Chilling out in central Queensland

Thursday 21 September, 2006

Reserve Manager Darren Larcombe and his wife Sandy thank the volunteers who worked so hard at the working bee at Carnarvon Station Reserve in June.

Looking down over the valley at Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.Looking down over the valley at Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

In central Queensland, nestled hard against the Great Dividing Range, lies Carnarvon Station Reserve. Its spectacular landscape of rocky escarpments, native grasslands and wonderful forests and woodlands, chilly in June, was the setting for a very successful working bee.

Thirteen volunteers arrived, armed with great enthusiasm and spirit, and lent us a hand over a ten-day period. Some had travelled distances of up to 1,000km to get here.

The purpose of the working bee was to tackle several large infrastructure and conservation projects that were difficult for reserve managers Darren Larcombe and Bryan Gorry to find time for because of the demands of their normal land management duties.

The volunteers’ wonderful work has seen an improvement in facilities for both staff and visitors to the reserve and the removal of kilometres of old fencing that was limiting the natural movements of the wildlife. Now the reserve has a concrete slab in the garden shed, a sealed surface adjacent to the visitors’ showers, and sound floor timbers on the verandah of the visitors’ accommodation.

Another fence is removed. Photo Roy Cleveland.Another fence is removed. Photo Roy Cleveland.

Concreting the workshop floor and service pit has given the reserve staff a safer and more comfortable workspace. The water supply also received some much-needed work which included the installation of a grey-water system. This will enhance water conservation and remove the burden of constant repairs to burst and leaking pipes.

While the infrastructure work was under way, a small team of volunteers concentrated on removing old fences along Carnarvon’s Channin Creek to once again allow the free movement of wildlife between the creek and adjacent grasslands.

In one week the crew removed more than 8km of fencing! Within days a large group of emus was foraging in grassland that had previously been unavailable to the birds. Just begun, this fence-removal project will require long-term volunteer support before we see the whole reserve opened up again.

Our volunteers stayed in the old homestead and barracks and shared stories around the large open fire after dinner each night. It was a delight to give them a day off mid-way through the working bee to show them some of the highlights of the reserve and explain its outstanding conservation values.

Concreting the garden shed floor. Photo Darren Larcombe.Concreting the garden shed floor. Photo Darren Larcombe.

The remarkable ‘Paint Pots’ is an important spot, the source of different-coloured ochres used by the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Bidjara people. At our lunchtime stop at Cattle Creek Lookout we gazed down over a variety of the threatened vegetation types including the Queensland bluegrass Dichanthium sericeum downs and expanses of brigalow Acacia harpophylla, which are now protected on Carnarvon.

The afternoon finished with a walk from the ‘White Stallion’ to the top of the Great Dividing Range. Once at the top we were rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of Carnarvon Station Reserve, taking in the Buckland Tableland to the east and Chesterton Range to the south. From this vantage point, everyone could also observe the stark contrast between the effect of land-clearing practices on neighbouring pastoral properties and the richness of protected areas such as Carnarvon Station Reserve and the adjacent Carnarvon Gorge National Park.

Our working bee was hugely successful and the staff and families of Carnarvon Station Reserve sincerely thank all the participants for their efforts.

We hope there will be another working bee in 2007. Any takers?

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