Friends of Lane Cove National Park Inc.

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A Brief History of Lane Cove National Park

Aboriginal Occupation

The valley provided a wide range of food for a number of Aboriginal language groups prior to 1788. Midden heaps along the Lane Cove River indicate that Aboriginal people occupied the area for thousands of years. The estuaries provided foods such as oysters, fish, crabs and waterfowl, while the forests would have provided possum, kangaroos, bandicoots and other animals.

There are still sites in the Lane Cove Valley containing rock carvings of kangaroos, an echidna, animal tracks and human-like drawings. The carving of a wombat and a sea-creature, as well as axe grinding grooves, can be found near the headwaters of Carters Creek. Near Browns Waterhole, at the western edge of the park, is a carved track of wallaby imprints. The park abounds with plants that were used by the original dwellers for food and utensils.

Early European Settlement

Early in the history of the European settlement in Sydney, the area around the Lane Cove River became an important source of timber. Wharves were built along the river, including one by an ex-convict, Joseph Fidden, in the area now known Fiddens Wharf Reserve. A small vineyard was established in the early 1800s in what is now Fullers Park. By the end of the 1870s, many small orchards were flourishing in the area. Jenkins Kitchen, near the NPWS Visitor Centre, was part of a 1860s family homestead.

Jenkins Kitchen

The Jenkins homestead was built by an orchardist, Thomas Jenkins, whose wife was the granddaughter of the first permanent settler, in 1807, in the Park area, William Henry. The homestead was weatherboard with a shingle roof. The stone kitchen survives and can be seen next to the Visitor Centre on Jenkins Hill.

Fairyland Tea Gardens (later Pleasure Gardens) was converted from a family market garden to cater for numerous picnickers boating on the river. Swings, slides, a ferris wheel, shelter sheds and a dance hall were built, but most have since disappeared. By the end of the late 19th century the remaining orchards had deteriorated. Public pressure grew for the government to acquire the foreshore land for a recreation reserve, and to protect the waterways and retain the natural features of the valley between Fig Tree Bridge to some distance above De Burghs Bridge. The weir was completed and the Lane Cove National Park officially declared open on 29 October 1938.

Originally the emphasis of the park was for recreation and in fact it was known as Lane Cove River Park and Lane Cove State Recreation Area, but since the management was taken over by the NPWS the conservation of the Lane Cove Valley has become more important.

The Present

Now the Park is totally surrounded by urban development, with approximately 2000 properties adjoining the Park. The lengthy urban/bushland interface and narrow v-shaped valley places the conservation of the Park under considerable immediate and sustained threat, e.g. from weed infestation, stormwater pollution and land encroachments.

Approximately 83% of the Park was burnt in the January fires of 1994. Later in October 1994 another 14% was burnt. The Friends of Lane Cove National Park were formed in response to the January fires. The Friends are particularly interested in regenerating the bushland in formerly weed infested areas that have been burnt. There is active recruitment of volunteers to take part in the fight to restore the bushland.

Phone (02) 9415 3998 to enquire or register to join a group and become a
bush regeneration volunteer

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