Coochiemudlo Island, Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland.
I instantly fell in love with this island, as most people do who come here, and settled into a fabulous community and way of life.
Our island has an “Emerald fringe”, a band of vegetation that extends around its whole perimeter. It is unique in that I believe it is the only inhabited island in Queensland where by good chance, there is no freehold land to the waters edge so that anybody has access to every part of the shoreline.
Because of this, when viewed from the sea, the island appears uninhabitated – and all of this and yet only one hour to the Brisbane CBD.
Unfortunately all is not perfect in paradise.
Vast tracts of the fringe, whilst having a beautiful tree cover, are covered in asparagus fern, mother of millions, cats claw creeper and numerous other declared and escaped weed species.
I have joined both the local Coastcare and Bushcare groups and got actively involved with, and support the great work that they do, but its not enough.
I live across the road from the fringe and could not bare to stand by and watch as the bushland was being strangled and degraded. My “War on weeds” was to begin.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. What started off as a small scale venture has grown to encompass an area approx. 100m x 40m that I have taken responsibility for.
Battles with Council over so called “illegal weeding” and misguided individuals who love weeds and dont want to see any change are just some of the challenges. But change is happening.
Asparagus fern is removed, composted under black plastic and later returned to the landscape as mulch.
On embankments, the asparagus is “carpet rolled” a few metres at a time and left in situ for erosion control. Planting directly behind is possible immediately with no issue of weed competition. The “rolls” also initially protect the new plantings until established.
Hundreds of plants have gone in, all indigenous to the island, mostly donated by a local nursery that propagates them – the Hot House Chicks – but that’s another story.
There is a sense of joy at seeing natural revegetation occurring after any rain. What was a no-mans-land and virtually impenetrable, is slowly coming back to its natural state.
This is an ongoing project, a labor of love, that at this point is about half completed.
Words of kindness, a helping hand, donations of mulch and plants, keep a smile on my face and confirm to me that most people appreciate what is being done. Interruptions to stop and chat are always welcome, but the peace and quiet in the bush is addictive. Birds are always close at hand, ready to pounce when insects are revealed.
Curlews now nest in the area and have raised at least 10 chicks, which previously would not have happened. They seem to want to take over these newly cleared areas.
Whilst asparagus fern is the dominant weed remaining, mother of millions, ochna, mother in laws tongue are nearly extinct species and very hard to find. My aim is to wipe them out.
This project has inspired me to eventually move into other areas and free them as well.
It’s a good feeling.
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