History of the Swamp

Chronology of Events

1919 NSW Government resumed Swamp for water supply for the Municipality of Bowral.

Scientists from Sydney University found the swamp to be rich in flora and to be an important palynological site.

A Special Licence was granted to Mr Pike by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to mine peat from the Swamp. He applied for a second lease.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) was established and immediately proceeded to investigate the swamp.


Mittagong Shire Council (the consent authority) established a planning ordinance requiring all extractive industries to obtain Council approval.

The Water Board (MWSDB) indicated plans to construct a dam on the Wingecarribee River inundating up to a third of the swamp.




The NPWS proposed a nature reserve for all or part of the eastern end of the swamp which was not to be inundated by the waters of the proposed dam and reservoir.

The Water Board agreed in principle to the dedication of the swamp as a nature reserve, but suggested waiting until the dam had been constructed and the reservoir filled.


Dept of Mines rejected NPWS proposal for a nature reserve.

DMR gave Mr Pike another 6 month lease.

NPWS proposed nature reserve over all land not inundated and wildlife refuge for land to be inundated by the reservoir waters.


DMR did not object to the wildlife refuge but objected to the nature reserve proposal, saying they wouldn't object after mining operations expire.

DMR renewed Pike leases 567 and 568 for 20 years.


Wingecarribee Reservoir inundated part of the Swamp.

No objections for a wildlife refuge from the Water Board.

Water Board weren't prepared to take management responsibility for wildlife refuge so NPWS absolved proposal.
1981 Palynological study of brown carbonaceous claystone indicate that the material was deposited during the mid Pliocene.

Wingecarribee Local Environment Plan proclaimed with zones prohibiting mining.

Australian Heritage Commission listed Wingecarribee Swamp on the Register of the National Estate

1991 First mining lease 568 expired.

National Trust (NSW) listed Wingecarribee Swamp Landscape Conservation Area on Australian National Trust Register.

Second mining lease 567 expired.





Ownership of Swamp transferred to the Water Board, excluding the two mining licences.

Mining operations became subject to State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 37 (Continued Mines and Extractive Industries). Miners without development consent were required to register to get development consent. Mining was to continue for two years (September 1995) under SEPP moratorium.

Pike applied to Wingecarribee Council for registration under SEPP 37 and Council found that its mining activities were incompatible with the SEPP provisions.

DMR advised Pike that Bowral Municipal Council (which was not the consent authority of the day) had given development consent in 1967.

Water Board proclaims Wingecarribee Swamp as Catchment Area for supply of water.

Wingecarribee Swamp was listed by Environment Australia as a "Wetland of National Significance".

1994 Water Board becomes Sydney Water Corporation and preparation of the Plan of Management for Wingecarribee Swamp commenced

Emerald Peat takes over mining operations at Wingecarribee from Pike Estate.

SEPP moratorium for gaining development consent expires.

Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP) requested DMR not renew leases.

SWC and NPWS completed a draft Plan of Management of Swamp for public comment Public meeting held to discuss the draft.


Plan of Management completed after three more public meetings. Plan identifies the need to establish a nature reserve and for peat mining to be phased out.

NPWS and SWC agree in principle to the transfer of ownership of the Swamp if a nature reserve is established following the cessation of mining.

NSW Heritage Council recommends that an Interim Conservation Order be placed on Wingecarribee Swamp


Mining Warden held Inquiry into the renewal of the licences.

Mine released heavy load of muddy water into Reservoir.

EPA serves notice on mine to contain muddy water

Mining Warden conveys findings to the Minster for Mineral Resources but access is refused to participants.

Blue green algae caused massive fish kill.


Interim Conservation Order stops mining in March.

Minster for Mineral Resources recommends to Premier that leases be renewed.

Experts prepare case for Swamp to be recommended as a Wetland of International Significance under the International Ramsar Agreement.

Swamp collapses in August.


National Parks and Wildlife Service, Submission to the Mining Wardens Inquiry into Possible Renewal of Mining Leases for the Extraction of Peat from Wingecarribee Swamp, 1997, Exhibit 23, pp. 15-18.

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This site has been designed, researched and produced by Sharon Beder

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