Porongurup National Park

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Porongurup National Park is a national park in the Great Southern region of Western Australia (Australia), 360 km southeast of Perth and 40 km from Albany.

It protects the Porongurup Range, an extremely ancient and largely levelled mountain range formed in the Precambrian over 1200 million years ago. The present range is no more than fifteen km (10 miles) from east to west and consists of granite peaks levelled into domes. The highest point in the Porongurup Range is Devils Slide at 670 metres (2,200 ft) whilst there are several other peaks above 600 metres (1,970 ft), which is about 400 metres above the surrounding plain. Indeed, for much of the Cretaceous and Paleogene the Porongurup Range was an island surrounded by the sea, with the Stirling Range forming the southern coastline.

It is believed that the Porongurup Range is a remnant of the Precambrian collision that joined Australia and Antarctica until they separated in the Paleocene. There remain major granite intrusions in what is left of what must once have been a large mountain range.

Contents

History

Although Aboriginal tribes had lived in the plains around the Porongurup Range for tens of thousands of years before European settlement, it is believed that they never or very rarely moved above the plains, largely because of the often inhospitable weather and the absence of useful resources in the forests of the region or on the often bare peaks.

The Porongurup Range was first sighted by Europeans passing near Albany in 1802 but farming in the surrounding districts did not start until around 1859 when vegetables were first grown on the southern slopes of the range. The giant karri and jarrah trees of the range were first harvested for timber in the 1880s and timber leases did not begin to be withdrawn until 1925 and the National Park was not gazetted officially until 1971 with an area of 1,157 ha. This has now been increased to 2,511 ha.

In 1978, Cyclone Alby felled many trees within the National Park (it was an unusual depression that produced very little rainfall after moving south of the Tropic of Capricorn).

On February 11, 2007, a fire began on private property near the north-west corner of the park. It quickly spread into the native vegetation and raced up the steep slopes within hours. Volunteer fire crews battled the fast-moving blaze and managed to contain it overnight after it had burnt around 50% of the park. The fire broke containment lines on Monday afternoon (12 February) and spread further through the park and into private property to the north-east. Fire crews, including aerial support from six water bomber planes, continued the battle to contain the blaze and by Tuesday morning it was again under control though still burning freely within the containment zone. Water bombers paid special attention to tourist facilities and special habitats, including an area where endangered noisy scrub birds had been released. By Wednesday morning (14 February) the fire had burnt through around 95% of the national park.[2]

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