MP’s vision for a park

Morton National Park, which takes in an area of 45,000 acres, was reserved for public recreation of flora and fauna on September 2, 1938. 

It was originally known as the Morton Primitive Reserve, but its name was changed to Morton National Park in August 1961.

The concept came from Mark Morton MP, in whose electorate the majority of the land was situated. Although he was the Wollondilly MP at the time, he had previously represented the Shoalhaven electorate and was raised in the Nowra district.

In a letter to the Lands Minister in 1937, Mr Morton said the purpose was “not only to protect what is left of our native fauna and flora, but to provide a sanctuary for their protection and their increase”.

He went on to say “the ruthless destruction which is so constantly going on all over the state is so diminishing the number of these birds and animals, that they will soon be extinct, and I am sure that no letter from me is necessary to convince you of the advisability of such a trust being formed”.

A public meeting to discuss the proposal was held at Moss Vale in November 1937, which 200 people attended, the next September a trust was formed to manage the land.

If the grand old trees are cut, never again will trees be allowed to grow to their present age and size.

John Starkey

Throughout the 1940s there were various attempts to have timber removed from the reserve, with pressure from both the Nowra and Moss Vale ends. However, Trust Chairman John Starkey took a firm stand.

“The reserve as it stands today, with its mostly untouched timber growth and with many trees probably 2000 years old, has greater value for recreation and enjoyment of the people than any value the timber could have if cut and used commercially,” he said.

“If the grand old trees are cut, never again will trees be allowed to grow to their present age and size.”

Lack of funds were a problem between 1938-57, with some income coming from the Fitzroy Falls shop.

A grant in 1960 led to the appointment of Ranger Waples, who worked hard for a decade to make improvements. 

The final meeting of the Morton National Park Trust was held in October 1968, after which the National Parks and Wildlife Service took over.

The same year, the reserves at Bundanoon and Belmore Falls were added to the park, two years later it was extended south to include the Budawang Range and Pigeon House Mountain.

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