The You Yangs Regional Park has been declared a mining free zone thanks to additional protections being placed over the landmark hills, just north of Geelong.
Due to its environmental and cultural importance, Earth Resources Regulation has placed an exemption over the area, restricting it from minerals exploration licencing.
Managed by Parks Victoria, the You Yangs is home to koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, brush-tail possums, echidnas and lizards, as well as more than 200 species of birds.
The regional park also supports a rich variety of plants, including tall eucalypts like Manna Gum, Yellow Gum and River Red Gum, and wattle, she-oaks, and an undergrowth of native shrubs.
Named from Aboriginal words meaning ‘big hill’, the You Yangs is significant to the region’s Traditional Owners, the Wadawurrung people. Rock wells created by the Wadawurrung to collect rainwater remain clearly visible at Big Rock, within the park.
Bushwalking, picnicking, orienteering, horse-riding, rock-climbing and mountain-biking are popular activities at the You Yangs, with state and national mountain bike events hosted in the park.
The exemption will also provide clarity for exploration companies, who are encouraged to direct their efforts towards areas of the state that are more prospective for new mineral discoveries. The geology of the You Yangs is considered to have limited potential for mining.