Russell family park has an area of 7.3 ha. It contains a spring that lies at the headwaters of Skene Creek, which joins Obi Obi Creek and which flows into the Mary River. It has rich red volcanic soils which were originally clothed in rainforest, not dissimilar to the rainforest found at Mary Cairncross scenic reserve in Maleny.
The park was originally on an important route for indigenous people heading to and from the Baroon Bunya nut gatherings.
This piece of land was part of Henry Smith’s original selection in October 1893, then known as Razorback and later renamed Montville, as suggested by Henry when he opened a receiving office for mail in 1897. The land was cleared and used to grow oranges and other citrus during the boom years before the late 1920’s, as well as pineapples and other crops. The waterhole, which has been known as Smith’s dam and more simply, the lagoon, was enlarged in the 1920’s. It has always been of particular significance - for indigenous people, for timber getters who used it for watering bullocks, as a swimming hole for local children, for irrigation, and now for fire-fighting and flushing public toilets in the village.
The land was bought in 1979 by the Russell family, its fourth owners, who sold it to Maroochy Shire Council in 1999 to provide active and passive recreation space for the local and regional community, additional car parking for Montville village and to enhance the tourist appeal of Montville. Council developed a master plan that identified a design philosophy for the site which was discussed with the community, and in June 2001 implementation commenced.
In January 2008 planning began on the revegetation of the western and northern areas of the park, and the Russell family park bushcare group was formally established in April 2008. At the start of the project the site contained 42 native plant species and 66 introduced (mostly weed plant species) and was dominated by camphor laurel, large-leaved privet and Chinese celtis. Over the last 10 years the amount of weed species have been significantly reduced while the revegetation work has boosted the native plant species present to 181. This has been achieved by planting approximately 3,500 trees to date.
The group’s work continues and if anyone wants to assist you will find us at the park between 7:30am-9am on the first and third Sunday and second and fourth Tuesday of each month.
Article by Eric Anderson, Russell Family Park Bushcare Group volunteer.