Proposed for reservation in 1992 by Wilderness Australia, the 15,321 ha Levers Wilderness area adjoins the NSW-Queensland border on its southern side. About 60 kilometres north-west of Lismore, it lies on the McPherson Range, one of the Border Ranges west of the Tweed Range, and is part of the Mount Warning Caldera – a place made up of eroded lava flows of rhyolite and basalt covering mesozoic sediments to a depth of up to 2,000 metres.
The area encompasses the headwaters of Findon, Long, October, Sawpit, Terrace and Cedar Getters Creeks, which are all tributaries of the Richmond River, and waterfalls can be seen on these streams where hard rhyolite cliffs have withstood erosion.
The Traditional Owners
Levers Wilderness is within the traditional lands of the Githabul Aboriginal People, whose ancestors lived in and around the lush forests of the ranges straddling the NSW-Queensland border for tens of thousands of years.
For the Githabul people, language, story and song are inseparable, coming together to form an integral part of their whole culture and connection to Country. Culture, place and language are so entwined that these Aboriginal tribespeople are forbidden from telling stories about juraveels – 'powerful places' where spirits are believed to dwell - without being physically present in those areas.
Yet, in the 1820s and 1830s, these Aboriginal tribespeople told some stories to explorers, missionaries and settlers that became part of colonial folklore. The Githabul talked of 'hairy men' living in the area that were feared yet respected man-like beings. This place, as they say, is Yowie country.
You may not find Australia's mythical Bigfoot here, but the native forests in Levers Wilderness provide habitat for 40 mammals, 170 birds, 33 reptiles, and 29 amphibian species.
The main reason for high species diversity is that many distinct habitat types occur within a relatively small area in the zoo-geographically interesting transition between the Torresian (northern or tropical) and Bassian (southern or temperate) faunal regions.
This verdant, ancient wilderness area is the last refuge of the Doubleeyed Fig Parrot, considered to be in imminent danger of extinction, and the Eastern Bristlebird, and Marbled Frogmouth. The Southern Angle-headed Dragon, Stephens’ Banded Snake, Longnosed Potoroo and Eastern Chestnut-mouse are among its other threatened fauna species.
A visitor can experience a large number of rainforest sub-types in Levers Wilderness: lowland subtropical rainforest dominated by Booyongs and also Yellow Carabeen; cool subtropical rainforest, containing species with Antarctic affinities; warm temperate rainforest comprising species such as Crabapple, Corkwood and small pockets of Coachwood; dry rainforest of Hoop Pine; Yellow Tulip, and Whalebone; and in moist south-facing headwaters small patches of cool temperate rainforest occur, dominated by Antarctic Beech and Pinkwood.
Sixty-one plant species in the area are considered threatened right now.
A living part of our history
This rainforest wilderness only just survived as, from 1916, extensive State Forests were dedicated along the State border abutting Lamington National Park, with selective logging below 1,000m continuing for 50 years, and higher areas remained inaccessible.
Yet, in 1975 the NSW Forestry Commission announced its intention to construct a logging road onto Lever’s Plateau, a proposal steadfastly opposed by local sawmiller, John Lever. He had supervised the building of a tramway up Long Creek to harvest Hoop Pine, but believed the rainforest patriarchs on the high plateau were a natural cathedral worthy of protection.
In that year the Colong Committee released a National Park proposal for the whole of Wiangarie, Roseberry and Mt Lindesay State Forests and received strong support from other conservation groups. Shortly before Mr Lever’s death in 1977, NSW Premier, the Hon. Neville Wran, promised him that Levers Plateau would never be logged.
In 1982, after a long campaign by the Colong Foundation and our campaign partners, the Wran Government protected these rainforest areas in the Border Ranges National Park; World Heritage status as part of the Gondwana Rainforests soon followed in 1986.