta and Stateflora, but in collaboration with park rangers, members are now collecting and propagating using local seed from a variety of species that occur in the Park and in 2020, most plantings were from VGRNP seed stock.
Initiated by Parks staff, revegetation of the Old Balcanoona Homestead garden site by Friends will commence in 2021 and will include bush tucker as well as other culturally significant Adnyamathanha plants sourced by Friends from seed within the Park.
Contact: Roger Mathers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GAMMON RANGES – ARKAROOLA KEY BIODIVERSITY AREA
South Australia has many areas of outstanding natural beauty. Some of these areas such as the Gammon Ranges – Arkaroola Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) are home to globally important populations of threatened species and have been internationally recognised as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).
The FoVGRNP recently partnered with the Arkaroola Education Foundation to become Guardians for the Gammon Ranges – Arkaroola KBA. This program is run through BirdLife Australia as an extension of the Important Bird Areas but now incorporating all types of biodiversity. Information the Friends of VGRNP are collecting during our field trips to the Park will contribute to the annual ‘KBA Easter Health-check’ which summarizes the threats, monitoring and conservation efforts in a nationally and internationally comparable format.
Monitoring information such as regular water quality and fish surveys combined with bird surveys at a range of locations will be a key element of the KBA Condition reporting along with the presence of pest plants and animals and any efforts to address these.
Further information about the program is available at the websites below:
Contact: Nicki de Preu (email@example.com)