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Organ Pipes National Park

from keilor plains 
to national park 

The earliest European settlement of the Keilor Plains was in the 1830s by Tasmanian sheep farmers, and the area’s native vegetation was quickly destroyed by grazing sheep and dairy cattle. With its thin soils and rocky, uneven surface, the land had little agricultural potential to European settlers, but smallholders were established regardless and caused significant ecological damage. Heavy grazing prevented the effective regeneration of almost all species of indigenous flora, and the area became overrun by weeds, predominantly pasture grasses and garden species. When rabbits and foxes were introduced, they soon became pests in the grasslands of the plains. In spite of the damage to the native ecosystem, the Keilor Plains were a focus for Field Naturalists Club of Victoria excursions.

After a period of private ownership, the land was eventually donated to the state government. The future of the land, now ecologically devastated, was uncertain. Many geologists pushed for legal protections for the basalt formations in the area. At the time, the only way to confer legal protection to these was to declare the area a National Park, in spite of the many ecological issues - including severe gully erosion, invasive species and farm rubbish - impacting the area. As such, the area was ultimately given National Park status in 1972.

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