Cultural Connections in Caring for Country
  • Last updated:
  • 19 Apr 2019

Maroochy River Mangrove Nursery and Revegetation Project

Our local estuaries are biodiversity hotspots for species of fish (un’dia), crab (na’lor) and shellfish (ngu’rung), providing protective ‘nurseries’ amongst the mangroves (pir’ri), for the young of such. As well, they offer feeding and habitat areas to an array of waders such as the Jabiru, the Spoonbill and mammals such as the vulnerable water mouse, swamp wallaby, possums, fruit bats, antechinus and melomys.

In 2009 the Maroochy River Mangrove Nursery and Revegetation Project commenced operations in partnership with council and Descendants of Australian South Sea Islanders. Some years prior, Maroochy Landcare had undertaken similar trials. The nursery activities came under the initiative of the Maroochy River Recovery, partnering with Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation. This well may be the first Aboriginal owned and operated native plant nursery on the Sunshine Coast, now in its sixth year.

The first years were based around trial and error, experimenting with peat pots, mangrove mud, potting mix, and finding suitable locations along the Maroochy River with sufficient tidal range to help water the mangrove seedlings as they grew out. The design and trials with protective barriers against boat-wash for the seedlings included the use of coir logs or old sediment curtains put in place with wooden stakes. At some sites the survival rate of the seedlings may have been as low as 30% with flood events and flood debris taking casualties. In recent years newer revegetation sites have seen a survival rate of 80 - 90% that has been very encouraging. Over summer we collect seed for and propagate the River Mangrove (Aegiceras scorniculatum), Orange Mangrove (Bruguiera gymnorhiza) and Red mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa). Over winter, this is done for the Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina), with its roundish seed, seen in the thousands. The salt or marine couch (Sporobolus virginicus) can also be easily propagated.

Over the last six years this project has been supported by SEQ Catchments, Maroochy Landcare, Wetland Care Australia, Caring for Our Country (Comonwealth Government), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Everyones Environment (Queensland Governemtn), farmers, council, MangroveWatch and TS Onslow Navy Cadet Base. The project as a whole has provided a terrific opportunity for local Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) Traditional Owners, people with South Sea Islander heritage, and historically connected Aboriginal people to establish training and employment opportunities, while making great use of their in-depth, local area knowledge of the traditional estates of their ancestors. These experiences have also provided resources to enable people to visit and monitor numerous aboriginal sites and artefact areas, and reflect on and share with the wider community, traditional and sustainable, Aboriginal land use practices.

Bunya Country Recovery Project, Petrie Creek, Nambour

Back in 1951 the former Nambour Chronicle newspaper published an article promoting the local area history and declared that in the 1860’s, “There was no other district to compare with this for the number and productiveness of the Bunya pine”. Working within the spirit of that story, working bees have been underway since mid-2014 with the planting of native trees to help revegetate a waterway that flows into Petrie Creek, at the new council park (yet to be named), referred to as Quota Park Extension. We aim to re-establish the culturally significant bunya pine (Araucaria bidwilli)that was once prolific within Nambour and the surrounding areas.

Last November saw a great turnout to a community tree-planting day. The Gubbi Gubbi Dancers gave a Welcome to Country and shared stories and legends about the local, traditional clans, the bunya and hoop pines, the sea eagle and sea mullet. Specific bunya trees were planted and dedicated to each of the Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) families, as done in the traditional days. Project participants include Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation, Nadia Joyce of council, Garry Lawler and the team with Corrective Services, Norm Morwood of Petrie Creek Catchment Care Group and Councillor Greg Rogerson.

More planting days are planned for 2015, adding new sites, while incorporating species having significant traditional uses, as a part of the Bunya Country Recovery Project. In the meantime, ongoing work includes weed control and the planting of native trees along Petrie Creek at the new park. Working bees are held early in the mornings on the fourth Wednesday of each month. All are welcome.

For information about this project and the mangrove nursery please go online to the council's Community Hub directory to find more project and contact details. If you have an interest and time to spare to help out you can call Kerry Jones on 0401 205 367.

Article by Kerry Jones, Arnold Jones, Bridgette Davis, Sean Fleischfresser, Anne Miller and Genevieve Jones.