The gathering of historical data is a useful exercise in ascertaining antecedent conditions prior to analysing the type, severity and extent of land degradation. Information may be available in various forms such as descriptive newspaper reports, precise meteorological data, government records, published letters and diaries as well as photographs. The existence of data sets such as allotment plans is fortuitous, as records may be incomplete. Land management as practised by European settlers, at least to the turn of the 20th century has left an indelible agricultural footprint in the Heathcote–Costerfield district. For example, extensive deforestation, gold mining, agriculture and introduced animals were inappropriate for the local environment. Complex interactions between human-induced landscape change and in-situ environmental characteristics such as the variability of the semi-arid climate and dispersible soils produced extensive and severe tunnel erosion, gullying, sheet, rill erosion and streambank erosion as well as sedimentation.