Cameras have captured potoroos and parma wallabies playing and parenting post fire in the hard-hit Gibraltar Range National Park, in a welcome sign of recovery.
National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Koen Dijkstra said the camera shots along with recent fauna surveys show the importance of refuge areas for fighting back after fire.
“The unprecedented fires across Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Parks devastated the landscape with only a few areas unscathed.
“Among the sites we saved around Mulligans Hut camping area and Gibraltar House were some of the prime habitats for long nosed potoroo and parma wallaby, so we were hopeful some of these species had survived.
“Now we have proof. Fauna surveys over winter, coupled with night camera vision show healthy parma wallabies and potoroos just doing their thing.
“We can see potoroos playing and parenting, including one cleaning a joey in the pouch.
“In another caught on camera moment a parma wallaby displays some very deft tool using skills to get to a lure, a mix of peanut butter, oats and honey locked under a cap used to attract wildlife to the camera.
“The fauna surveys showed numbers of species in the burnt areas were very low, but the unburnt patches are teeming with wildlife including the wallabies and potoroos as well as spotted-tailed quolls, greater gliders and Rufous scrub-bird.
“These animals will be the base from which to re-colonise the fire-impacted area and the success of recent extensive pest control work will be a crucial factor.
“It’s particularly pleasing as both parma wallabies and long nosed potoroos are listed as vulnerable in NSW, with Gibraltar Range National Park a stronghold.
“In Gibraltar Range we were very lucky that we had good rain a few months after the fires and the vegetation is recovering fast.
“Many plant species impacted by fire such as the soft grevillea have seedlings emerging in large numbers. Re-sprouters like the glorious Gibraltar Range Waratah have grown back healthy and might even flower this year.
“Even though the burnt areas are recovering, walking into the refuge areas really soothes the soul and gives me hope our beautiful parks will return to their former glory.
“We are optimistic more surveys over summer will continue to reveal further signs of recovery,” Mr Dijkstra.
After working around the clock fighting the fires, NPWS staff have worked very hard on pest and weed control as well as restoring visitor facilities.
With the exception of the “Washpool Walk” all visitor facilities and attractions in Gibraltar Range and Washpool national parks are open. For the latest updates check the website Washpool National Park