The Ginninderra Falls Working Group recently visited the Apsley Falls, near the town of Walcha, in the Northern Tablelands region of New South Wales.
Apsley Falls is in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and showcases amazing waterfalls that drop over 60 metres off the tablelands into the Apsley Gorge and then flow into the Macleay River system below.
The camping and day-use facilities at Apsley Falls see more than 120,000 visitors per year, and the Ginninderra Falls Working Group was keen to understand the nature of the challenges and opportunities in managing visitation and showcasing natural and cultural values to the community.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger Patrick Lupica has helped look after Apsley Falls for 16 years, and was a fountain of knowledge, from all things track and lookout establishment and maintenance, to visitor engagement and the protection of the woodlands ecosystems there.
The site has a series of lookouts, stairways, walking paths and even a suspension bridge that provides the best available vantage points around the gorge. Mostly built some 16 years ago, the infrastructure is holding up remarkably well, especially given more than 1 million visitors must have, by now, shared the Apsley Falls experience.
Some of the lookouts at Apsley Falls are built on a shale parent material and land-slips have been known to occur (e.g. one in 15 years). As this is a potential safety risk for visitors, the NPWS team has established a suite of monitoring measures to determine if the lookouts are moving and when they should be closed if they are.
At Ginninderra Falls, the proposed lookouts will be on granite parent material/substrate so the potential of land-slips occurring is not as great a risk. However, the monitoring measures implemented by the NPWS team will be an important guide in developing a framework for ensuring visitor safety on the Ginninderra Falls tracks and trails.
Other key highlights from the visit included the rare Hop Bush (Dodonaea rhombifolia) perched right against the walking track, the high quality grassy woodlands in and around the camping and day-use areas, and the low impact and long-living infrastructure that safely moves all the visitors around the site.
The trip was a great opportunity for the Ginninderra Falls Working Group to visit and learn from the NSW NPWS team at Aspley Falls and we thank them for the knowledge sharing.
A wealth of lessons-learnt and ideas have been learnt that may help shape the future of Ginninderra Falls.
Visit our gallery to see some photos from the day.