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Griffith Bush Care Team

By: Michael Fox

Reviewing the photos preparing to write this blog it was like being there all over again. The laughter, the smiles, the generosity, the sharing of stories about families and different countries … it was one of the most inspiring bushcare events I have attended.

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Bamboo Team in action

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Bamboo roots grubbed out for disposal

Working on the “Bamboo Team” I learned about the different qualities of bamboo and the preferences of Pandas for the tender new shoots. I heard the story of a person so inspired by their Chinese school principal father that they followed their undergraduate business degree with a PhD focused on education so they can give back to their community with education. I talked with a student that is studying international relations and shared his vision of how his career could go in directions directions ranging from trade negotiations to more general diplomatic work, all of which will clearly be underpinned by an intelligence and  compassion that gives me hope for future global relations.

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Walking through the Sagano bamboo forest, in Arashiyama, Japan, was a special experience. A bamboo is forest is beautiful and peaceful producing strong versatile valuable wood. However bamboo does not belong in the Australian bush. Once established in the Reserve the bamboo spread and over a huge area crowding out native plants and making monoculture so thick it was impenetrable to wildlife. Removing bamboo is a hard work as all the roots have be dug out by hand for disposal off-site.

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Fishbone Team starts at bottom of slope

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The “Fishbone Team” worked to clear a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia on the slope. Working from the bottom the team removed the weeds and placed logs to stabilise the slope and provide access.

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Weilding the sledge - 24 Aug 2013

Banging in stakes to hold logs

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Bushcare participants get to do a bit of everything at Fox Gully. Wielding a sledge hammer is change from writing assignments.

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“Thanks for helping me find a feed.”

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They even met some of the local wildlife. The male Brush-turkey Alectura lathami was working on his nest mound when the team arrived. Then one of the local Kookaburras came to visit looking for a feed in the area that has been cleared.

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Huge area cleared of Fishbone and logs in place

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Morning tea time and we have achieved an amazing amount of valuable restoration work. The Fishbone Team has cleared a huge area on the slope and installed logs to manage erosion and allow safe access.

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Composting weeds

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A large pile of Fishbone leaves have been added to the compost pile and sixteen garbage bags have been filled with the roots of Fishbone and bamboo.

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Looking for lunch

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The Kookaburra has come back to inspect the results and look for lunch …

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Catching a fat spider for lunch

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Spotting a nice fat Huntsman spider he flies down right among the team, snaps the spider and flies off again.

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Mirandha hamming it up for the camera

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At the finish shaking each person’s hand and thanking them for their contribution was a real pleasure and a singular honour. However, I must acknowledge Mirandha Escott-Burton whose vision and persistence has created the Griffith Bush Care  which is becoming a valuable source of volunteers supporting our restoration work and providing a real Australian bush experience for international students.

Mirandha is building a partnership between Griffith University Student Linx and Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

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November 2011

By: Michael Fox

2011 Our first Community Gully Day, two years ago, saw the removal of six cubic metres of rubbish, poisonous Yellow Oleander Thevetia peruviana and Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia, stabilised the banks with logs leaving the ground bare and storm water pipes a visual blight.

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November 2012

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2012 Between Gully Days restoration work continues with regular Tuesday Bushcare events. Mirandha, Griffith University Bushcare Club, feeds Chinese Elm branches into out chipper.

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August 2013

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Coin-spot Treeferns Cyathea cooperi are thriving, bush foods like Native Mulberry Pipturus argenteus will growing and the storm water pipes are disappearing under branches creating ideal habitat for lizards and improving visual amenity.

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Living mulch - 11 Aug 2013

Living Mulch reducing erosion and creating mico-habitat

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2013 8am The team getting to work, Scott, Barry, Carol, Don and Marshal in background, with Matt and myself delivering hollow logs for habitat.

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November 2012

Note the amazing mico-habitat created by the Living Mulch of native grasses – Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima, and self-sown herbs like Native Hawksbeard Youngia japonica.

Even without the tree cover this area was several degrees cooler than the area just a little down the gully.

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Marshal Carol Scott removing weeds - 11 Aug 2013

Clearing weed regrowth

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A huge change from November 2012 when the gully was still bare.

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Madeira Vine tuba - 5 Mar 13

Madeira Vine tuba removed from gully

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8:30am Scott, Carol and Marshal have been busy clearing Mother-in-law’s Tongue Sansevieria trifasciata and Madeira Vine regrowth.

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Matt and I install habitat log

Matt Russ Shawn placing logs 2 - 11 Aug 2013

Matt, Russ and Shawn positioning logs

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Eradicating Madeira Vine in the gully is a long term project. The most effective removal approach for this fast growing invasive weed is simply digging out and immediately bagging the tubers. Madeira produced hundreds of tubers along the vine. Those tubers are viable for a long time and sprout like potatoes when they land in a suitable environment. The size of these tubers mean that using poison is often not an effective particularly in a vulnerable water course.

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9am Matt and I install one of the hollow logs donated by Scott at Tree Bracers (eco-friendly) Tree Removal Specialists.  Scott contacted me asking if we could use the logs as he did not want to simply chip this valuable habitat resource. Roger Medland and I collected the logs in Rogers ute.

Marshal splitting logs - 16 Jul 2013

Marshal splitting logs for stablising banks

Hollow logs are valuable habitat for wildlife and installing these logs will provide Possums and Gliders safe escape from Foxes and cats.

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9:30am Matt, Russ and Shawn are positioning logs on the bank further down the gully. Logs reduce erosion, allow mulch and leaves to collect retaining water and keeping weeds down. Restoration work is also much faster and safer as the logs create a working platform for removing weeds and planting grasses, vines and trees.

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The logs were recycled from a tree removed after the January storms. Dale from Climb n Grind returned to safely remove the tree leaving the trunk cut to useful lengths. Marshal and I then used a chainsaw and steel wedges to split the logs into manageable quarters ready for the Gully Day.

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Len Kann with Stingless Bee hive

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10:30am Time for a break. Genevieve has organised a sausage sizzle, coffee, tea, cake and fruit … mmmm.

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Teddy Bear and Blue Banded native bees

While we eat, native bee expert and Mt Gravatt Environment Group member, Len Kann shares his passion for this fascinating wildlife we can bring to our backyards to pollinate our Queensland Nut trees and vegetables.

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Inside the hive – Stingless Bees

Len explained that there are over 2,000 native bee species in Australia with many providing farmers with unique pollination services not provided by European Honey bees.

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Rebecca planting

Len has put together a bee presentation box using one of his own empty hive boxes, specimen boxes with Blue Banded and Teddy Bear bees that we have collected in the Reserve, and excellent macro photos taken by member Alan Moore.

Len has generously provided one of his Stingless Bee hives on secondment in the gully and for his talk he bought along a hive he could open to let us see inside. For an ex-beekeeper like me it was fascinating to see the very different structure for storing honey and pollen, and, yes, it is nice not to collect the dozen of stings I received when robbing my European bee hives.

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11am Rebecca is back to work planting the bank behind her property.

I am proud to live in a community that can come together on a long term project like this. Currently the owners of twenty properties are committed to restoration of their backyards as a wildlife corridor down Fox Gully and importantly work together to eradicate Madeira Vine.

We had twenty people participate in the 2013 Community Gully Day including people like Marshal and Carol who live beside Firefly Gully, Nancy who has propagated most of the Lomandras in the gully and Len who shared his passion for native bees.

Three hundred grasses, herbs, vines, shrubs and trees have been planted this year. Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN) generously gifted $400 worth of plants with other plants and resources purchased with over $200 in tax deductible donations from neighbours.

(l-r) Mirandha, David, Joseph

By: Michael Fox

Mirandha Escott-Burton is the driving force behind our partnership with the Griffith Bushcare Team which aims to engage our local university students in our restoration work.

We are currently planning a series of Saturday morning events and projects at our six Bushcare sites.

Saturday was at Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare where Mirandha and Joseph worked with local resident David, Team Leader Sue Jones and other volunteers who meet on site the last Saturday of each month between 8am and 10am.

Imperial Hairstreak - 23 Mar 2013

Imperial Hairstreak butterfly on Early Black Wattle

By: Michael Fox

We welcomed the Griffith Uni Bushcare Team back to Fox Gully on the Saturday before Easter.

Mind you, it took a while to get them onsite as we found some Imperial Hairstreak butterflies, Jalmenus evagoras, beside the track. It is always a pleasure to find someone else who can be totally fascinated by a few of butterflies, caterpillars and ants.

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Imperial Hairstreak chrysalis protected by Small Meat Ants

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Silt 100mm deep behind mulch filter

Imperial Hairstreak butterfly caterpillars and chrysalis are protected by native Small Meat Ants Iridomyrmex sp. referred to as Kropotkin ants. Read my article in Southside Community News.

The Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx are interesting with their distinctive triangular stems.

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The main project for the day was restoration and improvement of the “mulch filters” that keep silt from the dirt maintenance road flowing into the gully. The filters have proved very effective in reducing erosion and keeping the water in the gully clean.

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Mirandha and Sheamus installing mulch filter

The mulch filter is designed to slow the water flow at key runoff points on the track, allowing the silt to settle out. Silt is already 100mm deep behind one filters and starting to support natural regeneration of native grass.

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The original filters were made by simply mounding mulch at the runoff points as an experiment. Now that the effectiveness has been established logs are being installed to make the filters more permanent and allow mulch to be piled higher.

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Sheamus and Mirandha - 23 Mar 13

Bush food snack

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Of course after all the hard work a snack is in order. Mirandha try out the sweet roots of Blady Grass Imperata cylindrica.