Brett with Koala Mum in background (top right)

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We know that Koalas are breeding on Mt Gravatt. We are getting regular reports of sightings from all around the mountain and I have even woken to find a young male climbing onto the deck at night. However, today, our Rover Street Bushcare co-ordinator, Brett Dugdale, shared something I have never seen before: a mother and joey together.

In Mt Gravatt we live only ten kilometres from Brisbane CBD and we have Koalas in our “backyard”. As a community we are stewards of a truly unique piece of Australian bush habitat.

I am honoured to know Brett. He is not only passionate about protecting and restoring the mountain habitat; he also brings a wealth of practical restoration experience gained working with Bulimba Creek Catchment Co-ordinating Committee (B4C).

Brett notes that the Brisbane City Council fox eradication program – seven foxes have been removed from Mt Gravatt Reserve in the last twelve months – is having a positive effect on the mountain wildlife. However, as Koala numbers increase,  conflict with domestic pets will become an increasing problem: a young Koalawas attacked by a dog in a local backyard last week. That lucky Koala was OK after being checked out by RSPCA vets and returned to the mountain.

Please keep your dogs on-leash when walking in the Reserve and of course carry bags for dog droppings. Koalas tend to avoid areas where they can smell dog droppings so if we want to encourage Koalas we need to clean up after our dogs.

If you find any injured wildlife in the Brisbane area you can call the BCC Wildlife Ambulance – BCC Call Centre 3403 8888.

What is the Koala’s favourite food tree?

How do I photograph the feeling of being in the bush?

These were some of the questions answered for participants at our first Environmental and Photography Workshops held at the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The workshops were made possible by a 2010 BCC Environmental Grant.

Visit Mt Gravatt Library during October to see our display or view online The Mountain Through Other Eyes The Mountain Through Other Eyes

Field Botanist, Ann Moran, has thirty years practical experience in biodiversity assessment, weed management and revegetation planning. Ann also has a passion for working with people: indigenous communities, teaching at university or simply sharing her knowledge on guided walks.   I first met Ann in 2007 when she was doing an environmental survey on the mountain. Since then Ann has generously shared her expertise by identifying plant species I have photographed. Ann’s commitment to community groups has allowed me to quickly nail invasive weeds like Whiskey Grass, while adding one hundred native plant species not previously identified in Mt Gravatt Reserve. Ann is currently helping us edit the first published version of Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve.

Ann’s presentation built up our understanding of the complexity of our local habitat starting with the basics: understanding the importance of wildlife corridors for movement,  the major threats to biodiversity (like the clearing of native vegetation and invasion by alien species through garden waste dumping), changed fire management practices and global warming. All this information was related to our local flora and fauna species with powerful insights into the relationships between the plants and their dependent animals.It was a real pleasure to watch Ann’s information being soaked up by participants who took lots of notes and asked questions as Ann led a short walk around our restored areas.

As Ann was depending crutches that day, I led the group on a tour of the less accessible restoration areas explaining the effectiveness of natural re-generation. Nature is now repairing the area where Fishbone Fern has been removed in Zone 13. In less than twelve months native grasses have already covered cleared areas and is now suppressing weed growth, all with no action other than weed removal. Ann calls this Green Mulching: using native grasses to control erosion, retain moisture and suppress weeds. We also inspected the native grass lawn established at the rear of Heather and Alan’s house: taking the bush into the backyards to reverse the edge-effect.

Local photographer, Alan Moore is a passionate amateur who has that rare ability to capture the elusive feeling of being in the bush so you can put it on your wall at home. At Christmas 2009 Alan blew me away when he presented me with a custom made professional quality 2010 calendar with these extraordinary photos that truly captured our bushland home. So when it came planning our workshop I asked Alan if he would share his knowledge and creativity with our community.

Alan’s presentation, Pixplore, introduced simple techniques like the flat plane concept to manage the very short depth of field typical of macro photography: hold the camera parallel to the subject to ensure the best focus for the whole subject. Now I understand why I often have trouble when photographing small insects with the head in focus but the body blurred.

Following the presentation Alan sent the group off on assignment to apply their new knowledge to capture the feeling of being in the bush. Alan shared his creative insights and introduced participants to new ways to see the bush, new ways to experience the flora, fauna, geology and human structures in the landscape.

On return from assignment the participants shared the most amazing range of photos that captured our bushland and showed me new insights to this special place. Alan has kindly critiqued a number of photos from each participant and provided valuable comments. Click to see “The Mountain through other eyes”.

And what is the Koala’s favorite food tree?

Qld Blue Gum or Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis

These beautiful straight trees are also a favorite of the forestry industry because of the rich red timber colour, thus Forest Red Gum.

By Susan Jones

Worldwide, Lions Clubs are planting 25 trees annually in support their local environment.

MacGregor Lions have chosen as their 2011 project, refurbishment of native gardens on the Roly Chapman Reserve pathway.  These five gardens are in a poor state, with weeds strangling earlier plantings.  BCC Habitat Brisbane and Mt Gravatt Environment Group are delighted to support MacGregor Lions in this venture which will visually improve the Reserve for walkers and provide valuable habitat for wildlife.

Kookaburras welcome the Lions

Saturday 1st October was Lions’ first working bee and the welcoming committee was ready!

Five Lions’ members rolled their sleeves up and tackled a jungle of Cocos/Queens Palm Syagrus romanzoffiana and Elephant Grass Penisteu purpureum.

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A large tarp was laid out onto which weeds were piled for mulching and recycling.

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A good morning’s effort!

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If you would like to help MacGregor Lions with this project, their next working bee will be on Saturday 5th November 8 am – 10 am, at the Hoad Street end of the Roly Chapman pathway.  (UBD 201:A9).

For more information visit Lions MacGregor website at www.brisbane.macgregor.qld.lions.org.au

I represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group at the recent Threatened Species Week event at Griffith University EcoCentre.

Click to read Southside Community News report

My presentation Blurring the Boundaries addressed our community effort to restore wildlife corridors on the southern face of Mt Gravatt. Two key corridors, Fox Gully and Firefly Gully, are almost totally made up of household blocks. To date we have owners of nineteen properties committed to restoration of these corridors.

Blurring the Boundaries refers to the fact that wildlife does not recognize human created boundaries, effective habitat consolidation and linking requires cooperation of a diverse range of property owners. Our Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan is a community initiative to blur the property boundaries by creating a vision for sustainable restoration based on initiatives that create community and business benefits, as well as, environmental benefits. Download my presentation: Blurring the Boundaries

Cathryn Dexter’s earlier presentation focused on creating a permeable landscape that will allow animals to move around without having to interact with roadways. A member of Griffith’s Environmental Futures Centre, Cathryn is the Project Manager for a major koala road kill mitigation project funded by the Qld Government.  The first study of its kind in Australia, the project’s ultimate goal is to have wildlife mitigation become standard government policy for all linear infrastructure (roads) design.

In a powerful presentation Cathryn shared horrifying road kill statistics balanced with a hopeful view of a future where roads are not barriers to connected habitat and risks to wildlife are dramatically reduced. particularly interesting were the creative solutions being used in Europe and the US where wildlife movement solutions have been actively pursued for decades.

Peter, Sophie, Kevan, Maddison, Dean, D’arcy, Dan, Sheamus, Manasha, Natalie, Caitlin, Breanna, Rosie, Tahlia, Emily, teachers Andrew and Penny

‘We’re so excited’, said Emily.  She was the first Mt Gravatt SHS student to arrive for a planting of 120 native seedlings that will eventually support koalas, gliders and butterflies on Mt Gravatt.  Year 11 student Sheamus O’Connor organised a band of 15 students, two science teachers, and three family members to recognise National Tree Day by rehabilitating a degraded area adjacent to the Summit Track.

Within an hour, the area had been transformed from a barren wasteland into the makings of a great little piece of wildlife habitat.  The students really enjoyed changing the landscape.   Look for it on your left, as you cross the road from Gertrude Petty Place to commence the Summit Track walk.

It gives us hope for the future when our local students don’t wait for others to solve all the problems, they partner with other community members to plant their own future.

You can collect a copy of the Mt Gravatt Summit Track self-guided walk brochure from Wishart Ward Office, Mt Gravatt Library and Garden City Library or print your own – Summit Track guide.

(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

Echidna - Photo Bill Semple


Phil Reeves
, State Member for Mansfield, has now confirmed funding for our key research project: Flora and Fauna Assessment – Management Issue Identification and Fauna Movement Solutions.

This research,  to be conducted by respected professionals at Biodiversity Assessment and Management Pty Ltd, is a key part of our Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan. The southern face of Mt Gravatt, adjoining Klumpp Road, includes three strategic wildlife corridors which have the potential to link Mt Gravatt Reserve with Mimosa/Bulimba Creek and Toohey Forest habitats.

Imperial Hairstreak - Photo Sue Jones

Environmental restoration and long-term protection of our mountain habitat will strengthen existing populations of Koalas, Echidnas, Gliders and a wide diversity of birds and butterflies. A unique bushland experience right in our suburbs and only ten minutes from Brisbane CBD.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group is developing long term strategic plans for restoration and protection of Mt Gravatt Reserve through consolidation of existing habitat parcels and creation of wildlife links between habitat parcels. Queensland Government funding for this research will complement the strong community commitment represented by over 4,000 hours of volunteer labour and commitment of sixteen private property owners to restoration of their land in the Fox Gully and Firefly Gully wildlife corridors.

(l-r) Hon Kate Jones, Helen Schwencke, Michael Fox, Hon Phil Reeves

On behalf of our Mountain community, I thank Phil Reeves and his electoral office team for their ongoing support and encouragement. I also thank the Hon Kate Jones, Member for Ashgrove, who in her role as Minister for Environment and Resource Management visited Mt Gravatt Outlook then approved our research funding. In her letter, Kate acknowledged “The strong commitment and efforts of the community group for restoring, strengthening and linking Mimosa Creek, Roly Chapman Reserve and Mt Gravatt Reserve.”

We can all be proud of the strong community we are building with the support of our government representatives.  Reading Mt Gravatt Then and Now, Mt Gravatt Historical Society, tells us that this strong community spirit has a long history with the Queensland Premier acknowledging the community commitment in July 1893 when announcing the establishment of Mt Gravatt as an environmental reserve.

At a recent Westpac Mt Gravatt luncheon to recognize local volunteers, Branch Manager Paul Dennett presented Nancy Hodge with a ‘Community Champion’ certificate for her work with Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

Nancy has propagated hundreds of local native seedlings which she has then assisted us to plant.    She is a regular volunteer at group working bees and our annual Clean Up Australia Day event.

Congratulations Nancy, on your award!

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.