|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Prior to the establishment of the National Parks Authority under the provisions of the National Parks Act 1956 (No.6023) a number of departments and public authorities including the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538), the Forests Commission (VA 534), the Soil Conservation Authority, the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (VA 723), the MMBW (VA 1007), the State Electricity Commission (VA 1002) and the Public Works Department (VA 669) were responsible for aspects of the management and development of public reserves, tourist facilities and national parks. Individual parks and reserves were often administered by local committees of management appointed under the provisions of the Land Acts or the Forests Acts or in some cases, directly by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey or the Forests Commission.
For some years prior to the passing of the National Parks Act, the Victorian National Parks Association, (a grouping of field naturalists clubs, walking clubs, the National Fitness Council, the Youth Hostels Association and the Caravan Club of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria), the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria and a number of other smaller societies had advocated greater co-operation in the management of national parks and recommended the establishment of a single authority. Following their representations, the State Development Committee was requested to investigate the matter and presented its report in November 1951. It was not until 1956 however that legislation was finalised.
The Act provided for the appointment of a National Parks Authority which consisted of the Premier who was to be the responsible minister, the Director of National Parks, representatives of many of the public authorities with responsibility in the area and representatives of interested organisations. The objects of the Act were to provide for the establishment and control of national parks; to protect and preserve indigenous plant and animal wildlife and features of special scenic, scientific or historical interest; to maintain the existing environment of national parks; to provide for the education and enjoyment of visitors and to encourage and control such visitors. The National Parks Authority exercised its responsibilities in conjunction with other responsible departments and authorities and local committees of management.
The National Parks (Amendment) Act 1971 transferred the statutory functions of the National Parks Authority to the Minister and the agency became known as the National Parks Service.
The National Parks Act 1975 introduced major changes to the administration of this function: the National Parks Service became responsible for parks other than "national parks" where intensive recreational usage occurred including ; and the disbanding of Committees of Management which had managed thirteen of the then twenty-four national parks for many years. The Committees of Management were converted into Advisory Committees to the Director and the Service was given full responsibility for managing the parks. The new Act retained the concept of the traditional type of national park but, in addition, made provision for the management of other types of parks. This was required because the term "national park" had evolved a specific meaning and not all the parks historically designated "national parks" in Victoria would fit the International or Australian definitions of a national park. In this way management of various types of new parks (known as "other") such as those used primarily for wilderness, environmental education and outdoor recreation were included under the management of the national parks function. Park rangers, previously employed as exempt from the provisions of the Public Service Acts or employed directly by Committees of Management were now to be employed under the Public Service Act.
In 1983 the National Parks Service ceased to exist as a separate agency. Its functions were transferred to the newly formed Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (VA 1034) of which it became a branch.
Some of the first national parks to be proclaimed were:
Wyperfield National Park (first reserved 1909 to preserve native fauna by permanently keeping the area in a primitive state)
Kinglake National Park (first reserved 1928 for scenic features; panoramic views and gullies)
Fern Tree Gully National Park (first reserved 1882 for scenic features)
Wilson's Promontory National Park (first reserved 1898 for preservation of native flora and fauna)
Mt.Buffalo National Park (first reserved 1898 for scenic features)
Sperm Whale Head National Park (first reserved 1927 as a sanctuary for fauna and the preservation of native flora)
Lind Park (first reserved 1926)
Alfred Park (first reserved 1925 as a beauty spot and for the preservation of native vegetation)
Wingan Inlet National Park (first reserved 1909 for historic reasons and for preservation of natural features)
Mallacoota Inlet National Park (first reserved 1909 for the provision of an animal sanctuary)
Tarra Valley National Park (first reserved 1909 for scenic features and preservation of native vegetation)
Bulga National Park (first reserved 1904 for scenic features and preservation of native vegetation)
Tower Hill National Park (first reserved 1866 for the preservation of a national monument, extinct volcano)
Six other important parks not reserved specifically as National Parks:
Buchan Caves National Park (first reserved 1916 for the preservation of caves; administered by the Dept. of Lands and Survey (VA 538). An advisory committee of departmental officers is responsible to the Secretary for Lands for the management of the park. The curator and assistants are full-time officers of the Department.
Werribee Gorge (first reserved 1907 for the preservation of geological, volcanic and glacial features)
Churchill National Park (first reserved 1930)
Native Bear Sanctuaries, Phillip Island
Sir Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary (first reserved 1929).
The management (either directly or through co-ordination of Committees of Management) of national parks and from 1975 management directly of national parks, wilderness parks, and state parks is closely affiliated with the public lands management function - see
Establishment of Parks Victoria
Parks Victoria was established under the Parks Victoria Act 1998. This agency was formed by bringing together the management of the former National Parks Service and the former Melbourne Parks and Waterways. It has become the primary agency for the management of National Parks proclaimed under the National Parks Act 1975