A Big Scrub Remnant, Victoria Park Nature Reserve is 17.5 hectares in size and situated on the Alstonville Plateau where it is bounded by two roads and several properties used for agriculture.
Just over a hundred years ago a vast and almost unbroken lowland rainforest covered 75,000 ha of northern NSW in the roughly circular area presently enclosed by the towns of Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby. This was the ‘Big Scrub’, also known as the ‘Red Scrub’ due to the rich volcanic soil.
Professor Len Webb, a leading Australian rainforest ecologist of international repute, has declared the ‘Big Scrub’ as – ‘the largest area of tall subtropical rainforest along the east coast’.
Its almost complete destruction by 1900 must surely stand as one of the notable monuments to our industry.
Today only 11 viable remnants survive which reflect the character of the original rainforest. Half of these are under 15 ha. We may never be able to fully appreciate the variety and extent of the original ‘Big Scrub’, however these remnants serve to reinforce the value of conservation.
Victoria Park Nature Reserve is one of the remaining surviving remnants.
A triangular reserve of 17.5 ha, it contains 8 ha of rainforest which can be described as undisturbed. The remainder is being revegetated by a Rainforest Regeneration Project while some is grassed to allow for public recreation.
It provides an excellent example of the white booyong association of subtropical rainforest. Tree species numbering 152 are recorded in this one small reserve, an indication of the highly developed complexity of this vegetation subform.
The reserve contains many fine examples of white booyong, yellow-wood, bumpy ash, red bean, Moreton Bay and strangler figs in the upper canopy.
The middle tree layer consists of yellow kamala, black bean, bangalow palm, black apple plus many other species.
The lower layer is typified by smooth bark bolly-gum, two-leaved coogera and bluntleaved steelwood.
Particularly interesting rare and endangered plant species are preserved in Victoria Park. Baloghia marmorata is a species of shrub which has its southern most occurrence here. Floydia praelata, or ball-nut, has macadamia like fruits up to 5 cm in diameter and is restricted to the shield of the Mount Warning volcano in NSW. Another bush nut Macadamia tetraphylla, although widely planted, is also restricted in its natural range to the volcanic shield. The remainder of the reserve consists of two small triangular patches of 4 ha where an ongoing regeneration program is conducted jointly by the NPWS and the Richmond River Naturalists’ Club.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Despite the small size of the area an unusually wide variety of animals occur in the reserve. The quiet observer may be rewarded with glimpses of the red-legged pademelon, the water rat and at least two species of possum.
On the southern boundary of the reserve a lookout gives wide views of the surrounding country. Away to the east is the coast and heathland of Wardell, while to the south is the low lying Tuckean Swamp, and Tucki Tucki Nature Reserve which supports a population of koalas, as red gum, Eucalyptus teretecornis, a preferred koala food tree, occurs naturally there.
It is most important to stay on the made tracks in this tiny rainforest remnant. Disturbance of undergrowth can lead to invasion by prickly plants which can seriously jeopardise the future of the remnant. Rainforest has evolved methods for creating a defense of prickly or stinging plants against disturbance by animals. These plants grow at the expense of higher habitat value plants. As this is such a small area of rainforest, tracks through it must be kept to a minimum so that high habitat values can be maintained for the fauna it supports.
With your help the rainforest can be encouraged to regenerate and flourish.
Facilities include wheelchair access, information display, water tank, a communal galley, pit toilets, tables and gas barbecues.
LOCATION AND ACCESS
The reserve is situated 16 km south-east of Lismore and is most easily accessed via the town of Alstonville then travelling south 7 km along the Wardell Road and turning onto the Rous Mill road for a further kilometre. This route is signposted.
For more information contact:
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Lismore District, Colonial Arcade,
Main Street, ALSTONVILLE 2477
Phone (02) 6627 0200
Information provided by National Parks & Wildlife Services