By: Michael Fox

As part of the continuing development of Mt Gravatt Environment Group, Laurie Deacon has taken on the role of President. I will continue to work closely with Laurie, continuing as Editor of Mt Gravatt Environment Group blog and Fox Gully Bushcare co-coordinator.

IMG_20140412_132834Over the past decade the team has, expanded restoration activities in seven sites surrounding the Mountain, strengthened relationships with community, university and school stakeholders, contributed to research of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, increased use of the Reserve by community members and developed community education. Membership is strong and members have received local, state and international recognition of their work in Nature Conservation.

Laurie brings a wealth of experience with volunteer groups and environmental work ranging from membership of the management board of a national environmental NGO, protecting endangered Cassowaries in the Daintree, presenting at the UN Congress for Environmental Education: June 2013 in Marrakesh and working with turtles and the local Majestic Park Scout Group.

Laurie is currently taking our Pollinator Link initiative Queensland wide, gaining political support and showing the way with the Pollinator Link garden in Mt Gravatt State High School.

So how does the world create such an amazing person?



Laurie was born at Tewantin and grew up on lake Doonela catching mud crabs and feeding pelicans. A family heritage based on  Maroochy River cane farming Grandparents  and Palmwoods orchards Grandparents. Laurie, went to  Nambour State schools doing Agriculture and Animal husbandry with the vision of a future as a vet.

Then changed direction with a Degree in Occupational Therapy specialising in the human species rather than other animal species. Laurie has provided Rehabilitation across a range of physical, paediatric and mental health patient/client groups; across Acute Hospital, Community Health & Tertiary Health Service Models.  Including a time working as Director of Occupational Therapy (OT) at Nambour General Hospital. Laurie’s roles have included designing and developing these services including research, development of standards, planning and implementing interventions and services.


This broad OT therapy experience allowed allowed Laurie to appreciate the necessity and responsibilities of  providing a healthy natural environment in which humans can learn, grow and thrive. Her interest has always been in getting people to reach their potential for a healthy well balanced life …. doing things of real value! “It’s the people that make the difference but it’s the environment that makes the people.”   Scientific evidence supports the encouragement of  everyone to be active in their neighbourhood doing things they care about … and everyone has a special skill  that is needed to achieve a healthy local community.

As Laurie says: “I am involved in many ‘whole of landscape conservation programs’  as well as individual species programs. Estuaries full of fish and birds and wildlife corridors of any habitat through cities, farms, and bush …I love them, I see them. Biodiversity in all its glory is better than going to the Paris Louvre.

I started my interest  in community service with Save the Franklin Dam campaign at uni in 1982 and then later FIDO as a ‘formal’  socially active community person.

I have seen that folk need to have a one off visceral experience with nature or a ‘over period of time relationship with nature’ before they will care and value it. So getting your feet wet in creeks and looking deep into the eyes of a koala up close and personal is vital for our people to really come alive.”

By: Laurie Deacon

Hawkeye, Rama, Malia and Lorikeet get prepared like all good Cub Scout leaders!!

We are taking forty little Cubs with Mums and Dads up Mt Gravatt for a bit of night spotting in the Conservation Reserve.

Walk on your wild side

Mt Gravatt night creatures

Now night spotting for shy furry creatures or sleeping birds with forty noisy Cubs sounds like a optimist’s nightmare….and it was!  Every self respecting Koala, Glider, Possum or bird would have heard the happy sounds of children squealing with joy at being out in the night time … in the dark in the bush … on an adventure! Torch lights waving everywhere but on the trees, usually in little Mary’s face, by accident of course!

We stopped many times along the track, all in single file with Cub leaders and parents interspersed between the badge wearing “baby elephants” to keep them on task and on the track! “Now, no going off the track as you’ll trash the sensitive bush plants and you may crush a flowering orchid” , yells Lorikeet one of the Cub leaders! “Let’s stop and  Listen to the sounds of the bush at night and see what we can hear?” yells Lorikeet again to all the Cubs …. muffled joy was heard, and a few mysterious animal sounds.

Then we all reached the top of the Mountain, had a wonderful Mountain top ceremony for a few Cubs receiving awards for jobs well done, then back we plunge into the deep dark forest and back down the mountain track!

Malia a leader says she will go ahead with a few Cubs and the rest of us follow behind.  Ooops!  Then as the rest of us all come to the fork in the track there is no sign of Malias foot prints and her Pack following the correct route!

So the next adventure starts (with the aid of a mobile phone) we call in the renegade Pack who had gone off in the wrong direction and send a search party to “bring them home”! Some became heroes out of the story and  some became legends!  At the bottom of the Mount all Cubs and Leaders had hot chocolate and piled back into their suburban cars and lives … and beds. WHAT AN ADVENTURE THEY HAD … and all in suburbia!

So I reflect on the Mountain walk that Thursday night (only a few hours and home to bed by 8pm), and think how forty young minds would be changed for life after that night. The wildness around them, the confidence gained within them; the uncertainty felt, the competencies gained; the seemingly insurmountable walk for some, the caring and  sharing offered from others; the uniqueness of the mountain at night, and the humility and familiarity that bred caring in their souls for the bush.


Fond regards

The Wood Sprites