FIDO now has three projects running on Fraser Island, with the development of Happy Valley as a project in its own right. It is a busy program but one that we are managing quite well at the moment. However we are always seeking more volunteers to become engaged and to feel some ownership of how the island is being managed. We are also seeking people interested in volunteer leading teams in the future.
The George Haddock Track Project is in partnership with the National Parks Association of Queensland and has got off to a flying start. In March, a team of 17 volunteers went to work on renovating the Lake Allom barracks as a base for working on this project on the sixth anniversary of George Haddock’s death. The barracks had been abandoned because the QPWS, with a base at Dundubara, had no use for them as the Forestry department had. The team of volunteers cleared the precinct to reduce fire risk and secured the two out-buildings which are to be used for storage of plant and equipment. A tank has been installed and the building made firm and secure. There is still work to be done on the building to seal some small leaks that developed in the roof but the work coincided with the breaking of the drought and problems with the generator meant that two more days of use of power tools were denied. Work has also been done on opening up some of the sections of the proposed walking tracks that were formerly roads.
The work is expected to be further advanced in June and October with the building work program completed in June and October focussed entirely on track work. People interested in joining in the work should contact me by email for details on up-coming programs. FIDO and NPAQ are particularly appreciative of the support for this project particularly from the QPWS which has not only provided Friends of Parks funding, but helped resurrect the septic system in the barracks and provided transport and other support. We are also appreciative of the support of the Kingfisher group for ferry transport.
Eurong Bush Regeneration and Monitoring: By the time FINIA next meets, FIDO will have just concluded two more week-long weeding operations one based in Eurong, the other in Happy Valley.
Our monitoring program has been given a boost because we have been given a grant that will enable the installation of rain gauges at Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora) and Central Station. The new gauges will not only record the aggregate rainfall but the intensity of downpours because it is the heavier downpours that are scouring out the roads and responsible for the greatest volume of sediment movement.
FIDO’s work at Eurong is also benefitting from a partnership with the QPWS. In the past an area of public land where all sorts of rubbish was thrown. It has become a haven for some of the worst weeds but it is difficult and dangerous for volunteers to fight their way through the many obstacles to deal with the weeds. QPWS has come to our aid with a tractor that will clean up the site and make it safe and possible to deal with any further weed infestation in this area in future. FIDO has received tremendous cooperation from Eurong landholders that have enabled us to almost eliminate Brazilian Cherries and Easter Cassia as well as a few other weed pests from private property. There are still a few landholders who have yet to take up our offer to rid their properties of invasive weed plants, but the number is continuing to diminish. In the meantime, thanks to the continuing cooperation of Eurong Resort and the Kingfisher and QPWS nurseries, the landscape around Eurong is steadily becoming more natural. Experiencing the driest winter, spring and summer on record though has reduced plant survival.
Happy Valley: Because FIDO views the threat of Abrus so seriously, dealing with this problem in Happy Valley has become a top priority. We have recruited the recently retired Peter Shooter to lead our operations in Happy Valley. As well as the trip from 11th to 17th May, Peter is planning another trip from 7th to 13th September and possibly another in November.
In February, FIDO initiated and evaluated the best ways for treating the problem. The evidence suggests that Abrus seeds have been dispersed by dingoes. This would account for the isolated occurrence up to 500 metres from the main centre of infestation. Therefore our first priority is to find and eliminate all infestations outside the dingo fence to prevent any more widespread dispersal. We trialled four different treatments: cut down, cut and paint with glycophosphate, root out (very slow, hard and not successful) and spraying with glycophosphate. The latter conclusively proved both the most efficient and the most effective treatment and it is the method employed by FIDO’s May working group.
Because of the prodigious seed dropped in recent years we expect to regularly return to the currently infested areas and treating new outbreaks for the next few years as well as trying to eliminate this most poisonous plant from inside Happy Valley. While dealing with Abrus, FIDO volunteers are also on the lookout and ready to deal with other weeds in Happy Valley. We appreciate the support given to us by the Happy Valley Resort and Kingfisher.
John Sinclair (Fraser Island Defenders Organisation)