Everyday Living on the Range
Food, Stores, Cafes and Restaurants
Whilst the members of the mountain community may sell or trade some produce on an ad hoc basis, at the time of writing (October 2019) there is no general store on the mountain. The nearest comprehensive stores are in Samford Village, with supermarkets, butchers, newsagents, mechanics, organic food, machine hire, hardware, etc. Though there used to be a petrol station in Mt Nebo, again Samford Village is currently the closest outlet.
Prepared food is available at a number of outlets. In Mt Nebo, Café in the Mountains serves lunches, coffee, cakes, etc. as does the Jones' Tearooms. Mt Glorious has three restaurants: Mt Glorious Restaurant, just off Mt Glorious Rd past the Fahey Rd intersection, the Mount Glorious Cafe on Mt Glorious Rd, and Elm House Cafe just past Maiala National Park picnic ground.
Every Sunday morning there are also markets down at the Ferny Grove train station and large farmers markets over in Fernvale.
Water is a big deal for mountain residents. Most household water will be rain water from your roof. Many people have to buy supplementary water from Samford. To avoid the expense and inconvenience of buying water (not to mention having to drink chlorinated water) there are many adaptations residents can make – high speed showering, filling a basin near the water heater for face washing and shaving (this gives water saving and also saves on electric power for water heating because there is no wastage of the initial cold water from the hot tap, and no long pipes of unused hot water), mulching of plants in the garden, hand washing of small amounts of washing and using the machine only for its spin function.
Many houses are dependent on electric pumps which do not work in our not-infrequent blackouts. Alternative supplies are useful such as a small tank filled by the pump and which provides gravity pressure. This water tank could be useful in a fire emergency where the power has to be turned off.
Water, water, everywhere
(Chris Leonard, Mountain News)
I guess with all of the recent rain that has fallen the last thing people want to hear about is water but here goes.
Virtually everyone on the Mountain depends upon rainwater collection for their water supply and so a favourite topic at BBQs is guttering, tanks and the pros and cons of the latest gismos, in the market place. Newcomers should consider these points when initially building, or in my case modifying the existing set up to gain the best results.
Guttering: Little thought is given to this most crucial element. The vast majority of houses here are put up by city builders who use standard size guttering. Plumbers. for aesthetics, try to lay guttering as straight as possible without consideration for a good "fall" and the hand-nipping situation where the roof sheets overhang the gutter so much. It is a nightmare to clear them out.
Over the years I have tried the various "Gutter Guard" on the market and my conclusions are that where you get a reasonable to heavy leaf fall, they just don't work. The theory is great but to anyone who has an interest in this subject it is not just leaves that block gutters but the "fines" - gum blossom, dust, seeds etc.
There is no getting away from regular cleaning but if you have a good "fall", above standard size gutters and a good clearance with roof overhang, the job will be a lot easier, with the gutters being, to a degree, self cleaning and more water where it should be – in your tanks. Here's two ideas that can be adapted to most situations.
Rainwater Heads: These devices [see below, left] can be fitted anywhere on your downpipe. For example, I have 4 main downpipes so for convenience, two are mounted at approximately 1.5 m from ground level and two at verandah level so that I can easily check the water flow whilst it is raining. By making a "break" in your downpipe and fitting one of these, the water falls into a receptacle which has a fine stainless steel screen. This means your water is filtered better and you avoid getting your water tank screen blocked causing the water to overflow - a heartbreaking sight! These devices are available from BBC hardware at Enoggera for around $19.95 each and are good value. They are designed for 90mm downpipe so you may also need to purchase an adaptor to fit your particular pipe. Cleaning them out is a breeze.
Rainwater Diverter: Picture this, it has been dry for some weeks and that promising rain turns into a shower that lasts two minutes and all it succeeds in doing is washing all of the dust and garbage off your roof and into the tanks. No more! For around $25.00, if you have to buy the fittings, install one of these gismos and all you get is clean water. This design [see above, right] is based on 90mm PVC pipe because anyone can put it together - in fact I made one this week in under an hour using pipe offcuts and fittings I already had. Paint it up and they look a million dollars. My sketch shows a typical situation which can easily be adapted to suit yours.
Instead of the initial "flush" flowing directly to your tank it drops to ground level and into a 90 degree bend which is approximately one metre long: a screw cap is fitted at the end of this bend so if all you get is a shower, the pipe will partially fill but no water flows to the tank unscrew the cap and drain the water out - you will be surprised what you will see. If it keeps raining, the pipe fills until it reaches the T-piece and overflows to the tank but the majority of debris is trapped down in the bottom bend.
As the saying goes ... Every home should have one! These two proven ideas are relatively cheap, easy to fit and really work and no, I'm not a used car salesman.
Give Me Water, and Lots of it
(By Bruce Teakle)
It's never the same having a shower at my parent's place in Brisbane. Unlike our home at Mt Glorious, where we bask in the comfort of wood heated rainwater showers, my family must shower in chlorinated dam water, pumped for tens of kilometers from dams which cover flooded countryside, and processed in huge treatment plants. Not only does the water come from questionable sources, but its future is hardly something to be proud of: mixed with poo and wee, processed with another huge energy using plant, and dumped in the sea.
I've been cooking up a scheme for a while to do some thing about all this. The obvious first step seems to be to reduce the household water consumption by reusing the waste water on the garden. The "grey water", as it's called, from laundry. kitchen and shower could be put on Mum and Dad's garden, instead of using new drinking-quality water.
Some of my neighbours on the mountain have a little concrete tank where all the greywater is collected. There is a pump which sprays it onto the garden.
How to calculate how much water your house collects
You can calculate the amount of water gathered by your roof. The rainfall in millimetres by multiplied by the roof catchment area in square metres equals the number of litres; thus 12mm (half an inch) of rain on a catchment area of 350 square metres should give 4,200 litres (or about one fifth of an average tank).
By looking at the rainfall figures, you can estimate whether your tank storage is sufficient, or whether you need to modify your water usage. Alan Tarbit (Mountain News) noted that "although your roof may collect sufficient yearly rain water, it usually comes in bursts at the beginning of the year and so sufficient storage is necessary to hold water for the dry spells. Many of us know this only too well! We also discovered, when our offspring graduated from being juveniles - at which age washing is something to be avoided if possible - to teenage, when a long time under the shower became the norm and clean clothes once or twice a day a "necessity", that our water consumption rose dramatically." In the 1980s, the lean months were from June to August.
In the absence of normal sewerage disposal, there is a need to deal with "greywater" waste (from bathroom and kitchen sinks, showers, etc.) and "blackwater" waste (from toilets). Until recently houses commonly included a greywater collection tank and a septic system. Greywater is simply collected in the tank and sprinkled onto vegetation for disposal. Septic systems include a large sullage-tank which settles out solids, with the blackwater leeching through a constructed sand bed from the sullage-tank into the ground where bacteria to deal with it. To ensure proper functioning, these sullage-tanks require periodic pumping out as part of their ongoing maintenance and there are restrictions regarding what can be flushed down such systems.
In an effort to minimise possible pollution from human waste disposal, the Moreton Bay Regional Council, along with other Councils around the country, are now becoming much more restrictive in what types of disposal are permissible. New systems may no longer use aerial spraying to dispose of greywater and traditional septic systems are now prohibited in new dwellings.
Fortunately Councils are also much more interested in good alternatives. Composting toilets of most standard designs are allowed (and many reduce water consumption since they are dry systems), as are complete in-ground treatment systems dealing with combined waste – many of which treat the waste-water to a quality enabling its re-use. Low cost, low technology reed-bed treatment systems (for both grey- and blackwater), trialled extensively in northern New South Wales by Southern Cross University, are also now being trialled in the Shire with some approved for use.
(From the Dayboro Grapevine and Bruce Teakle, Mountain News)
Toilets, and what we do in them, is a subject that gets very little adult attention these days. Up to the age of about 15, children seem to find it hard to stop talking about it, but after that it seems to become a distinctly unpopular topic.
Sewage has had a lot of attention lately, but the discussion seems to focus on how to get rid of it, without thinking very hard about what we are trying to get rid of. The most important part of sewage is, of course, what we put into toilets. This is colloquially known as poo and wee. When we eat food, some of it is absorbed into our bodies and provides nutrients for living. Waste and excess, notably nitrogen compounds, are excreted in the urine. The food that isn't absorbed just passes to the large intestine where several hundred type of micro-organisms further metabolise it, much of the bulk of faeces being microbes.
Poo and wee have all the fertility that went into the plants that made the food. This fertility is precious, in a country as infertile as ours. We use huge quantities of fossil fuel energy to catch nitrogen from the air and process it into a form we can put onto the fields. In nature, and in traditional farming, this fertility is recycled many times over before it is gradually lost down the river in floodwater. Animals eat plants, and then return the fertility to the plants in the form of poo, wee, and eventually their dead bodies. Natural systems are very careful to guard their nutrients carefully- look at the roots in rainforest soil, and imagine being a bit of plant food trying to escape past without being noticed. Humans are unusual animals in the way they waste the fertility of their food.
Overall, as long as we use a bit of care, we can quite safely use our home made fertility to grow plants. There are many ways to process the poo and wee, but the one which stands out as most sensible is the composting, toilet. Instead of having a bowl of fresh water under the seat, the composting toilet has a chamber in which the bodily wastes, along with other compostable materials like kitchen scraps, paper, etc. are allowed to compost for up to a couple of years until they are gradually withdrawn for use in the garden. As well as saving fertility, a large proportion of the household's water use is avoided.
Disadvantages? Well, the hardest bit is to change our attitude to our toilets. Instead of flush and forget, it is not hard to learn to take a concern for the new compost heap, worry over whether to add some more grass clippings, agitate for when it's time to take out a bucket full of compost for the citrus trees. Does this mean anything for Dayboro or Samford or anywhere else? It's up to them. There are many choices in every situation, not just the ones which seem the most expedient at the time. "Flush and forget" doesn't solve a problem, it just sends it somewhere else.
Toilet tip of the month: Wee is one of the best liquid fertilisers for the garden and orchard. It has low disease risk, very quickly available nutrients, and you can make it yourself. If you use a bucket of sawdust to collect wee in, the sawdust will stop the smell, and contribute to the soil when it's all tipped on the garden. This is a concentrated brew, so dilute it before applying, and wash it in well afterwards.
In the absence of a garbage collection service residents must deal with household waste themselves. This has presented an opportunity, taken up by residents, to manage waste effectively by recycling much of what is typically sent to landfills.
The communities of Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious share a Waste Transfer Station. Residents are "encouraged" (in the strongest possible terms) to separate out "garbage" into non-recyclable waste, glass, tin, car batteries, waste oils, paper and associated recyclables (e.g. plastic bottles, etc.), or clothing, and to then dispose of each into its appropriate receptacle provided at the Station. There is also a place, Treasure Island, where residents can leave unwanted items that may be of use to other residents (e.g. kitchen appliances, old tools, etc.)
Garden waste is also handled at the Station, however residents are urged to treat dangerous weed plants as non-recyclable waste and to dispose of them accordingly. I.e. the diligent resident who digs out dangerous weeds from their garden should dispose of them as if they were the threat that they actually are and not leave them with other plant material at the tip where they may invade surrounding bushland. (See the discussion of feral plants for further discussion of dangerous weeds.)
The Transfer Station does not accept builder's waste (which must be deposited at the Samford or other rubbish tip).
Composting kitchen waste provides residents with a means for reducing their disposable waste while producing valuable material for the garden.
Mountain mail is handled through the Mt Nebo Post Office and delivered by local contractors to most households. Some residents make use of the Post Office boxes and collect their mail from there. Bulky, undeliverable items are generally kept at Samford Post Office and householders are notified to collect it from there.
Schools & School Bus Service
The only school on the mountain is the Mt Nebo Primary School, on Mt Nebo Rd. It caters for students from Prep through to Grade 7. The Steiner School in Samford is the nearest alternative school. Many high school students travel off the mountain to the Gap High School and other high schools in Brisbane, traveling on the school bus service.
The school bus service to and from The Gap currently runs services as follows. There is an early morning bus from Mt Nebo down to The Gap (arriving approximately 7am) and another later service also down to The Gap (arriving approximately 8:30am). There are two afternoon return services (departing The Gap at approximately 3:15pm and 4:30pm).
There is also a local bus service to and from Mt Nebo Primary School, collecting students from along the range in the morning and returning them in the afternoons.
After School Care
There is an after-school care facility on weekdays during the school term. For further details on these services see the information provided by the Mt Nebo School.
Driving on Mountain Roads
Drivers on local mountain roads need to bear in mind some special problems that can arise. The roads are narrow and winding, with few places to overtake and very steep drop-offs. Traffic speeds vary enormously between commuting locals (familiar with the roads) and sight-seeing tourists (who may be travelling a very slow speeds), with the ever-present risk of high-speed motorcycles. Patience is required – remember, dangerous maneuvers may risk life and limb for a time-saving of only a couple of minutes travelling time. Drivers should:
Pull over to let faster traffic pass.
Weather conditions can also present dangers. Wet and foggy conditions are often encountered and demand appropriate driving behaviour.
It is wise to drive with lights on (day or night) in foggy conditions (some say always).
After heavy rain, it is not uncommon for minor landslides to deposit rocks on the road, and large trees will sometimes fall across the road. Drivers should bear in mind that:
There may be dangerous obstacles just around the next corner.
Lastly, the abundance of local wildlife means it may frequently be encountered on roads. High speeds will often result in road-kills. This may also attract further wildlife onto the road to feed on the carcass. Drivers should:
Be aware there may be wildlife on the road.
Roadkill should be removed from the road to avoid further deaths.
Drivers might consider using wildlife deterrent whistles which emit a high-pitched sound inaudible to human ears at vehicle speeds above about 50km/hr.
(Condensed from Cassian Humphreys, Mountain News)
In SE Queensland there is little virgin forest left. What we see in our bushland is various stages of regrowth. Part of the damage that was done was the infiltration of our native bushland by introduced plants which became "weeds". Therefore most people view our native bushlands, Australia's floral heritage as a "straggly mess", compared to the pristine plant communities that were once here, that is a reasonable summary.
Because of Australia's shallow infertile soils, the plant flora that evolved here, evolved to be diverse (since 'development' of SE Queensland there are still over 4,000 species native here). The diversity is integral to what was once the "pristine forest", due to the soils the plants supported each other by association with bacteria, fungi, soil organisms, micro-organisms and each other. Where the systems (or plant systems as I term them) have been breached by "development", stress on a grand scale has occurred.
The regrowth that has resulted did so on those poor nutrient weak soils. Many understorey plants in much regrowth is only just starting to regenerate now. It is my belief that except for patches of "virgin" forest remaining the flora of Australia is under a stress that left to its own devices (i.e. without management) would take hundreds of years of regeneration to repair itself. Therefore, we have an impaired model to observe in Australian nature.
Back to our domestic gardens, we also have an impaired model since the majority of our urban flora is from other locations in the world, other countries. Each species of plant has been designed by the environment it evolved in. Each plant had its own set of plants and soil organisms to associate with.
As we have all seen with our introduced plants that without the control, i.e. fertilisers, irrigation systems, growth regulators, pesticides, soil improvers etc, we have plants that become stressed and fail. Those same plants in the plant systems they evolved in like Australian flora required no management, maintenance or control.
Control is also necessary with those plants that grow "too well" in our climate. Control such as repeated pruning, root barriers, growth regulators, herbicides etc etc. Those plants in their natural plant systems would have had their growth "monitored" by their natural environments. Essentially in its "pristine" state nature is functional, no energy is wasted, a fallen leaf by one plant is nutrition for another.
With the right kind of help, by planting the right plant in the right place, nature can be healed sooner. We can have gardens which function, by working with nature, creating plant systems. This means beautiful uplifting gardens, with low to no maintenance irrigation system free, and wildlife attraction.
I define a plant system as the plant component of an ecosystem. A group of plants that are indigenous to the area they are growing in have evolved together, support and associate with each other. A plant system is a self maintaining, self perpetrating system that is by nature functional. Of course regarding water requirements, a plant that is growing in the area of its evolution, in the right environment, will only need the water that falls from the sky.
Some introduced plants have naturalised, are non competitive, fit in with Australia's flora. Others that are established, and do not propagate themselves, can fit in with a plant system. It is only the weed species which are to be removed. Where an introduced plant is to be retained a plant system is to be of a compatible theme for function to occur. In conclusion of this article I believe the history of horticulture has led us to this point. when we will start to work with nature rather than continue to control and contain her. I am committed to research of SE Queensland plant systems, the co-creation of such systems, care of our established trees and education of the public. I have been running Tree Care for the last 5 years. Tree Care is now the arboricultural division of Naturaculture. Naturaculture is Latin for the culture of nature.
Native Plant Nurseries, Growers and Advice
15 Bunya Pine Crt, Eatons Hill. Ph: 32643953.
Large range of local natives at cheap prices.
Paten Park Native Nursery
57 Paten Rd, The Gap. Ph: 33006304.
Large range of local natives at cheap prices.
Native Plants Queensland, Samford Branch
Meets first Tuesday each month (except Jan.), C.W.A. Hall, Main St., Samford, 7:30pm.
Fruit and Vegetables
Residents wishing to grow fruit and vegetables will have to compete with the local wildlife for the produce. Those not wanting to share their hard-won produce employ barriers such as netting or wire-enclosures to keep out wildlife. This also prevents the spread of these introduced species into surrounding bushland. (Residents should be aware that there may be some risk of animals becoming caught in such barriers and perishing, and take precautions/design to avoid this – e.g. by ensuring any netting is taught with no loose margins.)
The frequent and sensible practice of mulching gardens to retain moisture, keep out weeds and improve soil condition presents special dangers in the bushland environment here on the range. As with anything brought into the local environment from "outside", there is a risk of introducing plant and animal pests. Mulch might include weeds seeds, cuttings or tubers which provide a means of weed invasion. Pests such as fire ants might hitch a ride in the material. If mulch is brought in then it is advisable to let it stand and "cook" at high temperature. This not only helps to kill pests but will also decrease the problem of nitrogen uptake from your soils when "green" (fresh) mulch is placed directly on gardens where it then draws up nitrogen when it breaks down.
What Not to Grow
If one lives on the range to enjoy the forest environment then one should bear in mind that a major cause of its degradation is our habit of bringing in plants which invade and degrade the forests (in some cases, smothering and killing it).
Residents should bear in mind that many of the garden plants and pot plants they may be used to growing in the city present a real threat when grown in or near our forests. (See the discussion of feral plants for more information on species likely to pose a threat. More detailed assistance and advice can be obtained by contacting MEPA, firstname.lastname@example.org.) It is often safest to simply not grow such plants. If you do want to grow plants (native or otherwise) from outside the local area, then you should closely monitor them for their weed-potential and control them where appropriate. Above all, do not simply throw unwanted plants or plant-material into adjoining bushland. Many serious weed problems in the surrounding forests are caused by such reckless behaviour.
If you are unsure about the weed-potential of a particular plant species then you are strongly encouraged to seek advice.
Wild Animals in the Home
Having placed our houses in the middle of wild animal habitat, it should come as no surprise to learn that wild animals may pass through our houses from time to time. Memorable instances have involved goannas, funnel-web spiders and scrub turkeys, as well as the more usual tree-frogs, antechinus and birds of all sorts. Such episodes can lead to problems and residents should bear the possibility in mind when going out, etc.
(Alexa Doessel in Mountain News)
We always knew we had a resident antechinus. We'd see evidence of it in different areas around the house. Once it brushed against a small painting which was standing against the bedroom wall. It fell on top of her, trapping her. We heard a great scurry in the middle of the night and tracked it to the fallen painting. She took off in such a hurry when released. More recently, we had seen her out of the corner of our eye darting across the room. Last week our daughter stayed overnight and being unaccustomed to our beautiful cool nights went in search of an extra blanket which was stored in the top shelf of the wardrobe in the spare room. She gave a great shout "Something jumped out of the wardrobe and hit me on the shoulder, a bat or something!". We knew what it was of course, and on further examination, found a nest of leaves amongst the blankets.
Next day I cleaned the wardrobe out and washed the blankets, hoping to persuade her to go elsewhere. The nest was a bit of a worry as we took it to mean she either had or was having babies. All was quiet until the weekend when I went looking for Christmas wrappings to wrap the Christmas presents. On opening the cupboard, I noticed a rather unpleasant smell. Thinking it was my husband's shoes which he keeps in large cane basket (although in fairness to him in thirty odd years had never noticed such a smell). I pulled the basket out only to find fresh droppings on the cupboard floor. I cleaned that up but still the odour persisted. I pulled out the paper bags in which the Christmas paper was kept - now the smell was very strong indeed. Yes, there in the bottom of one of the bags amongst the ribbon and tinsel was a family of Antechinus. I quickly closed the top of the bag knowing I could not handle them on my own. When my husband came home he prepared a box of straw and leaves hoping to transfer them to a more suit able place. At this stage we did not know if the mother was with them as they were huddled up in a ball of fluff. With the help of a torch and our glasses we found a pathetic sight indeed. Six babies clinging to a dead mother. As the young were quite lively and the droppings quite fresh we concluded that she had died only in the last twenty four hours or less. They had to be prised from the mother, they clung desperately and complained bitterly. I then placed them into an old woollen water bottle cover. What do with six little orphans on a Saturday afternoon! I had raised a baby flying fox some years ago but here were six mouths to feed and of course time was running out. We rang Parks and Wildlife who gave us the number of the Orphaned Native Wild Life. A wonderful lady, Helen Luckhoff (who had helped me with the Flying Fox) quickly located a foster home in our area. We bundled our babies into the car and drove to meet Joyce at the Samford turn off. She arrived with the prepared formula and an army of teenagers to help - they started feeding immediately. So our babies are in very good hands indeed. It would have been a different story had I not decided to wrap the Christmas presents when I did!
Most residents burn wood for heating in winter. Some even cook all year with wood stoves. Dead wood is an important part of forest systems but, with much of our local forest now a national park, it is illegal to take wood from these forests. Cut firewood can be purchased, but some fallen timber can occasionally be garnered from road reserves (where its removal performs a useful community service by clearing obstructions).
Firewood should be stored under shelter to dry and thus give more heat. (It should be away from the house to reduce risk to the home during bushfire.) An enclosed stove is more efficient than an open fire.
Cutting Firewood Safely
(Chris Leonard, Mountain News)
As one who has had a wood heater supplying our heating needs for many years, a good quality chainsaw was on of my first purchases when coming to live onto the mountain. A chainsaw is quite a powerful piece of equipment which has the potential to cause horrific injury. I guess it took me a couple of years of experience to become proficient in its use and feel comfortable when I handle it. I still treat it with a very healthy respect.
Cutting up small logs or branches for firewood always seemed to me anyway to be an area of concern because cutting them up on the ground meant having to lay them over another log or offcut to get clearance and then use a foot to hold it steadily. Being continually bent over in this position and armed with a live chainsaw made me feel a little uneasy to say the least! Somewhere in years gone by when it wasn't relevant I had read about someone with a similar dilemma.
Making use of what I had in my shed, I came up with a design which I have been using successfully for many years. It consists of a 300mm long x 200mm wide piece of steel channel bolted or welded to a pipe of suitable strength which is concreted into the ground. The height is set to whatever is comfortable for you without bending.
Logs or branches are placed at their mid-point in the channel and a chain which is welded to one side of the channel is passed over the log. A truckie's load binder with one end bolted half way down the post is used to tension the chain and hold the log so that it cannot move.
This design can be modified to use available materials and could even be made portable. It could be made for under $60 if second-hand material were purchased. Mine was made from those "come in handy one day" scraps.
Traffic in Closely Settled Areas
Many residents are concerned with the heavy traffic through closely settled areas at weekends, especially through Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious villages. This is an ongoing problem which has not been solved by the "gateways" and "speed gardens" with coloured pavement (some have asked whether these indicate wild pig crossings!). In the interests of pedestrians, the community continues to tackle the problem of finding ways to change speed behaviour on local roads.
Only one form is needed to enroll on local, state and federal electoral rolls. Forms are available at post offices, e.g. Mt Nebo or Samford.