About 4000 visitors attended a community event at Ironbark Flats near Audley to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Many more people took advantage of free vehicle entry to Royal National Park to visit other areas of the park during the celebration on Sunday, October 8.
The event took place against a backdrop of continuing uncertainty about a proposed application to include Royal National Park as a World Heritage site.
The Greens claim the process has stalled because internal state government documents reveal a plan to alienate land within the park for the F6 motorway extension.
Sutherland Shire Council has written to Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, asking what has become of the bid.
A spokesman for Ms Upton would say only, “The NSW Government is reviewing advice on the matter”.
Activities at Ironbark Flats during the fiftieth anniversary celebration included free Discovery Ranger tours and WilderQuest Bug Making.
“More than 600 adults and children experienced the virtual reality stand which gave an opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal culture and Australian wildlife,” a NPWS spokeswoman said.
“Over 100 visitors joined the Royal National Park history tour and over 1000 visitors took part in the Aboriginal Cultural workshops.
“The event featured video histories of each decade, beautiful photo displays (many captured in the special fiftieth anniversary book), and an inspiring talk from the family of Ray Kelly, the first Aboriginal employee of NPWS.
“Visitors were invited to bring a picnic to the event or enjoy the free sausage-sizzle which handed out over 1200 lunches.”
NPWS was established in 1967 after the Minister for Lands, Tom Lewis, who later became premier, introduced the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The act transferred care, control and management of national parks, state parks and historic sites to NPWS from the trusts that had previously run them.
In 1969, NPWS also became responsible for protecting Aboriginal artifacts and sites.