Discovery Ranger David Wright meets national park visitors
National parks in southern Sydney celebrated Harmony Day during March. The locations of the celebrations – Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the Royal National Park and Georges River National Park – were particularly fitting.
Kurnell, in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, is the site of first contact between the crew of James Cook's Endeavour and the Aboriginal people of Australia in 1770.
The Royal National Park and Georges River National Park play a key role in welcoming migrants to Sydney. For many people, these parks provide a setting and opportunity for their first tentative exploration of Australian bush land.
Harmony Day celebrates the cohesive and inclusive nature of our nation and promotes the benefits of cultural diversity.
The continuing message of Harmony Day is "Everyone Belongs". It promotes community participation, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
The 2010 theme was "Express Yourself", giving participants the opportunity to share the importance of diversity in workplaces, schools and in the community through action, performance, fashion and food.
Since Harmony Day began in 1999 thousands of schools, community groups and organisations across Australia have hosted Harmony Day events.
Those attending the celebrations at Georges River National Park were welcomed in Dharawal (the language of the local Aboriginal people) and in English. The welcome was then translated into several community languages, including Arabic, Vietnamese and Chinese.
Visitors were also treated to a performance by an Aboriginal children's dance troop and presented with posters and badges promoting a diverse Australia.
"Cultural diversity is a daily occurrence at Georges River National Park," says Senior Ranger, Sue Aston-Metham. "On a sunny Sunday it attracts family, community and social groups from almost every nationality living in Sydney."
At the Royal National Park and Kamay Botany Bay National Park visitors were welcomed with Harmony Day badges at the park entrances and visitors centres.
Georges River National Park was created in 1992. Before that, it was a state recreation area under the management of a trust. The Kurnell Peninsula Headland in Kamay Botany Bay National Park was included in the National Heritage List in 2004.
The Royal National Park was established in 1879, making it the world's second oldest national park – after Yellowstone in the USA. In July 2006, the park was added to the National Heritage List.
National parks cover 8.4 per cent (6.7 million hectares) of NSW and more people than ever are visiting them. The recently released Who Cares about the Environment 2009? report found that 67 per cent of the 2,000 respondents surveyed had visited a park within the past year (up from 59 per cent in 2006). In fact, 14 per cent of respondents had visited a National Park in the week prior to the survey, up from 9 per cent in 2006.
Harmony Day is managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Plan your next visit to a NSW National Park.