It is now 10 years since Michael Keats and Brian Fox, and more recently joined by Yuri Bolotin, embarked on an ambitious plan to explore and document The Gardens of Stone National Park and adjoining areas. This project has involved documenting all aspects of a little known or appreciated area, from the geology, the climate, the fauna and flora, Aboriginal occupation and early European settlement and record these findings via a series of books. Each book has a major theme and also includes a selection of relevant bushwalks. To date seven of a planned nine books have been published.
The area of detailed exploration and research encompasses the gazetted Gardens of Stone National Park, the northern part of the Blue Mountains National Park and the western side of the Wollemi National Park. This area is so vast that nine topographical 1:25000 maps are required. Between the three of us more than 3000 bushwalks have been undertaken and still there is more to explore.
A significant part of this undertaking has been to research and record all geographical names. The major theme of Book 5, is Place Names. For each entry we have recorded the name, the origin, location, description and GPS coordinates. Since the publication of this book, research has continued, generating many new names to the point where it was deemed another approach was needed to further publicise both approved and new names to a wider audience.
The concept of the Bush Explorers Encyclopaedia was born of this need. The research area is a unique natural environment that is crowded with amazing and often spectacular features, but for whatever reason many have not been named or identified in either recorded literature or recorded on officially approved maps. Importantly, the encyclopaedia is planned as an interactive data base in the public domain.
In part, many of the newly named features are in remote rough terrain that is rarely visited, and therefore the public at large is unaware of their value as part of Australia’s natural heritage. Rather than merely allocate a six figure or larger grid reference identifier as the sole criterion, we have allocated names that befit the feature. Often these names are inspired by existing names already accepted currency with fellow bushwalkers.
Named geographical features, imply a provenance as well as a reason to visit. A name confers an importance beyond a grid reference and often adds an emotional pull. Most people will never have the opportunity to see firsthand the intense beauty of what this area has to offer. A tantalisingly named feature and supporting photographs provide non walkers with an unforgettable arm chair visit.
The Bushwalkers Encyclopaedia is planned as a vibrant, living thing. The discovery of new features is ongoing and that is the reason we have made the decision to install it on our website, www.bushexplorers.com.au. The site will be interactive and bush walkers who visit any feature can submit photos and or text of their visit that subject to web master approval, will be uploaded. This will ensure that the site is always up to date, relevant and available.
As there is no way that any individual or group of bushwalkers in a lifetime can ever explore the whole Greater Blue Mountains area, we are encouraging those who do go to remote areas to also contribute.
As well as the website, many of these new names are described in books authored by Michael Keats, Brian Fox and Yuri Bolotin including The Gardens of Stone National Park and beyond series, The Complete Wollemi North South Traverse and more.