On a freezing Lithgow day on May 1st 2021, the Gang Gang gallery in Lithgow was packed with people attending the Destination Pagoda event. This was held next to the stunning artwork of the pagodas rock formations by Anne Graham, Boyd McMillan and other artists.
The day ran from 10.30 to 3 pm, with talks by Sarah Terkes of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute and Dr Robert Stiles of Lithgow Environment Group (his talk was a wonderful prose poem about the beauty of Gardens of Stone). Next came talks by artists Nic Tsoutas, Anne Graham and Cindy Yuen-Zhe Che.
After lunch I spoke on ‘Science, Ethics and Wonder, celebrating the Gardens of Stone, and the long campaign to protect it’. I also officially launched the ‘Destination Pagoda Economic Report’ that showed that Destination Pagoda could bring in $40 million and 258 jobs to the Lithgow region. Next came Madi McLean of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, detailing the Destination Pagoda vision for a long-term ecotourism future for Lithgow. Greg Mortimer finished the talks by speaking about the Lithgow Community Power Project, which (if supported) has a bright future.
The day was full of energy and hope, a feeling that NOW was the time for GOS2 to be created to protect this area of superlative biodiversity and geodiversity conservation value. The General Manager of
Lithgow Council attended some of the talks, a hopeful sign. The scenic grandeur of the artworks inspired all present.
As I noted in my talk, after 45 years as a conservationist and environmental scientist, I have never seen an area so packed with natural and cultural heritage as the Gardens of Stone. Having started campaigning to protect the GOS in 1980, the time to fully recognize the wonder of this biodiversity and geodiversity treasure has now come! Now we just need our NSW government to take action to finally protect GOS2.
To see the wonder and beauty of the Gardens of Stone, watch this short video and also check the Destination Pagoda website. Haydn's full presentation, entitled 'Science, ethics and wonder – celebrating GOS and the long campaign to protect it' given at the event can be found here.