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June 24, 2024

Dirawong Crown Reserve board term ends – future unclear

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Dirawong Reserve. Photo Richard Gates

The Dirawong Crown Reserve was established nearly forty years ago as a result of community concern about the degradation of the site caused by uncontrolled four wheel drive access. In addition, sand mining had left behind an extensive weed problem. However, the Dirawong Crown Reserve board, appointed by the minister, came to the end of their recent five-year term yesterday (8 August) and the Minister for Crown Lands has put no management structure in place to manage the future of the reserve. 

Dirawong Reserve. Photo Richard Gates

The Dirawong is a 364ha Coastal Reserve gazetted for the protection of flora and fauna, protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage, and passive recreation. Right from the gazettal date of the Dirawong Reserve the Local Land Councils have provided to the Reserve board, to ensure the community could build valid management outcomes, according to a recent press release from ​​Dr Neville Bofinger.

The prevalence of South African Bitou bush, Chrysanthemoides monilifera, was one of the main issues on this reserve. Bitou bush is a weed of national significance.

‘Consecutive Boards of the Dirawong have tackled the weed problem using a non-herbicide approach to its  management because of their known impact on soil biology,’ explained Dr Bofinger. 

‘Seventy per cent of plants on the Reserve depend on that biology for survival and development. The approach taken by the Reserve has allowed the natural seed bank to regenerate and very much limited the need for planting out of seedlings. 

‘The magnificent displays of wildflowers and regeneration of healthy Pandanus along the coastal strip are a testament to the approach taken by the Reserve. Control of weeds is an ongoing problem for the Reserve because of their introduction through road works including fire trails not sanctioned by the Reserve managers. Some of those weeds include Crofton weed Ageratina adenophora which is now invading, uncontrolled, the adjacent Bundjalung National Park, and Rattlepod Crotalaria species.’

Dirawong Reserve. Photo Richard Gates

The Dirawong Reserve has more than 60,000 vehicle visits a year including many specialist interest and school groups which visit.

‘Because of increased public use the Board upgraded the toilet system through a successful grant application last year,’ said Dr Bofinger.

‘The Board has to apply each year for funding through a competitive grants program run by Crown Lands and from other sources. The Reserve receives no recurrent funding or budget for basic work such as grass mowing, car park or infrastructure maintenance, a problem for future boards. Recurrent funding was once available but with the takeover of the Richmond Valley Council’s Silver Sands Caravan Park by Crown Lands, that funding has ceased.

Dirawong Reserve. Photo Richard Gates

Community support

‘The current Board wishes to acknowledge the extensive support it has received from the community for helping maintain and monitor the Reserve, the work of its contractors for weed and track work and erosion control and the legacy benefits of past Boards on which the work of the current Board has been built. Successive Boards have been appointed by the Minister responsible for Crown Land and are unpaid volunteers.

‘The Board recognises in particular Indigenous Elders who gave freely of their wisdom in helping manage a very special area for the Bundjalung and Bandjalang people. This included the late Mr Henry Bolt, the late Mr Russel Kapeen, Ms Irene Harington, the late Mr Laurie Wilson and Mr Tony Wilson, all appointed members to Dirawong Trust at different times.

‘The Board also wishes to acknowledge the effective working relationships it has had with its

neighbouring land managers including the Department of Defence to the south with its active RAAF Evans Head Air Weapons Range, Richmond Valley Council’s rangers who have dealt with compliance matters which arise from time to time, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the local police.’

All enquiries regarding management of the Reserve should be directed to Crown Lands at [email protected].gov.au or phone 1300 886 235.


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1 COMMENT

  1. I hadn’t heard of Dirawong Crown Reserve. And I didn’t know where it was. After reading this article, I still don’t know where it is. So it must be either a secret, or just poor journalism.

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