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Lamington National Park celebrates its 100th birthday on World Ranger Day

Lamington National Park celebrates its 100th birthday on World Ranger Day
August 1, 2015

The Lamington National Park on the Gold Coast hinterland celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday (Friday 31st July) - which also marked World Ranger Day.

Covering more than 20,500 hectares of the McPherson Range, the Park is an internationally recognised landscape valued for its natural and cultural aspects

Commenting on the anniversary, Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles stated "the world heritage national park features one of the most diverse areas of vegetation in the country, and has found a place in the hearts of many who have visited over the last 100 years.”

Dr Miles marked the centenary at Green Mountains with descendants of Robert Collins and Romeo Lahey who fought to have the area preserved as national park, and members of the Groom and O’Reilly families whose names have long been connected with the park’s conservation and tourism.

Seven years after Mick O’Reilly was appointed the park’s first paid ranger in 1919, his family opened a guest house, now famously known as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Third-generation Managing Director Shane O’Reilly said guests were educated on the importance of conservation and protection of the park and Lamington’s remarkable flora and fauna.

Shane O’Reilly stated “our continuing commitment to Lamington National Park has remained paramount from the day we opened our first slab huts at the Rainforest Retreat 89 years ago.

“We are excited to be part of the Lamington 100th anniversary and look forward to celebrating the Park's heritage, with presentations from O’Reilly family members and guided rainforest walks available to all visitors.”

Lamington National Park Ranger in Charge Wil Buch said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers continued to protect and promote the park.

Buch explained that visitors “can still enjoy most of the original walking tracks, which were constructed in the 1930s with the establishment of the Binna Burra and O’Reilly guesthouses

“Much of the track building was done by gangs undertaking Great Depression relief work, and we still use many of the same techniques today in track building and maintenance.”

Dr Miles said World Ranger Day was an opportunity to acknowledge our rangers.

He concluded “our national parks are world-renowned, and Queensland park rangers do a terrific job protecting our natural heritage, through fire, pest and weed management.

“Rangers also ensure our campgrounds, walking tracks and lookouts are safe for visitors.

“Rangers are on the front line, and World Ranger Day is a chance to recognise the Thin Green Line Foundation and the International Ranger Federation.”

Lamington National Park facts:

• Lamington National Park features approximately 130 kilometres of walking trails, over 500 waterfalls and 390 species of Australian wildlife – some of them only found in Lamington. 
• A mountainous, forested area of 19,035 hectares was declared Lamington National Park on 31 July 1915 –– It was the state’s ninth national park, just seven years after the first, Witches Falls (Tamborine Mountain), had been declared in 1908. 
• The battle to have Lamington National Park declared had been a hard-fought victory against those who wanted the area kept for timber harvesting or dairy farming. 
• The campaign began in the 1890s when grazier Robert Collins began lobbying to preserve the area as national park, a fight he continued in Parliament as a member of the Legislative Assembly. 
• Parliament passed the State Forests and National Parks Act in 1906, and in 1911 Romeo Lahey joined the campaign and petitioned the Government for an even larger area to be protected, and Lamington was gazetted four years later. 
• The first official paid ranger or ‘working overseer’ Mick O’Reilly was appointed in 1919, with his brothers acting as unpaid honorary rangers, to help protect wildlife and plants in the park. 
• In 1926 the O’Reilly family opened the Guest House, now known as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Binna Burra Mountain Lodge opened in 1933, founded by Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey. Both lodges have been welcoming and hosting nature lovers from around the globe ever since. 

Images (from top):
Panorama from edge of caldera, Border Track Lamington National Park, courtesy Nicholas Hill
Alberts lyrebird Lamington National Park, courtesy Rod Westacott
Waterfall on Box Forest Circuit Lamington National Park, courtesy  Lightcapturer Bevin Rijkaart
Walkers on Border Track Lamington National Park, courtesy Lightcapturer Bevin Rijkaart






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