|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (15/12/2006)|
|Place File No||2/03/121/0016|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
National Park is a
dramatic landform with sweeping western slopes, craggy eastern peaks and
massive sandstone cliffs that contrast with surrounding plains; extensive
forests interrupted by water bodies; and rock outcrops, deeply fissured cliffs
and weather-sculpted sandstone.
The powerful and unusual landscape represents the most important area for floristic richness and endemism in eastern inland Australia, and is important for species richness of freshwater and terrestrial invertebrates. There is an outstanding display of geological features at the Grampians, and archaeological evidence telling the story of indigenous occupation over the last 20,000 years. The park also contains the densest concentration of rock art paintings in Victoria and has the single largest assemblage of Aboriginal art motifs in Victoria.
The Grampians is important as a defining image in Australia, that has inspired Australian artists in a range of media including painting (Arthur Streeton and Arthur Boyd), poetry, literature, photography and film.
The Grampians National Park (the Grampians, also known as Gariwerd by local indigenous people) is located in
central-western Victoria, between Stawell and
Horsham, 260km north-west of Melbourne.
Rising abruptly from the surrounding plains, the Grampians is a series of
north-south oriented ranges, visible at a distance from many different
The ranges have high rocky plateaus and sheltered gullies, and contrast with the flat and open farmland around. There are numerous rock formations, waterfalls and clear streams. Panoramic views over the park and surrounding country are experienced from numerous lookout points. Diverse vegetation of forests, woodlands, wetlands, fern gullies and spectacular spring flowers contribute to the aesthetic characteristics (Crocker and Davis 2005a&b).
The highest elevation reaches 1168 metres, and the park covers an area of 167,219 ha. The distinctive cuesta landform of the Grampians consists of abrupt escarpments and generally west-dipping slopes. They offer an outstanding geological spectacle. The sediments which make up the Grampians were deposited about 400 million years ago and are approximately 3700 m deep. They are composed of layers of massive sandstones, siltstones and mudstones which were folded and tilted during the Middle Devonian period, with later smaller earth movements causing further warping. Granitic magma intruded into the Grampians sediments around 395 million years ago, resulting in deeply weathered batholiths, dykes and sills. Several distinct ranges are identifiable – the Mount William, Mount Difficult, Wonderland, Serra and Victoria Ranges. Differential erosion of the tilted and folded strata is notable, forming a spectacular topography of broad and rising dip slopes ending in sharp ridges which give way to escarpments and steep gorges with waterfalls (Joyce and King 1980, Yeates 2001, Costermans 1981, Cayley and Taylor 1997, in Parks Victoria 2003).
An island of bushland in a largely cleared agricultural landscape, the Grampians National Park supports over 975 native vascular plant species, representing over one third of the total Victorian flora. Many of these flora species are found nowhere else. A large number of liverworts and mosses have also been recorded. The park is notable as a floral wonderland, exhibiting a rich and colourful wildflower display in spring, with multitudes of herbs and shrubs flowering, such as Grampians boronia, blue pin-cushion lily, Grampians parrot-pea, and Grampians thryptomene. Of particular note is the species richness of wildflowers in the bacon and eggs or Pultenaea genus (17 species). The park is also rich in orchid species, with more than 75 terrestrial orchid species recorded. The biodiversity of the area is due to the wide variety of rock and soil types and environmental niches. There are seven broad vegetation types in the Park, including inland slopes woodland; sedge-rich woodland; herb-rich woodland; dry foothill forest; plains grassy woodland; valley grassy forest; and grassland. The most species-rich vegetation type found in the park, lateritic heathy woodland, is one of the richest vegetation communities in the world, with an average of 82 vascular species per 30m2 quadrat (Paton & Paton 2004, Parks Victoria 2003, Parks Victoria 2005).
The Grampians receive a relatively high and reliable rainfall. The park contains the headwaters of several substantial streams: the Wannon River and Fyans Creek (Barriyaloog Creek), in the valley adjacent to the Mount William Range; the Glenelg River, in the Victoria Range (Billawin Range); and a small tributary of the Wannon River called Dwyers Creek. Almost three quarters of the park is used as water supply catchment areas, producing high-quality water to supply western Victoria (Parks Victoria 2003).
The variety of vegetation, topography and habitats provide shelter and food sources for at least 230 bird species, including thornbills, fairy-wrens, honeyeaters, whistlers, robins, wetland birds and parrots. The low open shrubby woodlands in the park support many different nectar-feeding birds, and the tall open forests are important for hollow-dependent species such as the powerful owl (Ninox strenua). The Grampians wetlands, particularly those in the south of the park, support a diverse community of waterbirds, including the great egret (Ardea alba). The numerous cliff faces provide nesting sites for the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), and large populations of emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) are found throughout the lowland areas. The diverse habitats throughout the park also support a large range of animals. It is home to around 40 species of mammals, 30 of reptiles, 11 of amphibians, six types of native fish and a number of significant butterfly species (Parks Victoria 2003, Parks Victoria 2005, ANHAT 2006).
At least 98 species of plants and 50 species of animals that are listed as threatened under State or Commonwealth legislation are found in the Grampians National Park. Plants include the nationally endangered Grampians pincushion lily (Borya mirabilis), its distribution restricted to a single rock outcrop in the Grampians, and several other species that are critically endangered in Victoria such as the southern pipewort (Eriocaulon australasicum). Nationally threatened animals recorded in the Park include the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne), and smoky mouse (Pseudomys fumeus). There is also the vulnerable swift parrot (Lathamus discolour), warty bell frog (Litoria raniformis), brush-tailed rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), and heath rat (Pseudomys shortridgei).
The Grampians has a number of facilities, including more than 200 km of walking tracks, a good road network, carparks, camping and picnic areas, a visitor centre, and Brambuk - the National Park & Cultural Centre, which represents the five Koori communities with connections to Gariwerd (the Indigenous name for the Grampians), informing and entertaining visitors, and sustaining Indigenous traditions. The Park attracts more than 800 000 visitors each year (Wettenhall 1999; Parks Victoria 2005).
The majority of Aboriginal rock art sites known in Victoria are located in the Grampians Ranges. Sites in the Grampians National Park are mostly located in rock shelters associated with the dissected sandstone ridges, which characterise the northern and western parts of the National Park, or on isolated boulders. Two clusters of rock art sites occur in the Grampians National Park: the Victoria Range Group, and the Northern Group.
The Victoria Range Group contains the highest density of rock art sites, with a high proportion of human figures. Notable rock art sites are: Billimina (Glenisla shelter), Jananginj Njani (Camp of the Emu’s Foot), Manja (Cave of Hands), Larngibunja (Cave of Fishes). Billimina is the most prolific single rock art site in Victoria, with more than 2000 motifs present on a single panel. The art panel has the highest representations of bar motifs in Victoria, and includes a depiction of birds – probably emus, one of only two known sites in the Grampians where birds are depicted.
The Northern Group rock art sites form a smaller assemblage, primarily located in rock shelters around the base of the Mt Stapylton Range in the north of the park. These sites have fewer human figures than the Victoria Range Group, and more geometric linear motifs and animal tracks. Notable rock arts sites are Ngamadjidj (Cave of Ghosts) and Gulgurn Manja (Flat Rock). Ngamadjidj contains 16 figures painted in white pigment, the only site in Victoria in which white pigment was exclusively used (Flood 1990, 1983; Gunn 1981, 1983, 1987; Long 1999; all cited in Goulding & Schell, 2006).
Recent dating of sites in Victoria Range
has revealed human occupation of the Grampians during the Pleistocene, as early
as 22 000BP. During the late Pleistocene
period the Grampians
Ranges would have been on
the fringe of an arid or semi arid zone, with Indigenous occupation of the
ranges serving as a focal point from which to exploit plains to the north and
west. During the early Holocene, climatic conditions became more temperate
resulting in changing patterns of land-use, which likely were refined during
the late Holocene (Bird 1997, Bird et al 1998, Bird & Frankel 2005, cited
in Goulding & Schell 2006). Aboriginal groups believed to have occupied
the Grampians in the early historical period include the Jardwadjali,
the Wotjobaluk, the Djab
wurrung and the Buandig. |
Major Thomas Mitchell scaled the summit of the Grampians- highest peak, Mt Duwil (Mt William), on July 14, 1836, with a small group. Exploring and searching for new grazing land in the area, Mitchell gave favourable reports, and European settlers arrived in growing numbers. By 1840 much of the surrounding land had been taken up for sheep grazing (Paton & Paton 2004) with consequent frontier conflict between Aboriginal people and settlers.
The Grampians soon became a centre for farming, mining and timber production, and a source of water for surrounding farmland. The idea of creating a Grampians National Park dates from the nineteenth century; it was designated as State Forest in 1872. The Field Naturalist Club of Victoria publicised the beauty and interest of the Grampians through talks illustrated with lantern slides. Post cards of the Grampians were available. The mountains were promoted as a nature-lovers’ holiday destination, and in the early 1900s, cottages and guesthouses were opening in the mountains and bus tours were being organised from Melbourne. After World War II, roads in the area were improved dramatically, bringing a growing number of visitors to the Grampians. In 1981 the Land Conservation Council (LCC) released its draft recommendation for designation as a National Park. Soon after, the National Trust recognised the landscape significance of the Grampians in 1983, and finally the LCC recommendation was accepted by the Victorian Government and Grampians National Park was declared in 1984 (Calder 1987, in Context 2006).
There is strong evidence that the Grampians has been the subject of artistic endeavours over a long period of time. It has inspired works by significant Australian artists including painters Eugene von Guerard, Nicholas Chevalier, Louis Buvelot, Arthur Streeton, and Arthur Boyd; photographers Charles Nettleton, Frank Hurley, Peter Walton, David Tatnell, Harry Nankin and Steve Parish; writers Arthur Upfield and Donald Charlwood; poets Phillip Mead and JK McDougall; and film-maker Arch Nicholson.
|Condition and Integrity|
Parts of the park have vegetation in remarkably good
condition – weed-free, structurally diverse, species rich and with
ecological processes largely intact (NRE 1997).|
Fire is an important cultural characteristic of the Grampians, with traditional firestick burning being periodically carried out by local Indigenous people. Fire event records since 1939 indicate that much of the park has been subjected to both wildfire and prescribed burning over the last 60 years. Large areas of the park were burnt in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2006. A major bushfire ignited by lightning in January 2006 burnt both private and public land. Approximately 47% of the National Park was affected, spanning the middle section of the park. Many plant species in the area respond well to fire or remain dormant until fire occurs. Early Autumn rains following the 2006 fire has seen regeneration occur. After the 2006 fire there have been more opportunities for Indigenous cultural site identification and investigation, with evidence being more visible without vegetation cover. Most roads and walking tracks have been reopened since the fire.
Over 200 introduced vascular plants, both exotic and native, have been recorded in the park. These are generally confined to the boundary areas and some exotic plants are associated with historic sites within the park. Introduced animals recorded include foxes, rabbits, deer, feral cats, goats and feral bees.
The invasive pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, a soil borne fungus, has been recorded from many sites within the park. Although it spreads naturally, the rate of spread is accelerated by the transport of infected soil and gravel by road-making machinery and other vehicles. Gravel for maintaining the park’s road and track network was previously sourced from 29 gravel pits in the park, of which 14 are known to be infected with Phytophthora. Future closure and rehabilitation of gravel pits will reduce the number of currently active gravel pits from 18 to 11.
The Park has a number of facilities, including tracks and roads, carparks, camping and picnic areas, a visitor centre, and Brambuk - the National Park & Cultural Centre.
Condition Statement taken primarily from the Grampians National Park Management Plan (Parks Victoria 2003). Information on January/February 2006 bushfires taken from Parks Victoria website (Parks Victoria 2006).
About 168,880ha, Grampians Road, Halls Gap, comprising the
whole of the National Park.|
Bonyhady, T 1985, Images in Opposition,
Australian Landscape Painting 1801- 1890. Oxford
University Press, Australia.|
Context Pty Ltd 2003a, Inspirational landscapes, Volume 1: Project report
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Crocker, R. & Davies, B. 2005a, Identifying inspirational landscapes – Stage 2.
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Report Produced Thu Oct 2 12:47:31 2014