Wattles, orchids and blue-tinged cypress pines
contrast against rich red rocks in one of the Riverina's rare forest remnants.
After very heavy rains the rivers swell, waterfalls leap into life and the land
is bright with wildflowers.
Woodlands are the predominant plant communities of
Cocoparra National Park. Different forms are found across the park and these
communities vary according to soil type and aspect.
The low woodland community consists of Dwyer's mallee gum, white cypress pine,
currawang and a low, open shrub layer. You can see this community on the western
slopes from Homestead Creek to Store Creek, and it's the major woodland
association in the park.
You'll find bimble box and white cypress pine woodland on the low slopes, mostly
on the western side of the park. This association includes Blakely's gum, common
along creek lines, and yarran, found on alluvial soils of the Whitton Stock
The woodlands of the sheltered gullies are dominated by eucalypts, usually:
White cypress pine also usually occurs and Deane's wattle
and currawang are common, but the shrub layer is usually sparse apart from hill
tea-tree. You can find examples of this in the lower valleys and along creek
- bimble box or Dwyer's gum
- Blakely's gum
- yellow box.
Red stringybark woodlands are dominated by Dwyer's gum and black cypress pine.
The shrub layer is frequently well developed with wattles, rusty spider-flower,
guinea flower, pomaderris and daisies. This association occurs in sheltered
gullies and gorges, particularly on the eastern side of Mt Bingar and in
Shingled Hut Creek.
The shrubland plant community is dominated by broombush
(Melaleuca uncinata). This scattered plant community occurs in the adjoining
nature reserve between Washpool and Ironbark Creeks, and in two east facing side
gullies of Cocoparra Creek.
The grassland areas of the park were formerly open
woodlands of bimble box or yellow box which were disturbed by clearing for crops
The herb layer is dominated by introduced weeds and pasture species such as
Patterson's curse and saffron thistle. Some patchy recolonisation by Deane's
wattle (Acacia deanei) is occurring. You can see examples of this plant
community on the lower parts of wider valleys such as Woolshed Flat.
The monotreme echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) occurs in
Cocoparra National Park and several species of mammal have also been recorded,
You'll see western grey kangaroos throughout the park,
grazing on the clear grasslands and open valley floors. The grey kangaroo is
predominantly a grazier, able to eat coarse grasses, but will also browse on
- eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus)
- western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus)
- red kangaroos (Macropus rufus)
- swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor)
- brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)
- yellow-footed antechinuses (Antechinus flavipes)
- eight species of bat including the white-striped mastiff bat (Tadarida
The yellow-footed antechinus is a small nocturnal marsupial, found in a broad
range of habitats. Its diet consists mostly of insects but it may also feed on
flowers, small birds and house mice. You can tell an antechinus by its distinct
change in fur colour from its slate-grey head to warm rufous rump, feet, belly
and sides. It also has prominent light eye-rings and a black tip to its tail
Approximately 150 bird species have been recorded in the
park and adjoining nature reserve. Some species visit the area seasonally,
perhaps after rain or when the eucalypts and shrubs are flowering. Some are
dependent on the woodland habitats of the range and are resident in the area,
The eroded rock faces of the Cocoparra Range provide
excellent nesting places for raptors such as the peregrine falcon. Emus are
commonly seen in the cleared open grasslands.
- red-rumped parrots
- blue-faced honeyeaters
- eastern robins
- rufous whistlers
- white-browed babbler
- striated pardalote.
A number of threatened birds are found in Cocoparra National Park, such as:
All but the superb parrot probably breed in the area.
- painted honeyeaters
- superb parrots
- turquoise parrots
- glossy black cockatoos
- chestnut quail-thrushes
- Gilberts whistlers
- shy hylacolas
- Major Mitchell's cockatoos.
You might see glossy black cockatoos feeding on the seeds of drooping she-oaks
in the vicinity of Mt Brogden.
More than 30 frog and reptile species have been seen in
the park and adjoining nature reserve.
The park's rocky environment makes for perfect reptile habitats and during the
spring months you'll see many geckos and skinks basking in the sun. Other common
lizards found in the park include goannas, shinglebacks and bearded dragons.
The most commonly seen snakes are the red-bellied black snake, yellow-faced whip
snake and western and eastern brown snakes. Steer clear of snakes if you see
them because some are very dangerous.
The invertebrates of Cocoparra National Park are as
diverse as their habitats. You're most likely to see butterflies, bush flies,
moths and spiders. The wolf spider is often seen returning to its burrow after
foraging for food at night.
The Cocoparra Range consists of conglomerates and
sandstones which were formed around 400 million years ago. Local folding and
weathering of the rock strata produced a hogsback range of cliffs and gorges.
The crest of the range lies on the eastern side of the national park and nature
reserve and has a series of peaks - the highest is Mount Bingar at 455 m above
sea level. The eastern edge of the range falls steeply to form a rocky
escarpment. The western slopes are gently sloping and eroded into a series of
deep east-west valleys, varying from steep gorges such as Jacks Creek to the
relatively broad level valley formed by Woolshed Creek.
The valleys are fringed by steep rocky and eroded
sides that contain overhangs and waterfalls. The streams, creeks and gullies
only run for short periods after heavy rains, so the waterfalls are temporary by
nature. There is permanent water in isolated springs and soaks.
For more general information, go to the general
pest management information on this website.
Soils on the slopes and ridges are shallow clayey sands that are easily eroded.
Deep sediments have built up on the valley floors from the erosion of the range,
forming red and brown clayey sand and loam soils.
Wherever you live, there are a few simple things you can
do to stop the spread of weeds:
The main introduced weeds in the park are found in the cleared areas, and to a
lesser extent in the woodlands that fringe the farmed areas outside the park.
The majority of weed species would have been introduced when the land was used
for sheep grazing and cropping.
Introduced plant species include boxthorn, Paterson's curse, horehound, saffron
thistle, Bathurst burr and a number of pasture species. Most are not a major
problem but horehound and Paterson's curse are widespread on the open valley
floors, particularly at Woolshed Flat. These are likely to be reduced with the
regeneration of native species.
Bridal creeper occurs in small patches in the Homestead Creek area, most likely
introduced as an ornamental garden plant. This weed has the potential to spread
and invade woodland areas.
- Don't dump weeds, prunings or grass clippings in the bush - they introduce
new weeds and allow established weeds to spread further. Shred and compost
garden weeds instead.
- Keep weeds out of the waterways. Don't sweep or hose garden waste down the
drain - it only ends up in our rivers, which can become clogged with exotic
- Grow natives, rather than introduced plants, in your garden. Popular
flowers like nasturtium, lantana, honeysuckle, morning glory and black-eyed
susan can all spread easily into native bushland. Other garden plants are
- Protect open spaces, both on your property and in public places. Keep
these places weed free, and stop soil erosion by encouraging native plants
to grow there.
Control programs are regularly undertaken in the park.
Programs of releasing biocontrol agents for the control of horehound and
Patterson's curse have also involved the Department of Agriculture and CSIRO.
Annual spraying programs are in place to suppress and control the spread of
weeds in the park. The spread of boxthorn has been substantially reduced so that
there are now only minor infestations.
The main pest animals in the park are goats, foxes,
rabbits and pigs. During the first hundred or so years after European
settlement, various property owners grazed sheep in the ranges. They organised
frequent shoots to lower the feral goat problem but during the war years this
activity declined and so the population grew. Since the park's gazettal an
aerial shooting program has reduced goat numbers significantly.
To reduce the impact of domestic animals on native
environments, just follow these simple guidelines:
Foxes are a regional problem in the Riverina. There are surrounding properties
that graze sheep, which provides the foxes with an endless food supply in the
lambs, as well as native fauna.
Rabbit populations have been high in the past in and around the cleared flat
areas, limiting their revegetation. The introduction of the rabbit calicivirus
has led to a decline in the rabbit population.
A small number of pigs are known to inhabit the reserve and signs of their
presence have been noted, especially next to the Whitton Stock Route. Currently
they are not regarded as a serious threat but monitoring of their numbers will
- Keep your cat or dog indoors at dawn, dusk and night. Native animals are
most vulnerable to attack at these times, when they do most of their
- Attach loud bells to your pet's collar, to warn wildlife when they are
- Make sure pet cats are desexed. Large numbers of feral cats already live
in bushland areas, preying on native animals.
- Please keep pets out of national parks and other conservation reserves.
- Give lizards and small marsupials a refuge from cats and dogs, by placing
terracotta pipes and piles of stones around your garden.
- If you own a large property, fence off bush corridors for wildlife so they
can safely move through cleared areas. Don't let livestock wander into
national parks and other protected bushland areas.
Goats and foxes pose a particular problem for native
animals and control programs have concentrated on these two pest species.
Programs are regularly undertaken with local landholders and the Rural Lands
The control program for foxes involves annual ground baiting in cooperation with
neighbouring properties and the Rural Lands Protection Board, using the poison
Goat and pig numbers have been controlled through aerial shootings. It was
estimated that some 2000 goats inhabited the ranges in 1990 and now the
population is down to a manageable level of around 400.
Steamboat Creek bridge
Sources & Further reading
The first Europeans to visit the area were John Oxley and
the members of his 1817 expedition exploring the Lachlan Country. He described
the area as '… abandoned … by every living creature that is capable of
getting out'. Under Mt Brogden a member of the expedition planted oak, peach,
apricot and quince seeds on the King's birthday to '… serve to commemorate the
day and situation should those desolate plains be ever again visited by
civilised man—of which however I think there is little probability.' Of course
thousands of people now come each year to see the area's dramatic scenery.
A number of places of historical significance occur within Cocoparra National
Park and the adjoining Cocoparra Nature Reserve. They relate to former pastoral
activities or are associated with the old Cobb & Co route where the Whitton
Stock Route is today. This route was used extensively by Cobb & Co stage
coaches between Melbourne and Queensland in the late 19th century.
On 9 July 1964 a meeting was held in Griffith with the
idea of creating a national park in the Cocoparra Range. The meeting comprised
representatives from the CSIRO, the Fauna Protection Panel, the National Parks
Association of NSW, Wade Shire Council, Griffith Chamber of Commerce, various
rural agencies and landholders with properties next to the Cocoparra Range.
It wasn't until November 1969, shortly after the NSW National Parks and Wildlife
Service was first formed, that an area of just under 8329 hectares was gazetted
as Cocoparra National Park.