Dharawal refers to the local Aboriginal country, and the people who lived in that country.
In 1927 the O’Hares Creek Catchment was proclaimed a ‘water catchment’ in connection with the supply of water by the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. In 1978, the Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewage and Drainage Board decided that the catchment would not be used for water supply, and so the Government of New South Wales proposed creating a state recreation area over the catchment. Due to conflicting government interest, it took until 1996 before the catchment area was declared a nature reserve and state recreation area. As a result of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 2001 passed by New South Wales, all state recreation areas became state conservation areas.
The distinction between Dharawal Nature Reserve and Dharawal State Conservation Area was due to coal mining being allowed in the state conservation area. Dharawal Nature Reserve was categorised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as a category Ia Strict Nature Reserve and the Dharawal State Conservation Area was categorised as a category VI Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.
On 26 March 2012 most of the Dharawal State Conservation Area was declared a national park with a residual of three areas of state conservation area remaining on the western side and center of the national park to allow ongoing mining operations The government waited for its last mining exploration licence with BHP Billiton to expire before making the announcement. The national park status has meant that there are now much greater restrictions on activities such as coal mining within the protected area although in 2012 BHP Billiton was reported as continuing mining exploration in Darkes Forest, just outside the park’s border. The area is said to be protected to the centre of the earth which in theory means that no more mining activities can take place.
The Dharawal National Park is located on the southern rim of the Sydney Basin. The Woronora plateau gently slopes northwest towards the Cumberland Plain. The majority of the Dharawal region is located within the Nepean Ramp sub-region of the plateau, with a small portion in the west being part of the Macdonald region. The Dharawal National Park forms part of a larger protected area, which includes Royal National Park located in the north, the Budderoo and Morton national parks in the south and the extensive UNESCO World Heritage–listed Greater Blue Mountains Area in the west and northwest. Combined, these protected areas are one of the largest within the state of New South Wales