Wilsons Promontory National Park: 1946 to 1998, by Daniel Catrice
The Committee of Management resumed control of Wilsons Promontory National Park on February 1, 1946. For six years the park had been inaccessible to the public.
Now it began to attract nationwide attention as reports came to light of the damage done to the park during its occupation by the Army.
In an editorial in Wild Life magazine the well-known naturalist and broadcaster Philip Crosbie Morrison claimed there was hardly a living thing left on the promontory, and roundly condemned the use of the park for training men to ‘live off the land’ – men who, ‘bored with inaction, were ready to shoot anything that moved’ (Wild Life, May 1946).
He called for a stock-taking of our national parks, warning that ‘if we do not have a post-war New Deal for the fauna and flora, the birthright of the coming generations will have gone, and, once gone, it can be replaced by neither money nor toil nor tears’ (Wild Life, May 1946).
In reality, the poor condition of the park was as much a result of a prolonged drought and infestation by rabbits as of soldiers’ depredations.
Cattle grazing also exacted a heavy toll. In 1946, a Royal Commission found that the Prom was a ‘ghost of its former self’ due to grazing and frequent burning.
The Commission’s report recommended that all grazing should be excluded from such areas, ‘some of which are being ruined in the quest of a miserable revenue won at the expense of their beauty and well-being’ (Report of the Royal Commission into Forest Grazing, 1946)…
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