By: Michael Fox

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus breeding season is August to February and we already have three sighting this month, so it is a good time to remind walkers to keep their dogs on leash within the Reserve. As this sighting report highlights:

Semple1 - 14 July 2016

Koala sighted – station marker 5

“Walking on the mountain yesterday around 10.30 proved exciting: two Koalas on the Summit Track. The first was sitting in a fork directly above the 5th guided walk sign-post. The second had actually climbed down from a tree, walked along the track before climbing back up a tree about four steps from the top of the flight up the western side of  the mountain on the Summit Track, where it promptly started feeding. Two in one day really proves we have at least two koalas on the mountain! We think the ones we saw were both young.

Semple2 - 14 July 2016

Koala sighted walking Summit Track

“As an aside; the woman who saw the Koala climb down and walk the track before climbing back up had a rather large dog, firmly on a lead. We congratulated her for having the dog under control. Poor Koala would not have stood a chance had the dog been free.” Alison

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BCC information on Dogs and Koalas: identifies that Koalas are under threat of extinction. Koalas are now listed as vulnerable in Queensland under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and also in the South East Queensland bio-region under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Queensland was once home to millions of Koalas. However, the BCC estimates that now there may be as few as 100,000 left in existence statewide. Koalas were still being hunted in Queensland in the 1920s, since that time habitat clearing and road trauma have been the have been the most significant threat with dog attacks number three.

“In 1927 in Queensland, the country’s final, but highly controversial month-long hunt known as Black August, more than 800,000 koalas were killed.” Rural Weekly

Koalas are now breeding in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve so we have a second chance to keep this unique and iconic species as part of our community.

“80 percent of koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries” Moggill Koala Hospital – cited in BCC Dogs and Koalas

Koalas live here – dogs visit  Keep your dog on leash while walking in the Reserve and help us protect and grow the Koala population.

Your dog wants to play off-leash? Visit Abbeville Street Park.

Google Map - Koalas July 2016

Koala sightings since January 2016

 

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Tunks Park East Bushcare

Tunks Park East Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Visiting my daughter in Sydney is a great opportunity to check out the local bushcare sites like Flat Rock Gully  on the boundaries of North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils. Flat Rock Creek is piped under Tunks Park creating a popular community space with children’s playground,  cricket pitches, football fields and great space for dogs to play with their owners.

Difficult bushcare

How do I reach that Asparagus Fern?

Weeds

Asparagus Fern and Mother of Millions on rock face

Tunks Park East & West and Mortlock Reserve Bushcare groups (North Sydney Council) are active restoring the along the southern side of Flat Rock Creek while The Drive (Flat Rock Gully) Bushcare group (Willoughby City) is working on the northern side.

The rock formations common in Sydney make very attractive landscape but challenging sites for bushcare.

Tunks Park East group leader Steve Miles who told me that a large  Privet grove had been the priority initially.

Nature is resilient

Nature is resilient

Steve explained that one of the key issues was that the site, like so many in Sydney, is narrow with housing right along the edge which means dealing constant reinfection with garden escapees.

However, Steve is still optimistic “Nature is resilient and just needs a chance.” Like this native fig finding any crack or fissure for its roots to get a hold. Steve explained that Flat Rock Gully is a diversity hot spot and wildlife is returning as restoration progresses. Aside from a Brush Turkey mound the team regularly sights green tree snakes, king parrots, scaly-breasted lorikeets and bandicoots are returning. The return of bandicoots is excellent news however it does highlight the need for gully neighbours and visitors to control their pets. Dogs on leash in bushland and cats kept inside at night.

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Cammeray Bridge

Bandicoots, like many of the small to medium-sized marsupials of Australia, have undergone several species extinctions and significant contractions in distribution since European settlement because of land clearing and the introduction of predators (foxes, dogs and cats) 

Other exciting news from 2014 is the new native plant nursery at The Coal Loader Sustainability Centre and a couple of sea lions sunning themselves on the shore-front rocks.

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The spectacular Cammeray Bridge with its castellated towers forms the boundary of Steve’s Tunks Park East site.

Following the tracks up Flat Rock Gully markers tell some of the European history, for example, the original Northbridge Suspension Bridge was a toll bridge built in 1889 and replaced in 1939 with the Cammeray Bridge, retaining the towers.

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Log boundary

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The bushcare teams have been active on both sides of Tunks Park with logs allowing weeds to be composted onsite.

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Creek crossing

Crossing Flat Rock Creek

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The track along Flat Rock Creek is cool and peaceful, very popular with walkers and runners. Unfortunately most dog walkers I passed ignored the many signs saying dogs must be on a leash in the bushland area. This is particularly disappointing considering the huge area of parkland just a short distance down the track where dogs are free to run and chase balls.

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angophora costata

Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata

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Many of the native plant species are ones we find in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, like Sweet Sarsaparilla Smilax glyciphylla, Tree Ferns Cyathea cooperi and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus. There were also quite a number of species I didn’t recognise spectacular like Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata all orange as they shed their bark.

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On-site weed recycling

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I always get new ideas when visiting other bushcare sites. One interesting idea is the separation of woody weeds from grass and soft weeds which can be covered with black plastic to compost quickly. Simple but effective. We already use black plastic but putting the woody weeds into a different pile will create good habitat for lizards while allowing the softer weeds to compost faster.

I look forward to exploring further up Flat Rock Gully on my next visit to Sydney.

Koala Mum & Joey

Koala Mum & Joey

By: Michael Fox

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus breeding season is roughly August to February.

For some weeks we have been listening to the fighting, bellowing, screaming at night and this morning a Koala mum and baby was sitting in an Acacia just beside the Farm Fire Trail.

Koala Life Cycle poster – Australian Koala Foundation

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Koalas are returning to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. An extraordinary example of the resilience of nature if we give it a chance. As recently as August 1927 over 500,000 Queensland Koalas were hunted for their pelts.

“From 1 to 31 August 1927, Queensland held what was to be the last open hunting season on koalas in Australia. David Stead, President of the Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia, warned that 300,000 would be killed. This figure was ridiculed in certain quarters, but as later events would show, even Stead underestimated the carnage. The Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Stock for the year1927-28 gives the number of koalas “secured” as being 584,738.”

Dog off - 9 Oct 2014

Pick-up after your dog

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Hunting is no longer a threat however in our urban environment dogs are a threat to the returning Koalas. A quick bite, even from a small dog, can kill through infection or shock.
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My dog would only play with it. Even a quick bite is enough to kill a Koala. A Koala’s skin is very pliable, with little fat for protection, and internal organs are easily punctured. Some Koalas may appear to have survived a dog attack with very few visible signs of external trauma but may be suffering from internal injuries and may die later from shock or infection. Stress alone might also be enough to trigger other problems such as disease.
During breeding season it is particularly important to keep dogs on a leash within the Reserve and pick up after your dog.
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Kristen introduces Elsa to international visitors

By: Michael Fox

International students are an important group of potential volunteers for bush restoration work so Kristen and  Elsa the Koala joined us at the QIBT (Queensland Institute of Business Technology) OWeek Market.

Elsa, who normally lives at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, was a real hit with  students from as far away as Japan, China and Sri Lanka. Kristan also amazed students with the body of a three day old joey Koala. Just 30mm long the joey would have made an extraordinary journey to its mother pouch after birth. Unfortunately the mother was hit by a car shortly after and the joey was found in the mother’s pouch.

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Elsa – Koala Phascolarctos cinereus

In south-east Queensland we are lucky to still have some significant Koala habitat with protected areas like Daisy Hill Koala Centre however development pressure is impacting. In Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and surrounding urban areas we are seeing a return of Koalas that, as recently as 1927, were hunted for their pelts. Nature is giving us a second chance with Koalas so  students engaged in restoration of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve will be making a valuable contribution to a unique Koala habitat just fifteen minutes from Brisbane CBD and right beside their university campus. Students are also invited to visit Daisy Hill Koala Centre – free entry.

Free Dog Behaviour Seminar – Reducing your dog’s impact on Wildlife

Daisy Hill Koala Centre – Sunday 30 March. Dogs off-leash are one of the three key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Take the opportunity to learn about making your dog wildlife friendly.

By: Susan Jones

Female Koala at Gertrude Petty Place
Photo by Susan Jones

This afternoon about 4pm we stopped clearing weeds and sat down at Gertrude Petty Place for a cool drink and something to eat.

To my amazement, a female koala jumped to the ground from a sapling gum a few metres away and headed out onto the grass.  I squatted with the camera to take a shot, not realising that the Tallowwood gum I was hiding behind was the koala’s next destination!  It shot up the Tallowwood, only stopping once to look back disdainfully at me.

People sometimes forget that Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is an enviromental park where visitors share the habitat with koalas, echidnas and many other species.

It is wonderful to see people enjoying the Summit and Federation Outlook tracks, particularly with the increasing sightings of koalas.  However, many people parking at Gertrude Petty Place then go walking dogs off-leash in our conservation reserve.

The presence of this  koala at Gertrude Petty Place today, is a very good reason why we should be encouraging dog owners to keep their animals on-leash in the Reserve.

Your dog wants to play off-leash? Visit Abbeville Street Park.