Saturday, June 30, 2018

GOMAREN and DOCTORS CREEK LANDCARE FIELD DAY - Saturday 02 June, 2018

Our Goombungee-based Landcare Group hosted this day as an environmental education themed experience for its members and other guests, including the TFNC. At 10.00am, 29 people assembled at Gumminguru (means “the men of the Condamine”), a little off Old Homebush Road at Cawdor. We had morning-tea, then a talk by Conrad Bauwens, the caretaker, who is a Wakka Wakka man with family links through his mother’s line to this Jarowair land. The Jarowair are a sub-group of the Wakka Wakka nation.
Conrad showed us artefacts (boomerangs, spears, spear tips, core stones, scrapers, different coloured ochres, etc.) all sourced reasonably locally, and also some items that were acquired from elsewhere, but to illustrate the significance of Aboriginal trade routes across Australia. I was impressed with an elaborately hafted axe, with a distinctive flat blade that he’d acquired from New Guinea. Then he produced another blade of the same material that had been traded into Central Australia long ago. Outside, there were four trunks of “scar trees” which had been bull-dozed during work on the Second Range Crossing. These are to be re-erected here at Gumminguru as a different realia display.
Conrad invited Jean to speak on her family’s involvement since the 1960’s process of investigating and understanding the cultural significance of this site by the Queensland Museum. This land was part of the farm that Jean grew up on. Alfred Walker, in 1882, was the first “selector” of the farm containing this stone arrangement site. He built his home on the ridge 300 metres to the west. He reported on the campfires and ceremonies still happening until late in the C19th. Harry Darlow, Conrad’s maternal-line forebear, must have been amongst the last to have been initiated here and was an old man in the Toowoomba area in the late 1960s. The second generation of Walkers sold their farm to Jean’s Dad, Ben Gilbert, in 1948.
In the 1950s, Errol Beutel would visit to collect stone tools in the ploughed fields after rain events and he suggested the site might have significance. (Errol had a private museum in Mary Street in Toowoomba called
“Jedda”, after Charles Chauvel’s 1955 film of the same name.) In the early ‘60s, Queensland Museum staff mapped the stone arrangements. Anthropologists and Aboriginal visitors were able to piece together that this is a men’s ceremonial site depicting Creation folklore and initiation significance.
Conrad led the group amongst the stone arrangements depicting a kangaroo totem to the west, a turtle totem to the east, a bunya nut shape pointing to the Bunya Mountains, where every three years there was a season of plenty and tribes gathered from far and wide for cultural purposes and the settling of grievances in ritual ways, which might avoid full scale conflict. Central to this site is the winding Creation pathways of the Rain-bow Serpent with its representations of “increase” sites as ancestors and fauna were created to occupy the lands. [I have always been drawn to the turtle arrangement, which has remained intact so perfectly. The head stone is such a wonderful representation for its purpose.]
We thanked Conrad for his time, expertise and humour, then moved on to Peacehaven Park for a sausage sizzle and lunch before our guided walk around selected trees and their relevance to Aboriginal diet and medicinal uses. This was led by Paul Carmody, who has Bundjalung heritage (North Coast NSW) and Jane Orme – who are both teachers at the Amaroo Environmental Education Centre at Kleinton.

About 15 Field Nats enjoyed either all or a part of this day, as did a few other non-Landcare neighbours and community members. Jean and I would like to thank Toni Gorry, our Landcare secretary, who pulled these elements together while we were away, and Andrew Gorry, the chief “sizzler”. This was a most appropriate experience in this week of “Reconciliation”, where schools and communities across Australia honour the indigenous heritage of our lands.

At Gumminguru (photo by Jean Gundry)

FOOTNOTE: For this occasion, Jean wore a shirt called “Manme” (bushfoods) which was designed and printed by Injalak Arts – a group of Aboriginal artists from Gunbalanya, Western Arnhem Land. The design includes two tubers - “long yam”, Dioscorea transversa and  “cheeky yam”, Dioscorea bulbifora, along with “black plum”, Persoonia falcata, “peanut tree”, Ster-culia quadrifida and a medicinal fruit, the “cheesefruit tree”, Morinda citrifolia. The garments are manufactured in Australia by a fledgling company called “Magpie Goose” (https://magpiegoose.com/) whose mission is to create economic empowerment for people living in remote communities. In their own words, “it has become a conduit for people to connect with Aboriginal culture”.  Similarly, Gumminguru continues to be a special place where people of all backgrounds come to share, learn about and celebrate Aboriginal culture.

(Report by Ben and Jean Gundry)
 

On a beautiful early winter morning, 21 Nats met at Pine Mountain Bush Reserve Blacksoil, after some car-pooling at Neil Street car park. The Reserve is a small area of dry rainforest, gum trees, wattles and an under-storey of various vegetation. We noted quite an area near the entrance of the Reserve with small mother-of-million plants growing. Lovely spotted gums had interesting arthropods under the bark. The Reserve straddles a lovely creek with some small waterholes and birdlife was very active due to the cool temperature. Birdos had a lovely time identifying and listing the birds sighted. We had our smoko before setting off to our next stop.
After a beautiful drive along the Brisbane Valley Highway, through Fernvale, a market town in full swing with the usual weekly markets and a Food Fair as well, we arrived at Cormorant Bay on Wivenhoe Dam. We set off for a lovely walk, on a good track around the Dam. This walk was through very different country, very poor sandstone soils supporting gum and wattle trees with very open understorey. A small stand of scrub figs, Ficus rubiginosa was spotted, in fruit, with unidentified birds feeding.
There was some action on the water. A good deal of time was spent, by a group of birdos, trying to identify a large group of water birds following a couple of pelicans. Jean Gundry finally photographed one and it was decided to be a Crested Grebe. These grebes appeared to be hoping for pelican left-overs. This was our very good lunch stop, with the whole group sitting around in a circle, talking about how we had enjoyed our morning and what we had seen on our walks.
All in all a great day with a great group of Nats.
(Report by Julie Latham)

Bird Lists (Compiled by Ann & Allan Parry)
Pine mountain Bush reserve

Little Friarbird, Silvereye, Grey Fantail, Rainbow Bee-eater, Yellow Faced Honeyeater, Black-chinned  Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Bar-shouldered Dove, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-browed Finch, Bell Miner,  Torresian Crow, Striated Pardalote, Olive-backed Oriole, Little Lorikeet, Peaceful Dove, Fuscous Honeyeater,  Spotted Pardalote, Peaceful Dove, Noisy Miner, Currawong, Grey Butcherbird, Lewins Honeyeater, Variegated Fairy-wren, Scrub Turkeys Nest (25 species).
   
Wivenhoe Dam 


Great Crested Grebe, Pied Cormorant, Hard Head, White-naped Honeyeater, Pelican, Golden Whistler (Female), Brahminy Kite, Darter, Scarlet Honeyeater, Silver Gull, Rose Robin, White-faced Heron, Black-backed Magpie, Grey Butcherbird. (14 species).

OUTING REPORT: Pine Mountain Bush Reserve & Lakeside Bush Walk Wivenhoe 03 June 2018

On a beautiful early winter morning, 21 Nats met at Pine Mountain Bush Reserve Blacksoil, after some car-pooling at Neil Street car park. The Reserve is a small area of dry rainforest, gum trees, wattles and an under-storey of various vegetation. We noted quite an area near the entrance of the Reserve with small mother-of-million plants growing. Lovely spotted gums had interesting arthropods under the bark. The Reserve straddles a lovely creek with some small waterholes and birdlife was very active due to the cool temperature. Birdos had a lovely time identifying and listing the birds sighted. We had our smoko before setting off to our next stop.
After a beautiful drive along the Brisbane Valley Highway, through Fernvale, a market town in full swing with the usual weekly markets and a Food Fair as well, we arrived at Cormorant Bay on Wivenhoe Dam. We set off for a lovely walk, on a good track around the Dam. This walk was through very different country, very poor sandstone soils supporting gum and wattle trees with very open understorey. A small stand of scrub figs, Ficus rubiginosa was spotted, in fruit, with unidentified birds feeding.
There was some action on the water. A good deal of time was spent, by a group of birdos, trying to identify a large group of water birds following a couple of pelicans. Jean Gundry finally photographed one and it was decided to be a Crested Grebe. These grebes appeared to be hoping for pelican left-overs. This was our very good lunch stop, with the whole group sitting around in a circle, talking about how we had enjoyed our morning and what we had seen on our walks.
All in all a great day with a great group of Nats.
(Report by Julie Latham)

Bird Lists (Compiled by Ann & Allan Parry)
Pine mountain Bush reserve

Little Friarbird, Silvereye, Grey Fantail, Rainbow Bee-eater, Yellow Faced Honeyeater, Black-chinned  Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Bar-shouldered Dove, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-browed Finch, Bell Miner,  Torresian Crow, Striated Pardalote, Olive-backed Oriole, Little Lorikeet, Peaceful Dove, Fuscous Honeyeater,  Spotted Pardalote, Peaceful Dove, Noisy Miner, Currawong, Grey Butcherbird, Lewins Honeyeater, Variegated Fairy-wren, Scrub Turkeys Nest (25 species).
   
Wivenhoe Dam 


Great Crested Grebe, Pied Cormorant, Hard Head, White-naped Honeyeater, Pelican, Golden Whistler (Female), Brahminy Kite, Darter, Scarlet Honeyeater, Silver Gull, Rose Robin, White-faced Heron, Black-backed Magpie, Grey Butcherbird. (14 species).

SPEAKER REPORT: Andreas Helwig “Solar System at USQ & In General”

Few of our speakers would have as many titles, letters, research and lecturing qualifications as our expert speaker on solar energy. As an electro-mechanical engineer with his research area in sustainable energy systems and storage, Andreas was a key committee member and consultant for USQ’s solar panel covered carpark project, along with rooftop installations at the Ipswich and Springfield campuses. The Toowoomba solar carpark was conceived in 2010 and completed in June 2017 with a view to minimizing electricity costs, off-setting Greenhouse gases, and utilizing it as a real-life teaching model. LED lights are installed underneath and operate with motion sensors at night. Panels have also been installed on the USQ library and other build-ings. The university is now investigating the possible merits of adding storage batteries into the mix later on.
Andreas’ address included many electrical technical statistics re watts and battery types, etc. that flew over many of our heads, so I’ll list here general points he made regarding solar systems:
§  USQ panels have a 17% sunlight to power conversion efficiency. Recent space programs now have up to 30% conversion rates.
§  Panels are made to withstand hail damage, but their strength varies with country of origin.
§  The university panels have a nine-year payback timeframe, with approx. 20% greenhouse reduction.
§  All panels slowly ‘degrade’ and become approximately only 80% efficient.
§  Andreas is studying manufacturing faults (discovered using infrared photography), as well as weak-nesses in cell to cell and panel to panel connections and transmission.
§  Panel output is affected by conditions in the vicinity including reflected heat off bitumen or adjacent buildings, dust, smog, diesel particles (very damaging), sand, pollution, and humidity (the drier, the better; therefore, panels on island nations can disappoint with high humidity and storms).
§  Red dust is less of an interference than sand dust.
§  Battery storage systems can last up to 15 years, but are very variable to date.
§  The placement of the system’s inverter should be in a cool/south side position. Maximum heat tolerance for them is 45⁰C but that temperature and higher jeopardizes performance.
§  Nickel-ion battery has the longest cycle life with 100% power in yielding 70% power out.
§  Lithium-ion battery with 100% power in transmits 80% out, but has shorter life.
§  Batteries don’t perform well in the cold.....Electronics don’t perform well in the heat.
§  Deeper daily battery discharge = shorter battery life, i.e.. 80% discharge.
§  Lower daily battery discharge = longer battery life, say discharging only 30%.
   (You can relate these last two points to your mobile phone habits and recharging intervals!)
The one question Andreas wouldn’t commit on is when and how to wash solar panels!..... Except he stresses to  turn off your system before anyone washes it !!

At the end of Andreas’ address, I’m sure we all had an increased appreciation of just how much electrical and technical knowledge is involved in the production of solar energy.

(Report by Lauren Marlatt)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A New Millipede Found in Toowoomba -- Glenda Walter

Last summer three of us spent several hot, humid evenings snooping about in Hartmann Reserve (Toowoomba) with torches, and eventually captured several mature male millipedes which were sent to Dr Mesibov in Tasmania for study. It proved to be a species new to science, and has now been named Cladethosoma toowoomba. The scientific paper by Dr Mesibov was published a day or so ago.

Dr Mesibov says:
“Glenda Walter imaged a large and strikingly patterned millipede in Hartmann Reserve last year and posted the image on the BowerBird website. Millipede specialist Bob Mesibov (Tasmania) has now described this species as Cladethosoma toowoomba in a paper published in Memoirs of the Queensland Museum - Nature, based on specimens collected by Glenda, Michael Rooke and Craig Reid. There are several other Cladethosoma species in SE Queensland, but C. Toowoomba is distinctive."

The photos below of Cladethosoma toowooomba are by Glenda Walter.




Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Report on Cullendore Camp - March 2018 by Trish Gardner

Fourteen Nats and their families travelled down to Cullendore (in New South Wales via Warwick), in March to the informal camp organised by Tricia Allen and Lesley Beaton. The site was a naturalists’ paradise. Lots to see, enjoy, and talk about among ourselves - and no traffic to be heard except the sound of our own vehicles and those belonging to the farm.
Our focus fell mostly on birds, plants, and fungi, but all life forms were grist to our mill. Tricia brought along a good selection of the club’s books, and we had plenty of time to pore over them around the campfire, identi-fying what we had seen. We were interested in the animals which we began by tentatively identifying as Red-necked Wallabies, but were puzzled by their large size. We eventually realised that they were Black-striped Wallabies. The identifying black stripe was only apparent on a few of the largest males. Adrian and Tricia Allen provided what was meant to be one campfire dinner, but the (delicious) left-overs actually stretched to two. The same happened with the generous breakfast which Adrian and John Ball provided for the rest of us. We came away feeling rather spoiled.
Thank you, Tricia, Adrian, Lesley and John, for a wonderful camp.

Field Nats at Cullendore   (Photo by Graham Rogers)

Report on May Outing: “A little gem, two sources, and a meander: enjoying water features within our city"


This month’s outing was different from many others that we have had: we actually explored Toowoomba city itself, but focussed only on its flood mitigation strategies. In this we were very ably led by Margaret Compton, who along with Bob Fuller, had attended late last year StormWater Queensland’s one day workshop entitled ‘Water Sensitive Design in Urban Areas – Toowoomba’s East Creek as an example’. John Swarbrick was also able to provide us with interesting and pertinent observations throughout the morning.

Our first stop was at the corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, where we were shown one of the tinier stormwater detention basins. The convoy then moved to Spring Street to see how the terrain had been shaped by nature and human hand to channel the water into West Creek. This area is known as the Murray Clewett Wetland. We walked along the bottom of the sports field nearby where John Swarbrick pointed out a well that used to feed off the underground spring, but is now much neglected, judging by the quality of the water that we saw.
The convoy then moved to Ethan Street to see the beginning of East Creek. This abutted the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Nursery. The water that flowed into this detention basin and that formed the beginning of East Creek was fed by two stormwater pipes. The water from the basin flowed through a pipe outlet into a wide patch of ground before flowing into a series of swamps. Margaret Compton took us to a small street (court) opposite the car park and showed us other strategies that had been used to control more effectively water run- off during rains. One was the use of a ‘swale’ to direct run-offs towards a drain. Another was the use of permeable pavings. One other feature that is noteworthy is that the car park here faces a small native garden, the plants for which have all come from the Crows Nest Nursery.

Corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, part of the overall flood prevention on West Creek and one that many of us just drive by not even knowing it exists

The original brick well at Kearney Springs Park
The water from the area mentioned in the previous paragraph makes its way via a culvert under Spring Street to a large detention basin in Jutsum Street. From here it goes underground to come up at the nearby Storey Farm Park where an old gum tree provided us a spot for morning tea. The water here went over stones that were set in concrete in order to minimise erosion.
Our next stop was at Ballin Drive where there is another large detention basin. The plants here have grown very quickly and now provide a very thick coverage so that the water causeway is not easily visible.
We next visited Garnet Lehmann Park where a very large detention basin has been created. It seems that a narrow-constructed channel with wide grassed, sloped verges is effective in managing sizeable flows of water, and grass resists erosion. This was our last stop before we continued to see the direction in which water would continue to flow – past Lake Annand, along Kitchener Street, and past Queens Park. After the Frog’s Hollow corner of Queens Park, the creek goes into wide culverts to pass under Hume Street and alongside Chalk Drive to the now totally reconstructed and greatly enlarged confluence with West Creek. We stopped at Hodgson Street to look at this but current work has necessitated a fence to be erected.
Half the group that started out in the morning then elected to go to Boyce Gardens for lunch in the sunshine – though the wind was getting cool and this brought the outing to an end.
It has been claimed that over 10 years TRC is spending $175 million for East and West Creeks, as part of the flood mitigation strategies. Thanks to Margaret Compton, TFNC members and guests were able to see some of the results. 

Stones here have been cemented into one of the catchment areas for the Kearney Springs area

A special way Council are using parking areas to disperse water in the event of a downpour and many of us would not be aware of this. The divided rubber is covered with small sized gravel

(Report by Francis Mangubhai; photographs by Diane Turner)
Bird List- Excursion to Water Catchment Areas of Toowoomba   (Collated by Sandy Eastoe)

Thanks to the combined efforts of Neil McKilligan, Mike Ford and Allen Parry for the collaborative list. Most birds were seen at our visits to Spring Street (source of West Creek) and Ballin Drive Park.
White Ibis, Hardhead, Great Egret, Crested Pigeon, Coot, Masked Lapwing, Wood Duck, Black Duck, Grey Teal, Noisy Minor, Currawong, Crow, Purple Swamp Hen (Moorhen), Welcome Swallow, Magpie, Scaly Breasted Lorikeet, Willie Wagtail, Rainbow Lorikeet, Magpie Lark, Crested Pigeon, Pied Butcher Bird, Pale Headed Rosella.