Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious are a wonderfully rich environment, part of the unique natural environment of the D'Aguilar Range. Our rainforests are very ancient in their structure and are unique in Australia, being on the doorstep of a large capital city - Brisbane. However they are also at risk because of the rapid growth of south-east Queensland.
The D'Aguilar Range is an ecosystem comprising a large 40,000Ha national park, D'Aguilar National Park (incorporating the formerly designated Brisbane Forest Park and a number of small national parks – Manorina, Boombana and Maiala), and private land. The range has the largest forest remnant in the Southern Moreton Region, but is threatened by the large and rapidly increasing populations of Brisbane, Pine Rivers and other shires. This threat extends beyond the forest itself since the range is a major watershed, containing as it does the headwaters of a number of important streams and rivers. On the western side of the range Brisbane Forest Park incorporates and protects part of Brisbane's water catchment, with other water courses like the South and North Pine Rivers rising on the eastern side. Healthy forests on the range protect these waterways against degradation from erosion, weed invasion and pollution. The rainforests of the range, especially those of Mt Glorious, are descendants of, and have a broad similarity in structure to ancient forests which existed 100 million years ago. They have great natural beauty and biological diversity and, like the eucalypt forests, contain many rare and threatened species.
We are the custodians for
future generations of the range, its landscapes and its plants
and animals. But we need to work together to conserve high value
areas, to prevent their destruction by development and by exotic
plants and animals, and to restore degraded areas. To avoid
becoming another metropolitan suburb, a coalition of community,
local and State governments is needed.
Ros Leslie, UNESCO Mimburi
Biosphere Proposal: draft nomination, 2008)
management over the past 40000 years has had a significant
influence on the development of Australia’s native wildlife.
Aboriginal people had a strong association with their landscape,
both socially and culturally. The Dreaming represents a belief
system that guides the interactions of Indigenous people with
their landscape and its living components. This belief system
positions people as part of the living environment which they
inhabited. The landscape was viewed as a living entity which
required respect and integration with people and their activities.
to first people who inhabited the range is scanty. (See, for
example, Helen Horton's 1988, Brisbane's
Backdoor in Further
Reading.) The Jinibara was the tribe that overarched the
clans of the D’Aguilar Range. There are three groups consistently
referenced in connection with the D’Aguilar area. The Garumngar
people occupied the area from Moggill northward to Mt Mee (this
covers most of the D’Aguliar Range); the Dungidau people occupied
territory north and west of Mt Mee (northern part of the range
westward) and the Turrbal people occupied the area east of the
range northwards to the North Pine River (Horton 1988). The
language group for the area was Wakka Wakka (Horton 1988).
Aboriginal people used a variety of plants for food and for
medicine and for manufacturing utensils. Animals were utilised in
accordance with strict lores. The landscape itself was alive and
there were rules that governed access to parts of the land that
were restricted for spiritual reasons. The landscape and its
assets were strategically accessed and managed to maintain
perpetual health and wellbeing for all of the communities that
During the successive occupation of European communities, Aboriginal communities were displaced by forceful removal, massacre, assimilation through religious and government policy and takeover of traditional lands. The process was so complete that the connection between present day Indigenous people and their past has been all but severed. Traditional links to landscape are still held by descendents but recognition by present governance authorities is very difficult to obtain. Presently, there is one existing registered Native Title claim (under the Native Title Act) held by the Jinibara, a tribe that overarches the clans of the Dungidau and Garumngar people.
Today there are few relics of thousands of years of occupancy. Bora rings are the most obvious physical remnant of a cultural past. Bora rings exist at Moggill, Keppera, Wights Mountain, Samsonvale, Laceys Creek, Mt Pleasant, Dayboro, Northbrook, England Creek, Dundas, Mt Esk Pocket and Oakey creek (Horton 1988). Other physical signs include tree scars and burial sites and some small artefacts have been found. On agreement, physical evidence of Aboriginal occupation has been kept confidential in an effort to protect and respect Aboriginal culture.
The Soldier Settlement
Highlands Estate was established just after World War I in the
Mt Nebo area. The smallest pieces were 80 acres, being divisions
of a square mile. Those
people came to crop. The ethos of the time was that you had to sharpen your axe, cut down the trees and either get a crop in or get some stock. If the trees were not cut, the lease could be lost. The Lands Department used to send an inspector out every June. If there sufficient improvement, you escaped the lease payment. So every June the settlers would go out and ringbark a dozen trees to gain immunity from the lease payment. There is still evidence of this at Mt Nebo - large dead trees that have been ringbarked, such as the large dead tallowwood across the road from the Manorina camping area. The area later yielded large volumes of high quality timber, including Red Cedar and White Beech which helped sustain the small population that had settled the area. Modern "settlers" in the area now include many who work "down in town" but seek the peace and cool forests of the range.
More details can be found in
Helen Horton's history of the area. See Further
Lower down the range, towards Mt Nebo and Jolly's Lookout, average rainfall is slightly lower and average temperatures are slightly higher.
More comprehensive descriptions can be found in books listed in Further
Reading. A nice account of some of the history of flora
research in the area, compiled by Bruce Noble of BFP can be found
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Grey Goshawk (DEH rating: Rare)
Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo
Red-browed Treecreeper (DEH rating: Rare)
New Holland Honeyeater
Along with the abundant owls - often intent on a feed of frogs - possums, gliders and bandicoots are active at night. Dingos and goannas are common. A variety of snakes, skinks, spiders and other insects thrive in the sub-tropical heat.
As with the flora, numerous rare and endangered fauna species
exist in the area. (A more comprehensive account can be found in
books listed in Further
To show that there is still much to be discovered about the rain forests of the Range, here is an article from an American visitor, published in Mountain News in June 1997.
I've been living in Mt Glorious for the past five months, enjoying every sunrise I see over Moreton Bay or bushwalk I take from my house. But bushwalks and sunrises are only part of the reason that the Australian and American governments gave me a fellowship to come here. I finished a university degree in the States last June and I've been in Australia since October. Now, I'm studying the ants that live in the rainforest of Mt Glorious.
The most basic thing I hope to accomplish with my research is to identify the ant species present in the rainforest on the mountain. No one has yet done a comprehensive survey of the ants in this rainforest, so many of the species I find may not have been identified. The project is really exciting to me, because unlike the 30 or so species of ants I've found here, the area around Boston where I grew up in the States has far fewer species and they've all been identified and studied.
The focus of my ant survey is to compare the ants I find on the ground to the ants I find in the forest canopy. Previous research has shown that the canopy and ground environments of rainforests can be home to two distinct groups of insects. Some ant species live only on the ground or only in the canopy, while others appear to live in both locations. I'm interested in the degree of species overlap between the two environments, not only in terms of where the ants nest, but also where they feed.
To get a handle on these questions, I have set out honey (sugar source), tuna (protein source), and wheat (seed source) food baits in both locations. I put the baits out in the morning and check them in the afternoon and then during the night. Often by the time I have returned to the baits during the night, a wandering animal has taken the bait, leaving me antless! I also collect ants by hand with forceps, and by means of "pitfall" traps I set using plastic cups filled with alcohol. I've also extracted ants from leaf litter samples, by heating up leaves to dry them out, causing hidden ants to fall into a collection jar.
My study site is the State Forest past the ranger station, where I've chosen 12 trees to climb regularly. Climbing the trees is the best part of the work. I shoot a fishing arrow over a high branch (20-30m), using a compound bow. Using the fishing line, I haul over a temporary rope, which I leave in the tree between visits. When I want to climb the tree to put baits out or hand collect, I haul over a climbing rope, tie it off to the base of a tree, and climb the rope using mechanical ascenders designed for rock climbing. Because of the steep western slope, I get an incredible view from the top of my climbs!
I'm nearly finished with the collecting, and now I'm preparing voucher specimens of each ant species for a taxonomist in Canberra to identify. Once he identifies the species, I'll write up my results for publication in an ecological journal. So far, I've found species of ants that appear to live in the canopy, but feed on the ground, as well as ants nesting on the ground, that forage in the canopy. I've also found quite a few species in both locations, suggesting to me that compared with more tropical forests, there may not be as much of a distinction between the group of species in the two environments. We will see!
Aside from my research with
the ants, I've been singing in the choir and teaching a weekly
environmental science class at the Mt Nebo State School. Doing
activities with the kids in the bush behind the school has been
particularly enjoyable - hopefully for the kids as well. Thanks
to everyone who has made my time here incredible so far. For the
last five months of my time in Australia, I'm trying to follow
the immortal words of Jerry Garcia, "Gone are the days we
stopped to decide where we should go. We just ride". Dan
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