A heroic top-secret firefighting effort has saved the last of a 200-million-year-old tree species threatened by the unprecedented bushfire crisis.
New South Wales firefighters guarded the world-renowned Wollemi pines - given the nickname 'dinosaur trees' - in the state's Wollemi National Park by dropping fire retardant and laying an irrigation system.
But the highly co-ordinated rescue mission to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines' location is not given away.
The world-renowned Wollemi pine trees (pictured) have been saved in a top-secret firefighting mission from the Gospers Mountain megablaze
The highly-co-ordinated rescue mission (pictured) to keep back the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze has mostly been kept a secret so the pines' location is not given away
The state government on Wednesday confirmed efforts by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service ensured the wild Wollemi pines survived the fire.
The blaze, which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney.
Firefighters used large air tankers to drop a blanket of fire retardant over the remote area.
Specialists firefighters were dropped into the site from helicopters to lay an irrigation system and NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said while some trees were damaged the species would survive.
'The 2019 wildfire is the first ever opportunity to see the fire response of mature Wollemi pines in a natural setting, which will help us refine the way we manage fire in these sites long-term,' he said.
'Illegal visitation remains a significant threat to the Wollemi pine's survival in the wild due to the risk of trampling regenerating plants and introducing diseases which could devastate the remaining populations and their recovery.'
The Gospers Mountain blaze (pictured in Bilpin on December 21), which was this week finally brought under control after two-and-a-half months, ripped through more than 512,000 hectares north-west of Sydney