Thirty-nine years ago my husband and I bought a property in the upperLockyer Valley with the aim of raising our three sons on land that would engage and inspire them. We built our home, raised our sons and grew our love of our property over the following years.
Our property is 383 hectares with a diversity of vegetation communities and wildlife habitats. The property has palm tree lined creeks, waterfalls, caves, steep, audacious hillsides with boulders and rocky outcrops, dry vine rainforest and ironbark woodlands to name a few.
Before our ownership, the property was used for logging timber. Since purchasing our property we have breed herds of Cashmere and Boar Goats which supplied an income through fibre and meat. When breeding our goats, wild dogs were a constant problem. Observing goats and their foraging habits, we have found that with careful management the goats help clear and limit the spread of Lantana.
Over the years we have undertaken thinning on the flats, tree planting along creek lines as well as fencing, fire break and road maintenance. As a textile artist utilising our goats’ fibre, I have found that the natural environment inspires me in my work with colours, textures and forms.
These two images illustrate the rugged terrain and effort required by bush regenerators to access and control weeds on this property. Photos by Kaori van Baalen.
Prior to the 2011 floods the primary weed was Lantana camara. After 2011, weeds such as Mistflower, Madeira Vine, Pampas Grass and Brazillian Nightshade started to appear along the now more open, disturbed creek lines. We know that once these weeds, especially Madeira Vine, get a stronghold, it will be very difficult to curb an eventual collapse of riparian vegetation. Understanding this, we have been working with our Land for Wildlife Officer over the last two years on a targeted weed management program along the lower to mid-section of our creek.
We are exploring the upper tributaries with the aim of determining the source of these priority weeds so we can directly target the source. Our property is remote by SEQ standards, so access can be challenging and with limited resources, progress is slow. However, we are starting to see the benefits of our management program.
Recently, our Land for Wildlife Officer and I walked along one of the upper tributaries of our main creek system and I was reminded how special our property is. We passed through beautiful Xanthorrhoea forests, stared in amazement across magnificent views of the plunging creek, gingerly touched orchids and ferns that seem to drip off rocks and trees, and we sunk into thick native grass on a dramatic cliff face. Our senses tingled with delight while observing the plants, birds and butterflies that shared the space.
We love our property and will be passing it on to our children for their on-going management and enjoyment. We feel that places such as ours fill the heart and spirit with joy and nourishment, provides broader community benefit through sustaining biodiversity and air quality whilst also assisting farmers downstream through weed, sediment and water quality management. Being a member of the Land for Wildlife community supports us in our endeavours and provides a sense of inclusion in a broader community picture.
Article by Helen Stumkat Land for Wildlife member, Flagstone Creek, Lockyer Valley,
and Kaori van Baalen, Land for Wildlife Officer, Lockyer Valley Regional Council