The Birth of Queensland's National Parks

7 Nov 2011 9:56 AMSusan Guthrie
The Birth of Queensland's National Parks

Queensland’s national parks owe a lot to the determination of Robert Martin Collins, born in Sydney in 1843. In 1844 Robert and his parents travelled to Brisbane on the SS Sovereign before heading by dray overland to their 60,000 acre property at Mundoolun. Meaning Death Adder in the local Yugambeh language, the large property covered much of the area between Beenleigh and Beaudesert.

 

In 1878, Robert and his brother William visited Yellowstone National Park while on a trip to America and could see the benefits of such reserves. So, in 1895 Robert and a group of six took the opportunity to follow a branch of Christmas Creek up to the Border Ranges exploring the area before returning several days later.

 

Later, in 1896, he became the member for Albert in the Queensland Parliament and in 1898 guided, with others, the Queensland governor, Lord Lamington, up the mountain above Christmas Creek to the top of the high waterfall now known as Lamington Falls.

 

Robert encouraged the Government to cut an eight foot wide track up the ridge to Point lookout in 1905 and this later became famous as the Stretcher Track used by Bernard O’Reilly to rescue survivors of the Stinson plane crash in 1937.

 

After years of Robert campaigning and promoting the idea of a National park in the MacPherson Range, in 1908 the Queensland government announced the Witch’s Falls National Park on the western side of Mt Tamborine.

 

By 1910 seven parks had been declared in Queensland but still none in the Border Rangers. Robert continued to write to the minister for land asking for better access and consideration for a park in the area. In 1910, the new minister, Mr Denham, replied: ‘I appreciate the thought of a national park, but for anyone to regard Lamington Plateau as a national park, is under the circumstances, an extreme view. I think public interest would be served much more by having some 30 to 50 families living there.’

 

Before living to see his dream fulfilled, on the 18th of August 1913, at the age of 70, Robert Collins passed away at his home Tamrookum. Romeo Lahey, a timber miller from Canungra, and others joined in the lobbying and finally, in 1915, the Lamington was declared a National Park just two years after Roberts’s death.

Thanks to Neville McManimm for sharing this information.

 

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