Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
February 2014

Yanga National Park
Yanga National Park is a former sheep station first settled in the nineteenth century and recently bought by New South Wales to become a national park. The last shearing took place in 2005 and the park opened to the public in 2009.

Yanga National Park, in its present form, concentrates mainly on showing the facilities of the former sheep station. The homestead has been preserved and is open to the public with guided tours available.

homestead Yanga Homestead

homestead Yanga Homestead is built of murray-pine logs cut to length and dropped into slots in the uprights. The galvanised iron on the roof covers wooden shingles which can still be seen from below. Verandah posts are murray-pine still bark covered.

Outbuildings near the homestead have been converted into display area showing examples of what life was like on this wool station when it was a going concern.

Two woolsheds are open to the public. The small one at The Willows has been stripped of fittings and has no explanatory material. The very large main woolshed on the banks of the Murrumbidgee (and generally known at Yanga Woolshed) has been open to the public with explanatory video footage and extensive signage explaining how the sheep station operated and its long history.
Yanga Nat Pk - page 2
homestead Yanga Woolshed. Looking along the woolshed towards the shearing boards.

homestead One of two banks of 16 shearing stations

homestead Yanga Woolshed exterior.

The woolshed could handle thousands of sheep in a day; there are claimed to have been 40 shearers working simultaneously at one time. The shed was deliberately built on the bank of the Murrumbidgee River so wool bales from the store could be loaded directly into paddle-steamers for transport to Echuca.
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Signage at the woolshed also describes the Lower Murrumbidgee Wetland along the Murrumbidgee upstream of Balranald which now occupies a large proportion of the national park. Many environmental problems are associated with this unusual area which has evolved to require regular flooding but is in a river system where substantial engineering works built over several decades have sought to control flooding and minimised floods as much as possible. The difficulty is to preserve the habitat in areas designated as significant.

The example is given (with photographs) of nearby Yanga Reserve (not the present national park) which was declared many years ago to preserve a stand of particularly well growing and healthy Black Box trees. Although the area was designated a reserve nothing was done to preserve the habitat; but Black Box only stay healthy with regular flooding and flood mitigation schemes have deliberately reduced the incidence of flooding so Black Box trees in Yanga Reserve are now dead and rotting.

As well as making the wool station facilities available to visitors, National Parks has established several camping grounds around the former wool property, and has upgraded a picnic area and boat launching ramp on Lake Yanga inside the park.

This emphasis on the former property as well as camping and boating is fairly obvious and appears to have diverted management from providing access to the park in general. The National Parks leaflet describes Yanga National Park in glowing terms; i.e. "... The landscape is stunning in its variety and includes approximately 76,000 hectares of River Red Gum forest, Black Box-Nitre Goosefoot swamp, Belah-Rosewood woodlands, native grassland and saltbush plains ..."

All of these may well be present but the public is excluded from them. When I asked at the Park Office how I could get access to the park away from the wool facilities I was told it was not possible and all the gates were locked. The best that could be recommended was to go along the public road towards Woolpress Bend and stop when I found a suitable place off the road to look at the vegetation. That can best be described as unsatisfactory.

Yanga compares very unfavourably with nearby Mungo National Park as far as public access to the parks interesting features is concerned. At Mungo, visitors follow an instruction sheet and drive at their own pace between sites of interesting vegetation, history or geography. The vehicle is parked and visitors walk to the feature(s) concerned at their own pace and timing. A similar arrangement at Yanga would make good the presently inaccurate claims in the brochure by providing visitor access to the various attractions.

26 February 2014 - page 2