By: Michael Fox20121126_0016_03

Sometimes I see photos that just blow my mind and I have to visit to see it for myself. Something so special I have to speak out on its behalf.

I was recently asked to sign a petition “Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd: Request – Port of Brisbane – Save an iconic lake at Fisherman’s Island, QLD“. I am reluctant to sign petitions if I don’t know much about the issues involved. However, a colleague at B4C suggested I have a look at the photos on Facebook. I was hooked. I have never seen such a diversity of waterbirds all together in one place: Black Swans, Pelicans, Spoonbills, a diversity of ducks, Cormorants, etc. 20121126_0088_02

So my photographer neighbour and I visited last Monday morning – early because Alan tells me you get the best light for photography.  The Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre lake … whoops, I mean the lake beside the ex-Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre, is a haven of calm embeded in a 24/7 city of industrial activity. IMG_1247

While Alan took photos I puzzled over why anyone would close the amazing Visitor Centre and propose to bulldoze this amazing waterbird habitat that is thriving against all odds right in the middle of an industrial maze. The faded signs show that the Port of Brisbane was proud of this important habitat for migratory shorebirds and I still recall Brownie on 4KQ spruking the wonders for the Visitor Centre and the amazing environmental achievements of the Port of Brisbane.

Perhaps my memory was inaccurate so I did a bit of quick Google research and found that the Port of Brisbane Visitor’s Centre is described in Weekend Notes as:

“… set on a lakefront and is surrounded by wetlands and a migratory shorebird roosting area. As well as the interactive displays that describe the port and its operations which include imports and exports of goods, the building itself is spectacular to look at and mirrors its natural environment. The architecture has received industry commendations, including commendations for its sustainability efforts which include a design that incorporates generous amounts of natural light (which limits the need for artificial lighting) and the ability to use natural air for cooling purposes.

Over 15,000 migatory and resident shorebirds make their home at the Port of Brisbane including ibis, herons, pelicans and black swans and the port has developed a 12 hectare habitat for the birds. Birdwatchers can access the Shorebird Roost via the Port of Brisbane Visitor’s Centre. Many birds including black swans and if you’re lucky cygnets can be seen swimming in the lake that surrounds the visitor’s centre.” – 1 Dec 2012

The architecture received comendations – Australian Institute of Architects – Entered 2002Event Connect
Interestingly the Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre now seems to be the Port of Brisbane corporate office but visitors to Brisbane are offered wonderful views of “the lake”.
Apparently a significant tourist attraction for Brisbane.

“Venue Highlights

The Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre is located at the heart of Australia’s fastest-growing container port. Opened in 2001, the Centre sits on the shore of a four-hectare lake and boasts state-of-the-art conferencing facilities, including a 100-seat auditorium, meeting/function room and boardroom. Visitors can explore the Centre’s interpretative displays, take a port tour or dine in the Eco Café or On the Lake Restaurant.”

So still puzzled about why an award winning and seemingly popular Visitor Centre would closed and valuable migratory bird habitat bulldozed, I used Google Earth to try and understand what was going on.

Visitor Centre Lake - Google Earth

Visitor Centre Lake – migratory bird habitat

By my estimation this valuable 5ha migratory bird habitat and popular tourist destination is about half of one percent of the total 770ha Port of Brisbane site.

So why is it so important to destroy this piece of wildlife habitat that has clung on despite the massive development surrounding?

While the Port of Brisbane development is clearly important for the Queensland it has already absorbed a large area of mangrove habitat. If you think the Port of Brisbane Corporation needs to be challenged on this issue please:

Just a note, if you plan to visit the lake expect to be challenged by security. Alan was asked what he was doing and told he was only allowed to take photos of the birds. A logical impossibility and a bit odd considering the detail I have just downloaded from Google Earth and Google Maps.