Thursday, October 30, 2014

October outing to Challawong and Glen Rock

Challawong  at Glen Rock

In past times there was an Aboriginal route from the east onto the Downs that passed the rock overhang called Challawong. This is the only known example of this form of Aboriginal art in South-east Queensland. By abrading and pecking the rock the natives created abstract designs of ovals, straight lines, U shapes and others. The meaning of these is unknown. They are only marred by some graffiti at the western end. This is truly a unique site which needs better protection and I have contacted the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to that effect.

Aboriginal abstract art

Glen Rock is one of my favourite places as I was on its development committee for six years representing the interests of conservation. It takes in much of the catchment of Blackfellows Creek and the top of Black Duck Creek in the southern Lockyer. Originally a cattle property, it was purchased by the Queensland Government and developed under the auspices of Gatton Shire Council. It is now National Park. 

The long drive up the valley is rewarded by arriving at a pleasant picnic spot and campground, impressive views of steep hillsides and the prominence of Glen Rock jutting out from the valley’s eastern wall. Also of interest are the slab hut with its walls hung with accounts of local history, and the Aboriginal native garden. The latter is dominated by small trees that do not give a representative array of native food plants. I believe our Nats. member Janet Crompton is related to the Philp family who lived locally and gave their name to Mt. Philp one of the many sizeable peaks. 
(Report and photos by Neil McKilligan)

Plants at Glen Rock 

Melaleuca bracteata, Glen Rock
Very little of the original vegetation survives in the vicinity of the creek at Glen Rock - a classic “depauperate” environment where clearing has removed most of the native plants, and only the hardiest survive. Two native trees, black tea tree, Melaleuca bracteata, and river she-oak, Casuarina cunninghamiana, were the predominant trees, with just a few kurrajongs (native) and pepperinas (introduced weeds) sprinkled among them. The undergrowth all consisted of weeds, with the exception of a few, hard to find, native nettles and bluebells, and one lonely matrush. The tea trees did their best to make up for the poverty of the flora, with lovely large, old specimens showing off their impressive, shady, green canopies.
Some us of took a further walk upstream where some equally outstanding, specimens occurred. These were distinguished by their astonishing height, with some having massive, straight trunks that did not branch till they reached a great height. This growth pattern reveals that when they were young, they grew in dense scrub that forced them upwards. A few remaining dry rainforest tree species, including an equally outstanding large whalebone tree Streblus brunonianus, gave us a clue as to what the long-vanished creek vegetation would once have been. Historical records tell us that dense “scrubs” in the creeks of the area were rigorously cleared in the early days of white settlement, as they provided refuges for aborigines. This was Jagera territory, and members of this tribe were a warlike lot, much feared by the settlers.
The camping ground boasts a very good Aboriginal Plant Use Garden, which informed us that the sweet nectar from the white, bottlebrush flowers of the tea trees, (not in evidence on our visit), was sucked directly from the flowers or made into a sweet drink by soaking in water, and the leaves were used medicinally for headaches, colds, and “general sickness”.
Acacia salicina seeds and arils, Glen Rock

On the path in that garden, the bright red arils of sally wattle Acacia salicina also attracted our attention. Red also attracts the attention of birds, and it was obvious that parrots of some kind had been eating the seeds, and dropping the pods on the ground. This is the only local wattle with red arils (the cords which attach the seed to the pod) so they help us to identify the plant.
Garden signage told us that Aborigines ate the seeds of this plant, and used its leaves as fish poison and its wood for making boomerangs. Seed collection was made easy for them by ants, which collect them for their very nutritious, oily arils, but leave the unwanted seeds outside their nests.

(Plant report and photographs by Trish Gardner)
Species List
Junction View to Glen Rock N.P., 5 October 2014 compiled by Lesley Beaton from member’s sightings.
Junction View:  27°48'0.73"S, 152°11'14.09"E
Channel-billed Cuckoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Noisy Friarbird, Grey Butcherbird, Pied Currawong, Torresian Crow,
Challawong: Striated Pardalote, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher.
Glen Rock N.P.: 27°53'15.41"S, 152°14'45.86"E

Birds: Crested Pigeon, Straw-necked Ibis, Galah, Pale-headed Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-throated Treecreeper, Satin Bowerbird, Superb Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Striated Pardalote, Noisy Miner, Brown Honeyeater, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Willie Wagtail, Torresian Crow, Magpie-lark, Welcome Swallow. 

Butterflies: Large Grass-yellow Eurema hecabe, Glasswing Acraea andromacha Meadow Argus Junonia villida, Common Crow Euploea core, Lesser Wanderer Danaus chrysippus, Common Grass Blue Zizina labradus labradus. 

 Dragonfly: Australian Emperor Hemianax papuensis
Reptiles: Goanna, Eastern Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata.
Blackfeller Creek between Glen Rock boundary and Junction View: compiled by Al Young

Birds: Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe, Little Black Cormorant, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Dusky Moorhen, Sacred Kingfisher, White-throated Gerygone, Bell Miner, Eastern Whipbird, Willie Wagtail, Olive-backed Oriole

Dragonflies:Australian Emperor – Hemianax papuensis, Scarlet Percher – Diplacodes haematodes, Wandering Percher – Diplacodes bipunctata.  Reptiles: Macquarie Turtle – Emydura macquarii
Mt Sylvia: Pheasant Coucal  (Submitted by Lauren Marlatt)  

Scarlet Percher (photo by Al Young)

Australian Empereor (photo by Al Young)

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