Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Contents 43
Q: What do you think is special about the Great Lakes?
A: "The Great Lakes, it's where my people are
from, it's where my family is from, it's where my
essence is from. Every time I am up there I am
truly home. Up there, it's my land, it's my
water, and I feel that I am a part of that land
and water. I have a very deep connection to
-- Jamal Idris, a 20-year-old dreadlocked rugby
league sensation and 2009 Dally M Rookie of
the Year who has already played for Country,
NSW Origin and Australia. Born in Forster
to an Aboriginal mother and Nigerian
father, he spent time growing up in
an Aboriginal mission before moving
to Sydney where he now plays for
THE LAST WORD ...
COPELAND A gold-mining area
named after politician and mining
leader Henry Copeland (1839-1904).
CRAVEN Named after
a shepherd in the area,
Old Craven Jack, who
worked for the Australian
NABIAC A native
word meaning ''wild
Means a ''place of bats''.
by Robert Dawson after
Stroud in England.
the River Avon
16 There's some unfriendly but well-named
flora in the Copeland Tops - the strangler
fig grows from seeds in the forest canopy and
sends down roots which kill its host tree by
taking its light, nutrients and water, and the
giant stinging tree has hairs covering its leaves
that deliver nasty stings.
17 The Gloucester aged population makes
up 30.1 per cent of the overall number of
residents, compared to a state average of 17.3
per cent for the same group.
18Colonial artist Conrad Martens, who
sailed on The Beagle with Charles
Darwin, visited Stroud in 1841 and 1852 and
painted the area, with some of his Stroud
watercolours now at the State Library of NSW.
19The bridge linking Forster and Tuncurry
celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.
The bridge, with
its graceful arch, is
631-metres long and is
now an iconic image of
the Great Lakes.
been mined by
in Gloucester, which
has recently been
The Great Lakes area is renowned for its
beauty and aquamarine waters, a network of
lakes and waterways including Myall, Smiths
and Wallis lakes and, from Hawks Nest to
Tuncurry, some of the best beaches in NSW.
Wallis Lake is 25 km long and nine
kilometres wide, fed by the Wallamba,
Wallingat, Coolongolook and Wang Wauk
rivers. The Myall Lakes, linked to Port
Stephens, Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens
via the Myall River, are one of the largest
brackish systems in the southern hemisphere
and RAMSAR listed (an international treaty
similar to World Heritage that protects the
world's most significant wetlands). A total of
280 bird species are found in the surrounding
national park, the same as World Heritage-
listed Kakadu. The four main lakes have a
surface area about triple the size of Sydney
Harbour. Between the Wallis and Myall lakes
is the smaller Smiths Lake, calm waters
separated from the ocean by a sandbar.
In the hinterland there's a lush green
region rich in history, agriculture and country
The Great Lakes has some of the finest
national parks in Australia, including
the 50,000-hectare Myall Lakes National
Park that stretches from Hawks Nest to
Seal Rocks with 50 kilometres of beaches,
lagoons, headlands, sand dunes, wild forests,
swamps and an estuarine river. It's a nature
lover's paradise. The 1500-hectare Booti
Booti National Park and the dirt roads of
the Wallingat National Park offer a range of
The Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine
Park covers about 98,000 hectares between
Cape Hawke and Birubi Beach and all estuary
waters of Port Stephens and the Karuah River,
the Myall River and Myall and Smiths Lakes.
It contains a number of shipwrecks including
the Satara, Oakland, Catterthun and Macleay.
Of the islands in the area the largest,
Broughton, is the only one with beaches. It's
at the border of temperate and tropical waters
and is oddly home to both coral and penguins,
and thousands of mutton birds.
Cabbage Tree Island is the only rainforested
island on the NSW coast and is the only
nesting site on the planet for the rare Gould's
Petrel. It was the first nature reserve declared
Gloucester lies in a fertile valley with a
number of river systems, including the Avon,
Barrington and Gloucester, cutting through
from west to east, rising in the World Heritage-
listed Barrington Tops. The 120,000 hectares
of national parks and state forests around
the World Heritage area have natural charm,
magnificent views, a variety of vegetation and
a lack of commercialism, with steep slopes
of ancient temperate rainforest, sub-alpine
mountain tops of snowgums and a combination
of gorges, waterfalls and fast-running trout
In the foothills of Barrington Tops, Copeland
Tops State Conservation Area has dry
rainforest to open forest with giant red cedars,
native animals, including the rare stuttering
frog, and historic relics of the gold-mining era
of the 1870s when 50 or so mines gave up a
total of about 1818 kg of the precious ore.
Woko National Park is about 30 km north-
west of Gloucester and conserves 8598
hectares of eucalypt and rainforest and a wide
range of birds and animals.
Water: Opposite page,
canoeing down rapids in
the Barrington Tops and
entrance to the Great
Lakes. This page, the
Tea Gardens -- Hawks
Nest bridge and
Mountain Maid gold
The Catholic Church
and supporting the whole community through
high quality education, aged care, employment,
assistance and opportunity for worship.
or phone 4979 1120
Engaging with individuals and families from the
Hunter at each stage of their life...
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