WET SEASON JANUARY TO MARCH 2023
COMING EVENTS - COMMUNITY PLANTINGS
Saturday 14 January Wongabel, Kennedy Highway - 2800 trees (QPWS)
Saturday 21 January Wongabel, Kennedy Highway - 2800 trees (QPWS)
Saturday 4 February Dirrans End NRE Rock Road Upper Barron- 3000 trees (South Endeavour Trust)
Saturday 11 February Rail Trail Manthey Road Atherton- 1500 trees (TRC)
Saturday 18 February RN 239 Winfield Road Lake Eacham - 2500 trees (McAuliffe)
Saturday 25 February Massey Creek NP Ravenshoe - 1500 trees (QPWS)
Saturday 4 March RN 1450 Topaz Road Topaz - 1800 trees (Clarkson)
Saturday 25 March RN 304 Topaz Road Glen Allyn - 3000 trees (MacPherson)
Saturday 1 April RN 69 Pressley Road Lake Barrine - 3000 trees (Emms)
SET-South Endeavour Trust
TRC-Tablelands Regional Council
WTMA-Wet Tropics Management Authority
NQLMS-NQ Land Management Services
BCC-Barron Catchment Care
RRA-Rainforest Reserves Australia
All plantings start at 8am. Please car-pool as much as possible.
Bring a hat, sunscreen and water, plus gloves and a trowel if you have them.
Look for TREAT signs for directions when close to each planting.
A barbecue is usually provided after each planting.
Check for likely changes due to weather conditions.
TREAT members on the email list will receive updated information (To be on the list, email info@TREAT.net.au)
There are nine listed community plantings this season. There have been significant tree losses when trees have been planted in unexpected hot and dry conditions, despite them being watered after planting. Although the young trees are sun-hardened before planting, once planted they are on their own, more vulnerable to stress, and some inevitably die. A lot of time and effort is invested in growing the young trees, so avoiding unfavourable conditions for them makes sense. This year, plantings may be cancelled or postponed as necessary.
Wongabel plantings (Jan 14 & Jan 21)
Barron Catchment Care have helped regenerate Mabi forest at Wongabel for several years and these plantings are continuing their project there. They've organised funding through Terrain NRM's 'Building Rainforest Resilience' program, and last year also secured a grant from the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations. A planting on 10th December using this funding, was cancelled because of the hot dry weather at the time. With significant rain since, the trees have now been planted by NQLMS.
The plantings this season are next to the planting done last March, and site preparation is being done by NQLMS with assistance from the Reef Assist team, through WTMA funding. The trees are supplied by QPWS.
Parking will be at the walking track, where the BBQ will also be held.
Dirrans End NR planting (Feb 4)
TREAT last planted here in 2018. South Endeavour Trust have continued with habitat enhancement and expansion since then, contracting NQLMS. This year SET have secured funding from the Queensland government's Land Restoration Fund, to plant a total of 30,000 trees with 3000 planted by the community. The site for the planting this year is next to the 2018 site, but on a gentler slope. NQLMS will be doing the site preparation and sourcing the trees.
Parking will be on Rock Road from where we'll walk to the site.
Rail Trail planting (Feb 11)
Volunteers have been planting trees alongside the rail trails in Atherton for about 4 years. Last year they secured some funding from the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations to plant a section of the Atherton to Walkamin rail trail, from Mazlin Creek to Beantree Road. The volunteers have now planted from Mazlin Creek to Manthey Road, and the community planting will continue the section from Manthey Road. The newly formed group T4 (Tableland Tracks, Trails and Trees) will have holes augered for planting the trees, sourced from TRC, Peter and Trixie Tuck and TREAT.
Parking will be beside the trail, off Manthey Road, and the BBQ will be held nearby.
McAuliffe planting (Feb 18)
This planting will be adjacent to last year's planting and funding is again from Terrain NRM through their 'Building Rainforest Resilience' program. Site preparation will again be done by Mark McCaffrey and the trees supplied by TRC (1700) and QPWS (800).
Parking will be on the verge of Winfield Road.
Massey Ck planting (Feb 25)
This year the planting will be over the ridge from last year's site. It is expected to be the last new site on the western side of Massey Creek. Future years will see plantings on the eastern side of Massey Creek, further along the Old Palmerston Highway.
Follow the TREAT signs at the wind farm on the Kennedy Highway.
Clarkson planting (Mar 4)
Last year, John and Marion increased the area of their Galaji NR to 27.42 ha, which is more than half their property. The trees to be planted this year will be within the NR area and next to where we planted last year. They have again secured funding through a Nature Refuge program. Site preparation will be done by Mark McCaffrey and John, trees will be supplied by TRC , and bales of mulch will be on site at the planting.
Parking will be on the property.
MacPherson planting (Mar 25)
For some years, John and Natasha have been fencing off creeks from cattle on their property and planting trees with assistance from Andrew Lilley. Occasionally they've had funding from Terrain NRM. In November, TREAT & QPWS visited their place and looked at a creek gully which could form part of a potential corridor to link forest remnants to the north and south. This spring-fed creek flows into Malanda Creek which then joins the Johnstone River to the south. Their creek flows under the driveway leading to a shed on a hill.
John and Natasha are contracting Andrew to do the site preparation for the planting, and TREAT and QPWS have agreed to supply the trees.
Parking will be on the verge of Topaz Road and on the property.
Emms planting (Apr 1)
This planting will again be in the fenced Cassowary Sanctuary and should finish consolidation of the previous plantings there. The Reef Assist team will be helping NQLMS with site preparation and the trees will mostly come from the RRA nursery at Emms.
WONGABEL STATE FOREST - Andrew Millerd
(Editor: This was presented at a Queen’s Jubilee Celebration event held by Barron Catchment Care at Halloran’s Hill on 29th October 2022)
Wongabel State Forest protects a remnant of endangered mabi forest (complex notophyll vine forest, type 5b Geoff Tracey and Len Webb), less than four per cent of which now remains. The name 'mabi' is derived from a local Aboriginal word for the Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo, the largest native mammal found in this rainforest.Wongabel State Forest encompasses 181 hectares of hoop, kauri and Caribbean pine plantations and 263 hectares of mabi forest. Hancock Queensland Plantations is responsible for management of the area under a licence agreement established in 2010.
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service manages the walking tracks and visitor infrastructure and will assume responsibility for areas that are returned once plantation harvesting has ceased.
Non Indigenous Heritage
In the early 1900s, commercially viable timber was removed from Wongabel State Forest. The land was then abandoned because it was considered too stony for agriculture. In 1903 the land was declared Crown Reserve and work began immediately on returning red cedars to the forest. Seedlings were relocated from forest between Atherton and Tolga and many are still visible today. This forestry plantation program was the first of its kind in Queensland.
The red cedar replanting program continued for three to four years before the area was again abandoned. Renewed efforts in 1911 saw a nursery established and plantings of a variety of species were conducted. During this time, Wongabel was established as the Atherton Tableland base for forestry. This work continued until 1917 when all plantation work ceased because of World War I.
It wasn't until around 1929, in the Depression, that planting restarted at Wongabel. Workers were employed under the labour employment scheme—similar to more recent 'work for the dole' schemes. Most of the plantings of this time were done during or soon after the Depression, ceasing when World War II began. It was during this time that hoop pines were first planted at Wongabel.
After World War II there was a long lapse in programmed plantings at Wongabel, with much work being conducted ad hoc and spasmodically. It wasn't until a forestry research branch was opened in Atherton that formal planting programs at Wongabel recommenced. The research branch looked at flowering patterns, growth rates, regeneration and recruitment, conducting much of their experimentation at Wongabel. These trials included under-planting southern silky oaks with red cedar, in an effort to control tip moths in the cedars. These plantings were well underway in the early 1950s and some are still evident today.
The old forestry nursery near Scrubby Creek. Photo: Picture Australia
Talk by District Forester Suttie to visiting timber men at Wongabel, 15 October 1954. Photo: Forestry Plantations Queensland
After these research trials, the lack of an ongoing planting program meant that the thinning and pruning of trees was not undertaken. The 1970s saw some thinning and harvesting but it did not continue. In the early 1990s, programmed harvesting began and continues today. By this time, some of the hoop pines were over 70 years old, well outside their usual average 40-year cycle.
In the 1980s, 190 tree species were numbered and used by new forestry employees as a training tool for rainforest tree identification.
Many forestry employees have made a significant contribution to the development of state forests. Forestry Inspector Sam Dansie was instrumental in setting up the rainforest tree identification trail as well as advocating and setting aside conservation areas, both within and outside state forests, because of their outstanding beauty or environmental significance.
The 2.5 km Wongabel walking track and the shorter 750 m walk that are still promoted and used today are a legacy of the rainforest tree identification trail.
Visitors to Wongabel are invited to take the 750 m walk through the forest or take the longer, 2.5 km heritage route. Signs tell of the history of the area, as well as forestry practices and local ecology. Look for Lunholtz’s tree-kangaroo and possums while spotlighting at night. The two tracks in Wongabel State Forest have been designed with consideration for walkers who are vision impaired.
Geology and landform
The volcanic features of the landscape on this part of the Atherton Tableland are between 10,000 years old (Pleistocene era) and 2 million years old (Pliocene era). As the volcanic rocks cooled and eroded, they formed the fertile basalt soils of today and were colonised by mabi forest. The forest floor of Wongabel is littered with basalt boulders. As a result, although the area was selectively logged, it was too stony to be cleared for agriculture.
Mabi forest occurs only on fertile basalt soils (high in phosphorus and calcium) in areas where rainfall is between 1300 mm and 1600 mm a year.
PLANTING TREES ON THE ATHERTON TABLELAND RAIL TRAILS - Peter Tuck
Friends of the Atherton Tableland Rail Trails was started in 2006 by David Leech, David Merrall and Peter Tuck. It took a further 8 to 10 years for the Atherton Tableland Rail Trail (ATRT) to be operational over the 20 km to Walkamin. Shortly after that the Friends group was disbanded.
There was renewed interest in the local trails when the first 1.7 km of the Atherton to Herberton Historic Rail (AHHR) was established in 2018, for use as a shared trail for cyclists, walkers, and rail section cars. (See TREAT newsletter Jan - Mar 2021)
Mareeba Shire Council joined in the action and in September 2022 the 7 km stretch from Mareeba town to Mareeba Airport was completed. During 2023 the remaining 7 km will be linked to Walkamin and the Tableland community will then enjoy a safe, contiguous 36 km rail trail for use by cyclists, walkers, and in places, horses.
Both the ATRT and AHHR have been the fortunate beneficiaries of significant tree plantings. From March 2019, members of the SAO’s (Sixties and Overs) cycling group commenced volunteering on both the AHHR and (later) the ATRT trails. In late 2022 we formalised the group’s name to T4 (Tableland Tracks, Trails and Trees) which confirms our volunteering objectives.
In mid 2022 Tableland Outdoor Recreation Association (TORA) were fortunate to receive a Federal Government funded grant to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee by way of a tree planting initiative.
The grant was to plant 2,500 Mabi species trees between Grove Street, Atherton and Beantree Road, Tolga along the Atherton Tableland Rail Trail, a distance of some 3 km. The importance of the plantings is that they are intended to link to existing Mabi forest, a nationally threatened ecological community, which is represented by a mere 1,050 ha of disconnected remnants on the planet. The location of these plantings will increase community awareness to protect Mabi forest, as well as recognise the significance of the Queen’s Jubilee.
Our hardy T4 volunteers group commenced these plantings in August 2022 and have now accumulated approximately 560 volunteer hours and planted close to 1,000 trees between Grove Street and Manthey Road. TREAT have kindly offered to assist in our endeavours, and on 11th February we hope to plant approximately 1,500 Mabi species along the balance of the rail trail to Beantree Road.
Over the past 4 years we have enjoyed collaboration from a number of quarters including TORA, TRC(Tablelands Regional Council), local tree lopping companies (supplying mulch), TREAT, QPWS, and NQLMS(NQ Land Management Services).
In early December 2022 the Queen’s Jubilee and commemorative tree planting event was held adjacent to Mazlin Creek bridge on the ATRT trail and was attended by approximately 60 persons. After talks from Tim Trehearn, TORA president, and Peter Tuck, volunteer coordinator, TRC mayor Rod Marti unveiled a plaque to honour the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and her life, and the group undertook a short walk to view current plantings.
Castanospermum australe is in the bean or legume family (Fabaceae) and its seeds (beans) are in a giant woody pod that is typical for legumes. The seeds are four or more cm in diameter with up to five or so in a pod.
The scientific name means ‘southern chestnut-like seed’. It vaguely resembles a European Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) rather than the edible European chestnut, Castanea. Its common names are also a bit misleading. In north Queensland it is known as Black Bean. However, it should not be confused with the black bean used in Asian cooking, which is made from fermented black soy beans.
Black Bean beans are actually cream in colour, and go green after a few days when exposed to light, which happens when the papery brown testa (skin) peels away. The black in the name probably refers to the timber, which is wonderfully multicoloured—with stripes of honey, brown and dark chocolate and black. I had a friend in Townsville who pulled up old vinyl in her miner’s cottage to reveal black bean floorboards which she polished to create a visual feast—no Persian rugs necessary.
Plant Profile – CASANOSPERMUM AUSTRALE BLACK BEAN - Dinah Hansman
In southern Australia it is known as Moreton Bay Chestnut, although the species is not indigenous to Moreton Bay, nor is it related to chestnuts. C. australe is poisonous to humans (and dogs), containing alkaloids and saponins that induce vomiting and diarrhoea. Aboriginal peoples developed a sophisticated technology for removing toxins which involved roasting, followed by pulverising, leaching in running water for several days, mashing and cooking to produce a nutritious damper.
C. australe is quite slow growing at first, but eventually will reach 35 or 40 m. They are magnificent trees, producing masses of flowers in November on the Tablelands (earlier in warmer coastal areas). The flowers are a classic bean-flower shape, starting off yellow, then turning orange and finally scarlet. Flowers are visited by a range of nectar-feeders, and are beloved by lorikeets in particular. Flowers are borne on branches (ramiflory) which makes it easier for large birds to pollinate them.
Seeds ripen over many months and ripe pods drop from the tree—a challenge to mower blades in parks. Seed should be checked for bore holes, especially if pods have been collected from the ground. It is better to collect intact, undamaged and unopened pods. Although pods are ripe as early as April or May they should be stored until after the spring equinox—seed planted earlier than this tends to rot. In the TREAT nursery seed is planted individually directly into super tubes, taking care to orient seeds so that the hilum (bum crack) is facing up and the place where the shoots and roots emerge makes contact with the potting mix.
Seeds germinate rapidly, and seedlings should be planted that same season—trees don’t do so well if they are held over until the following year.
C. australe can grow even further south in Australia and was planted in parks by more enlightened horticulturalists at the beginning of the previous century. There are some magnificent specimens in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, for example.
Freemans Forest NR
In 2013, weed gunnel (biodegradable woven matting) was used as a trial for weed control, and mats 50cm square were pegged around the planted trees. It was a time-consuming job and was done separately to the planting. The mats proved to be unsuccessful and after nearly 10 years, were also not breaking down. On Friday morning 28th October, before going to TREAT for morning tea, 11 of us made a start on removing many of them, into large bags for disposal.
A week later, on Saturday morning 5th November, a group of industrious volunteers met at the shed to do a tidy up of frost guards etc.
TREAT's new trailer that is used for the barbecues after plantings, now has TREAT's logo on both sides and the back, and the Rotary logo on the front (they donated $5,000 for the trailer).
The 2022 workshops went as smoothly as ever. We had 17 participants at the Tree ID and Seed Propagation workshop on 19th November at the nursery. Dinah Hansman presented the Tree ID section again, but this year, Tayla Croxford and Stuart Russell presented the Seed Propagation section as Peter Snodgrass was unavailable due to family commitments.
The Planting workshop on 3rd December at Freemans Forest NR had 12 participants. After the theory session and morning tea, all were keen to practise augering holes (chipping out any grass in the way first), planting a few trees (with fertiliser and water crystals), then mulching and watering them.
There was a good crowd and plenty of food at the nursery for TREAT's Christmas party on Friday 16th December. Mandy and Elizabeth had organised the food with extra contributions from TREAT members, and Ingrid brought along some great table decorations. After the weekly news from Angela and Peter, Shirley read a 'Solstice' poem and then Geoff had another of his poems for the occasion. This time it was all about pot washing and he acted out some bits.
PARTNERS IN GRIME
We meet in the back corner ev’ry Friday
We quietly assemble there, hidden away
We defend our position with icy-cold spray
Me, and my partners in grime.
Everyone knows us – the pot-washing band.
When you see someone in nursery land
With gum boots and apron and wrinkly hands
They’re one of the partners in grime.
We can’t wait to be here, we live to wash pots
Wielding our brushes, removing those spots
And then when we’re done, we go home to our cots
To dream of the wonders of grime.
Come planting season, surrounded by trays
And tall stacks of pots that fall ev’ry which way
We heave a great sigh and start counting the days
Till we’re done with the last of the grime.
Each Friday we get here, there’s more to be done
Pots come by the boxful, arrive by the ton
Decorated with spiders, or baked in the sun
And all of them covered in grime.
To get the pots clean we’ve been given a bin
We fill it with water for soaking them in
We give them a scrubbing, then to our chagrin
It’s us that’s now covered in grime.
The pay is quite lowly back there at the fence
Wet feet and chilblains are poor recompense
So, when it’s boiled down, you could say, in a sense
We live on the proceeds of grime.
We whinge when the pots come back jammed in a way
That means we need pliers, which takes us all day
When we get them apart, well they’re broke anyway
Still, that saves us washing some grime.
We’ve no friends in winter – guess that’s no surprise
The water’s too cold then; or so I surmise
But now, in December, they’re round us like flies
“Please spray us, ‘cos it’s summer time.”
It isn’t just pots that we find on our patch
There’s frogs, snakes and lizards we’ve all had to catch
And then find a place we can safely despatch
These stowaways rescued from grime.
Round about August (September some years)
We look all around and we break into cheers
‘Cos we’ve finally caught up and we’ve finished the year’s
Planting season’s long backlog of grime.
We know, come the new year, it all starts again
The mud and the trays and the pots and the rain
So, when we get behind, we’d just ask, please refrain
From abusing us partners in grime.
© Geoff Errey
NURSERY NEWS- Peter Snodgrass
2022 was a very busy year with a calendar full of special events. TREAT celebrated 40 years as a community revegetation group; who would have foreseen that they would become the main labour force behind community revegetation right across the tablelands, providing support for many restoration bodies throughout the region and supporting QPWS across the entire Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. QPWS has been fortunate to be in partnership with, and supporting TREAT for that same 40 year period; a relationship that has matured to form a very special and unique bond that has become a highly successful union. We certainly hope this team effort will continue, not just for another 40 years, but advance to achieve many bigger and beneficial outcomes for the environment.
The 2022 planting season went fairly smoothly overall, with some steady rain to help trees establish throughout many restoration sites. The much anticipated site at Wongabel attracted some undesirable frost, but has since been infilled by NQLMS/Reef Assist, and the site is now looking well on its way.
In December, nursery staff and staff from the dry tropics based at Yaramulla (Undara National Park) planted a small trial plot in the Forty Mile Scrub National Park to look at planting styles that may assist with restoration works for the area. Planting the site to coincide with the storm season will hopefully be successful in such harsh conditions.
The 2023 planting season for the tablelands begins mid-January, with the QPWS planting at Massey Creek scheduled for the 25th February. This planting will be approximately 1,500 trees and will be over the ridge from the previous 3 years with the possibility of a few infills in new sites from last year. This year’s site will be the last new site in this area of Massey Ck. Once we are satisfied with the sites on the western side of the Massey Ck area, we will be moving over the creek and further along the Old Palmerston Highway onto the eastern section. This will probably be in 2025 – 2026.
I would like to thank Tayla Croxford for her outstanding contribution to nursery operations since December 2021 through to 18th November 2022. While part of the Restoration Services team, Tayla also acted in my previous role as 2IC (2nd In Charge)/004 where she played a major role in implementing the 2022 Massey Creek restoration works from start to finish. Tayla also mapped out the 15 ha Wongabel site for future restoration, monitoring and fire management. Tayla’s contract term with the nursery ended on the 18th November, but she stepped in the following day, 19th of November, when I had to take leave suddenly, to run the propagation workshop assisted by Stuart Russell, in my absence. I received excellent feedback on her/their presentation. Tayla has had to run volunteer mornings in the nursery single handed on many occasions and has displayed all the qualities of a future manager in our industry. Tayla is currently working with the Lake Eacham Management Unit assisting them with park management and general operations. I would like to thank her for also stepping in to supervise the last volunteer morning for 2022 and her dedicated effort during her time at the nursery. I would also like to sincerely wish her the very best for the future.
My previous role as 2IC/004 at the nursery has now been permanently filled, with Julia Hengstler being appointed to the position. Julia has previously been involved with revegetation works in the Northern Territory and has been working in the nursery field for some time. Julia brings her experience and many skills with her for the role. We look forward to the stability this permanent appointment will bring to our unit into the future. Welcome Julia!
Production was at the typically exceptional level in the 2021-2022 financial year, with 60,000 pots passing over the potting bench to produce trees and plants destined for revegetation projects throughout the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This level of production also means that the ‘Partners In Grime’ were very busy in their corner of the nursery, washing and sterilising over 40,000 pots and the necessary trays that keep them all together. On top of these are all of those sticky, messy trays and containers, a result of that other tedious process of separating seed from fruit throughout the year. A very dirty/grimy but appreciated effort from both departments. With all this, the nursery is absolutely brimming. The trees and plants are looking fabulous due to all the maintenance carried out by those volunteers working out in the hardening bays, weeding, feeding, sizing and pruning to ensure everything is in optimal condition for their future throughout the broader landscape.
We look forward to seeing all your smiling faces in the nursery and at the planting sites throughout the season ahead. We would also like to wish you all the very best for 2023.
FRUIT COLLECTION DIARY - July to December 2022
Pink Silky Oak
Herbert River Cherry
Clerodendrum longiflorum var. glabrum
Glue Berry Tree
Rose Silky Oak
Dodonea lanceolata var. lanceolata
Elaeocarpus sp. Windsor Tableland
Euroschinus falcatus var. falcatus
Ficus congesta var. congesta
Red Leaf Fig
Ficus virens var. virens
Glochidion harveyanum var. harveyanum
Red Bauple Nut
Lomatia Silky Oak
Red Boat Tree
Big Leaf Planchonella
Sloanea australis subsp. parviflora
Red Eungella Satinash
Species and Common names taken from 'Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Edition 8' online key: