Wangat

"The Place where whisperings are heard" (Gringai)

Wangat is more than the place, the people, the activities and the wildlife, it's a state of mind and, for some of us, a way of life. In 2014 we celebrate 25 years of providing nature recreation founded on principles of sustainable living.

In the way Wangat has been set up, in the way we run it, and in the conduct of our own lives we seek to set an example of living lightly on, and in harmony with, the planet. We have hand-made mudbrick buildings and a forest planted by children twenty years ago. In keeping with our Lightfoot ethos, we are on 100% Greenpower and have solar-powered hot water and night verandah-lights.

We are a bit different. You won't find TVs, energy hungry appliances or spa baths here but you will find a beautiful river to swim in and the simple pleasures of peace, nature, convivial company and fun in the bush that most of us agree are good for the soul.

At Wangat helping our guests "plug into" nature is our focus and our passion. We encourage all groups to have a personal experience with nature – with our forest, our rivers and our wildlife at your doorstep. The land is a designated Wildlife Refuge with a Voluntary Conservation Agreement protecting the forest and river for future generations to enjoy.

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Lightfoot School Camps
Self-contained Cottages
Group Accommodation


 

Who We Are

Ken Rubeli has worked as a forester, a teacher, and in Asian National Parks and nature conservation. Immediately before coming to Wangat he spent eight years as a freelance writer and nature photographer, promoting a wider appreciation of nature and wilderness. He recorded his wildlife encounters living in Malaysian jungle in his book "Tropical Rainforest of South-east Asia".

Ken has a comprehensive knowledge of the Australian bush, a strong personal commitment to environmental protection, and a contagious enthusiasm for having fun in nature! It is Ken who masterminded the Lightfoot philosophy underpinning Wangat's LightFoot Environmental Education Programs.

 

Audrey Earth has for several years now played a central role in the LightFoot school-camp programs at Wangat Lodge. Audrey provides a simple means of introducing children to the complex physics and responsibilities of global warming.

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The story goes like this:


4½ billion years ago Audrey began as the
GEOSPHERE
- a molten core, a sold rock crust, and liquid water on the surface

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More than 3½ billion years ago the first life forms appeared as the beginnings of a thin evolving layer we now call the
BIOSPHERE

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This in turn depends on a 'blanket' of gases surrounding the Earth - the
ATMOSPHERE

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Recent human activity has changed significantly the composition of the atmosphere, with the increasing proportion of carbon-dioxide enhancing the 'blanket' effect - the
FLANNOSPHERE

In the spotlight of a torch beam, by turning Audrey Earth through 'day' and 'night' the warming and cooling every 24 hours can be explained, the 'blanket' effect of the atmosphere keeping us from freezing at night. As the blanket increases in its insulating properties, decade by decade Audrey grows a little warmer....

By modifying the way we humans live our lives - through consciousness of our patterns of consumption and especially by the ways we choose to generate electricity around the world - we have the capacity to support the sustainability of all life on the planet by reducing our 'greenhouse' emissions. Thus we can progressively cut back the added insulating properties of the Flannosphere.

Barack Obama in a speech to the United Nations Summit of Climate Change in September 2014 said:

For all the immediate challenges... - terrorism, instability, inequality, disease - there's one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of changing climate.
Nobody gets a pass... nobody can stand on the sidelines on these issues. We have to set aside the old divides. We have to raise our collective ambition, each of us doing what we can to confront this global challenge.

Audrey Earth might surely have nodded in agreement?

 

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Wangat

A history

People lived in this area tens of thousands of years before the arrival of European settlement. Aboriginal names were recorded for many local places and are remembered today in localities such as Cooreei, Tillegra, Munni, Bendolba and Dusodie. Unfortunately the last of the original inhabitants and custodians of the upper Williams valleys died in 1901. His name is recorded only as Brandy. Pathetically little has been recorded about the last years of the Gringai people, perhaps through shame, certainly through apathy towards their fate. As time slips by new information will be virtually impossible to unearth and document. 

In the local Gringai dialect Wangat means "A Place Where Whisperings Are Heard".

The first site of the settlement village called Wangat was at the gold diggings six miles above the junction of the Little (Wangat) River with the Chichester. In 1881 there were four claims being worked at Wangat itself. One hundred and twenty six miners' rights were issued during that year; and shafts up to 200 feet deep were dug.

Wangat village was surveyed in 1884 and proclaimed on 20th March 1885. The map published in 1887 under the grandiose title of Village of Wangat and Suburban Lands, made provision for one hundred and sixty individual lots, a school site of two acres, several reserves for public buildings or public purposes, and other reserves for water, mining matters and recreation. A cemetery ground which made provision for seven individual religions, plus a general cemetery for other denominations, was set aside in 1886.

Although a few families remained at Wangat for some years after that, activity in the area gradually fell away. The school was closed in 1907, and in 1916 the village gazettal and all leases were cancelled when the whole valley was proclaimed a catchment area for the proposed Chichester Dam.

There were in fact two Wangat schools, on different locations, which were given the name. The first - Wangat (1) - was established on the gold diggings in 1881 and survived until 1907. The second, built in 1883 on the site which is now part of Wangat Wildlife Refuge, was known as Glenoak until 1887, Dusodie until 1917, and finally Wangat (2) until it closed in 1954.

The area between the Chichester Dam Road and the Chichester River has been occupied by Wangat Wildlife Refuge since 1985 when it was established by Geoff and Isabel Armstrong as a purpose-built environmental recreation centre. Most of this land was cleared during the last century and grazing and agriculture continued until recent years; but it is now reforested.

Immediately to the right of the entrance to the Wangat property is the site that between 1883 and 1954 was used for Wangat Public School. A grove of exotic trees (English Oak - Quercus robur, Live Oak - Quercus virginiana, Coral trees - Erythrina) plus some Australian trees (Kurrajong - Brachychiton populneum) which were planted to shade the school yard, mark its location.

Near the entrance itself there was once a red cedar sawpit. And on the hillside beyond the entrance on the eastern side of the Chichester Dam Road was the site of Wangat Village which, with up to 1000 residents, occupied the area between 1917 and 1932 while Chichester Dam was being constructed and later follow-up work completed. Little evidence now remains of any of its temporary dwellings.

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