Landcare and protection of significant Aboriginal sites

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) owns land in Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment and has successfully applied for funding to pay for people to remove weeds and protect Aboriginal sites of significance. MLALC is employing a qualified Aboriginal Bush Regenerator as the Culture & Land Officer for MLALC.

Aboriginal young people working under supervision by MLALC’s trained bush regnerator are working on weed control – removing Whisky Grass, Pampas Grass  and African Love grass from Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council land. 

This is important work – stopping weed seeds from being carried across from this land to other nearby bushland in the catchment of Narrabeen Lagoon.

Some areas need to be protected from recreational users such as bush walkers, horse riders, mountain bike riders or motor bike riders because there are endangered species present or because there are sites of Aboriginal heritage importance.

Weed removal
Working on weeds

We trust that once people realise there are good reasons for closing some areas to recreational use, that they will respect this and work with MLALC to improve the biodiversity of the area and to protect significant sites for the generations to come.

It is important that we help to educate the public about the significance of Aboriginal Heritage.  This Heritage needs to be protected and passed on to younger generations.
All Australians are enriched by the diversity of culture in our country and particularly by the presence of significant Aboriginal Heritage. 

One of the Aboriginal sites that had been damaged at Belrose has been repaired and signposted by MLALC. 
Bike riders and other recreational visitors to the area now respect the Moon Rock site
and it has been nominated and declared as an Aboriginal Place.

The NSW Heritage Minister Mark Speakman announced this on Wednesday 26th October 2016.

This Aboriginal Place declaration will now provide added protection
for the Moon Rock site at Belrose for the future.

These photos are of Aboriginal trainees learning to provide similar protection for sites around Red Hill. Some sites are where threatened species of plants or wildlife are found and some are of Aboriginal significance but already people have damaged or removed some of the signage.

There were some new signs erected early in 2017, one along the Slippery Dip Trail and the other at Red Hill.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

The land in most of the catchment of Middle Creek has been returned to Aboriginal management
and is now owned by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) who is managing the land for the benefit of Aboriginal people and to protect culturally and ecologically sensitive sites.

The Land

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and its members would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands within our boundaries, the 29 clan groups of the Eora Nation. We would like to pay our respects to our elders both past and present, and all Aboriginal people within our boundaries from whatever Aboriginal nation you may come from.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) is legislated under NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 as the representative body established for all Aboriginal people and the body responsible for the protection, preservation and promotion of Aboriginal Culture & Heritage within its proclaimed boundaries. MLALC works in conjunction with Office Environment & Heritage as the NSW legislated agency responsible for Culture & Heritage Legislation.

MLALC in undertaking the Protecting Our Places grant to protect & preserve Aboriginal cultural sites & preserving, protecting and promoting the importance of maintaining local & native vegetation including vulnerable & endangered flora have discovered these sites being damaged & desecrated as a result of illegal access by third parties.

Ecological Values

The Garigal Land owned by MLALC is an area of native remnant bushland, that stretches from Forest Way in the west, to Narrabeen Lagoon in the east and Mona Vale Road in the north to Frenchs Forest in the south.

Combined with the adjacent part of Garigal National Park the area is sufficiently large to sustain viable populations of at least 25 Threatened species and more than 680 other native species.

This land also contains unique and ecologically significant habitats including rare, low growing, hanging swamps and heaths with emergent mallee eucalypts and endangered ridge-top forests on clay rich soils.

Land, the Core of Belief and Sustaining the Continuum

Land is fundamental to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal cultural heritage is viewed as the total ways of living built up by Aboriginal people for thousands of generations. Cultural heritage has been passed from one generation to the next, given by reason of birth and connection.

Land is fundamental to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal cultural heritage is viewed as the total ways of living built up by Aboriginal people for thousands of generations. Cultural heritage has been passed from one generation to the next, given by reason of birth and connection.

For Aboriginal people, all that is sacred is of the Land. The ancestral spirits of the Dreaming came to earth in human form and as they moved across the land, all animals, plants, waterways, rocks and other forms were created. The inter relationships between people, animals and plants to the Land followed.

When all had been created, the ancestral beings changed into trees, stars, rocks, waterholes and other objects.  These are the sacred, significant and special places of Aboriginal culture, heritage and being today. The ancestral beings didn’t disappear; they remained taking their place in the continuum, linking the past, present, future and people to the Land.

This is the story, an unbroken story that has been passed down for thousands of years through Aboriginal wisdom and knowledge. This is the story of the importance of listening to the ancient heart of the Land, to really hear what she is saying.

We welcome you. In welcoming you we ask that you walk, sit, watch, listen and hear respectfully this unbroken story, the story that values and sustains the ancient heart of the Land.

Species Richness

The Garigal Land owned by MLALC is known to be home to at least 163 fauna and 517 flora species. Unfortunately, there has been no comprehensive flora or fauna survey of this area to date and therefore, the actual numbers of flora and fauna inhabitants is likely to be significantly greater and fauna inhabitants is likely to be significantly greater.

There are records of 18 Threatened fauna species and 7 Threatened flora species occurring within this land. These species rely heavily on the unique environmental characteristics that occur within this area.

To prevent local extinctions, active land management is needed including appropriate fire regimes/seasons, weed control, maintaining water quality, erosion control and preventing plant and frog pathogens from entering the area.

Threatened Flora

Threatened flora species include; the Hairy Geebung, Camfield’s Stringybark and Caley’s Grevillea, which are confirmed from recent sightings within the area. Other listed Threatened species which are known to occur in the vicinity are the Black-eyed Susan, Netted Bottle Brush, Angus Onion Orchid and the Bauer’s Midge Orchid.

One of the more important biological values of the site is an extensive, multi-stemmed individual Eucalyptus camfieldii which covers an area of ~700 x 200m adjacent to the Cromer trail. This is the largest known individual of this species and could be hundreds or even thousands of years old – making it possibly one of the oldest living things in the area. E. camfieldii is a highly unusual and scientifically interesting species, as it consists of many (sometimes 100s) of small clonal trunks growing from a large woody root system. It has rough heart-shaped juvenile leaves, relatively short trunk (3-5 m high) and mallee structure.

This species’ life strategy is outstandingly different from its other species. This Threatened and extremely rare Eucalypt, is only found as isolated individuals on coastal scrub and on sandstone ridge tops within the Sydney region. The species has a very low level of reproductive success and instead relies on individuals surviving fires and living many decades or more likely centuries.
Anthropogenic influences such as inappropriate fire regimes and introduced pathogens such as Phytophthora and Myrtle Rust may cause local extinctions.

The numbers of existing individuals have been drastically reduced in recent years. This plant is threatened by diseases spread by mud and soil on clothing, shoes or bikes.

Threatened Fauna

Threatened fauna species recorded include; mammals such as the Eastern Pygmy Possum, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Little – and Eastern Bentwing Bat, Eastern Freetail Bat, Southern Myotis, Greater Broad-nosed Bat. Threatened birds such as the Powerful Owl, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Varied Sittella, Scarlet Robin, and Swift Parrot. Threatened amphibians such as the Giant Burrowing Frog and the Red-crowned Toadlet and the Rosenberg’s Goanna, a Threatened reptile.

The resident population of Southern Brown Bandicoots is of both high conservation and cultural values. This now Threatened species is of central importance for the local Aboriginal tribe. The local people have a number of important ceremonial sites scattered over the entire area marked by a distinct V-shaped rock

carving which symbolise the head of this marsupial. These ceremonies were believed to increase the abundance of local Bandicoot population and were performed in combination with ritualized burning of small patches of Bushland – creating a uniquely diverse habitat for this species. This fire regime is similar to modern techniques, which has been scientifically proven to increase local biodiversity, which benefits not only the Southern Brown Bandicoot but also the entire bushland ecosystem.

The Spotted-tailed Quoll is the largest marsupial carnivore remaining on mainland Australia. This important high-order predator has suffered severe population declines due to habitat loss and competition with foxes, dogs and cats. As a result, the remaining populations such as the one on this land only exist in isolated habitat patches. The Spotted-tailed Quoll has large home ranges which means in the fragmented, urban environment it heavily relies on wildlife corridors to connect the limited areas of suitable habitat.

Eastern Pygmy Possums, a very small and elusive marsupial that has only recently been found in the area.

The endangered Swift Parrot is a beautifully colourful migratory bird which breeds in Tasmania and travels to south-eastern Australia which it calls home for the winter months. This species needs urgent habitat protection as the species has a rapidly declining population and current population estimates suggest only about 1000 pairs remain in the wild.

A pair of the impressive nocturnal predator, Powerful Owl, are known to have raised their chicks at the Wheeler Creek valley for at least 10 years.

The Giant Burrowing Frog, is geographically confined and relies heavily on large areas of native remnant bushland for its continued survival.

The Red-crowned Toadlet occurs in the higher parts of the area where tracks, soil erosion, sedimentation and low water quality threaten the population.

The Red-crowned Toadlet heavily relies on suitable habitat and currently only occurs as localized and discrete populations generally within the Sydney Basin. Due to its habitat restrictions, even relatively small and localized disturbance may have

a significant impact on local populations, if disturbance occurs on or above favoured breeding or resting site for this species.

The Rosenberg’s Goanna also occurs on the ridge where there is extensive disturbance due to tracks.


We hope caring people will help to spread the word about the importance of respect for the work being done
by the Metroplitan Local Aboriginal Land Council
and the training and work experience being undertaken by young Aboriginal people.