We Live in a Special Part of
Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious are a wonderfully rich environment, part of the unique natural and cultural environment of the D'Aguilar Range. Our rainforests are very ancient in their structure and are unique in Australia, being on the doorstep of a large capital city – Brisbane. However, they are also at risk because of the rapid growth of south-east Queensland.
The D'Aguilar Range is an ecosystem comprising a large 40,000Ha national park, D'Aguilar National Park (incorporating the formerly designated Brisbane Forest Park and a number of small national parks – Manorina, Boombana and Maiala), Council areas and private land. The range has the largest forest remnant in the Southern Moreton Region, but is threatened by the large and rapidly increasing populations of Brisbane, Moreton Bay and other councils. This threat extends beyond the forest itself since the range is a major watershed, containing as it does the headwaters of a number of important streams and rivers. On the western side of the range the National Park incorporates and protects part of Brisbane's water catchment, with other water courses like the South and North Pine Rivers rising on the eastern side. Healthy forests on the range protect these waterways against degradation from erosion, weed invasion and pollution. The rainforests of the range, especially those of Mt Glorious, are descendants of, and have a broad similarity in structure to ancient forests which existed 100 million years ago. They have great natural beauty and biological diversity and, like the eucalypt forests, contain many rare and threatened species.
We are the custodians for future generations of the range, its landscapes and its plants and animals. But we need to work together to conserve high value areas, to prevent their destruction by development and by exotic plants and animals, and to restore degraded areas.
(Extract from: Ros Leslie, UNESCO Mimburi Biosphere Proposal: draft nomination, 2008)
Aboriginal land management over the past 40000 years has had a significant influence on the development of Australia’s native wildlife. Aboriginal people had a strong association with their landscape, both socially and culturally. The Dreaming represents a belief system that guides the interactions of Indigenous people with their landscape and its living components. This belief system positions people as part of the living environment which they inhabited. The landscape was viewed as a living entity which required respect and integration with people and their activities.
Early reference to first people who inhabited the range is scanty. (See, for example, Helen Horton's 1988, Brisbane's Backdoor.) The Jinibara was the tribe that overarched the clans of the D’Aguilar Range. There are three groups consistently referenced in connection with the D’Aguilar area. The Garumngar people occupied the area from Moggill northward to Mt Mee (this covers most of the D’Aguliar Range); the Dungidau people occupied territory north and west of Mt Mee (northern part of the range westward) and the Turrbal people occupied the area east of the range northwards to the North Pine River (Horton 1988). The language group for the area was Wakka Wakka (Horton 1988). Aboriginal people used a variety of plants for food and for medicine and for manufacturing utensils. Animals were utilised in accordance with strict lores. The landscape itself was alive and there were rules that governed access to parts of the land that were restricted for spiritual reasons. The landscape and its assets were strategically accessed and managed to maintain perpetual health and wellbeing for all of the communities that lived there.
The burning of country was conducted for a variety of reasons. Burn regimes maintained by first people have lead to the evolution of vegetation that required specific fire regimes to preserve ecological stability. The interruption of the connection between first people with their landscape (by European settlement) and the introduction of successful weed species has lead to a rapid change in the natural balance of this vegetation.
During the successive occupation of European communities, Aboriginal communities were displaced by forceful removal, massacre, assimilation through religious and government policy and takeover of traditional lands. The process was so complete that the connection between present day Indigenous people and their past has been all but severed. Traditional links to landscape are still held by descendents but recognition by present governance authorities is very difficult to obtain. Presently, there is one existing registered Native Title claim (under the Native Title Act) held by the Jinibara, a tribe that overarches the clans of the Dungidau and Garumngar people. [Editor's note, 2019: this claim is now successful and native title has been recognised over a number of areas of country.]
Today there are few relics of thousands of years of occupancy. Bora rings are the most obvious physical remnant of a cultural past. Bora rings exist at Moggill, Keppera, Wights Mountain, Samsonvale, Laceys Creek, Mt Pleasant, Dayboro, Northbrook, England Creek, Dundas, Mt Esk Pocket and Oakey creek (Horton 1988). Other physical signs include tree scars and burial sites and some small artefacts have been found. On agreement, physical evidence of Aboriginal occupation has been kept confidential in an effort to protect and respect Aboriginal culture.
History of European Settlement
In the early 1900s, people began riding up to Mt Glorious from the eastern valleys below and began growing bananas and other crops. The first buildling at Mt Glorious, erected around 1909 (pictured below - picture courtesy of Jim Byrne), was Tom Lindsay's "Gentle Breezes".
In October 2009 the Mt Glorious community celebrated the centenary of European settlement at Mt Glorious. Preparation for the centenary included some historical research and gathering of stories concerning Lindsay and others who followed. The following is an extract from resident Ruth Lowe's, Tom Lindsay: first settler's house on Mt Glorious, Centenary celebrations 2009.
In the early 1900s the building of dwellings was not recorded by any local authority, and from the 'histories, memoirs or stories' so far consulted it is difficult to establish a precise date for when the first house was built.
Helen Horton's book Brisbane's Back Door mentions the early development of Mt Glorious and describes how Thomas Lindsay "rode up the Cedar Creek spur by Mt O'Reilly to a place he liked on the top of the range. He called it Gentle Breezes."
After taking over the selection in 1908 he moved up to the land and lived in a tent. He appears to have worked, with the help of Charles Patrick in clearing the land and putting in a dairy herd.
Helen Horton continues: "Later Charles Patrick accepted Lindsay's further offer to take his family and live in the five-roomed slab hut, with separate kitchen, which had by this time replaced the tent. (See above photo). With a verandah at the front, it was reasonably comfortable, but it had a separate kitchen made of stringybark sheets that was quite some distance from the hut."
Bill Patrick (son of Charles) wrote much about his life and enjoyment of Mt Glorious. Also, a letter from Pat Berlin (granddaughter of Charles and Alice Patrick) states: "The first house on Mt Glorious was built 'around 1911' [erased and replaced with '1909'] by Mr Tom Lindsay. The house took him from 12 to 18 months to build …"
The letter continues: …"the family accepted the offer and moved to Mt Glorious around 1912." At that time their family numbered eight children. In his description of the eventful wagon trip up the mountain with the furniture Bill Patrick mentions 'the baby', who was probably Phyllis Patrick, born 16.5.1910, mother of Pat Berlin the author of the letter.
The Soldier Settlement Highlands Estate was established just after World War I in the Mt Nebo area. The smallest pieces were 80 acres, being divisions of a square mile. Those people came to crop. The ethos of the time was that you had to sharpen your axe, cut down the trees and either get a crop in or get some stock. If the trees were not cut, the lease could be lost. The Lands Department used to send an inspector out every June. If there sufficient improvement, you escaped the lease payment. So every June the settlers would go out and ringbark a dozen trees to gain immunity from the lease payment. There is still evidence of this at Mt Nebo - large dead trees that have been ringbarked, such as the large dead tallowwood across the road from the Manorina camping area. The area later yielded large volumes of high quality timber, including Red Cedar and White Beech which helped sustain the small population that had settled the area. Modern "settlers" in the area now include many who work "down in town" but seek the peace and cool forests of the range.
More details can be found in Helen Horton's history of the area.
During the Mt Glorious Centenary celebrations, a number of former families attending the celebrations brought historical photographs of old Mt Glorious and kindly allowed the Mt Glorious Community Association to reproduce copies.
Climate, Forests and Flora of the D'Aguilar Range
Local climate varies depending on just where on the range one is. The following figures represent the wetter, cooler part of the range at Fahey Rd, Mt Glorious.
Lower down the range, towards Mt Nebo and Jolly's Lookout, average rainfall is slightly lower and average temperatures are slightly higher.
Forests and Flora
The forests and flora are diverse, with a variety of ecosystems being represented on the range. At higher elevations (e.g. Mt Glorious) and sheltered gullies (e.g. Boombana National Park) rainforests are found. Figs, Quandong's, Cedar and Palms thrive here, hosting orchids and other epiphytes. Bordering these rich damp forests are wet sclerophyll forests – with rainforest understorey, dominated by Blue gums (Eucalyptus saligna), Brushbox (Lophostemon confertus) and Tallowwood (E. microcorys). Dry sclerophyll forests dominate at lower elevations and on drier slopes. Grey gums, Stringybarks, Ironbarks, Apples (Angophora spp.) and Casuarinas are common overstorey species here, with wattles, hoveas, grass-trees, creepers and kangaroo grass below. A nice account of some of the history of flora research in the area, compiled by Bruce Noble of BFP can be found here.
Birds, Animals and other Fauna of the Range
The fauna is also rich in variety. Birds like the Regent Bowerbird, the Paradise Riflebird, and Wompoo Dove are to be found in the rainforests, while Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, Goshawks, Wedge-tailed Eagles, parrots, wrens, robins, finches and honeyeaters are just some of the birds found in the more open wet and dry sclerophyll forests. Over sixty species of birds have been recorded in the area. The following is a partial birdlist compiled over four years at Harland Rd, Mt Glorious, in wet schlerophyll forest close to rainforest:
Along with the abundant owls – often intent on a feed of frogs – possums, gliders and bandicoots are active at night. Dingos and goannas are common. A variety of snakes, skinks, spiders and other insects thrive in the sub-tropical heat.
As with the flora, numerous rare and endangered fauna species exist in the area. (E.g. the Mount Glorious Spiny Crayfish, Greater Gliders, Brown Goshawks, and Marbled Frogmouths.)
While there is some information on "hazardous" insects in chapter 6, to show that there is still much to be discovered about the rainforests of the Range, here is an article from an American visitor, published in Mountain News in June 1997:
"I've been living in Mt Glorious for the past five months, enjoying every sunrise I see over Moreton Bay or bushwalk I take from my house. But bushwalks and sunrises are only part of the reason that the Australian and American governments gave me a fellowship to come here. I finished a university degree in the States last June and I've been in Australia since October. Now, I'm studying the ants that live in the rainforest of Mt Glorious.
The most basic thing I hope to accomplish with my research is to identify the ant species present in the rainforest on the mountain. No one has yet done a comprehensive survey of the ants in this rainforest, so many of the species I find may not have been identified. The project is really exciting to me, because unlike the 30 or so species of ants I've found here, the area around Boston where I grew up in the States has far fewer species and they've all been identified and studied.
The focus of my ant survey is to compare the ants I find on the ground to the ants I find in the forest canopy. Previous research has shown that the canopy and ground environments of rainforests can be home to two distinct groups of insects. Some ant species live only on the ground or only in the canopy, while others appear to live in both locations. I'm interested in the degree of species overlap between the two environments, not only in terms of where the ants nest, but also where they feed.
To get a handle on these questions, I have set out honey (sugar source), tuna (protein source), and wheat (seed source) food baits in both locations. I put the baits out in the morning and check them in the afternoon and then during the night. Often by the time I have returned to the baits during the night, a wandering animal has taken the bait, leaving me antless! I also collect ants by hand with forceps, and by means of "pitfall" traps I set using plastic cups filled with alcohol. I've also extracted ants from leaf litter samples, by heating up leaves to dry them out, causing hidden ants to fall into a collection jar.
My study site is the State Forest past the ranger station, where I've chosen 12 trees to climb regularly. Climbing the trees is the best part of the work. I shoot a fishing arrow over a high branch (20-30m), using a compound bow. Using the fishing line, I haul over a temporary rope, which I leave in the tree between visits. When I want to climb the tree to put baits out or hand collect, I haul over a climbing rope, tie it off to the base of a tree, and climb the rope using mechanical ascenders designed for rock climbing. Because of the steep western slope, I get an incredible view from the top of my climbs!
I'm nearly finished with the collecting, and now I'm preparing voucher specimens of each ant species for a taxonomist in Canberra to identify. Once he identifies the species, I'll write up my results for publication in an ecological journal. So far, I've found species of ants that appear to live in the canopy, but feed on the ground, as well as ants nesting on the ground, that forage in the canopy. I've also found quite a few species in both locations, suggesting to me that compared with more tropical forests, there may not be as much of a distinction between the group of species in the two environments. We will see!
Aside from my research with the ants, I've been singing in the choir and teaching a weekly environmental science class at the Mt Nebo State School. Doing activities with the kids in the bush behind the school has been particularly enjoyable - hopefully for the kids as well. Thanks to everyone who has made my time here incredible so far. For the last five months of my time in Australia, I'm trying to follow the immortal words of Jerry Garcia, "Gone are the days we stopped to decide where we should go. We just ride". Dan
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Grey Goshawk (DES rating: Rare)
Red-browed Treecreeper (DES rating: Rare)
New Holland Honeyeater