Bushcare Activities


Fishbone mat being pushed back

Our Tuesday afternoon bushcare group, Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes, are really making their mark with a large section of Fox Gully now clear of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

Fishbone Fern commonly spreads into our bushland through garden waste dumping. Simply dumping garden prunings is not “mulching” as a contractor recently tried to tell me. Garden green waste dumping is one of the three key threats to Mt Gravatt Reserve. The other two threats are downhill mountain biking/unofficial tracks and feral animals/uncontrolled domestic pets.

Michael with Catch of The Day

Fishbone is a good case study of how of garden waste dumping threatens our precious remaining parcels of suburban bushland. Like most ferns, Fishbone can spread by wind-blown spores, however each plant appears to produce only a few fertile fronds. Therefore, the main way this invasive weed is spreading at our site is via runners or stolon, similar to the runners on strawberry plants.  The word “stolon” comes from the Latin word “stolō” meaning a shoot, branch, or twig springing from the root.

Most of the site is thickly coated in Fishbone which is removed easily but cannot be composted on-site. The stolons and hairy tubers do not decompose easily and will simply re-shoot: approximately one hundred and fifty garbage bags of Fishbone removed to-date.

Forest Pittosporum

At the edges of the infected area the fern stolons are spreading among the native grasses. It is common to pull out a metre long runners with new tubers attached. Left in-place these runners develop in a mat of weed smothering all other plants. It is slow work then you find positive signs of natural regeneration like this flowering Forest Pittosporum Pittosporum revolutum.

My current observations suggest that once we have cleared the Fishbone re-infection by spore transmission is unlikely. Ongoing education is dramatically reducing green waste dumping so with the Fishbone removed natural regeneration with indigenous ferns and grasses will reduce edge-effect and provide long-term consolidation of this unique habitat.


Southside Community News - ISSUE 27 August 2011

Waking up to a Koala climbing into the house is special. Knowing that this is a sign of a strengthening Koala population in our special piece of suburban bushland gives me a real feeling of hope for the future.

Koalas are only one fauna species in a reserve where we have already identified forty-five butterfly species and two hundred and fifty-four native plant species, however, they are one of our iconic Australian animals.

Koalas will help us not only protect our special piece bushland they will also help change the way people think about the future. I write about birds, butterflies, Koalas and frogs because community members relate to these animals at a direct emotional level. They open their hearts and allow themselves to learn about the complex web of interrelationships that bring our mountain habitat alive with these special creatures.

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Female with Joey - Sept 2009 - Sue Jones

We have been collecting flora and fauna data for some years and I have now started a wildlife sightings database to capture more accurate information on species, date/time and location.

This female and joey were photographed by Sue Jones on the northern slope of the mountain in 2009. We also have photographic evidence of Koalas near Gertrude Petty Place, Rover Street Bushcare and Fox Gully Bushcare. Photos and location details of Echidnas, Squirrel Gliders and frogs, as well as, some unusual bugs are all contribution to our knowledge of the Reserve.

The BAAM team will also use any data we collect for the Flora and Fauna Assessment project.

Please email any wildlife sighting details, species, date/time, location preferably with digital photos, to megoutlook@gmail.com Infomation on dead wildlife is also important as it helps build up a picture of wildlife movements and potential dangers like vehicles and domestic dogs.

(l-r) SITA representative, Cr Graham Quirk, Michael Fox, Rick Burnett CEO Keep Australia Beautiful Qld.

Brisbane Lord Mayor, Cr. Graham Quirk today presented Fox Gully Bushcare with the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs Partnerships Award.

I was proud to represent our community at New Farm Park for the Awards but a little surprised to when called up to receive the Partnership Award.

I shared our achievements and plans with judges John and Lou Carothers when they inspected our site in May. Clearly our efforts to actively engage community members, community organisation and business groups made a powerful impression.

Judging criteria for the Partnerships Award are:

  • Partnerships that enhance community wellbeing and pride in their community.
  • Partnerships that result in materials and resources for activities to keep the community clean.
  •  Partnerships to manage litter and cleanliness in local facilities, e.g. playgrounds, amenities, car parks and public open spaces.

As a community we are really achieving something special and this award will help us build on our partnerships, strengthen our community and access more resources. We have already received funding approval for the Flora and Fauna Assessment which will look at developing Fox Gully as a wildlife link. We currently have fourteen property owners committed to restoration of their part of the gully as part of our Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan. These successes will help strengthen these community partnerships as well as our existing corporate partnerships:

Cr Krista Adams, Sue Jones, Michael Fox, Cr Graham Quirk

Our Mountain was doubly honoured as Sue Jones and I also accepted the Environmental Protection Award for Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

Join our Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes on Tuesday afternoons in Fox Gully and see what the fuss is all about.

Ian with Michael and Paul in background

Ian Walker, LNP candidate for Mansfield, joined the team for Tuesday Bushcare today: removing Fishbone Fern in Zone 13.

I showed Ian the power of natural regeneration and explained the concept of Green Mulching: controlling weeds, erosion and water loss with native grasses.

(l-r) Marshal Paul Michael

Ian was particularly interested in the use of native grasses for bushfire control. Introduced weeds like Guinea Grass Panicum maximum are a major bushfire risk because of the volume of loose dead grass that accumulates. Native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillimawhich is regenerating and controlling weeds in the cleared area, is also ideal for bushfire control as it is low growing and does not build up large volumes of dead grass as it quickly recycled by Australian insects adapted to the local grasses.

Time for a cuppa and jam donuts. Eleven garbage bags of Fishbone removed today!

Now it is time for nature to take over restoring native grasses, Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula, Rasp Fern Doodia media, Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum  and Soapy or Red Ash Alphitonia excelsa which is a food tree for caterpillars of Small Green-banded Blue butterflies.

One of the powerful things I have learned about bushcare is that if we put in 10% clearing the weeds nature then contributes 90%, working 24/7 doing natural regeneration with local plants and weed control with Green Mulching.

Fox Gully Wednesday Bushcare in Zone 13 will be a little easier this week with new steps providing safer and faster access.

With university exams over I was able to tempt Jian out into the bush for some physical rather than mental exercise. When he left home in Shanghai, Jian was not expecting to find himself swinging a sledge hammer in the bush. He did a pretty good job for a first time, hit the stake every time and didn’t hit his foot at all.

Good progress. By the time we finished today the steps reached about two thirds of the way to our restoration site. The steps will make a big difference for both safety and productivity as we carry tubs of weeds up out of the gully to the fire trail for disposal off-site.

The major weed in Zone 13 is Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, a fast spreading with shallow fibrous roots and numerous hairy brown or white nodules underground. Unlike most weed species in the Fox Gully site Fishbone Fern cannot be composted on-site because of the combination of fine spores establishing new plants and the long term viability of the underground nodules. Therefore productivity is critically related to the ease and speed of moving large quantaties of weed up the steep slope – work process design.

Another reason for building these steps is to allow access for our Envirionmental Workshop on Sunday August 7th. Botanist Ann Moran, Jager-Moran Environmental will be leading a walk through the Fox Gully site, sharing her amazing knowledge of our native plants, the wildlife that depends on them and the bush tucker value. Information and registration details for the workshop will be available soon: email megoutlook@gmail.com if you would like information sent out.

Natural regeneration is becoming an increasingly important part of our buchcare activities: Nature works 24/7 to build on our work, so the more we learn to work with nature the higher our productivity. Zone 13 is becoming an excellent case study of the power of natural regeneration, therefore we are improving access to allow active site inspection and discussion.

On Sunday I had the honour of presenting again at the annual BCC Habitat Brisbane Induction Day for new bushcare volunteers at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.

My presentation was focused on maintaining the energy and motivation of bushcare volunteers.

Employee/volunteer productivity is based on:

• Individual motivation
• Individual fitness, skill and experience
• Work unit organisational structure

Plus when we are doing bush restoration work:

  How well we engage nature.

  Nature works 24/7 to build on our work.

It was only when I was preparing my presentation that I realised the full significance of natural regeneration and partnering with nature. As I explained on Sunday a group may only be able to meet once a month however nature was building on their work 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the next month. So a few hours work once a month becomes something much greater with the help of nature.

View my presentation BCC Induction – Group Motivation

Best Practice Sheet for 2 Prong Hoe – Best Practice Sheet – Removing Asparagus Fern – 2 Prong Hoe

Fox Gully Bushcare has been nominated for the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburb Award.

No, we have not suddenly become a suburb in our own right; there is an award under the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION category. See the 2010 winners.

Fox Gully and Mt Gravatt Environment Group were also both nominated for the 2010 awards.

It is great to receive the recognition of  a nomination even if we do not win the award. However, I welcome any ideas, thoughts and/or testimonials I can use in preparing for the judging next Wednesday.

Winning the Environmental Protection category section of Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs will be valuable public relations supporting our community education activities, strengthen our ability to access grant funding for projects and allow us to give wider acknowledgement to our corporate supporters:

If you have taken part in one of our planting days or events, what did you enjoy?

How has our work restoring this two hectares add value for you?

What comment do you have about my wildlife articles in Southside Community News?

Please comment here or email megoutlook@gmail.com

I photographed this Netted Mock-olive Notelaea ovata today in Zone 10. Small cream/yellow flowers are followed by small black olive like fruit.

This is special because I have had been watching this small shrub for a couple of years waiting for it to flower for an identification. With its addition to Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve we now have 76% of the plant species in the Reserve photographed.

BCC Habitat Brisbane have been helping wage war on the invasive Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis by removing the large trees. We have been removing up to twenty small Chinese Elms each week in our Bushcare sites.

Most Elms we find are very small and can simply be pulled up. I used the TreePopper to up-root this larger tree in Zone 10.

The TreePopper is one of the most useful bushcare tools provided by our Brisbane City Council sponsors.

Pulling woody weeds like Elms and Ochna up by the roots is definitely best practice.  I still had to cut and poison one larger Elm but up-rooting three out of four is a good start.

Wednesday Bushcare was in Zone 14 today.This area was replanted with native grasses, Acacias and Tallowwoods planted in October 2009.

The growth has been amazing! This Tallowwood planted less than eighteen months ago is now towering Lu, a Griffith University Environment student who helps with Wednesday Bushcare.

We can all be proud of this fantastic result, particularly considering the hot dry conditions at the time of the planting. The planting was done with water crystals, the Tallowwoods sprayed with Yates DroughtShield, protected with shade cloth and the area heavily mulched to reduce heat damage to roots and retain moisture.

The hot dry conditions can be seen in photo below taken when planting was almost complete. Because we could not get tank water to this part of our Bushcare site, the BCC Habitat Brisbane team organised a water tanker to visit the following week.

Read about the event: Fox Gully Restoration Update – Oct09

Weather conditions have been very different since then so our work today was weed control and putting mulch filters in place to control silt runoff from the maintenance track.

Considering the size of the area restored weed control onsite is a  relatively small job because the native grasses are now doing an excellent job of suppressing weed growth. At the same time we are starting to see natural regeneration with Scambling Lily Geitonoplesium cymosum, Poison Peach  Trema tomentosa (food plant for Speckled Link-blue butterfly) and Gotu Cola Centella asiatica (bushtucker: leaves eaten as vegetable. Aborigines soaked the flowers to make a syrup to drink for sore throats and colds.) all starting to return to the site.

Therefore, Steve and Lu were able to work on installation of mulch filters. The filters work by slowing the water flowing off the track allowing time for the silt to settle out before the water passes through and down into the gully. The extraordinary January rains did no damage to our restored sites which are layered with logs retrained from the clean-up, then covered with mulch to retain moisture and reduce erosion. However, the maintenance track did suffer significant erosion which showed as muddy water in the gully.

The first filters are proving effective with in controlling silt so we are expanding the area protected. We are also hopeful that these filters will also reduce the spread of weed seeds, particularly the highly invasive Giant Parramatta Grass which has recently appeared along the track.

Southside Community News

Kookaburras, Sacred Kingfishers, Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Pale-headed Rosellas, Striated Pardalotes all need nest hollows for breeding.

Sugar Gliders and Squirrel Gliders need nest hollows for rest and protection as well as breeding. Unfortunately land clearing for farming and housing has destroyed habitat for these bush creatures. The fragmented habitat created suits some species: species like our native Noisy Minors and Brushtail Possums thrive in our suburban environments.

Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus

However we are losing the smaller bird species that give us so much pleasure: species like the Sacred Kingfisher, Superb Fairy-wren, Striated Pardalote and Eastern Yellow Robin, require more protection from thick understory plants and/or nest hollows. The smaller gliders like the Sugar Glider and mouse sized Feathertail Glider are also vunerable with the increasing competition for limited nest hollows.

Even conservation protected Mt Gravatt Reserve has suffered. Mt Gravatt Then and Now, Mt Gravatt Historical Society, tells us that up till July 1893 the mountain and surrounds were designated as a railway timber reserve. My intial survey of the 2ha of Fox Gully Bushcare reflects this history with only thirty six trees older than 100 years and only five old enough to have a 50% chance of having nest hollows:  Fox Gully Research – Tree Hollows – March 2011. A healthy SE Queensland forest habitat would typically have 10 hollow bearing trees per hectare with 2.2 hollows per tree.

Even frogs need homes

I am now working with BCC Habitat Brisbane to research the actual tree hollows available and plan the installation of nest boxes suited to local species.

I am privileged to live with these bush creatures at my back door however there is a lot we can do to bring birds back to our backyards with nest boxes. BCC Libraries have copies of Alan & Stacey Franks’ excellent book Nest boxes for wildlife which gives detailed plans for making your own nest boxes and mounting in a way that will not damage your trees.

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