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Our Great Dividing Range

Restoring life to our heartland

Story by ACF August 28th, 2015


Our Great Dividing Range is the heartland of eastern Australia. Its mountainous corridor stretches 3,600 kilometres from the tropical rainforests of Cape York, through the Alps of NSW and the ACT, to the temperate woodlands of the Grampians in western Victoria. The Range encompasses Australia’s tallest mountains, most reliable rainfall and some of our greatest biological diversity. Almost three quarters of Australians live along the inland western slopes, eastern escarpment and adjoining coastal plains.

From the carbon stored in its dense forests, to the indigenous heritage deep in its veins, to the rivers that flow from its rugged slopes and the essential climate refuge it offers our threatened species, the Range is vital to life in Australia.

Take a moment, close your eyes, breathe deep the eucalypts, hear the symphony of the bush, feel the mountains underfoot and remember your favourite place on the Range.
Stanley Tang and the Southern Black-throated Finch
Peter Ritchie, Maddens Falls, Wollongong
Southern Cassowary, Photo, Raphael Quinet, Flickr CC
Doongmabulla Spings, Galilee Basin, QLD
Knitting Nannas of Toolangi, Central Highlands, Victoria
Peter Ritchie and family near Wollongong


Communities along the Range are doing incredible things to restore habitat and protect threatened species locally. But driving the change we need at a national level will take the support of the millions of Australians living in our cities.

The bustling cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane are just as dependent on the Range as our threatened birds, mammals and frogs.


Many Australians do care. Tens of thousands of Australians are calling for a Great Forests National Park to connect and protect critical habitat in the Central Highlands of Victoria. Thousands have divested their money from the banks funding Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin. And community backlash has seen a temporary ban instituted on coal seam gas mining in Sydney’s water catchments.

“Places like the Great Dividing Range – a lot of people think that they’re just out in the bush but really they connect all of us. They’re right here on our doorstep – Peter Ritchie, Illawarra


Every mine dug for coal that pollutes our air, every tract of land cleared for reckless development, every tree logged to make office paper we can live without, doesn’t just affect its local environment. A mega coal mine built in the Galilee Basin will lead to tonnes of pollution, heats the planet and affect life all over Australia. Seemingly small changes, such as the loss of a key pollinating species like the grey-headed flying-fox, can have huge impacts on biodiversity and food supply. A mining accident in our water catchments can pollute groundwater and river systems for generations to come. This cumulative impact is putting life in Australia at risk.


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Despite its vital role sustaining life in Australia, over the last two centuries, nearly 70 per cent of the Range has been degraded, fragmented and polluted from mining, logging and land clearing. In April this year, its forests and woodlands were listed as one of eleven global biodiversity hotspots threatened with deforestation. That same month, scientists at James Cook University released maps illustrating how a number of these forests are critical in helping safeguard over 500 threatened species from the impacts of global warming.

The decline of the Range is emblematic of a greater systemic issue affecting all of Australia – the government’s unwillingness to safeguard the natural systems that keep us alive. Big business lobby groups, backed by multinational mining companies like Adani, Rio Tinto, BHP, Whitehaven and AGL, have campaigned hard to weaken the laws that protect life so they can mine more, frack faster and dredge deeper with little oversight. Right now these companies have more influence on our government than our communities do.

“When we look at the Great Dividing Range and its fabric of life, then we shouldn’t be putting holes in it – Deanne Eccles, Toolangi
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The natural systems that support life in Australia are big and complex, and fixing problems in bite-sized pieces is not enough. That’s why we’re launching a national effort to protect, restore and connect our Great Dividing Range. Together, we can weave your local efforts in with a national approach to the big issues. Then life will thrive – not in one or two places – but all along the Range.

Australia must develop a smarter way of living and working with nature that accounts for the interconnectedness of life. One that safeguards the future of our children and grandchildren. We’re working to drive systemic change to achieve just that:

1. A national plan to protect the places and species we love and depend on

2. Permanent protection for the areas vital to life

3. A new generation of environmental laws that properly safeguard life in Australia

4. Investment in the protection of nature rather than its destruction

5. Cuts to pollution and action to address global warming



Read our detailed report on the Great Dividing Range with case studies all the way from the Wet Tropics down to the forests in Victoria’s Central Highlands. Hear from passionate communities doing incredible things to restore life to the Range locally. See the multitude of ways the Range supports life in Australia. Hear about the threats, the big issue and solutions. And find out how you can get involved.

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Together, we can make sure our Range thrives for for generations to come. Here’s what the ACF community is doing and how you can get involved to protect life along the Great Dividing Range.

Restore life to your Range: You can restore life to natural places whether you own a farm or rent a city home. Tree planting and other conservation projects in your backyard or in your local community can improve habitat connectivity and ecological resilience. Make your garden or local area your own home-grown national park.

Start a nature conversation: The ACF community along the Range is sharing conversations about the world we want to live in. You can access toolkits or training to help you host a conversation. It’s an opportunity to share your motivations, concerns and ideas for action with like-minded people.

Co-create a vision for nature to thrive: ACF is part of the Places You Love alliance – Australia’s largest alliance of environmental organisations, uniting 1.5 million Australians and 42 conservation groups. We’ve engaged a panel of environmental law experts, who will be listening hard to experts and everyday Australians alike to create a new generation of laws to protect life.

Join a local group: Hundreds of community groups along the Range care for their local place, and all the living things that are part of it. Local action groups, Landcare groups, and community action networks like the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative collaborate and reweave the web of life together. You might be part of one already.

Get outside and play in the mountains: Gather your friends, family or community and play outside on your Range. Take a hike or have a picnic. Go cloudspotting, snorkelling or stargazing. Spread your toes in the forest, the mountains or your local park.

Raise your voice: Like Liz, Stanley, Kathryn, Peter, and Deanne, who shared their stories, you can speak out for life along the Range. Talk to decision makers, meet with members of parliament, engage local media and spread the word in your community. Our democracy needs you.

“Every day I drink water that flows down from the peaks of the Great Dividing Range. But I often take the Range for granted. Though its dense forests filter the air I breathe, the Range can feel disconnected from my city life.
But then I walk with my daughter among its tall trees. Hear the bush sing with life. See her face light up when she spots the wildlife that inhabits it. And I’m reminded that life in our country is intimately connected to the Range.
– Paul Sinclair, Campaigns Director, ACF