Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station
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Its principal man-made feature of significance is the Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station. The station is located 112 km north of Broken Hill at latitude 31 degrees S, longitude 142 degrees E in the Parish of Hume, County Mootwingee. Occupying Western Lands Lease No. 10194, an area of 38,888 hectares. The property has been held since 1966 by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on a “lease in perpetuity” as a teaching and research facility. It is administered by the UNSW Faculty of Science.The lease enables studies of the arid-zone environment, particularly in relation to impacts on the pastoral industry. Fowlers Gap is the only research station in the arid zone of New South Wales. Areas have been monitored and data collected continuously, in some cases for over 30 years. With a varied collection of meeting places, dormitories, cottages and camping sites it can handle reasonably large visiting groups and small conferences.
The Station and its records form a unique facility for research and education, recognised in May 1996 by its inclusion in the Register of the National Estate (Database number: 019186) under Criterion C.1. The statement of significance is as follows: "Fowlers Gap Research Station is a significant arid zone reference area and an important research and education facility. It is the only research station in the arid zone of New South Wales and is the only research station in the winter rainfall arid zone of Australia. The invertebrate fauna of the place is better known and documented than any other range land area in New South Wales, while all other features of the natural environment have been well researched and documented. Areas within the station have been monitored, regularly photographed and data collected for over thirty years, providing an unparalleled record of environmental change and response to monitored environmental conditions in the arid zone of southern Australia. Over 100 scientists have done research and field experiments in the place, with many scientific publications resulting. Research topics are varied and relate to most aspects of the arid zone and its management."
Research has been conducted there by schools and units of UNSW, including Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Fine Arts, the Faculty of Built Environment, the Centre for Photovoltaic Engineering and the Centre for Remote Sensing and GIS.
A condition of the lease is that UNSW provides facilities for any reasonable research program proposed by other university and government organisations. They include Macquarie University, University of Sydney, University of Newcastle, University of New England, the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University, Monash University, Melbourne University and La Trobe University. Two Cooperative Research Centres, Sustainable Tourism and Landscape Evolution & Mineral Exploration, have conducted research. Government organisations that have utilised the facilities include: the former Soil Conservation Service of New South Wales (now part of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources), NSW Agriculture (now part of the Department of Primary Industries), Queensland DPI, SA Department of Agriculture, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation and several Divisions of CSIRO. Funding to support research has been provided by the University of New South Wales, Australian Research Council, Wool Research Trust Fund, Australian Wool Innovation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Rural Credits Development Fund, Water Research Foundation of Australia, Australian Housing Research Council, Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism and a number of overseas governments and universities.
As well as research, Fowlers Gap is used extensively for teaching, largely by way of student field excursions from UNSW and other educational institutions also visit the station. The Station attracts visitors from overseas and within Australia and has been the subject of television documentaries and newspaper articles. It abundant wildlife, grand scenery, varied geology and terrain, and a rich human history that includes significant indigenous sites, including a stone tool quarry, and artefacts from decades of scientific research. It has natural waterholes and ephemeral creeks. Several large dams provide permanent surface water even in severe droughts. Sheep grazing provides a supplementary income.
The Station is administered by a Management Committee consisting of representatives from UNSW users, assisted by two advisory groups - the Graziers Committee, comprising a small group of pastoralists who supply support and advice at an informal level, and the Consultative Committee, an advisory group representing organisations of the pastoral industry, natural resource management agencies and CSIRO.