On the 3rd of June, the Gold Coast Catchment Association held it’s largest ever annual Catchment Crawl. 55 keen environmentalists of all different ages and levels of restoration experience packed themselves into two full buses and journeyed into Austinville Valley. The day was a part of Gold Coast Green Week run by Gecko and was a great example of how multiple environmental initiatives can come together and actually create landscape change within one catchment.
Austinville Valley is located past Mudgeeraba in the Gold Coast Hinterland. It has a flourishing Landcare group as well as intensive rainforest regeneration projects throughout the catchment aimed at saving the endangered sub-tropical lowland rainforest. This makes it an ideal location to demonstrate various endangered native species and examples of regeneration work in each of its many stages.
The tour stopped off at various locales across the upper catchment of Mudgeeraba Creek. Visitors were able to hear talks from Wal Mayr of the Gold Coast Catchment Association about the work of various council and volunteer groups and to gain an understanding of the history and uniqueness of Austinville Valley. Mike Boyd from Austinville Landcare showed the various sites their group has restored since its founding in 2005, focusing particularly on riparian restoration initiatives and the impact of Cyclone Debbie last month. Paul Donatui from Healthy Land and Water imparted some of his vast knowledge on how to spot and identify rainforest treasures hidden amongst the brush, such as the vibrant purple seeds of the endemic Gympie Gympie.
There was also a special demonstration from one of the local bush regeneration contractors, Isaac Wishart from Earthstone Restoration. Wishart demonstrated how best to prepare regeneration sites and eradicate weeds. Visitors were also lucky enough to see this rainforest guru in action as he spotted completely camouflaged orchards, reptiles and crystals nestled amongst the scrub. Plus we can’t forget the delicious bush damper hand-made by local Austinvillian Dean Markey – the only feedback being that there could have been more!
The Catchment Crawl combined the work of a number of governmental, council and volunteer organisations and it is a perfect demonstration of what can be achieved through coordination. The Beaches to Bushland program run by Gold Coast City Council’s Natural Areas Management Unit (NAMU), together with Land for Wildlife private conservation, National Parks and Healthy Land and Water all helped to make this day possible. Local councillor Glenn Tozer partially funded the crawl, ensuring the transport, scrumptious lunch and organisation was as seamless as possible.
On top of learning to identify native and non-native plants and acquiring skills to take back to their own properties or environmental groups, visitors to the Gold Coast Catchment Crawl gained a sense of kinship and belonging.
The day proved that there are so many individuals and groups throughout the Gold Coast dedicated to restoring our beautiful and unique rainforest and preserving it well into the future. By creating connections and facilitating communication between these people and groups, it became clear to everyone that they are not alone in what my sometimes feel a lonesome endeavour. There is certainly plenty of hope, tonnes of support and hopefully next year a bit more damper!