The secret forest of Cliveden Avenue

The secret forest of Cliveden Avenue

By Susan Prior

Tucked at the eastern end of Cliveden Avenue in Corinda is another world, a remnant of the original bushland that once covered the greater Brisbane area. Walk down the path, over the creek bridge and you are on your way to a delightful and easy circuitous 2 km walk through a pocket of bushland that feels a million miles away from suburban Brisbane.

The slow-growing coogera tree’s wood is so dense and hard that it can damage axe heads.

If you take a look at a map of the area, the twists and tortuous meanderings of the Oxley Creek along this section of its course are evident. An even smaller waterway, the Coogera Creek, runs through this reserve from near the end of Cliveden Avenue into the Oxley Creek. This diminutive water course is named after the native coogera trees (Arytera foveolata). ‘Coogera’ is believed to be the Indigenous name associated with the trees. The morning that I join the bushcare volunteers, the coogera trees are resplendent with the prettiest rosy-hued new leaf growth, making it is easy to see why they get confused with lilly pillys.

Formed in 1995, the Cliveden Avenue Reserve Bushcare Group of volunteers meets on the first Saturday of the month, from 8.00 am during summer, and from 8.30 am during the cooler months. Their job is to manage and reduce the weed burden in the reserve’s area of about 2 hectares, to allow natural regeneration.

L to R: Volunteers, Gloria Wiskar, Carole Bristow and Debbie Maclean

Group organiser Carole Bristow and I walk a little way down the path and then divert into a small stand of remnant melaleuca forest. It has recently rained, so the soil here is moist and the cat’s claw, the weed that has been singled out for today’s working bee, is easily removed. Native to tropical America, cat’s claw, like many invasive species, was introduced as an ornamental garden plant. It is an aggressive climber and in the wild it smothers native vegetation.

Carole says they are close to removing it from this particular spot, which is very gratifying for all the volunteers.

I ask Carole what motivates her.

She says, ‘My parents were old-fashioned naturalists, interested in everything that moved or grew in bushland … and as a family we went camping a lot. We children were allowed to roam. I saw her interest and I became interested.’

Carole married a forester, cementing her fascination with plants and the natural environment.

The Cliveden Reserve includes a variety of plant groupings within its boundaries, including melaleucas and eucalypts, a rainforest element, and some mangroves down by the creek. It is a fascinating habitat to stroll around.

One particular plant found in the vicinity is the incredibly rare and endangered angle-stemmed myrtle. Just two plants survive here, one on the bushcare site, and one at Pennywort Creek, on the Uniting Church property. There used to be three, but one – on the creek bank beside the Pony Club – died after the 2011 floods. In 2013, the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection listed 285 of these trees in the wild. That is all that are left.

This really illustrates why the work of the bushcare volunteers is so vitally important. They really are the unsung heroes of our suburban secret places. The Cliveden Reserve Bushcare Group has as many as 12 individuals helping with the monthly working bees, although on the Saturday I attended there were only four hardy souls beavering away.

If you have a couple of hours once a month and would like to give back to your community, and give yourself a little gentle exercise, give Carole a call. She would love to hear from you.

P: 3379 1453

A hand-drawn map of the Cliveden Reserve Bushcare site

Biosecurity Queensland has informed me that fire ants are on the nearby Oxley Creek Common:

‘It is essential that the community in the area remain vigilant and report suspect ants to Biosecurity Queensland. … Red imported fire ants can inflict a painful sting and pose a significant social, economic and environmental threat.’

The ants are reddish-brown in colour with a darker abdomen, and are 2 mm to 6 mm long.

Don’t disturb or destroy the ant nest yourself; if it’s not done correctly the worker ants will simply evacuate their queen to a new location and start a new nest.

If you think you’ve spotted fire ants, take a photo if possible and upload it to the website, or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Newstead House comes to life with Lady of the House, Mrs Anna Wickham!

Newstead House comes to life with Lady of the House, Mrs Anna Wickham!

A very botanical State of Origin

A very botanical State of Origin