OPINION | Declare wildlife corridors a national park

A TREASURE: With the recent rains, our Georges River waterfalls are flowing beautifully. I took this snap at The Basin, Kentlyn, a fortnight ago. As a young bloke of the 1970s and 1980s it was my favourite place to swim.
A TREASURE: With the recent rains, our Georges River waterfalls are flowing beautifully. I took this snap at The Basin, Kentlyn, a fortnight ago. As a young bloke of the 1970s and 1980s it was my favourite place to swim.

You can hear The Basin waterfall before you see it.

When you're still walking through the Kentlyn bush, high on the cliffs above, you get to a spot where, if you close you eyes and listen to the silence, you can suddenly hear the distant cascade. Particularly after rain.

Add in the sounds of birdlife and echo of the wind, and it is truly beautiful. And, all the more amazing given you're standing just eight kilometres from the main street of Campbelltown.

We need these islands of green, mentally and physically. We evolved that way.

To quote Bob Brown, the curl on our ears was not fashioned for TV, but for the need to pick up the faintest sounds on the forest floor. "We are all born bonded to nature; that's why we put depictions of flowers and forests, rather than bulldozers or log piles, on our walls."

Not everyone gets that. Where some see valuable "open space", others see "vacant land" awaiting a developer. The latter are winning.

I was taught to love green spaces at an early age by my great hero - my ornithologist grandfather, Arnold McGill OAM - a pioneering wildlife warrior who from the 1940s to 1980s campaigned for city national parks and wildlife corridors in suburbia.

If he was still around, I reckon he would be horrified by all the squished-up barbecue hotplate housing estates - but don't worry, I'm not going to bang on about that topic much more, given that Camden and Wollondilly voters effectively endorsed the heat islands last month and asked Gladys for more.

But, I will keep banging on about the need for us to protect the bushland that is left.

I make no bones about it, I reckon this government's record on the environment should almost face criminal charges: mass fish kills in dying rivers, an 800 per cent increase in land-clearing in the past three years, $100 million ripped away from national parks, and even a mid-century extinction warning for NSW koalas.

A disgusting record that you'd think would have our Premier looking to make environment one of the most important ministries.

Alas. NSW just become the only state in Australia without an environment department. Abolished. Now just a tiny division of a really big planning department.

Gladys insists the dissolution "won't compromise the independence and services provided by it." Yeah, right.

Next she'll be giving our Red Cross blood supplies to Dracula to look after.

The competition between nature and housing in Macarthur just stopped being a contest. Teflon-coated approvals for developer mates. But here's the thing: I might be wrong.

Indeed, Gladys can prove me and my big mouth wrong. She can start giving us quality instead of quantity ... and there is a (really easy) symbolic way to begin.

Labor had promised us a 4000-hectare Koala National Park in Campbelltown, taking in the Georges River (spots like the photo above) and suburban wildlife corridors such as Smiths Creek.

Better still, The Premier can outdo Labor by making a far bigger national park, protecting all koala corridors connecting the Georges River, Nepean River, Cataract River and Bargo River.

Better still, throw in koala habitat now planned for rooftops at Wilton.

Her new MP for Wollondilly, Nate Smith, is a close mate of the Planning Minister, so maybe he can start the ball rolling.

Sydney's only disease-free koala colony is just waiting for a hero, Gladys. You can be that hero. The plan is there, the corridors are known.

It's just a question of will.

Gladys, I'm happy to be proven wrong. You CAN be a green hero.