Bushwalks


Koala Mum and Joey Fox Gully Buschare

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane’s natural areas are a precious resource for both nature and people.

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy. The current strategy is putting large areas of our limited urban bushland at risk.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve supports a healthy breeding populations of Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus and Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis. The 66ha Reserve has 282 native plants which equals 20% of native plant species in the 22.6 million hectares of the United Kingdom. The Reserve also supports 62 bird, 49 butterfly, 12 native bee species and numerous beetles and bugs.

The Council’s Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy which focuses on opening up bushland for mountain biking, may be a threat to special places like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

In the past a small number of illegal mountain bikers ignoring Council signs have caused huge damage to the sensitive bushland our community members have spent thousands of hours restoring: 176 volunteers contributed 606 hours in the 2019/20 financial year.

Erosion caused by illegal mountain biking – Jan 2021

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While less of problem in 2021, illegal mountain bikers are still making new tracks destroying plants and causing erosion. Even riders on the fire roads can’t resist the temptation to go “off-road”. Riders using the Acacia Way maintenance track have caused erosion that is undermining a mature eucalypt tree.

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Branches and mulch used to close tracks

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Illegal tracks dramatically increase erosion on steep slopes as water is channelled down hill. Closing down and repairing illegal tracks is a labour intensive and costly exercise: closing one track has required several metres of mulch, hundreds of branches recovered from the bush and laid on the track to stop bikes and start restoring the ground by collecting silt before it is washed downhill.

Even with these efforts by Council staff are not enough. I received a report this morning of orange barrier fences being removed and a father and son riding though the bush from the Summit to Gertrude Petty Place. Repair work like this uses scarce Council funds that could be used for improving facilities for all visitors.

National Tree Day 2018

As a BCC ratepayer and volunteer Habitat Brisbane Bushcare leader I am very concerned that a small percentage of our community are lobbying for a “free-ride” with access our bushland reserves without accepting the cost of that access. (A free-rider problem is a type of market failure that occurs when those who benefit from resources, public goods (such as public roads or hospitals), or services of a communal nature do not pay for them.)

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National Tree Day 2015

Habitat Brisbane Bushcare volunteer contribution is typically $4 for every $1 invested by Council: provision of plants, tools and training. Bushcare is a very low risk activity which contributes to the health of our urban bushland while reducing maintenance costs for Council. On the other hand, off-road cycling is a relatively high risk recreational activity that damages bushland, increases maintenance costs and dramatically increases the potential for legal action against Council.

This article focuses on Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve because I have deep knowledge of this area with fourteen years actively restoring the Reserve, researching the flora and fauna and engaging an increasing number of community members in restoration or observing the dramatic increase community members walking in the bush. While I do not have the same knowledge of other Brisbane bushland reserves they will have same sensitive habitat and I can make general observations about the potential impact of off-road cycling on other reserves.

Signage: The current track no bikes signage is very small, very limited and ineffective for the target audience: typically young males riding fast and totally focused on riding not signs. Tourists are one group that definitely better signage: one rider I stopped going down the walking track from the Summit was a visitor from South America. Others simply claim they have not seen signs. Signs need to be larger and spread along the tracks so everyone is well aware of the rules: no excuses.

Vandalised no-bike sign

Fines with no Enforcement = no behaviour change: While off-ride cycling is illegal in the Reserve and subject to $500 fines enforcement appears to be non-existent. As I understand the situation the very Council Officers, Rangers / Habitat Brisbane Officers, who spend time on the ground in the Reserves are not allowed to even issue fines, let alone that stronger action.

The draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy (BORCS) “seeks to reduce unauthorised [illegal] track construction” (page 6). It is hard to understand the logic of a strategy that manages illegal behaviour by rewarding the bad behaviour.

Most visitors to the Reserve are responsible however there are a small number that ignore the rules putting walkers at risk, damaging sensitive wildlife habitat, increasing maintenance costs, even vandalising the limited signage that exists.

The Off-Road Cycling Strategy suggests that “Increasing the authorised recreational use of natural areas will also increase casual surveillance which helps to deter illegal activity.” (BORCS page 11) While Cialdini’s Social proof is a valuable tool for influencing and changing behaviour, our experience using this to manage behaviour Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has had mixed success. The very demographic we are dealing with: young males, means that our Bushcarers: typically retired and female, have to be very careful because violent verbal abuse is common. If this is an ongoing problem in a popular and busy Reserve like Mt Gravatt what control will there be in other reserves that do not have active Bushcare groups.

User Pays: Any football club or other community group that wants to uses Council land like parks and reserves are responsible for their own costs: lease fees, public liability insurance and property maintenance. While many and possibly most off-road cyclists are not part of a formal group that could provide public liability insurance and pay lease fees, they are still increasing costs and litigation risk. If the Council accepts this as a cost of providing valuable recreational activities this must not come out of limited environment budgets that are critical to habitat protection and restoration: “Council is continuing to invest in the protection and restoration of our city’s biodiversity, and we are on track to achieve the target of having 40% of Brisbane as natural habitat by 2031.” (BORCS page 8)

As a ratepayer I have contributed to Bushland Acquisition Program. I am concerned that land purchased to protect our urban bushland may now be “given” to a very small percentage of community members for their personal use. “More than 4300 hectares of land have been purchased and protected through Council’s Bushland Acquisition Program since 1990. The preservation and management of biodiversity within Brisbane’s natural areas is of vital importance.” (BORCS page 8)

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Griffith Mates at work - 1 Mar 2020

Weeding Team in action

By: Michael Fox

I love our annual Clean Up when the community turns out to help maintain our special Reserve. Heather Woods, our event coordinator, registered our largest ever team:
  • 75 Volunteers;
  • 66 Adults; and
  • 9 Children (under 16)

Dainty Swallowtail - Papilio anactus - 1 Mar 2020

Dainty Swallowtail Papilio anactus

 

The reduction in rubbish to be cleaned up means the largest group joined the Weeding Team this year.

We are working with the Council Rangers and Habitat Brisbane team to prepare the site for the 2020 National Tree Day Planting on Sunday, 02 August. Special focus will be planting species that enhance the visitor experience by attracting butterflies, like the beautiful Dainty Swallowtail Papilio anactus, while maintaining the views to the city and Glass House Mountains.

Weeds cleared - 1 Mar 2020

Huge area of Guinea Grass and Creeping Lantana cleared

 

The weeding team did a great job clearing a huge area of Guinea Grass Panicum maximum, Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis and Glycine Neonotonia wightii. Clearing the weeds and removing trip hazards is the first step in site preparation for planting.

 

 

Blue Banded Bee - Amegilla cingulata - 1 Mar 2020

Blue Banded Bee visiting Blue Tongue flower

 

Species for planting will be based on our research for Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Blue Tongue or Native Lasiandra Melastoma affine, currently flowering at the Lookout, is very popular with the solitary native bees in the Reserve. Like Blue Banded Bees Amegilla cingulata

Other species observed on the day were Great Carpenter Bees Xylocopa sp., Stingless Native Bees Trigona sp., and caterpillars of Glasswing Acraea andromacha and Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterflies and Pale Brown Hawk Moth Theretra latreillii.

Guide on Patrol 2 - 1 Mar 2020

Guide on Patrol

 

Meanwhile the Rubbish Teams were busy around the Summit and along the roadway collecting the usual fastfood packages and some strange parts fallen off cars.

 

 

 

Griffith Mates Team - 1 Mar 2020

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

 

 

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Heather with rubbish collection

 

 

 

Thank you to all the community members, the Holland Park Girl Guides and Griffith Mates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Heather Woods for organising the event.

By: Michael Fox

Sheamus O’Connor, Group Leader of Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare, reported on the Group’s first event for 2020 with sad news:

“Unfortunately, an injured koala was found about 50m down from GPP, up on the hill, sitting at the bottom of a tree. She had been bitten by a dog on her wrist and was very sick from infection. Angela, the local wildlife rescuer, collected her however has little hope in full recovery. Let’s hope she recovers.

We’ve got signs now but that is obviously not enough, people ignore them and continue to have their dogs off lead. What will it take for people to take responsibility for their pets?” Sheamus Dog Kills Koala - Feb 2020 adj

 

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As reported in the Southern Star this week the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus did not survive this dog attack.

It is very disappointing that irresponsible individuals still ignore the signs and let their dogs run loose in the Reserve.

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is a special place with a wide diversity of flora and fauna including a healthy breeding population of Koalas appreciated by tourists, international students and even increasing property values in the area.

Dogs off-leash are also a problem for walkers with children or people walking their own dogs on-leash. For other people, even a well behaved dog off-leash creates uncertainty because they don’t know how that strange dog will behave around their children or their dog.

Unfortunately, we have reports that challenging walkers with dogs off-leash is often met with aggressive rudeness. So consider simply taking a photo, from a distance, and reporting to Brisbane City Council call centre on 07 3403 8888.

Dogs do love to run loose, so consider visiting the local Abbeville Street Park off-leash area or look for one of the other 150 City Council dog off-leash areas

 

 

Mates on trail - 9 Nov 2019

Fishbone Fighters on the trail

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates Bushcare team joined us again today to help eradicate the invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia from Fox Gully Bushcare Zone 10.

As always the team was an interesting mix of international students: Osaka Japan with its amazing aquarium, cold Gansu in north-west China where winter temperatures range from -13°C to a toasty 3°C, and a local student with a French heritage whose passion is environmentally sensitive urban planning.

 

Weed Busters - 9 Nov 2019

Fishbone Fighters hard at work

 

 

 

 

The Fishbone Fighters worked hard first cutting back the prickly Barbed Wire Vine Smilax australis which will tear an unsuspecting Bushcarer’s arms to pieces. However, Barbed Wire Vine is very hardy local native which can tolerate a hard cutback to allow access for weed removal.

Proud Bushcarers - 9 Nov 2018

Proud Fishbone Fighers

 

Thanks again to the extraordinary Griffith Mates Bushcare team who have been partnering with Mt Gravatt Environment Group since April 2013.

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

 

Members of the Australian Chinese Youth Association (ACYA) joined me yesterday to restore Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. A diverse group with students from China, Japan and Australia, all passionate about working with China.

The team were also all interested in everything I showed them, like the Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula growing, not in cool shady gullies but on dry rocky Mt Gravatt.

Proud Bushcare team - 23 March 2019

Weed Busters at work removing Fishbone Fern

 

Casey asked what we do in the forest so I showed the National Tree Day plantings and explained our work educating and engaging community members with grant funding for interpretive signs and maps of walking tracks.

I put the team to work removing invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. A native species indigenous to north Queensland it is an environmental weed in Brisbane spreading from garden waste dumped in bushland and smothering local natives.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 23 March 2019

Bark Cockroach

 

 

Remember I said the team were interested in everything?

We have never found so many different species at one time. Casey found one of our bush cockroaches: Bark Cockroaches Laxta sp. live in the leaf litter preforming valuable recycling work.

 

Black Woodland Cockroach - Platyzosteria melanaria - 23 March 2019

Black Woodland Cockroach

 

 

A Black Woodland Cockroach Platyzosteria melanaria is a new addition to our Flora and Fauna species list.

 

 

 

Brisbane brush-footed trapdoor - Seqocrypta jakara - 23 March 2019

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider

 

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider  Seqocrypta jakara is another new species identified.

 

 

 

Net-casting Spider - Deinopis sp. - young - 23 March 2019

Net-casting Spider

 

 

 

 

 

A newly hatched Net-casting Spider Deinopis sp.

Brown Huntsman - Heteropoda sp. - 23 March 2019

Brown Huntsman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Wentao (right) set a new record for finding wildlife including a Brown Huntsman Heteropoda sp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeding disturbed a  Sugar Ant Camponotus sp. The ants immediately got busy relocating their larvae and when I checked today the site was completely clear.

 

 

 

Fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

Cute fungi were also found.

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight plus bags of weeds - 23 March 2019

Proud Weed Busters

 

 

Eight and quarter bags of weeds removed and ready to go to Green Waste at the dump. We compost most weeds onsite however the roots and nodules of Fishbone need to be removed from site or they regrow.

Thank you to the ACYA team. Looking forward to welcoming you back in two weeks.

By: Michael Fox

Clairvaux Bushcarers - 14 May 2018

Clairvaux Bushcarers

Our new partnership with Clairvaux MacKillop College is off to a great start. Clairvaux Bushcarers joined us last Monday to help prepare the 2018 National Tree Day site.

The team worked so hard removing weeds and moving branches to make the site safe, our Tuesday Bushcare group was able to finalise the preparation ready for spreading mulch.

 

Proud Weed Busters - 14 May 2018

Proud Weed Busters

It was a real pleasure to work with the students, a bit like herding cats, but still a real pleasure.

Over fifty years ago Frederick Herzberg identified recognition and a sense of achievement as two key factors in helping individuals build their motivation. Watching the students’ level of engagement and energy grow as they worked was an excellent example of Hertzberg’s research in action.

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle

Removing huge clumps of Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus really does provide a great sense of achievement and by removing and bagging the seed heads dramatically reduces weed regrowth.

The Clairvaux Bushcarers also had a wonderful time finding “bugs” for me to photograph. Like this Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis.

26-spotted Potato Ladybird - Epilachna vigintisexpunctata - 14 May 2018

26-spotted Potato Ladybird

 

The students also found  26-spotted Potato Ladybird Epilachna vigintisexpunctata which is a new addition to our Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 

 

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - larve - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle larvae

 

 

I was also able to introduce the students to the strange looking Ladybird Beetle larvae.

 

Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis larvae.

Common Spotted Ladybird - Harmonia conformis - larva - 14 May 2018

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle

 

 

 

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle Harmonia conformis larvae.

 

Common Assassin Bug - Pristhesancus plagipennis - 5th Instar - 14 May 2018

Common Assassin Bug 5th Instar

 

 

 

 

 

Common Assassin Bug Pristhesancus plagipennis 5th Instar. As the name suggests Assassin Bugs are pest controllers for your garden feeding on spiders and other insects.

Common Methana - Methana marginalis - large nymph - native cocoroach - 14 May 2018

Common Methana

 

 

 

 

Common Methana Methana marginalis large nymph. A native cockroach, the Common Methana are great recyclers turning leaves into soil and food for lizards and birds.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 14 May 2018

Bark Cockroach

 

 

 

 

 

Bark Cockroach Laxta sp. are another curious native cockroach working hard to recycle leaf litter.

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly - Simosyrphus grandicornis - 14 May 2018

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly

 

 

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly Simosyrphus grandicornis 

 

 

Clairvaux Bushwalkers - Weed Busting - 10 May 2018

Creeping Lantana

 

 

 

 

The Clairvaux Bushwalkers helped the previous week, removing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses* (the asterisk * is used to identify non-native species).

 

Small Dusky Blue - Candalides erinus - topside - 10 May 2018

Small Dusky Blue butterfly feeding

 

 

 

 

 

Small Dusky Blue Candalides erinus butterfly feeding on nectar from the flower of a Purple Fleabane Cyanthillium cinereum. Look for the proboscis: a hollow drinking straw the butterfly unrolls. Natives like the Purple Fleabane are returning as Creeping Lantana is removed.

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday we hosted the Clairvaux Scientists who checked water quality in Mimosa Creek.

 

 

 

Checking acidy - 18 May 2018

Acid Test

 

 

The water sample was then tested with litmus paper which established a healthy neutral water.

 

 

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly - Orthetrum villosovittatum - 18 May 2018

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly

 

 

We also spotted a new dragonfly species to add to the species list. Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum villosovittatum

 

Thank you to all the Clairvaux students and staff.

I am looking forward to growing a long partnership restoring Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and learning environmental skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

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(clockwise) Mik Petter, Wayne Cameron, Ian Walker, Dr. Christian Rowan, Michael Fox, Sienna Harris

Our local MP Ian Walker gave us to opportunity yesterday to brief Dr. Christian Rowan, state Shadow Minister for Environment, about our restoration work around the mountain and the broader Brisbane catchment. We met at the Love Well Project … excellent coffee and an outstanding place to meet with a view over Brisbane City.
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Mik Petter – B4C President and Wayne Cameron – Catchment Manager, represented Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C). Sienna Harris represented Griffith Mates and Alan Moore, Photography Workshop leader, and I represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group.
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Mik and Wayne shared information on the history of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc. (B4C): established in 1997 as a community based social enterprise that provides coordination, support and specialised ecological services to protect, restore and maintain Bulimba Creek catchment in partnership with our members and wider community to build a web of green across the region.

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Particularly significant points were the business like management of B4C which complements grant funding and volunteer contribution with commercial projects across Brisbane and as far as Esk. This combination of financial strength and depth of on ground experience across both technical environmental areas and community engagement allows B4C to provide valuable support for groups like ours: technical advice, legal framework, insurance and bookkeeping.

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Explaining the value of interpretative signs.

The excellent support our five Bushcare groups receive from BCC Habitat Brisbane is complemented by B4C’s support that allows us to source grant funding for printing our popular Walking Mt Gravatt track maps and the interpretative signs which help create a real “National Park” experience for visitors to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.
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Sienna talked about Griffith Mates, a Griffith University initiative that organises events for students, including Volunteering at Bushcare. A powerful partnership we find ourselves working with students studying engineering, international business as well as the expected environmental science. Listening to students talking about home in Hong Kong or Zimbabwe, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter.

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(l-r) Ian Walker and Christian Rowan

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Alan told us about the 2017 Photography Workshop, our fifth year helping visitors “See the forest in a new way” through the lens of their camera. Each year Alan focuses of a new theme and many participants return each year … so it is important to book early as we have limited numbers.
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Time to get the politicians out to experience this special Conservation Reserve in the middle of the city.
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I explained that the butterfly sign was positioned at the entry to the Summit Track where the natural amphitheatre creates a speed dating site for dozens of butterflies of different species.

acacia-leaf-beetle-dicranosterna-picea-26-oct-2016-cropped

Acacia Leaf Beetle

By: Michael Fox

 

I met a future naturalist at the Small Bird Habitat this morning. He was walking the mountain on his father’s shoulders but when I found an Acacia Leaf Beetle Dicranosterna picea on a Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata this future naturalist had to get down to get a close look. Of course a true naturalist loves to let beetles walk up their arm.

brown-belid-weevil-rhinotia-brunnea-26-oct-2016-cropped

Brown Belid Weevil

 

This was an inspiring meeting as this future scientist not only let the beetle walk on him, he then proceeded to find another two bugs for me on other plants.

One I have not identified yet but this other is a Brown Belid Weevil Rhinotia brunnea.

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Brown Belid Weevil – side view

 

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And both new species to add to our Flora and Fauna database! 

Not a bad start for this future naturalist who has not even started school.

 

By: Michael FoxGlider map

Thanks to the BCC Natural Environment team for reconstruction of the steep slippery section of Geebung Track near Azanian Street entry to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

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Geebung Track new entry

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The new track starts near the Glider interpretative sign and loops into the bush, missing large trees and uses steps to create a safer easier walk.

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geebung-track-1-12-oct-2016

Reconstructed Geebung Track

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Professionally made steps rejoin Greebung Track at top of steep section.

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geebung-track-2-12-oct-2016

Managing track erosion 

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The Natural Environment team have specialist contractors to do track restoration work. The existing track had already been restored right up to the small green water reservoir. That restoration work included large swales to direct water off the track reducing erosion. The contractors have set up the new section of track with rocks to handle the huge volume of rain water coming off the swales.

 

Jisu - Elkhorn and Basket ferns 31 -Aug 2016 lowres

Jisu fascinated by Elkhorn and Basket Ferns growing on a rock

By: Michael Fox

I introduced Korean student Jisu to our wildlife and native plants in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve while walking to Mt Gravatt Campus.

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Kangaroo on a bus - 31 Aug 2016 lowres

I like my new mum

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Jisu is keen to meet a Koala but neither of us expected to meet a Kangaroo on the Griffith Inter-campus. This youngster was happily nestled into his substitute pouch on the wildlife carer’s lap.

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