Meredith’s story

Meredith said: “The mountain had only recently emerged from its pioneering phase (“clearing the scrub”) when I was born, I now realise. Great ringbarked trees still stood in the paddocks here and there, but the top of the mountain was virtually cleared of all forest trees and given over to dairy and other agriculture, while the forest lay just over the edge all around us. Gardens were full of European plants (no native gardens back then), and only the most intrepid forest birds came to them, though they continued to bring seeds from the rainforest that kept trying to re-establish themselves.

“When we left the mountain in the mid 1970s, the population was beginning to swell rapidly, and the place was filling with raw new houses where once the open paddocks had been. The changes were picking up speed, and it seemed time to go. I didn’t feel any urge to go back and see what had happened once we’d left, knowing how saddened I’d be. The one comfort was the presence of the national parks all around, which I trusted would preserve the natural world that was such an important part of my memory of Tamborine. (And it’s true, walking those forest paths takes me straight back to childhood still.)

“When I went back to the mountain after decades of absence in the 1990s I was initially astonished that the top of the mountain was, if anything, more covered in trees than when I knew it, since the paddocks had now been subdivided into house blocks each with their own garden, and native gardens had encouraged the birds back in with their forest trees.

“The core area for survival of the mountain’s natural world must remain the protected areas, and the key to their survival is learning and teaching others respect for the natural world, rather than the potential for its exploitation. If the inhabitants of the mountain were all individual home-owners with native gardens full of endemic species, I really do think there would be the possibility for viable coexistence between the human and the natural worlds. With every new “development” that threatens what remains, however, we’re putting all that more and more in jeopardy. There’s a wonderful chance to do it right on Tamborine, and it’s truly dismaying to see how we continue to do it wrong, given all we know.”

About: Meredith McKinney is a celebrated translator of contemporary and classical Japanese literature. Meredith lived on Tamborine Mountain as a child with her mother, renowned poet and environmentalist Judith Wright.

Why bother protecting the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment?

The decision to create the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct was not a trivial one, not one made quickly and not one made on a whim.

The decision to create the Escarpment was made to protect one of the most significant green areas of the Mountain; one of the areas that makes the Mountain unique to the South East Queensland region.

The Escarpment in the making

In the 1980s, individuals, community groups and organisations met to formally discuss the Escarpment and the importance of developing policies to protect it. Some 30 years (and more) of creating and recognising the Escarpment has made the area an essential part of Tamborine Mountain culture.

To develop the Escarpment took the work of many, including the Natural Heritage Trust, Tamborine Mountain Landcare, Council, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Federal Government and Chenoweth Environment Planning and Landscape Architecture.

In 2003, Tamborine Mountain Landcare, along with a troop of enthusiastic volunteers, came together to help revegetate parts of the Escarpment. This commitment to protect and further extend the Escarpment’s wildlife corridors continues on.

Why work so hard and invest so much time and money (public and private) in creating the Escarpment just to throw it away at the hint of a tourism “opportunity”? A tourism opportunity that fights the core values of the Escarpment?

View of Guanaba from across valley

What’s so special about the Escarpment?

While much of the Mountain has been cleared of vegetation, the Escarpment remains forested.

In parts of the Escarpment, vegetation had been previously cleared by logging and to make room for banana plantations and farming. But after these activities ceased, many of the once-cleared areas re-forested, allowing indigenous flora to move back in. Landcare, volunteers and residents have worked tirelessly to help revegetate the Escarpment with indigenous and native species.

The Escarpment provides a beautiful green backdrop to the Scenic Rim, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. It is unique in terms of its natural offerings – geologically sensitive sites, water catchments, such as the ecologically sensitive Guanaba Creek, and remnant forests and rainforests.

“… the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment supports more than 80% of all native terrestrial fauna species … and 61% of flora known to occur in the Gold Coast region. This high biodiversity, within a ‘megadiverse’ region, has high nature conservation significance and justifies further protective and management measures.” Ref. Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Flora and Fauna Report; Chenoweth Environmental Planning & Landscape Architecture Pty Ltd; Page 8.

Pearson's Green Treefrog

Pearson’s Green Treefrog

Our unique Tamborine Mountain … why we love it

So why do people visit Tamborine Mountain?

“Lush Tamborine Mountain is a favourite destination for tourists who come seeking avocados, Devonshire tea, crafts, bed-and-breakfast style accommodation and dramatic scenery.” Ref. Scenic Rim Regional Council website on Tamborine Mountain.

And why do people come to live here? Why do businesses set up here?

Because the Mountain offers unique green spaces, National Parks, quiet tourism, peaceful calm, charming service, amazing flora and fauna and much, much more.

Did you know, the first National Park was declared on Tamborine Mountain (ref. Scenic Rim Regional Council website). Since then, some 17 sections of National Park have been created on the Mountain.

“The vegetation and habitat of the Tamborine Mountain provides local character, attracts tourists, provides valuable natural services, is the strong hold of a number of rare flora and fauna … ” Ref. Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Flora and Fauna Report; Chenoweth Environmental Planning & Landscape Architecture Pty Ltd; Page 11.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Why protect the Escarpment?

There are many reasons to protect the Escarpment against this high-volume entertainment and tourism park proposal. These reasons are multi-fold:

1. The need to protect endangered, threatened and vulnerable species.
2. The need to protect sensitive ecological areas.
3. The need to protect water catchments.
4. The need to protect ground water sources.
5. The need to protect the scenic values.
6. The need to protect the current tourism on the Mountain.
7. The need to protect the community who live in the Escarpment.
8. The need to protect the Escarpment now and forever.

“The core area for survival of the Mountain’s natural world must remain the protected areas, and the key to their survival is learning and teaching others respect for the natural world, rather than the potential for its exploitation. If the inhabitants of the mountain were all individual home-owners with native gardens full of endemic species, I really do think there would be the possibility for viable coexistence between the human and the natural worlds. With every new “development” that threatens what remains, however, we’re putting all that more and more in jeopardy. There’s a wonderful chance to do it right on Tamborine, and it’s truly dismaying to see how we continue to do it wrong, given all we know.” Meredith McKinney is a celebrated translator of contemporary and classical Japanese literature. Meredith used to live on the Mountain as a child with her mother, poet and environmentalist Judith Wright.

Forest floor of Guanaba

If this development is allowed to happen …

You won’t have the Mountain you have now.

You won’t have the same faith in the Planning Scheme you once had.

You will loose a part of the Mountain that makes your home and your business unique.

And for what?

Let’s protect the Escarpment from this out-of-place development.

The Escarpment – our Mountain’s Green Heart – an important and significant place for Tamborine Mountain, for South East Queensland, for Australia and for the world.

Save Guanaba. And save our Green Heart.

For more on the Escarpment, visit the Save Guanaba Facebook page.

The Escarpment: An essential South East Queensland wildlife corridor

This 500 acres doesn’t just contain a few trees and the occasional bird, it’s a significant wildlife corridor for an amazing array of animals.

The property, currently facing a proposed out-of-place development application to build a high-volume entertainment park, falls within part of a state bioregional corridor. It adjoins the Tamborine Mountain National Park and borders Guanaba Creek – a significant water catchment resource.

Apart from an area at the front of the property, the 500 acres is densely forested with a range of flora (some of which is recognised under state / federal environment protection legislation).

The property provides a stepping-stone for reserves within the Gold Coast City Council and Scenic Rim Regional Council regions. It also provides habitat connections to National Park and properties that adjoin the 500 acres.

Forest escarpment of Guanaba

The residents of these properties have been carefully re-planting indigenous and native flora species to rehabilitate previous farmlands. This commitment by local residents has helped further extend the corridors and provide more habitat for wildlife to rest, breed and travel to other areas.

Significant fauna species, some of which are threatened, endangered or vulnerable (under the Federal Government’s EPBC Act* and Queensland’s NCA**) heavily depend on the wildlife connections for their survival. These species include the beautiful and shy Albert’s Lyrebird and the Spotted-Tail Quoll.

Dedicated wildlife corridors provide animals with much-needed breeding habitat, which helps increase animal populations. Habitat reduction can lead to a reduction in species numbers. This reduces and weakens the gene pool, affecting genetic diversity and the ability for animals to fight disease (the Tasmanian Devil has faced such a problem).

Alberts Lyrebird in Guanaba

The size of the proposed entertainment park and the activities within it will cause significant habitat fragmentation. If allowed to happen, the development will cut off wildlife corridors to other areas within the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct and South East Queensland.

Habitat upheaval will also risk the influx of feral animals to the property, putting wildlife at further risk.

We all have a duty of care to protect this area from out-of-place developments that put at great risk future generations of significant wildlife species.

The wildlife relies on us to speak for them; so let’s stand up and be counted for their sake.

More on the wildlife of Guanaba’s Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct:

Frogs of Guanaba

Koalas of Guanaba

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Albert’s Lyrebird

Precious Guanaba flora and fauna

See our Save Guanaba Facebook page

Resources:

*EPBC Act: The Act | About the EPBC Act

**NCA: The Act | Threatened species info: EHP Queensland

IUCN Red List

The IUCN: “Assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected subpopulations on a global scale to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.”

Richmond birdwing butterfly – Guanaba’s living painting

The Richmond birdwing butterfly – one of Australia’s largest subtropical butterflies – is listed as vulnerable under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

And the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection mark the butterfly as a “critical priority”.

Richmond birdwing butterfly

Male Richmond birdwing butterfly

This living painting, within Tamborine Mountain’s Escarpment Protection Precinct, has a wingspan of 16cm (for the male) and 13cm (for the female).

Where does the Richmond birdwing butterfly live?

The habitat of the Richmond birdwing butterfly is in subtropical rainforest.

It’s found on Tamborine Mountain – one of the few areas remaining after fragmentation of its habitat. (Distribution in this region goes from Ormeau and Mount Tamborine to Wardell in northern NSW.)

Saving the Richmond birdwing butterfly

The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network has been linking existing habitats through the replanting of the Richmond birdwing butterfly’s food plant P. Praevenosa.

They’re working at removing the Dutchman’s pipe (a relative of the butterfly larvae’s food plant that confuses the butterfly and kills its larvae).

They’re also keeping an eye on butterfly numbers and distribution through a mapping process.

Great work RBCN!

Find out more about RBCN …

Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network
The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) is devoted to the conservation of this beautiful butterfly and the host vines and habitat the butterfly requires for survival.

Database of Richmond Birdwing Butterfly sightings

Find out more about the Richmond birdwing butterfly …

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland

More insect pictures at Save Guanaba’s Facebook page

Tamborine Mountain’s green heart – once it’s gone, it’s gone for good

Why does the community oppose this specific development on Tamborine Mountain? Because it’s a high-impact entertainment business proposed to be developed in an area not zoned for entertainment, but zoned “escarpment protection”, which recognises the environmental significance of the area.

This is a major green zone of the Mountain; it contains at-risk flora and fauna, it acts as a major corridor to other green areas and it connects major South East Queensland water catchments (such as the Coomera River). It’s environmental significance has been recognised by Council’s current planning scheme, which allows only for low-level development (not an entertainment business and not a “housing estate”).

And yes, the community opposes the proposed development, because it sets an entertainment business in amongst quiet rural / residential properties, which, again, is not what is promised under the current planning scheme.

The planning scheme has been developed over many years by people who know the Scenic Rim region, its cultural values and the importance of retaining areas of environmental significance. The development application has provided no clear reason for why the 500 acres in question should be changed to something incompatible with the planning scheme and the area.

Let’s be clear, despite some of the claims cast, this is not a mountain bike riding business; it’s a multi-offering entertainment business. High volumes of people will move through this property on a daily basis. It includes a range of mountain bike riding activities throughout the property (including nighttime rides), 4WD shuttles taking mountain bike riders to the top of the property every 10 to 20 minutes, camping for 300 people per day and night, zip lines, suspension bridges, restaurant, car parks for more than 100 cars, events and more.

This is a very sensitive part of Tamborine Mountain and one of the few remaining green legacies of the Scenic Rim / Gold Coast region. That’s why we’re fighting for it; that’s why it’s important to us.

The Save Guanaba Facebook page is a place to communicate all the reasons for protecting this very important area.

The community’s read the developer’s side of the story on their Facebook page and website. We’ve also read the comments of people who support the development on the Save Guanaba Facebook page and have informed ourselves of the development via the application documentation. The community has its own perspective on the development and believe we have the right to voice this perspective in the spaces we’ve created to do so.

A small story: Some have claimed residents near the proposed development of clearing their land to build their homes. Many of the people most affected by the proposed development purchased old farm land and are now revegetating it to extend the 500 acres of well-vegetated escarpment protection into their own properties to regenerate the area and provide more habitat for the local fauna. We’re passionate about this place, and want to protect it for now and for the future. Why? Because it’s precious. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

See the Save Guanaba Facebook page for more.

When soils ain’t soils in Guanaba

When parts of your neighbour’s backyard disappear downhill after a major rain event, you realise good soil structure is a critical Tamborine Mountain issue.

The Tamborine Mountain’s escarpment protection precinct relies heavily on its vegetation to ensure soil integrity remains in check, especially during wet weather, and especially during the storm events with which this region is so familiar.

The eastern escarpment precinct has seen significant landslides occur over time (and in very recent history), which have permanently changed the landscape.

One of the most notable eastern escarpment landslides occurred in the famous 1974 floods, where part of the escarpment slipped, taking with it soil, vegetation, rock and more. The instability of the eastern escarpment is well known to experts and to local residents, who often sight regular landslips after rain. There are a number of graphic pictures taken after the 1974 floods that show what happens when soil structure gives way in the escarpment.

Tamborine Mountain Landslip 1974 eastern escarpment

1974 – this major landslide occurred on the land around Kaiser Road.

Recent landslides

People who live next to the 500 acres of escarpment protection precinct have recorded landslides in very recent times (such as after the floods in January 2013). But, it doesn’t take this kind of major rain event to bring on landslides (they can occur after Summer rains synonymous with the Scenic Rim region).

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald where a whole bank gave way

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald – a whole bank gave way.

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald

Another perspective of the landslide.

Preventing landslides

It’s more effective to try and mitigate the risk of landslides by retaining essential vegetation.

“Prevention of landslides is far preferable to subsequent rehabilitation, which is expensive, long term and possibly only partly effective.”

“No further clearing should occur on susceptible locations at risk.”

Ref. Warwick Willmott; Rocks and landscapes of the Gold Coast Hinterland: Expanded third edition; Geological Society of Australia, Queensland Division; 2010.

Potential risks with certain developments on the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct

1. Any geotechnical report providing information on proposed developments within the escarpment precinct should identify critical slopes, faults, colluvium, slip zones etc.

2. Proposed developments within the escarpment must take into account the 4 rainforest gullies and water catchments – Guanaba Creek and Coomera River – and provide a solution to ensure catchments won’t be negatively impacted on.

3. Proposed developments must consider surface water runoff treatments, which may lead to the concentration of water and, potentially, initiate erosion, super saturation and slips.

4. Proposed developments should outline impacts of vegetation clearing, construction and sediment travel and surface water runoff downstream into National Park, Guanaba Creek and the Coomera River.

5. And, proposed developments should fit within the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct.

Tamborine Mountain’s escarpment is precious, delicate and in need of protection. Soil structure in the escarpment is fragile (just ask the people who live there). Out-of-place developments, that rely on the clearing vegetation to enable the frequent movement of human traffic (the likes of which the 500 acres of escarpment has never seen) will threaten soil integrity.

And when soil integrity is under stress, there is an increased risk of soil runoff, which affects the region’s water catchments and can increase the risk of landslides.

It’s vital we fight to protect the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct against developments unsuited to its very specific and special characteristics.

For more images of the 500 acres in question, see our Save Guanaba Facebook page.

(Note: Many residents near the 500 acres have spent years planting indigenous and native flora to rehabilitate their properties – formerly old farms – and extend the rich vegetation within the 500 acres into their own backyards.)

Noisy Friarbird – Guanaba’s halloween honeyeater

They’re like something from the Dark Crystal. Guanaba’s Noisy Friarbird – a type of honeyeater – loves eucalyptus flower nectar and all manner of insects.

They’re sometimes referred to as as a “leatherhead”, because of their bare black head, which is juxtaposed with grey / white ruffled feathers on their body. They have a long, strong bill with which to harvest nectar.

Noisy Friarbird

This lovely bird is called “Noisy” because it creates a lot a noise as it flocks with others of its kind in the upper canopy of trees. It doesn’t hide from view as it gathers nectar and socialises with its mates.

Where to find the Noisy Friarbird

1. Eastern and south-eastern Australia.

2. North-eastern Queensland to north-eastern Victoria.

3. Southern New Guinea.

Want more information?

Birds in Backyards

Birdlife Australia

For more pictures of birds and other fauna, see the Save Guanaba Facebook page

The rare frogs of Guanaba

Tamborine Mountain’s Guanaba area is home to an amazing array of frogs. Some species are under threat and all species are in need of protection from out-of-place developments.

Often, frogs can be forgotten about in the discussion on species protection. Most people don’t realise that the beautiful cacophony of noise in the evening and into the night (or symphony depending on your point of view) is the sound of any number of frog species playing a vital role in our local ecology.

If frogs were to disappear, the silence would be overwhelming.

Pearson's Treefrog

Pearson’s Treefrog

Frogs needing protection

The 500 acres in Guanaba, under threat from an out-of-place development, is home to an array of frog species, 3 of which are recognised under the Queensland Government’s Nature Conservation Act (NCA) as endangered, threatened or vulnerable.

The same species are also recognised on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The species under threat from the development are:

Eastern Dwarf Treefrog

Eastern Dwarf Treefrog

1. Tusked Frog (Adelotus brevis): Vulnerable under the NCA. Near threatened under the IUCN Red List. Likes vegetation in rainforest waterways and wet sclerophyll areas. Population = decreasing.

2. Pearson’s Green Treefrog (Litoria pearsoniana): Endangered under the NCA. Near threatened on the IUCN Red List. Also known as the Cascade Treefrog. Likes rainforest gullies and creeks / streams. Population = decreasing.

3. Whirring Treefrog (Litoria revelata): Near-threatened under NCA. Likes waterways in sclerophyll forest and coastal swamps.

Other frogs in Tamborine Mountain’s Guanaba area

Dainty Treefrog

Dainty Treefrog

There are many other frogs in the 500 acres at risk. Here are a few the community in the area have spotted …

Dainty Treefrog (Lotoria gracilenta): Beautiful green tree frog with yellow accents.

Eastern Dwarf Treefrog (Litoria fallax): Darker green body with white belly.

Green Treefrog (Litoria caerulea): Needs no introduction.

The frogs of Guanaba are just one of the many reasons for protecting and preserving this special place on Tamborine Mountain for now and into the future. Otherwise, we’ll be left with a world of deafening silence.

Find out more information about species listed on the NCA

See the Save Guanaba Facebook page

95% reject theme park on Tamborine Mountain

Around 800 Tamborine Mountain residents put submissions to Council on the proposed Guanaba theme park development. And 95% objected.

Of the submissions sent to the Scenic Rim Regional Council,  the objections outnumbered the support. A boon, as many Mountain residents caught wind of the proposed development only a week before the submission period closed.

An anti-planning scheme development

The development application made to Council seeks to develop the 500 acre Guanaba property, within the escarpment protection precinct (the focus of this website), into a tourism and entertainment business with 4WDs, restaurant, shop, mountain bike riding – including nighttime riding – zip lines, suspension bridges, tour buses and more right next to people’s homes.

It’s a development not suited to the rural and residential culture of the area.

It’s a development completely at odds with the planning scheme. The 500 acres is within the escarpment protection precinct, which means it’s suitable only for certain types of small-scale rural / residential developments – not theme parks.

Out-of-place developments next to people’s homes?

No-one wants 50,000 tourists a year coming down their quiet residential street. The current planning scheme protects residents from this happening. And Tamborine Mountain residents made their homes trusting they’d be protected by this planning scheme. That’s not too much to ask, surely?

Residents around the Scenic Rim need to stand up and help fight against out-of-place developments. This is not just a Tamborine Mountain issue. If the proposed development on the Mountain goes ahead – right next to people’s homes – then who knows what could happen next door to you.

There are many more reasons why residents are fighting the proposed development.

For more information, see About us

Find out about the need to protect the 500 acres for its precious flora and fauna

See the Save Guanaba Facebook page

Guanaba Experience entertainment park – next door to people’s homes

Entertainment parks aren’t normally built right next to people’s homes. So why should this entertainment park be allowed to do just that, despite the guidelines under the Planning Scheme making this type of development out of place for the area?

The Guanaba Experience development application proposes to develop an entertainment park next door to where people live.

The residents of the area live there based on an understanding the area in question: 196/98-196 Guanaba Road, Tamborine Mountain, would be protected under the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct within the Tamborine Mountain Zone.

The guidelines under the Planning Scheme were a guarantee that any development on the property would fit within the area’s quiet, rural culture.

Residents didn’t bank on a development application that contradicts the guidelines and proposes to introduce a business completely at odds with the reasons people came to live in such an out-of-the-way, peaceful rural setting.

The Guanaba Experience entertainment park puts zip lines (flying foxes), camp sites, rope climbs, a restaurant, a bike shop, toilet facilities, mountain bike training and more on the doorstep of the area’s residents.

This is not generally what entertainment parks do; other entertainment parks have set up in remote areas, where residents aren’t impacted by the noise and traffic associated these businesses.

Guanaba Experience satellite image

Guanaba Experience with zip lines, camp sites and more next to people’s homes.

 

 

 

 

 

Scenic Rim Adventure Park

Scenic Rim

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some examples of adventure parks away from people’s homes  …

Hollybank Treetops Adventure

Hollybank

1. Scenic Rim Adventure Park: Off the beaten track in Queensland. Offers extreme downhill mountain biking, campsites and will soon have zip lines, abseiling and a rope course.

2.. Hollybank Treetop Adventure: Zip lines in Tasmania away from residents.

3. Treetop Adventure Park: Zip lines on the NSW Central Coast with one or two rural residences.

4. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures: Zip lines in NSW in a remote location.

5. Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours: Zip lines in Queensland.

6. Jubes Mountain Bike Park: Mountain bike trails in NSW.

Jubes Mountain Bike Park NSW

Jubes

7. Eagle Mountain Bike Park: Mountain bike trails in SA.

8. Emu Creek Eco Retreat: $5 entry for downhill and trail mountain bikes, camping and 4WDs in NSW.

9. The list goes on …

All of the above parks have only one or two entertainment offerings. Guanaba Experience puts many more offerings together, creating a collection of noises.

So why should Guanaba Experience be allowed to go against current Tamborine Mountain zoning and develop a business outside community expectations and negatively impacting on residents in the area?

Treetop Adventure Park satellite image showing no houses nearby

Treetop

Why should it be entitled to change people’s lifestyles (people who thought themselves protected by the current Planning Scheme) while providing no rationale for why the current zoning should be changed?

Info on the Tamborine Mountain zoning code (PDF, 1.1mb)

See the environmental concerns with such a park: Precious Guanaba flora and fauna

See Save Guanaba Facebook page