By: Michael Fox

Key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

  • Weeds/Garden Waste/Dumping
  • Downhill Mountain Biking, Trail Bikes & Unofficial Tracks
  • Feral and Domestic Animals

Mt gravatt run – Uploaded by on 17 Aug 2011

2011 Mt Gravatt SHS – National Tree Day Planting

“We felt gutted seeing the damage they had done.  The irony is, that if we, CVA volunteers and Griffith Uni student volunteers hadn’t cleared out the area, they wouldn’t have been able to get through there!”

Susan Jones was talking about finding that mountain bikers have established a brand new trail right through the middle of the area restored by Mt Gravatt SHS students in 2011

No Motor Bikes No Mountain Bikes

and being prepared for our July 25 National Tree Day planting. The action was quite deliberate and systematic as the sign was thrown away and sapling Brush Box, Soapy Ash and Wattles were sawn off as well as broken down.

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Mountain

Biking is illegal in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve

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Mountain biking is not allowed in the Reserve. Signs at the Summit and at Gertrude Petty Place clearly state “No Motor Bikes No Mountain Bikes”.

Rider ignores No Bike sign

The bike in the video above actually leaves the road and takes a track straight past a No Bikes sign. Click on photo to enlarge. v

The mountain biking is not only illegal it is also damaging a unique environment that our community has fought to protect for over one hundred years: Mt Gravatt Historical Society, tells us that up till July 1893 the mountain and surrounds were designated as a railway timber reserve. In response to community pressure the Queensland Government of the time protected this special habitat by declaring the Reserve.

Mountain bike riders are actively destroying mountain habitat

Susan showing cut sapling

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I inspected the latest damage this week with Susan Jones. What really stunned us was the systematic habitat destruction with saplings sawed or broken off and used to make jumps for riders. Cut and broken trees included a four metre Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx just about to flower. Early Black Wattle is the caterpillar food plant for Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras, a beautiful butterfly which is returning to the mountain with the restoration of our bushcare sites. Other trees destroyed included Soapy Ash Alphitonia excelsa, caterpillar food plant for Small Green-banded Blue butterflies Psychonotis caelius, Brush Box Lophostemon confertus, caterpillar food plant for the

Butterfly trees chopped up for bike jump

fascinating Four-Spotted Cup Moth Doratifera quadriguttata.

Many Lomandras have been destroyed by the action of bikes, including a flowering (male) Many Flowered Mat-rush Lomandra multiflora, caterpillar food plant for Brown Ochre Trapezites iacchus and Black-ringed Ochre Trapezites petalia butterflies: two of forty-five butterfly species found in the Reserve.

Young trees destroyed to make a bike track

It is hard to show the enormity of the damage. None of the trees were very large but the collage of cut stumps gives some idea of the number of trees destroyed to create track for entrainment of a small number of people.

And by the looks of it this is only the start. Following the track down from the Summit we found yellow markers tied to trees, not only along the track but also what appears to be planned as a new track taking off to the south. Trees had been cut or broken and yellow tape tied to others. It seems that this new track planning was only stopped when the tape ran out … evidenced by the empty spool discarded in the bush.

Further evidence of expansion plans is the cache of tools we found locked to a tree just near the path.

Yellow tape marking out track expansion plans

Track clearing tools locked to a tree

Our community investment

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Seeing the wanton destruction of our special habitat made me very angry, not just because of the personal impact on me, but also because this action ignores the huge ongoing contribution our community is making.

Conservatively calculated, Mt Gravatt Environment Group is responsible for over $30,000 in volunteer contribution during the 2011/12  financial year.

Over the same period our community has invested $19,905 in grants from Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and Southside Sport & Community Club.

Donations and direct investments by community members exceeded $8,000.

Ongoing support and investment by BCC Habitat Brisbane program: plants for revegetation, equipment, training and public liability insurance.

Community partners include Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed – nest-boxes, MacGregor Lions Club – native garden restoration Roly Chapman Reserve, Mt Gravatt Girl Guides – planting Pollinator Link garden, Griffith University – student volunteer program, QUT and Australian Catholic University student volunteers.

Sheamus – Young Citizan – Jan 12

Community Recognition

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Our contribution has been acknowledged with a number of community awards.

Sheamus O’Connor

  • Young Citizen of the Year 2012
  • 2012 YoungStar Community winner

Michael Fox

  • 2012 Lord Mayor’s Green Heart Award
  • 2011 B4C Environmentalist of the Year
  • Shortlisted for selection for Pride of Australia 2012 – Environmental Medal

Mt Gravatt Environment Group

  • 2011 Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs – Environmental Protections Award
  • B4C Bushcare Group of 2011

Fox Gully Bushcare

  • 2011 Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs – Partnerships Award

How can you help?

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Please express your concerns to Cr Krista Adams as Brisbane City Council is trustee of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

Email: wishart.ward@ecn.net.au

Phone BCC Call Centre: 07 3403 8888

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Campbell Newman & Ian trying Treepopper

We were honoured to host local LNP candidate Ian Walker with Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney at our Fox Gully Bushcare site yesterday.

Late in day and the light was fading however our visitors were still keen get out into the bush and see our restoration work. Campbell was particularly impressed with the elegant design of the Treepopper we use to remove difficult weed trees like Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis and Micky Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata. Specialist tools like the Treepopper dramatically increase productivity of our bushcare team allowing us to start getting ahead of these invasive weeds.

(l-r) Michael Fox, Campbell Newman, Jeff Seeney, Ian Walker

Jeff Seeney, with his Landcare experience, was particularly interested in our focus on natural regeneration. I was happy to show how, in less than twelve months, native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima has returned to act as Green Mulch in the area cleared of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

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Briefing on Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan

I was proud to explain that sixteen households in our community have committed to restoring the gully wildlife corridors on their properties. However, briefing these experienced professionals on the Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan was challenging, with Campbell in particular, cutting right to the core in critiquing our cost estimates for some initiatives. So we can be proud as a community group to have Campbell Newman sum up the visit with: “Having seen first hand what is being done here I am not surprised that MEG has won two Spotless Suburbs awards in the recent 2011 announcements.”

My thanks to Ian Walker for the opportunity to present our community initiative and Alan Moore, a Fox Gully Bushcare volunteer, who tackled to fading light to provide our excellent photos.

(l-r) Marshal, Michael, Dennis and Paul

Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes has grown naturally out of the regular Fox Gully Tuesday Bushcare.

Meet the Bush Blokes, an eclectic collection of blokes, who enjoy the peace of working in the bush and, of course, sharing tall stories. Conversation today ranged across fishing, the best way to cook the fish, a bit of politics, that our Scrub Turkeys are nothing to the scratching of Cassowarys that invade Dennis’ backyard in north Queensland and writing science fiction.

Dennis, who is visiting his “little” brother Marshall, comes from Mourilyan Harbour near Innisfail. We are now sourcing volunteers from over 1,600 km away: not a bad reach!

Team is proud of our afternoon's work

As well as supporting our Fox Gully Bushcare initiative, Marshal is restoring the bush on his property which forms part of the Firefly Gully wildlife corridor. Michael, our science fiction writer, and Paul, who shares his tall tales of working as a jockey in Japan, are community volunteers who just enjoy the time in the bush working with mates on a worthwhile project.

Thirteen garbage bags of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia does not seem that much until you realise that every bag had to be carried up out of the gully, after standing on logs on the slope to clear the weed then scratch out the hundreds of water nodules and wiry roots that will re-shoot if left behind.

(l-r) Steve and Michael

Our Bush Blokes are proud of our achievements and particularly proud of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs Partnership Award.

Steve, another Bush Bloke, and I posed with our award last week. Steve is an ex-farmer, so learning the low impact natural regeneration bushcare approach was a bit of an adjustment. However I am constantly impressed by his amazing capacity to just quietly get the job done. Steve has cleared the major weed infestation at the corner of the maintenance track near the water reservoir and spread the thick layer of mulch to control weed regrowth and stop the water erosion.

Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes is becoming a powerful team who are experts on weed removal and importantly native plants as I identify natives like Barbed Wire Vine Smilax australis: well named so we cut off close to the ground to make it safe and easy to work – this tough native re-shoots rapidly once the restoration team has finished the area.

(l-r) Cr Krista Adams, Sue Jones, Michael Fox, Cr Graham Quirk

Sue Jones, represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group in receiving the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs Environmental Protection Award from Lord Mayor, Cr Graham Quirk. Sue acknowledged the work of our community volunteers, thanked Cr Krista Adams for our nomination and importantly thanked the Habitat Brisbane team who quiet work in the background is what allows bushcare groups like ours to achieve extraordinary outcomes for our communities.

Mt Gravatt was also recognised with the Partnership Award presented to Fox Gully Bushcare.

Judging criteria for the Environmental Protection Award are:

  • Sustainable or innovative projects that focus on environmental protection
  • Establishment or existence of local conservation or environmental groups

Environmental Protection Award

The Mt Gravatt Environment Group vision sees the mountain as the heart of a special community with strong links to Indigenous and European histories.  This ecological and cultural landmark just ten kilometres from Brisbane CBD is home to Echidnas, Koalas, Sugar and Squirrel Gliders, forty-five butterfly species as well as two hundred and fifty-four native plant species.

Environmental protection and restoration initiatives include community education about key threats to the habitat:

  • rubbish and garden waste dumping;
  • downhill mountain biking, trail bikes, unofficial tracks; and
  • feral and domestic animals.

Research initiatives include Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve – Sue Jones and Michael Fox – available as electronic version on CD.

Preparation of the new Summit Track Self-guided Walk brochure published with support of Cr Krista Adams. Available at Mt Gravatt Library.

Co-ordination of four local bushcare groups – 2011 Bushcare Callender:

  • Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare
  • Rover Street Bushcare
  • Fox Gully Bushcare
  • Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare

Mt Gravatt Environment Group has joined Fox Gully Bushcare as a finalist in the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburbs Award.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group coordinates four Bushcare groups:

  • Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare – Sue Jones
  • Rover Street Bushcare – Brett Dugdale
  • Fox Gully Bushcare – Michael Fox
  • Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare – currently no team leader

We appreciate Cr Adams’ support in nomination of of Mt Gravatt Environment Group and we are proud to represent our community by reaching the finals of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs competition.

Fox Gully Bushcare is a finalist in the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburbs Award.

Fox Gully Bushcare, located on the southern face of Mt Gravatt, is one of four communtiy bushcare groups working with Mt Gravat Environment Group on restoration of this unique pieces of Australian bushland.

Reaching the finals of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs competition is recognition of the strength of our local community, the important role of sponsoring organisations and the quality of the BCC Habitat Brisbane program.