Join Griffith Mates for the Ochna Blitz Challenge!

Saturday 24 September 8am to 11am

Map

2016 National Tree Day planting

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Location: Junction of Geebung and Federation Tracks (behind green water reservoir)

We will do a walk through the National Tree Day planting and some light weeding then move onto the Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata.

The planting site is looking great with trees and vines planted in 2015 now flowering and producing seed. A Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata is already hosting caterpillars of the Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterfly.

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The caterpillar is protected by “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Iridomyrmex sp. The ants provide protection in return for sugary fluids secreted by caterpillar. Imperial Hairstreaks will only return to breed where both caterpillar food plants and the ants are present.
Kropotkin is a reference to Russian biologist Peter Kropotkin who proposed a concept of evolution based on “mutual aid” between species helping species from ants to higher mammals survive.

The combination of rain and clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis means the Ochna is thriving and it is covered in flowers and seeds. However, the rain also means must easier to pull our either by hand or Treepopper.

 

Easter Cassia flower - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata

By: Michael Fox

Around Easter each year you can see the beautiful yellow splashes of colour in our urban bushland as the environmental weed Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata comes into flower.

Our last Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve focused on clearing Easter Cassia before another season’s crop of seed matures and spreads the weed further.

Easter Cassia seed pods - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia seed pods

Diamond-leaf Pittosporum - Auranticarpa rhombifolia - 15 May 2015 lr

Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata

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Easter Cassia produces beautiful flowers for much of the year. However, it also produces large numbers of seed pods spreading from gardens into urban bushland and shading out native plant species.

You can help protect our bushland by replacing Easter Cassia with native Sennas which have yellow flowers, grow to a similar 2 to 3 metres in height and attract a range of butterflies to your garden. See Toowoomba Plants article on native Sennas and butterflies.

Attractive garden plants like Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata often become environmental weeds in our urban bushland as they are dumped at garden waste or spread by birds. The moist conditions within Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve make this important habitat particularly vulnerable to invasion by Ardisia crenata.

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Chinese Elm - 15 May 2015

Chinese Elm removed with Treepopper

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We also used the Treepopper to remove a well established Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis. Another garden escapee that crowds out native plant species vital to our native birds, butterflies and bees.

When ever possible we avoid using poison. Instead we pull woody weeds up roots and all with the Treepopper.

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Grey Butcherbird - 15 May 2015

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

Our bush restoration work is very satisfying as we clear the weeds and watch the regrowth of native habitat. And every Friday as we work we are joined by a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus looking for breakfast of spiders, centipedes and bush cockroaches. These birds are so used to us now that they will land on a branch right beside you and pose while you take photos or sing cheerful tunes that seem to be thank-you songs.

Geocaching family - Southern Star - Sept 2014

Southern Star – 24 September 2014

By: Michael Fox

Marshal Kloske and I met the Wood family at Mt Gravatt Summit the morning they were there to meet the Southern Star photographer and we were there to photograph butterfly mating displays as part of our research for the new interpretative track signs.

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Noisy Miner chicks calling for food

Marshal showed the family the large new sign with maps and information about local history and environment. Like most people the family were surprised to learn about the local “glow-in-the-dark” mushrooms and they were very interesting our research and restoration work.

Nest watching

Nest watching team in action

Heather, Eloise and Lincoln then joined Liz, Marshal and I on Wednesday afternoon for our regular Fox Gully Bushcare. Knowing we would be joined by young children, I planned a special afternoon of activities including checking the nest-boxes and making a portable plant nursery to propagate native seedlings for re-vegetation work. When the family arrived we found out that Marshal and I are now officially called “the Bush Men” … definitely an honour.

First stop was to check on the Noisy Miner family nesting in the Lillypilly hedge. A mobile scaffold makes an ideal place to look down into the nest. Checking the nest boxes we found two Squirrel Gliders at home in one nest box and three possibly four Gliders in another box.

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Kids and sand – always a success

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Watering in with Seasol

The next job is potting up Creeping Beard or Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus and Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable. Rainforest Grass is ideal for creating Living Mulch that keeps the weeds down, controls erosion, feeds butterflies and creates a natural fire break with its low fuel load. Love Flower spreads rapidly in the garden and is considered of nuisance by some gardeners. However, this pretty little native herb is host plant for the caterpillars of a number of butterflies including Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide and Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina. Also Bearded Dragons Pogona barbata like to eat the flowers.

First Eloise and Lincoln helped build a self-watering seedling nursery … sand and water … a recipe forfun.

The idea for this neat seedling nursery came from a Gardening Australia segment on building a simple hothouse. It was a productive and fun afternoon. I will provide an update on the success of the seedling nursery which may become a valuable project for Pollinator Link gardeners.

Orchard Swallowtail - Male - Apr10

Orchard Swallowtail – Male

By: Michael Fox

Forty-six butterfly species are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with a wide range of colours, sizes and behaviour.

I have been aware, for some time, of the different colours of the male and female Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus.

Orchard Swallowtail - Nov 08

Orchard Swallowtail – Female – laying eggs on lemon tree

Orchard Swallowtail butterflies are large  (male 102mm/female 108mm). However, the females are definitely the most attractive to see flitting around your citrus trees.

These beautiful butterflies are a wonderful addition to any backyard, so if you see some strange caterpillars on your citrus trees please check before you pull out the pest spray. The Orchard caterpillars will do very little damage to your trees before they metamorphosise into beautiful colourful butterflies.

Blue Tiger - male - 17 Oct 10

Blue Tiger – male – on Parsonsia leaf

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Identifying the sex of Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata butterflies is more difficult. It took a chance comment from Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, to make me even think to look for a way to identify males vs females. I had sent Helen a picture of a Blue Tiger in the winter sunlight. Helen emailed back commenting that the “male” butterfly would be collecting alkaloids from the Parsonsia leaf to make him more attractive to females.

Blue Tiger - female - 24 Aug 2013

Blue Tiger – female

Female Blue Tigers have a very similar patten of colours on their wings. When I asked how Helen identified a male butterfly just from a photo, she introduced me to butterfly “sex brands” which can be found on a number of butterfly species including Blue Tigers and Common Crows.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger male sex brands circled

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The Blue Tiger males have distinctive sex brands on the hind wing.

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Common Crow - male - 10 Feb 2014 - on barbed wire vine

Common Crow – male.

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Common Crow - male - sex brand

Common Crow – male – sex brand

The Common Crow Euploea core male has a sex brand on the fore wing.

Now that I am aware of sex brands I will have to ensure all my photographs of mountain butterflies include this information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Federation Track sign 1 - 10 Feb 14

Federation Track – 1.9km to top of mountain

By: Michael Fox

Part of preparing an accurate and useful map/walking guide for Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is actually walking all the tracks to check times and signs.

This week I walked the Mt Gravatt Lookout Look starting at Gertrude Petty Place I followed the Federation Track. The track leads through the Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare site where a group led by Sue Jones has been removing weeds and restoring native grasses, vines and trees.

Ironbark Track junction - 10 Feb 2014

Ironbark Track junction – link to Logan Road

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The section of the Federation Track through to the junction with Ironbark Track is very easy walking with no steps or steep climbs. The Ironbark Track currently connects through to Logan Road via the Hillsong Carpark off Rover Street. The long term plan is to bridge the gully at the Rover Street Bushcare site creating a wheelchair accessible track from Gertrude Petty Place through to Mt Gravatt Showgrounds.

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Federation Track steps past Ironbark junction - 10 Feb 2014

Track climbs to reach Federation Lookout

From the Ironbark Track junction the track starts climbing to reach Federation Lookout.

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Federation Lookout junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Lookout junction

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Federation Lookout - 10 Feb 2014

Looking back to Federation Lookout

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A short side track to the right takes you Federation Lookout with excellent views over the city to the east..

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From Federation Lookout the track goes downhill over grey-white quartzite. Large quartzite rocks scattered beside the track create some interesting photographic opportunities.

Scribbly Gum junction - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gum Track junction – links to Logan Road at old Scout Hut

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The Scribbly Gum Track links through to Logan Road at the old Scout Hut opposite Wishart Road. You can park at the Scout Hut to walk directly to Federation Lookout. The walk is quite interesting as it crosses Jo’s Creek before climbing towards the lookout..

Scribbly Gums - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gums

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From the junction the track winds though Scribbly Gums Eucalyptus racemosa one of our iconic Australian trees that look like someone has been scribbling on the bark. “That can’t be scribbling, it is right up there metres above ground.” The scribbling is the work of moth larvae feeding on photosynthetic tissue just below the epidermal cells in the tree trunk.

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Bridge - 10 Feb 2014

Jo’s Creek Bridge

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Pause on the timber bridge crossing Jo’s Creek and watch for small forest birds..

Granby Street sign - 10 Feb 2014

Granby Street junction

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The Granby Street Track leads to Logan Road via Granby Street.

Federation Greebung junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Geebung Track junction

The track to Mt Gravatt Outlook is a solid climb gaining 55 metres in height over half a kilometre.

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I stopped where the Federation Track joined the Geebung Track to check restoration work on the degraded weedy area beside the track.

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Indigofera hirsuta - flower close - 7 Feb 2014
Hairy Indigo – Indigofera hirsuta

I am always pleasantly surprised at the resilience of our native flora and fauna species that hang on despite massive disruption by man and weed invasion. Among the metre high Guinea Grass Panicum maximum v maximum, Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa and Red Natal Grass Melinis repens, I found Slender Flat-sedge Cyperus gracilis, Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Scrambling Lily Geitonoplesium cymosum and a healthy stand of Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta an attractive native shrub which is caterpillar food plant for the Long-tailed Pea-blue and Common Grass-blue butterflies.

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly - close - 10 Feb 2014

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

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I also spotted a Blue Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum caledonicum resting in the sun.

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Common Crow - 10 Feb 2014

Common Crow butterfly

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Following the Geebung Track to the Mt Gravatt Lookout I came across a number of Common Crow Euploea core butterflies performing mating flights.

Geebung Summit Track junction 10 Feb 2014

Geebung Summit Track junction

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The Geebung Track joins the Summit Track just short of the Lookout picnic area.

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Lookout picnic area

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Have a picnic with the family …

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Echidna Magic

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have lunch at Echidna Magic …

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Lookout playground

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enjoy the playground …

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Historical Societ plaque - 10 Feb 2014

Story of road builders

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or learn some local history.

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Old growth trees on steep slope

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After refilling my water bottle I returned to Gertrude Petty Place via the Summit Track which winds around the northern face of the mountain.

8:30am Briefing the team and taking their minds off the cold (Photo: Alan Moore)

By: Michael Fox

7:45am The first participants have arrived even before I have finished setting up … and it’s cold!

8:30am The team is assembled, time for briefing: we have over 200 plants ready. Plants selected included vines like beautiful butterfly plant Sarsparilla Vine Hardenbergia violacea, trees like Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia
– food plant for Sugar Gliders, and trees like the Blueberry Ash Elaeocarpus reticulatus with its fascinating pretty pink downward facing flowers. Downward hanging flowers are a valuable food source in rainy periods when nectar is washed out of Banksia and Grevillea flowers.

9am Ross & Barry planting large Hickory Wattle (Photo: Alan Moore)

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9am Planting is well underway with people scattered all over the slope. Ross Vasta MP Federal Member for Bonner and gully neighbour Barry work together planting a large Hickory Wattle Acacia disparrima.

9:50am Miranda and Scott

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9:50am Must be time for morning-tea.

Looking around it is a real pleasure to see our neighbours engaged in a cooperative effort to restore this corridor for our wildlife.

9:50am (l-r) Alistair, Lyn, Ray & Trey

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Three generations of the Fulton family have been strong supporters of our restoration work with members involved in every planting day since 2008 when they planted two trees in memory of Lyn’s mother. Ray has also propagated Lomandras and potted Acacias that are now thriving in bushcare site.

10:45am Community at work

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10:45am Planting is almost complete so the team starts moving up the gully clearing Madeira Vine anredera cordifolia and Devil’s Ivy Epipremnum aureum.

Madeira Vine is a major problem in the gully, smothering trees and spreading aggressively with hundreds of potato like tubers which can each shoot into two or three new vines.

Devil’s Ivy or Pothos
is another invasive weed in the gully, climbing and dragging down trees. Devil’s Ivy, a common house plant, is also toxic to dogs and cats.

10:50am Ann Moran – Field Botanist

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11am Installing Men’s Shed nest box – a new home for Scaly-breasted Lorikeets

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10:50am Further down the gully Ann Moran a Field Botanist with decades of experience, generously shared her amazing knowledge of our native plants. I didn’t realise what looks like multiple leaves on the Black Bean Castanospermum australe are actually one leaf and if you sniff the end of the stem it smells of cucumber.

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11am Installing our first nest box. Logging and farming of the mountain habitat means that the forest is less than one hundred years old. Nest hollows typically start to form once trees are over one years old and then can take another fifty years to create. Therefore there is a shortage of nest hollows available for birds and gliders. Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed have now partnered with Mt Gravatt Environment Group to produce high quality nest boxes designed to the needs of local species. Scaly-breasted Lorikeets – all green with flecks (scales) of yellow on the chest, are smaller than Rainbow Lorikeets and have lost out in the fight for available tree hollows. This box with its smaller entry hole which excludes the larger birds will remain available for our Scalies.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group sell Men’s Shed nest boxes for $50. Boxes are available for a number of bird and glider species. For details email: megoutlook@gmail.com

11:20am Andrew with native grasses

11:20am Native grasses like Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima and Scented Top Grass Capillipedium spicigerum  operate as Green Mulch suppressing weeds, retaining moisture and reducing erosion. These grasses are also caterpillar food for butterflies like the Orange-streaked Ringlet.

Andrew get special attention from the photographer: his wife Kerry. A participant in our 2011 Photography Workshop has developed a real skill in capturing the moment and the wildlife.

11:30am Susan (left) and Don clearing weeds

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11:30am Susan Jones, Mt Gravatt Environment Group Secretary, pitches in with gully neighbour Don to remove Madeira Vine.

12noon Planting done. Now nature takes over to complete the job

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12noon Over 200 plants in place. Now we hand over the nature to complete the job. Come back for the 2013 Community Gully Day to see the results of our partnership with nature.

Thank you to all participants. It is inspiring to be part of such an amazing community event. Also thank you to Annette & Genevieve who hosted the event, Don & Clair, Ray & Lyn and SOWN who donated plants and Jason & Tash who donated timber for the slope.

Some neighbours who were unable to participate on the day made tax-deductible donations that paid for the tube stock.

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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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