This year the University of Queensland iROOS (student volunteers) are supporting seasonal fauna monitoring at Carnarvon Reserve. These trips provide valuable, hands-on experience for the science undergraduates and valuable extra hands for reserve-based staff.
iROO, Zara McLean-Lynn writes about the Autumn trip:
During the mid-semester break, five iROOs volunteers decided to forego a week of relaxation (or dreaded studying!) to instead develop practical skills in ecology and conservation through assisting ecologist Bek Diete at Bush Heritage Australia’s Carnarvon Station Reserve.
Located in the Brigalow Belt of Central Queensland, the reserve was once a cattle station; the livestock were removed to protect the grasslands and natural springs found on the property and to help conserve the unique Brigalow community, which has been largely cleared in the region. As it's bordered by other stations, fences must be maintained to keep out stock, and weeds and feral pests managed.
With Environmental Science, Environmental Management and Ecology backgrounds, our group shared a passion for conservation and were eager to learn how reserves operate so we piled into our UQ ute and headed out on the 9-hour drive to the reserve, blasting an eclectic range of music from Disney to Tim McGraw! Once we arrived, we met Bek and settled in; accommodation on the reserve was excellent, cabins with linen and actual showers, such luxury!
We then spent five days helping Bek complete her usual tasks, which largely consisted of preparing and checking sand plots for tracks in the morning (providing data on the activity and distribution of feral pests and macropods) and spotlighting at night, spotting a Greater Glider and a lot of Tawny Frogmouths!
Afternoons were free for exploration of the cultural and natural areas of importance on the reserve including beautiful Fig Tree Springs, White Stallion lookout, Paint Pots and various rock art of the Bidjara people. We were also fortunate to have our visit coincide with that of the principle scientist for FeralFix pest management, Jim Mitchell who kindly gave an excellent presentation on the feral pig problem and management, including traps and novel baiting techniques.
It was a fantastic week of hands-on experience, contributing to important conservation work within Queensland, and just lots of fun, with barbeques and roasted marshmallows to finish off the week. It was incredibly rewarding and we highly recommend volunteering to anyone who likes to get their hands dirty and help Bush Heritage conserve our beautiful ecosystems.
This trip wouldn't have been possible without Leanne (Bush Heritage) and Cody (UQ iROOS), so thank you very much for organising the trip and helping us on our way. Also, a big thank you to Bek (Bush Heritage) for letting us visit and teaching us your work.