Monday, November 7, 2011

Long Live the Field Nats! Our 60th Anniversary Weekend

At the tree planting
The fun started on Friday evening with a re-enactment of the first meeting held in November 1951. Ernie & Ben played the roles of President and Secretary respectively with other members playing minor parts. Diane P's script made sure there were a few laughs. Then Neil gave a good impression of a 1950s learned gentleman by the means of using a jacket and tie to change from a 21st century learned gentleman. He gave Keith Walker's talk of  "How to Study Birds" also given on that august night sixty years ago. Neil commented on the changes in our way of studying birds since then. All this was followed up with the film shown at our Club's first general meeting, "Wildlife in Bushland", kindly given to the club by Stephen Fleay, David Fleay's son. There was quite a crowd with visitors, and past members and it was a very convivial night.
Sunday was also a day of nostalgia. We met at Olcott Hall in Russell Street where Ernie gave us some history of the place, and TFNC's connection. Pastor Nick was there to allow us to look at the upstairs room where our Club had its beginnings.
From there we went on to the Bicentennial Waterbird Habitat for a lovely morning tea in the sunshine.
Neil recounting the history of the Bicentennial Waterbird Habitat

At 10.30 am precisely we planted our Grass Tree, Xanthorrhoea australis. Not only our logo but a symbol of longevity, just like Toowoomba Field Naturalist Club Inc. By then more Natters had joined us and we were quite a crowd.
Planting the Xanthorrhoea

In 1951 the Field Nats went to a property in Middle Ridge on the outskirts of Toowoomba. It probably belonged to Mr Robert Angus Moncrieff our first president who lived very close to Nielsen Park which was where we adjourned for a stroll and lunch on Sunday.

The original 3.25 hectares (8 acres) block was donated by 97 year old Mable (I believe this is the correct spelling) Nielsen in 1990 to the State Government with Toowoomba City Council acting as trustee as long as the land is utilised as a park. In 2005 two more blocks to the north were acquired making the park a reasonable bushland reserve. The park contains some of the oldest trees in Toowoomba and also part of the old bullock trail up the range. 

Lunch at Nielsen Park
Nielsen Park is close to the escarpment so there were plenty of birds, and we even glimpsed some of the local wallabies. Although as with all our bushland the exotic weeds are prevalent, there was plenty of natural bush to keep the botanists happy. It was a very pleasant pre-lunch walk. Lunch was a very social time with even more members arriving, and Ben spoke about his link to Angus Moncrieff.

We all agreed it had been a delightful day. Our thanks go to the 60th Anniversary Committee who made the celebrations such a success. Hip, hip, hooray!   

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Photos by Cheryl & Phil, and Di T.

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