MEDIA RELEASE  10 December 2018 |

This December marks the fifty-year anniversary since the declaration of the Little Desert National Park, after a historic campaign that changed the political landscape of Victoria.

To mark the milestone, the Victorian National Parks Association has created a podcast documenting the 1960s political dispute that ended in the protection of this precious area in the north-west of our state – at the same time as putting nature conservation and community consultation on the party-political agenda in Victoria.

“The 1960s campaign to protect the Little Desert from ‘the Little Desert Settlement Scheme’, which proposed to have this ecologically valuable cleared for agriculture, was a huge conservation battle,” said Matt Ruchel, Executive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association.

The Little Desert National Park controversy is often considered to mark the beginning of widespread environmental awareness and activism in Victoria, and it contributed to the creation of an independent body to study Victorian public land, which has become today’s Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC).

“It is a significant part of Victoria’s environmental history, ultimately leading to changes in political processes and a rise in environmental consciousness, which still has impact today.”

The first part of the Little Desert National Park was created in December 1968, larger sections of park were added in 1969 and 1980s, with a few smaller additions in the 1990s to create the great national park we have today.

“It is worth reflecting on the hard work of the people who fought for this special place. Today, the Little Desert National Park is still a beautiful piece of Victoria where you can camp and bushwalk, discover unique bird life such as Malleefowl, bats Pygmy Possums as well as heathlands, woodlands, rolling dunes and beautiful wildflowers in springtime,” said Caitlin Griffith, who managed the Podcast Project for the Victorian National Parks Association.

The four-episode podcast looks at the history of Little Desert dispute, the impacts it had on environmental policy in Victoria, and key features of the park today.

Listeners have the opportunity to hear about the campaign first hand from people who were involved, the first successful Native Title case in Victoria, the values of the Little Desert, and current day challenges in caring for the park.

The podcast can be downloaded from the VNPA website www.vnpa.org.au/little-desert-podcast and is also available on iTunes and Spotify.

Produced by Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier, RMIT University, supported by Parks Victoria.

From this year VCE Outdoor and Environment Education students have been learning about ‘the battle for the Little Desert’ as it is now included in the curriculum.

More information on the Little Desert National Park’s history: www.vnpa.org.au/lessons-little-desert

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