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Volunteering with FIDO at Eurong

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FIDO has been organising volunteer weed control trips to Eurong for many years. Led by Su Dawson, the following summarises the most recent trip with volunteers Ross Webster, Mike and Mars Oram.

Starting on Tuesday, 17 August 2021, our planned K’gari work trip to Eurong was postponed due to a COVID-19 lockdown. Catching the 1.00pm ferry to Kingfisher, Su provided each of us with a simple but delicious pre-made COVID-safe lunchbox with fresh salad and bbq chicken.

We first drove to the K’gari World Heritage Discovery Centre that opened in March 2021 at Kingfisher Bay Resort. A series of information panels curated by USC staff and students detailing the complex ecosystems of this natural phenomenon led to the island’s World Heritage listing in 1992. Several panels document John Sinclair’s and FIDO’s work, with many of John’s photos displayed.

Arriving at the eastern beach at 3.30pm, our first stop was the FIDO run nursery. Ranger Barry was asked to unlock some gates enabling us to work in and outside the dingo fence during the week before checking into our accommodation, San Antonio.

A familiar visitor at San Antonio, the bush stone curlew (Photo: FIDO)

On Day 2, we were greeted by a bush stone thick-knee (curlew) staring in the sliding door. This curlew is always at San Antonio. It was an early breakfast and early start, weeding at the new toilet ramp area. We then moved to the native plant garden at the main beach entrance. The gardens were full of thistle, dandelion, fleabane and crows foot grass, and we pulled out six full bags.

After morning tea, we went outside the dingo fence in front of the old Sinclair home, Talinga. This area is usually quite wet and swampy, but not today. Ross, Greg and Mars attacked the Easter Cassias bagging thousands of seed pods and cutting back and painting the stumps with the herbicide Vigilant, working for three hours. Mike and Su attacked two extensive stands of lantana at the dingo grid in front of Talinga.

Greg and Mike took all the bags to the tip, amused by several mattresses occupied by lace monitors. Su finished off the lantana, and Ross weeded the area next to Easton St before Greg and Ross went to the nursery to select plants for the Orchid Beach general store for their gardens. Peta, from Orchid Beach, collected the plants and was happy with the variety and size.

FIDO volunteers hard at work (Photo: FIDO)

Day 3, we headed to Residential (Second) Valley’s Singapore Alley, named after the original heavy infestation of Singapore daisy. We found some excellent areas of healthy native vegetation with flowering Melastoma (blue tongue) and part of the hill with flowering yellow paper daisy plants. We started removing sisal, ground asparagus, praxelis before tackling several patches of Easter cassia with many thousands of seed pods. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were not able to finish it all. Easter cassia and ground asparagus need to be followed up, and coral creeper needs to be sprayed as it is very widespread. Moving to the other side of the dingo fence, Su and Mars pulled out some periwinkle and then found cassia covered in seed pods. Greg, Ross and Mike had started on a larger patch of Easter cassia, joining forces to bag the seed pods before pulling out the plants or using “cut and paste” where they were too big to be pulled. We filled three bags with seed pods before it was time to go, but there were still many cassia plants left to do.

View from the Barracks, Lake Allom (Photo: FIDO)

Greg, Mike, Ross and Mars went for a walk along the beach to Second Valley and back via the old nature walk, picking up rubbish off the beach and a few weeds along the way. Su went to the firebreak to spray coral creeper seedings.

Day 4, we left Eurong at 7.45am to visit the western beach via Lake Allom, where we checked the Harold Charles Barracks. It was clear to see how close the fires had come to the hut, but everything else looked good. Ross cut back a blackened melaleuca near the hut before all the bracken fern in front and to the side of the hut was removed for fire hazard reduction. An amazing number of seedlings grew under the bracken fern, such as flowering Dianella, lady’s slipper (a lovely purple flower), hovea and wattle. We walked up to the water tank and saw more of the burned vegetation.

We continued on our way to Woralie creek campgrounds, 35 minutes from the Barracks. There were more visible burnt banksias in the wallum area with bright green regrowth and spring flowers of the purple/pink boronia, white rice, and yellow pea. When we reached the western beach, the weather was fine with clouds and stunning blue water. We drove to the next creek north, Bowarrady Creek, and had a brief stop to look at ancient preserved satinay trees covered by sand for hundreds of years that are now exposed on the beach before driving north to the coloured sands. A quick stop for a look and photo opportunity at Knife Blade sand blow, and we were off again. At about 3.30pm, we arrived back and picked up a range of plants from the nursery to plant the next day.

Day 5, we planted a selection of plants in front of the new toilet building Dianella, swamp banksia, Hoya, river Lilly, snake vine, fan flower and soap bark tree. Mike updated the signs on the notice board. Greg and Ross brought in two small tree logs for the Hoya’s to grow over, adding some structure to the landscape.

Once that was all done and watered, we went back to Singapore Alley. Greg and Su sprayed coral creeper for about 300m2, while Mars, Ross and Mike attacked Easter cassia.

After morning tea, we joined forces to continue picking the Easter cassia beans from the trees and ground, after which the trees were either pulled or “cut and pasted” with Vigilant. Su sprayed an area of painted spurge next to the dump, and Ross continued weeding at the hill near the water tanks, north of the dingo fence. Mike, Greg and Mars went for a beach walk and then weeded the Eurong garden bed north of the restaurant in front of the resort rooms. 

Day 6, we were up early, and Mars even went to see the sunrise. The first destination was the tip to drop seven bags of weeds and Easter cassia seeds. Then, Mike, Ross and Greg weeded a huge area of the natural bush from the tip eastward and along the dingo fence for lantana, Easter cassia and asparagus before focusing on the painted spurge west of the water tanks and finding Brazilian nightshade.

Volunteers enjoy some down time after a busy trip to Eurong with Su Dawson (Photo: FIDO)

Su and Mars drove to the nursery to pot up 83 seedlings before returning to the Eurong garden bed for an hour’s weeding. We finished the day by planting Dianella, snake vine and fan flower at Talinga. Finally, we enjoyed our last dinner at the Eurong restaurant to finish a productive trip to Eurong.      

At 3pm, Ranger Russ Simpkins had invited us for a talk on the dingo capture program. It was a fascinating talk, and we were shown the dingo traps, collars, cameras and even had a try at blowing the sedation darts (without the chemical and needle).

Across the five days, volunteers contributed 118.5 hours of work, collecting 16 bags of weeds, spraying 900m2 of weeds and planting 33 plants. It’s all in a week’s work for FIDO Eurong volunteers.

Contributed by Mars Osram, Fraser Island Defenders Organisation

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