Posted 14/5/2006

Representatives from councils along the Mary River addressed a huge 'NO DAM' rally in Gympie last night. In just over 2 weeks since the mega dam at Traveston was announced, there has been nothing but widespread condemnation of the plan. The rally drew in excess of 3500 people from the Mary Valley and beyond. An ABC online poll, running all the previous week, recorded their biggest ever response with , currently, 85% of respondents saying that south-east Queensland did not need more dams. The Conondale Range Committee was represented at a meeting of conservation interests organised by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, the previous weekend. This issue will only get bigger, with Bob Brown, leader of the Greens planning to visit near the end of the month, and national environment bodies preparing to take it up. Two excellent websites and contain far more information, contacts etc. Get involved. Photos of the Rally Click on thumbnails to enlarge. 



FRIDAY MAY 12 20006

The Conondale Range Committee, one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest established conservation groups, has joined the opposition to the building of a dam on the Mary River. Committee President Ian Mackay has criticized all major political parties who seem to see dams as the only way to supply water. “What has turned this drought into a water crisis for south-east Queensland is the fact that we are totally, one hundred percent, dependent on dams,” he said. “Future generations will look back in bewilderment at governments that persisted in putting their best farming land under water,” Mr Mackay said. “We have one of two rivers in the world with lungfish and we contemplate building a dam across the middle of it.” “It’s not as if there aren’t alternatives. The Brisbane City Council has just announced a major expansion of its rainwater tank rebate program due to unprecendented public support and yet the government persists in building more dams.” He predicted that the decision to build a Mary River Dam was the government’s biggest political gamble to date, saying that opposition was widespread, not just from national environment groups but from the wider community. “With the ABC’s biggest ever online poll running at a resounding 86% “no” to more dams, the ripples from the decision to build this dam will be felt in marginal electorates across the state,” Mr Mackay said. Click thumbnail to see map. A higher quality PDF map can be downloaded from the Natural Resources website.


Quarry carnage extends to Bluff summit

Sunday, October 4, 2005

Sunshine Coast Quarries has commenced to make good its' threat to "create the biggest eyesore ever" and deployed bulldozer tactics on the top of the Kenilworth Bluff. Bushwalkers were horrified to stumble across and discover the extent of recent clearing. Almost invisible from the Mary Valley below, Quarry earthmovers have cut a swathe through the heavily forested area. The land is designated as an Environmanetally Significant Area in the Cooloola Shire Strategic Plan, as a State Wildlife Corridor and part of it even as Essential Habitat, yet none of that recognition impeded the Quarry in its' mission. Clearing now completed, it remains to be seen whether the Quarry will erect the 2.3mt chain and barb wire fence as planned. Bushwalkers who've relished the view from the top of the waterfall may well find their path blocked by an impenetrable fence. A remarkable feature of the southern end of the Bluff had been the complete absence of lantana and other declared weeds; now, adjacent to the clearing the first groundsel has been noted. It seems the Bluff has its' enemies but at this time it really needs friends. We implore those outraged to contact the Compliance Section of the Dept. of Natural Resources ph 54 512 268, and quote reference number: 10106/2005 in your objection. Click here for photos of the recent carnage. These photos don't adequately do justice to the steepness of the terrain, nor the scale of some of the vegetation removed. l[back to top] Excerpt from article in The Australian newspaper Tuesday, October 25, 2005 Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen. Story: Greg Roberts 



Amid calls for harsher penalties for land clearing, graziers chaff at the growing restrictions, writes Greg Roberts Kenilworth Bluff rises from the green dairy pastures of the Mary River Valley, an eye catching landmark in the hinterland of the bustling Queensland tourist haven of Noosa. Sunshine Coast Quarries mines the heavily forested mountain for road base to supply one of the nation’s fastest growing urban areas. When locals lodged an official complaint last year alleging the quarry had illegally bulldozed a forested ridge that was meant to act as a buffer between the mine and residents, quarry manager Tom Boss was furious. Boss vowed at the time that in retaliation, he would turn the mountain into the “biggest eyesore ever”. The locals’ complaint was upheld and the company was fined $1500, a tiny fraction of the value of the resource it had acquired from illegally clearing the ridge. The ridge does not have to be revegetated. “It’s a joke,” says local resident Sally Mackay. “With a penalty that small, it makes good business sense to do the wrong thing. This is the ‘flatten first, worry about the implications later’ approach which is so familiar to Queenslanders. What’s the point of having these laws?” And the quarry manager is set to make good his eyesore threat: the company has applied to double the area of its mine.



A blue metal quarry in Moy Pocket, near Kenilworth, has submitted a Development Application to Cooloola Shire Council seeking approval for expansion of their extractive area. This application includes an area which was illegally cleared last year. Click here for more information on the issue, and read the CRC objection letter to council. Photos of the Quarry Click on thumbnails to enlarge. 



Location: An application has been lodged with the Department of Natural Resources, Nambour, to close a Road Reserve in the Moy Pocket area. The Road Reserve is of approx 2.75 ha sandwiched between Wilcox Road, the Mary River at boundary of Maroochy and Cooloola Shire Councils. (see map) We understand the application has been made by an adjoining landowner who plans to acquire the use of the closed reserve for his own purposes, principally grazing. Nature of the reserve: At the shire boundary, Wilcox Road becomes Gap Connection Road, this road originally being a designated stock route. This piece of road reserve was presumably a watering point. Much of the reserve is well-established riparian forest, (see photographs) quite impressive, although sadly encumbered, in places, with Cat’s Claw and other invasive weeds. Many large trees, Waterhousias, White cedars, Black Beans, a number overhanging the river. The adjoining fencing to the south is not correct and a considerable amount of the reserve has been historically fenced off for private use. Significance of Proximity to Kenilworth Bluff/Wilcox Family Park. More than a decade ago, Maroochy Shire Council, thanks to Cr Hermann Schwabe commendably acted to acquire portions of the Kenilworth Bluff as a Conservation Park in recognition of its high biodiversity values. In addition to the intrinsic conservation values of the Bluff, it is also very significant for its corridor values, being one of a very few places where forests continuous with the Conondale Range Bloc reach down to the Mary River. Although the Park is only several metres wide in this south-eastern portion, it is amply augmented by adjoining landowners with sympathetic land uses. Properties on either side of this thin section of park are part of the Land for Wildlife Scheme, one in Maroochy and one in Cooloola. (see map) This road reserve lies immediately over the road from this south-eastern extremity of Wilcox Park and biogeographically constitutes an extension of the park. To formally confer a conservation status on this road reserve with its riparian connections would be highly desirable. A Proposal: The Conondale Range Committee will oppose the application for closure. It is far too important that land such as this stay in public tenure. We have written to both Cooloola and Maroochy Councils asking that they also oppose the closure and requesting they give support to a change of tenure from Road Reserve to incorporation into the Kenilworth Bluff/Wilcox Family Park. Some years ago, Cr Hermann Schwabe was successful in changing the tenure on the Water Reserve at Pickering Bridge, changing over to a Park under Council’s jurisdiction. We ask something similar here but the fact that it lies immediately over the road from Wilcox Park would seem to make it more a matter of expanding the park rather than creating a new one. In asking this however, it is essential that public access still be available for pumping purposes. Details of Closure Application Reference No NAM/002509




PO BOX 573, NAMBOUR 4560

Community support: The above proposal enjoys local community support as long as the pumping access is not removed. I can confidently say this as a number of residents, myself included, are either members of the Conondale Range Committee or supporters of it. Conservation is a high priority in this area. This is important also as I feel confident we will be able to apply some person power toward reducing the weed problem in the park and in assisting with plantings in the area that has been grazed. (The Conondale Range Committee is already part of the adopt-a-park scheme with Walter Cumming Park in Kenilworth.) The Conondale Range Committee would welcome other submissions to the DNR opposing the closure. If you need further information, please contact Ian on [07] 5446 0124. Photos from the Road Reserve Area Click on thumbnails to enlarge. l[back to top] Horse Riding Conservation Strip comment 




One of the Sunshine Coast’s oldest conservation groups, The Conondale Range Committee has welcomed the recent announcement of an enlarged National Park system in the Conondales and Mapleton State Forests as part of the South East Queensland Forest Agreement. The announcement follows commitments given during the Regional Forest Agreement process and comes after extensive consultation between a number of interest groups. Conondale Range Committee President, Ian Mackay, said his group had also been supportive of horse-riders’ aspirations and had argued for the establishment of Conservation Park strips along several existing roadways through the National Park. “This was a fairly pragmatic decision,” Mr Mackay said. “There were three options in the Conondales. One was to change it all to National Park with no access for horse-riding. The second was to accommodate horse-riding by having a large Conservation Park (and therefore a smaller National Park) which would permit riding, while the third was to provide large areas of National Park with several Conservation Park strips along a few existing roadways. We favored the latter option although a few tried, rather simplistically, to brand us as being ‘in favor of horse-riding in National Parks’.” The Conservation Park strip model is slightly different to the proposal recently announced by government in that the strips are called National Park (Recovery) and propose phasing–out horse-riding after 9 years. Mr Mackay expressed his group’s disappointment at horse-riders’ reaction to the announcement. “We had received assurances that the idea of roadside trails, which were a suggestion from horse-riding groups themselves, were well-supported and would be adhered to, but recent media reports would seem to suggest otherwise.” “It would appear that many riders are not prepared to countenance the proposal suggested by their leaders,” he said. “They claim to be “locked out” and “forced to ride along roads” and conveniently fail to mention that the government has allocated a substantial sum of money to seek alternative riding trails.” “It is our belief that the government has really sought a tenure solution that recognizes the time necessary to locate alternatives. It certainly hasn’t walked away from horse-riders’ needs, or its commitment to “no nett loss”, but in the meantime, it has delivered protection for some of south-east Queensland’s important biodiversity.”



Research scientists [some from overseas], Department of Natural Resources and Mines officers and CRC conservationists inspected the progress of rehabilitation work at the abandoned Agicola gold mine in the Conondale Ranges recently. It is now just over seven years since revegetation work was carried out and it's most satisfying to see the forest reclaiming what had previously been described as a 'lunar landscape'. See the Agricola page for more information and photos. 



On a more sombre note, if you chanced to read the Australian on 05.08.04, you'd have seen a pretty depressing photo of serious tree clearing by a quarry on the side of the Kenilworth Bluff. It could prove a bit of a test of the State's new vegetation clearing laws as what was removed was remnant vegetation and the clearing was done without any permits. It was also well outside the area zoned for quarrying. It has become an environmental threat as well by virtue of the steep piles of fine bulldust poised precipitously above steep gullies just a few hundred metres from the Mary River. It's a bit like Agricola all over again but no cyanide. See the Quarry page for more information and photos. 


There are concerns over the degradation of the walking trail on Mt Allen. This popular trail is suffering the effects of many users and little or no upkeep. There are many areas of the path where hikers have taken shorcuts, causing damage and erosion, and making it very difficult to identify the correct path. The CRC intends to consult with local authorities over the repair and maintenance of this area. 



The Conondale Range Committee has presented the Minister for Transport with a World Environment Day 'Stuffed Wildlife Award' for the recent road-widening activity through rainforest at Little Yabba Creek. CRC President Ian Mackay said the committee joined with a number of local residents condemning the clearing as "heavy handed" and "well beyond what was necessary" for the picturesque and environmentally significant forest, on the Maleny/Kenilworth tourist route, several kilometres south of Kenilworth. Mr Mackay claimed the area was significant as it was one of the few remaining stands of riverine rainforest along the length of the Mary River. "It was preserved years ago at the insistence of local forester Charlie Moreland, a wonderful legacy which served as a stunningly beautiful entry to one of South-East Queensland's most bio-diverse regions the Conondale Ranges," he said. Mr Mackay claimed that the Department of Transport had reneged on it's commitment to consultation to ascertain the most favoured form of road improvement before any work was carried out. "It seems the Department has a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to road improvement," he said, "apparently it's oblivious of any environmental significance of area surrounding roadways. Many locals favoured a wider bitumen seal on the existing road and a reduced speed limit through the area." "We accept lower speed areas when we pass through townships, I don't see why drivers expect to travel at an unimpeded 100km/hr through the rest" he said. The 'Stuffed Wildlife Award' certificate was presented with photographs of the clearing of significant habitat trees, and making clear the fact that the Beattie Government desperately needed a 'whole of government' approach if it was serious about retaining remnant vegetation.



The CRC hasn't been alone in its condemnation. Apparently the over-clearing is being investigated internally and a recent development is that the Transport Department is offering consultation after the road is finished as to replanting the verges. Isn't this a little akin to closing the door after the horse has bolted? See photos of the clearing.

Walking on the Wilder Side
.. in the Conondales.

A new book of history, information, walks and activities for the Conondale Range region

Buy a copy