Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The Gardens of Stone Celebration - a stunning success!!!

Over the weekend 172 photographs by leading national and international photographers put In Focus the extraordinary beauty of the Gardens of Stone region of the Blue Mountains at an event in the New Law Building, Sydney University. Over 200 passionate and knowledgeable volunteer photographers, conservationists and bushwalkers came together to celebrate the rebirth of the Gardens of Stone campaign and some became Gardens of Stone Protectors.

Wiradjuri woman Sharon Riley opened the Celebration, which was chaired Joan Domicelj AM and hosted by Julie McCrossinthree strong woman standing up for country, for the Gardens of Stone!

Sharon’s Respect for Country was followed by Joel Robinson’s beautifully crafted video titled 'Australia's Gardens of Stone'. For the first time this internationally significant pagoda landscape has been captured in a movie format. Julie McCrossin then engaged the audience in an exciting QandA session with the exhibition's Curator, Antony Bond, experienced campaigner Madi MacLean of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and visionary walks leader Yuri Bolotin of hard-working the Bush Explorers who have published eight walk guides of the region.

The exhibition's high quality photographs remain online at the In Focus Gallery and are now supplemented by Poems and Prose collated into a booklet, edited by Bruce Diekman. 

The inspiring pagoda scenery are captured in images and poetry. The science of its heritage values was collated and explained in a report by Ian Brown who revealed there are 100 reasons to reserve the Gardens of Stone! This Heritage Report describes rich density and diversity of the national and internationally significant values of Gardens of Stone region.

During the last ten years, the Gardens of Stone Alliance[i] has taken thousands of people on guided walks to the Gardens of Stone. Visitors are astonished by its beauty and vulnerability. Yuri Bolotin has written of his experience of Sydney’s Secret Wonderland today in the ‘Land of the 10,000 Sisters’. He of all walk leaders has worked hardest to share this wonderland with others, including through a collation of prose and poems.

The walk program is on-going, and to meet this need, a new visitors map with new walks and adventures by Karen McLaughlin is now available from the Colong shop. There is also a brochure and Gardens of Stone website to encourage action to save the Gardens of Stone.

Talks conducted during the celebration covered the history of photography and conservation by Janine Kitson and Henry Gold, followed by an engaging talk on the landscape photography by Gary Hayes. Talks by botanist Doug Benson on swamps, authors and adventurers Yuri Bolotin and Brian Fox gave further depth to the Celebration of the Gardens of Stone region. Most important of all, Dr Haydn Washington talk outlined the international significance of platy pagodas and the region’s ‘geodiversity’.

Gardens of Stone In Focus has given Sydney residents a better understanding of their outstanding bushland backyard. Our wilderness backyard is possibly a unique relationship for a large city and greatly undervalued.  Our green surrounds are the reason Sydney enjoys pure water supplies and clean air.  Yet coal mining in the Gardens of Stone region and our other water catchments continue to erode these benefits.

My main task at the event was to thank the hundred plus volunteers that made the event possible by donating their images and time. I concluded the celebration on a sober note, with an overview mining mischief in the region - the cliffs falls, rock cracks and crevasses, swamp and waterfall deaths, the toxic mine water pollution causing stream death along with unsightly infrastructure. So that the tone was not ruined, Sunday's events ended as we began with Joel’s wonderful video and adjourned upstairs for a light lunch and the last of the wine.

 Keith Muir, Director, Colong Foundation

Become a Gardens of Stone Protector

Join the Gardens of Stone Sydney Working Group
When - Wednesday October 16th, 5pm to 7.30pm
Where Get Up! rooms 1 and 2, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney

Draft Agenda - actions to save the Gardens of Stone, and dinner before 7.30pm.
[i] The Gardens of Stone Alliance was formed in 2014 by the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness and the Lithgow Environment Group.