It’s been an interesting and fulfilling couple of years and it all started when Cody Hochen from the Brisbane City Council gently talked Glen and I into joining Land for Wildlife in 2013. He also quietly suggested there might be some Community Conservation Assistance (CCA) funding available for worthwhile projects.
Our property in Savages Road Brookfield is some 16 acres of high, densely forested ridgeline, split by steep gullies and a creek flat with with deep rich red volcanic soil. Wonga Creek flows through it and floods regularly. It was such a flood several years back which bought with it an infestation of the dreaded Elephant Grass, which grew so high that you could hide a small herd of elephants in it.
I suggested to Cody that tackling the job of clearing it was beyond my aging frame but if a CCA grant funded team of young blokes could get rid of it, I would plant up the creek line with native rainforest species and rejuvenate what is a quite beautiful creek. He took me up on the offer.
And this is what happened.
After the heavy duty clearing, the followup spraying of regrowth and the handcutting of the creek bed weed infestation we were ready to plant in mid-2014. Cody and I selected native plants that are indigenous to the Brookfield district and would also attract birds, butterflies and provide a secure wildlife habitat.
Some 200 tube stock seedlings were grown out in larger pots in a scrub turkey and possum proof greenhouse for about twelve months, so they had some height and vigour about them at the time of planting. Hare, wallaby and deer were showing interest, as were the ubiquitous scrub turkeys and bandicoots – but casualties were few.
These were planted in May 2014 after a good wet season with good soil moisture content and mild weather. Whilst the winter had a couple of serious frosts the trees and shrubs took to their new surroundings with gusto and grew strongly, many reaching three metres within six months.
Another good wet season over the summer of 2014-15 encouraged us to consider a further planting in September of 2015. A further 150 natives were raised again in the greenhouse and planted among the flourishing forest from the previous year and these too took to their surroundings and quickly integrated into the the burgeoning creek line. The hoped for ecosystem and creek habitat was becoming a reality.
A pair of Pacific Black Ducks raised a brood, the Azure Kingfishers nested and the Brown and White-headed Pigeons fed with the creek’s namesake, Wonga Pigeons. The old Eastern Long-necked Turtle raised his head and nodded. All was well.
Casualties amongst the two plantings, totalling nearly 400 plants, were less than five percent and the growth has been quite astonishing over the two years. The taller species are some five to six metres tall and the understory shrubs have filled in the spaces, bushed up, flowered and fruited, creating a smorgasbord for birdlife, butterflies, small animals and reptiles.
The unfenced creek paddock is highly visible from Savages Road and the refurbished creek has attracted great interest from the locals and visitors alike and it has inspired others to have a go. It is not uncommon to have people walking through, picnicking beside, or simply gaining pleasure from it. It has given us both great pleasure in sharing it with them, such as the two DPI blokes who settled in for lunch one day.
We couldn’t let Cody’s enthusiasm and encouragement go unrewarded so there is now a cairn of creek boulders, stacked on a bend and inscribed “Cody’s Corner”. The story of the refurbishment of Wonga Creek as it passes through our place is testament to the importance of Land for Wildlife in our community and for the value of a young enthusiast named Cody Hochen, who was the catalyst for it all. We are sure he shares our sense of satisfaction.
Article & photos by
Laurie & Glenda Muller
Land for Wildlife members