GARDENS OF STONE OFFICIALLY PROTECTED IN PERPETUITY
Eighty rare and threatened animal species and 16 threatened ecological communities will be better protected after the iconic Gardens of Stone was officially reserved as a State Conservation Area.
The gazettal this week follows a $50 million NSW Government commitment to establish an eco-adventure tourism destination in the central west of NSW.
The more than 30,000 hectare area near Lithgow features ancient rock pagodas, highland swamps, Aboriginal cultural sites and sandstone cliffs.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the reserve’s planned centrepiece, the world-class Lost City Adventure Experience, will support regional jobs and draw an estimated 200,000-plus extra visitors to the region each year.
“The first-of-its-kind Lost City Adventure Experience will be one of the State’s biggest ever regional ecotourism projects that will be a tourism attraction generating millions of dollars for the local economy,” Mr Toole said.
“The park will feature Australia’s longest zip line, rock climbing, a spectacular elevated canyon walk, 4WD and mountain bike tracks, and family-friendly camping areas, making it an unbeatable regional NSW destination.”
The first stage of the Lost City Adventure experience is expected to open in 2023.
Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling for expressions of interests from experienced commercial operators.
“Expressions of interest are now open to create world-class eco-adventure experiences within the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area, which links Wollemi and Blue Mountains National Parks,” Mr Ayres said.
“The EOI also covers the construction and operation of eco-friendly, serviced accommodation and guided walking experiences in partnership with NPWS to cater for bushwalkers and nature lovers tackling the planned multi-day Wollemi Great Walk.”
Minister for Environment James Griffin said proclaiming the former Newnes, Wolgan and Ben Bullen State Forest as the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area ensures it is protected for future generations.
“Protecting the Gardens of Stone as a State Conservation Area is a win-win. Not only are we conserving magnificent landscapes and biodiversity, we’re also boosting the local economy with jobs, and hundreds of thousands of visitors,” Mr Griffin said.
“This area is home to about 80 rare and threatened species, including koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, regent honeyeaters and the Wolgan Snow gum.
“These species will be protected in the new park, creating a lasting legacy for our future generations.
“There is also a significant cultural landscape of great importance to Wiradjuri people, and we’re committed to working with traditional owners during the establishment of the reserve.”
Since 2019, the NSW Government has secured 600,000 hectares for addition to the national park estate to protect threatened habitats, wildlife and cultural heritage in perpetuity.
All Gardens of Stone SCA visitor infrastructure will be subject to environmental and cultural heritage assessments.
Consultation on the Gardens of Stone SCA draft plan of management and draft master plan is open until 5 July 2022. The public is invited to have their say by visiting www.environment.nsw.gov.au/consult.
Stage 1 Expression of Interest submissions close on 6 June 2022. More information on the EOI can be found on the NSW eTendering website at tenders.nsw.gov.au.